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  #1  
Old 06-12-2008
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Help with tactical compass?

I've searched here, I've googled, and I've looked through the books at Barnes and Noble and West Marine to no avail.

I want to start racing and have bought a Ritchie tactical compass for my Flying Scot. The instructions on using it are so brief as to be useless, especially since I'm new to this and also a bit challenged on spacial/directional things.

Can anyone point me toward info on how to use one of these things?

Thanks!

Kurt
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Old 06-13-2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by poltergeist View Post
I've searched here, I've googled, and I've looked through the books at Barnes and Noble and West Marine to no avail.

I want to start racing and have bought a Ritchie tactical compass for my Flying Scot. The instructions on using it are so brief as to be useless, especially since I'm new to this and also a bit challenged on spacial/directional things.

Can anyone point me toward info on how to use one of these things?

Thanks!

Kurt
I have to say the compass is the least used instrument on my boat. Its great you have one and it has its uses but for racing - unless you are doing a 100 mile event... nothing a small and cheap gps will not handle. I am sure that I will stir debate on this - but my commands are come to x of such degrees and rely more on visual than anything.


Otherwise there is no such thing as tactical use - the labeling is marketing and used to denote the degree of accuracy - and in other words works like any other compass but within a smaller margin of error. So, the question is do you know how to use a compass in general?

The whole use of a compass is derived with use of landmarks and paper charts... and I think most do not rely on paper charts in the cockpit if they can get away with it when racing as the whatever size cockpit you have... to use you have have to have a stationed navigator at the nav station...

I write this because half is what I believe (I look at the compass as more or less a decorative instrument but on occasion find a use)...and partly because my post - it will incite a response more to your liking...
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Old 06-13-2008
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Clarification ...

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!

Kurt
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Old 06-13-2008
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Mine has little posts around the compass. I think they are to show opposite tacks. As if you are sailing upwind on a port tack you can look at the compass and tell what the starboard tack will be at the same but opposite wind angle. Not for course to land markings, but in relation to wind angle. But I don’t know how to do that.
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Old 06-13-2008
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I am not sure if this is what you are looking for but gives fairly good information on using a compass in racing.http://www.kvh.com/pdf/sailcomp.pdf
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Old 06-13-2008
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I think I've got it ...

Sailking, thanks for the article. I don't have a digital compass, but the description of the function described here is a lot more clear than the instruction I got.

Badsanta, I have the marker indicators you call posts, so armed with the info in Sailking's article I ought to be able to extrapolate.

Thanks, gentlemen,

Kurt
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Old 06-13-2008
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Kurt,

Tacktick equipment is digital, too, but their instructions on tactics would apply to your analog compass, I think. Just another source for you to compare.

http://www.tacktick.com/files/usergu...Compass_ug.pdf
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Old 06-15-2008
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A magnetic compass can do just about all the same things the digital compass does on the race course. They are NOT just for steering to a course. We routinely use ours to track headers and lifts. If we start out on a starboard tack heading at 90º and after a while find that we're only able to make 80º on that tack, it means the wind has shifted to head us. In order to sail the shortest course to the windward mark, we should tack onto port. When we tack, we note the course we're able to hold - probably around 170º. If the wind changes to head us down to 180º on port tack, it's time to tack back to starboard. Conversely, the wind can shift to lift you as well. Take advantage! If you're hiking out, you can use the lubber-lines to see the relative change of heading; you don't have to be looking from right behind the compass to use it. You can also use the compass to see if you're gaining on competitors by seeing if their compass bearing relative to you is changing. Sight on their mast for the most precise measure. The compass is also useful for finding out which side of a course is favored. If you can see the windward mark, point the boat towards it and note the compass heading. Then point the boat directly into the wind and note any discrepancy. Few race committees are able to set marks directly into the wind every time; the side the wind is coming from will be the "favored" side of the course, all else being equal. Head to that side if you can. Knowing how high you can point on each tack (in degrees) alerts you to changes in wind direction after you've rounded a mark, so you can take advantage of the shift. Compasses are especially useful in 'round the buoys racing and a lot cheaper than a GPS.
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Old 06-16-2008
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Thanks to all ...

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.

Kurt
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