Compass: The Best Navigator While Sailing


A hand holding up a mountain in the background

A compass is an important navigating tool that has been used for ages. Time has tested it and it deems worthy of being called as among the most important gear you should have when sailing. Don’t know how to read one? No need to fret as we will tell you simple steps on how to, as you read on. So, don’t underestimate this tiny gadget. It can be a lifesaver just as much as a life jacket would be to you. During your awesome ocean adventure!

Compass: Where Did It Come From?

Who exactly started using compasses? Who invented it? And how was such a small device with such immense capabilities of navigation? You’re asking the right questions. So, here’s a brief history. Historians have written that it first was used by Man around 2,000 years ago, or earlier. Additionally, it is said that the Chinese were among the first ones to utilize this tool. The Han Dynasty saw the proliferation of the usage of the compass. You’re probably wondering who invented it. Unfortunately, it’s unknown exactly who exactly did. Thanks to him or her, though, right?

Through trade, the compass, or at least, the idea of it, reached then Medieval Europe. After decades, the Islamic countries in the West also began using this navigation apparatus as well.  Some tweaking was done to it. So that instead of using magnetized iron ore, a lighter material was added. That material is known as Lodestone. This paved the way for the Dry Compass.

A Dry Compass is simply a kind of pocket compass, much lighter than its forerunner. Its runner, as we’ve mentioned in the paragraph before. This tool is easier to carry around, plus it is already easier to read. As time went by, this too was replaced by what we now know as a magnetic compass.

How Does It Work?

How is such a minuscule object able to navigate through seas, different lands, mountains, and deserts? Also, how will it be helpful to you? Well, it’s because it always points to the north. To True North, to be more specific. Then, what IS True North? True North is the bearing and direction that leads only to the North, not according to what is called the “magnetic north,”

On the other hand, it refers to the Earth’s northern direction, according to the planet’s own axis. It never changes. No matter the weather or condition of the area you’re in, True North Never changes. Time and time again, it will point towards the same direction. And this is why a compass is so important.

In case you lose your way, all you’ll have to do is use True North as your basis in order for you to navigate towards where you need to be.

Digital compasses are now a fad, too. Nothing wrong with them. Most use batteries. However, it’s best if you have both. A magnetic one that doesn’t need batteries. As well as a digital one. For back up. If you have another, add it in. Nothing wrong with having more than one compass on the boat as you sail on!

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