Join Date: Jan 2011
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Re: Hand Bearing Compass Advice
For over 20 years, I have used a simple Lensatic land compass. This is one with the fold-out mirror allowing you to see the compass while sighting over the mirror. The cost of one these days is less than $50. It is dampened as well as any "nautical" compass. I consider it to be my primary nav tool. It has a straight edge for drawing short lines of position on charts and is "see through" which helps me in plotting my position.
My typical use for it is the measure on a chart and say, "When that buoy bears XXXX degrees, we can turn and avoid that shoal with lots of room to spare"
Here is how I use it to find my position.
Measure bearing on a known mark (buoy, tower, etc). Do the same for second mark. Place compass down on chart accounting for compass deviation (fortunately for me here in N. Fl it is only about 2 degrees so can be neglected) so that body of compass aligns with N on chart. Align the bearing of the mark with that bearing on the body of compass. A line formed by the mark (buoy) on the chart and the center of compass needle (remember, it is "see thru" is one line of position. Do the same for second line of position. I have done coastal nav for hundreds of miles in this manner and if one is always cautious and errs on the side of giving dangerous things a wide berth, it works well. If you need 1 degree accuracy, you are doing something wrong.
Sometimes when I can only get one LOP, I also have used depth contours as a sort of second one.