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Old 03-05-2014, 02:45 PM   #1
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Hand bearing compass choice

Hello,

I am new to trawlers and navigation. I am curious about what hand bearing compasses you all prefer. A lot of the ones I have seen are 40-50 dollars (like the Davis pistol-grip). Others are around $125 (like the Plath and Weems puck) Is accuracy an issue on some of the cheaper models?

Thanks for the help!

Kirk
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Old 03-05-2014, 03:23 PM   #2
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If you use a smart phone, you might try a free compass app before buying a compass just in case it serves your purpose.
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Old 03-05-2014, 03:31 PM   #3
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I have a Plastimo Iris 50 on the boat that is well designed and works great.

PS: Smart Compass for Android is great.
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Old 03-05-2014, 04:03 PM   #4
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Thanks for the replies.

Mahal, I have used the compass on my android phone and I like it. I also use satellite navigation whenever we travel. However, I am partial to more traditional or mechanical equipment (I carry a mechanical pocket watch and shave with a straight razor). I am enjoying learning navigation with paper charts and compasses and I don't feel comfortable relying on electronic equipment alone.

Northern Spy, the Plastimo Iris 50 is a similar design to the Weems and Plath model. That is the style I was leaning toward, though for no particular reason. They look a little more sturdy.

Thanks, Kirk
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Old 03-05-2014, 04:10 PM   #5
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Try them both out. Outside. You'll probably settle on a puck style. The Davis pistol grip makes you refocus your eye. The little Ritchie puck style is hard to use. Never got to try the W&P.
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Old 03-05-2014, 05:58 PM   #6
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I had a W & P which was very nice but found myself using the one built into my Fujinon binoculars all the time and gave the HB away. Handy for taking a "just in case" set of bearings especially at anchor but also for keeping the old manual navigation skills exercised. I have an antique box compass a friend gave me that I keep by the bedside, looks nice and is a quick reference as to which way the boat is pointing at anchor/mooring.
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Old 03-06-2014, 05:46 AM   #7
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I much prefer the older style that may also include a RDF set of coils.

The larger and better built units can easily be swung with a sun line , and the errors noted , so it can be used for navigation.

Remember it may have to duty as your main compass .

sestrel moore hand bearing compass
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Old 03-06-2014, 11:50 AM   #8
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Thanks everyone!

I am going to try out one of the puck models.

FF, I liked the older models you referenced, maybe later I could try one out.

Kirk
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Old 03-06-2014, 01:42 PM   #9
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I keep this one on the bridge, although I haven't had the need to use it yet. It's actually a hold-over from when I raced my sailboat. It's made by Ritchie. KJ

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Old 03-07-2014, 02:57 AM   #10
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One advantage with a big old hand-held compass I hadn't anticipated was when we lost our steering off the west coast of Tasmania.

We had to resort to the emergency tiller and with no visual references, we rigged the hand-held on the aft deck and steered by it's large card for a few hours.

Glad I hadn't updated to a small plastimo iris as planned.
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Old 03-07-2014, 03:42 AM   #11
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Bought a puck compass three years ago. Haven't seen it since. What the !
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Old 03-07-2014, 05:48 AM   #12
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we rigged the hand-held on the aft deck and steered by it's large card for a few hours.

Most are illuminated with C or D cells for night operation.
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Old 03-07-2014, 10:30 AM   #13
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In over 50 years on the water, sail, power, racing and cruising, I have used a number of hand bearing compasses. When I need one now, I use a Vion Mini 2000 which I have had since '91. IMO it is the easiest to use and most convenient of them all.

My second favorite is my Silva 70UN because it can be mounted in a variety of ways and still used as a conventional hand bearing compass when necessary. The mounting brackets are available separately, so you could have several mounting locations if you want. It is not illuminated though. I have mine mounted above my berth so I can check direction at anchor, or underway with someone else at the helm. Purchased in '83 and still works fine.



Obviously, these are both dinosaurs, like me, but they are simple and work. There may be better/more modern products available, but these two have served me well.

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Old 03-07-2014, 11:00 AM   #14
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My vote is also for the Vion Mini-2000. It's over $100, but is well worth is because it is superbly accurate and stable. I would avoid the pistol-grip type and anything else that's cheapo. They're just not as stable when taking bearings. Congratulations on desire to learning and practicing the basics!
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Old 03-07-2014, 12:56 PM   #15
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Just to throw another option into the mix, I find that binoculars with a built-in compass are pretty easy to use, and keep handy. Wouldn't be much help for emergency steering. But then again, you could use the smart phone/tablet app for that.
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