Originally Posted by charliehows
?? I've got 2 handhelds, they both give pretty accurate bearings once left sitting in the cockpit
for a few seconds, as well as lat/long, sog, eta, etc, etc ( about 100 other useful functions). Couple of people stating categorically that they dont work as a compass
- have you ever actually used one these things?
I think the people stating that didn't realize the OP was not talking fixed-mount GPS/chartplotter, but a handheld GPS
with a built-in fluxgate
. The OP clarified that in later posts. There are quite a few older handheld GPS
units which do not have fluxgates, and that was what those guys were thinking of.
A handheld GPS with fluxgate compass
must be treated just like a hand bearing compass. Thinking it is just as good as a binnacle-mounted compass is absolutely wrong. As others have mentioned, a properly swung binnacle compass will always show the vessel's heading (unless you hold a magnet near it!).
A handheld GPS with fluxgate will always show bearing - where it's pointing (assuming it's held level. If your boat is pointed due west, your handheld GPS/fluxgate compass will show 270 - only if it's pointed that direction. If you're pointing it towards the mark you're heading towards, it's indicating the magnetic compass bearing to that mark - which is not necessarily the actual heading of the boat. So, it you want to be a good strategic racer
, you should have both on your boat - a binnacle compass (or a fixed-mount fluxgate compass - whichever one it should be properly swung), and a hand-held bearing compass or GPS equipped with fluxgate compass.
Every modern smartphone contains a GPS receiver, fluxgate compass, and an accelerometer, so you'd think that would work as well for Wednesday night racing
. But very few have daylight visible screens, and those that do would run down their batteries before you got back to the yacht club.