I appreciate all who've chimed in here. In fact, on the water yesterday, it all sorted itself out. As I said earlier, I have a hard time visualizing spatial/directional things, and sitting at my desk with the compass and minimal instructions I couldn't make sense of it.
Once I mounted the compass and started tuning up for my first regatta yesterday, it all made sense. This particular compass has color-coded indices in five degrees, so out on the water I could quickly see that on starboard tack, a shift to a higher number indicated a tack ... the opposite on port tack. Pretty simple, now that I've seen it in action.
As a footnote, I found I had my mind and hands full enough and found little time to glance at the compass. That, plus a lot of 30 degree wind shifts on a flukey day took some of the guesswork out of when to tack.
Thanks again, guys.