To anyone reading this, I'm not asking you to take the time to explain this to me ... I realize that could be lengthy and complex. I'd happily buy a book on racing just to get a CHAPTER on tactical compasses. Or a link to a past magazine article or some such could be useful. Any help would be appreciated ... my limited sailing library and the limited selection of books available locally haven't had what I need.
And to Jody --
Thanks for weighing in. My issue is less about "real" direction and location ... I'm just racing around the buoys in local club races. My understanding (very limited) is that features built into my compass make it easier to track wind shifts, especially when sailing upwind, so that I can sail the shortest course, tack when appropriate, etc. That's the aspect of "tactical" that I want to master. Thanks!