a case of the stupids.
Many long years ago, a couple of years after I bought my 29 foot boat, I got a great deal on a brand new Danforth compass. Took it to the boat, installed it behind the tiller, where it was easily visible, and checked it (in the slip) against my existing, old, faded, hard to see, etc. compass that was mounted next to the companionway. They matched up, so I ASSumed that all was well.
The following Friday, the wife, dogs and I head out for a 'routine' crossing to Two Harbors, hoping to beat the crowd.
By 2000 (that's 8PM for you lubbers) we had not spotted the Island which was strange. I checked my brandy-new compass and it said we were right on course. Finally, are 2300 we heard a bell. I headed for the sound, since I knew something was way wrong. The bell was atop a sea buoy. I got the number off of it, and headed down to the little nav table to figure out where we REALLY were.
We were about 20 miles north of where we wanted to be.
We turned around, and the wife says, 'I think your new compass is broken.'
I wasn't so sure about that, but I knew the old compass worked, so we set a new course using the old unit. Lo, the two compasses did not even come close to agreeing!
Got into Catalina just before daybreak. The wife, mad, went to bed, leaving me to puzzle the problem.
I dug around, crawled into the lazarette via the hatch in the cockpit, and not more than three inches from my brand new compass was a couple of 1 1/2 inch galvanized chunks of pipe that were part of the exhaust system.
Duh. I never thought about that. My bad.
Anyway. we got back to our slip in Long Beach using the old, trusted, (if barely visible) compass. The following Saturday, I took the boat out and 'swung' the compass, using the convenient harbor wall which the Port of Long Beach built exactly true north-south. The deviation card for that compass read like a multiplication table until I finally decided to pull the pipe out and replace it with hose.
So, that was my dumbest stunt in navigation.
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