I tend to do lakes and slow rivers where I KNOW where I am. But occcasionally I do a new river or ocean where I would like the security of directions.

(had the Lt loose his map and compass in the desert, afraid to ask the locals as they hated American soldiers and had better guns than we did)

So I try to carry a couple compasses with me. My old military one in my bag and a cheap round auto compass on the deck.

But the cheap one is just that… cheap.

And the military one requires a more stable platform than my hand on a rolling deck.

So I was thinking of a real kayak compass.

My thoughts are (aside from cheap): A flat compass locks up when tipped. Is there any problem with the ones designed for paddlers? It seems to me that if they are flat, then as the boat rolls side-to-side,the compass will lock up until horizontal.

Also what about metal attraction? With all my gear, would i have to adjust the thing every time I pack the boat? Or would it always point at me and my PFD full of metal gear?

So, as someone who never relied on a compass ever (even the compass will break or get lost) I am pretty much lost here.


– Last Updated: Feb-13-08 4:37 PM EST –

I carry a flat map compass in my chart bag, but the fact is I never use it. For the cost of a deck compass you can get a small waterproof gps these days. I do all my paddling on open water, anywhere from Boston to the Vineyard so far, (one trip down to Maryland last year,) so I actually think carrying something for navigation is a safety concern. There've been a couple times bad weather has been threatening and I wanted to get in fast, and nothing is easier than a gps for heading straight to your put in. I have the compass for back up, but if I have a choice I'll go by gps any day of the week. A nice deck compass that would fit my Chatham's deck actually cost more than the little garmin I'm using now.

(If that military compass is the one I'm thinking of, it is actually a fine compass, and your pfd full of gear isn't nearly as magnetic as your lbe full of hardware was. It should be fine, and those are real nice for shooting azimuth's with.)

marine compasses
are gimbled and float in an oil solution that dampens their movement, so they are free to rock back and forth with the boat, but don’t jerk wildly about, which is good.

Lots of people with a marine compass carry a hiking compass too to take bearings without having to turn the whole boat.

(And yes, metal too close will cause variation.)


– Last Updated: Feb-13-08 5:33 PM EST –

Of course metal near a compass will cause variation, but I seriously doubt the kind of metal your carrying in a kayak should be a problem. I used an army issue compass, (I was an infantryman and a Sgt. by the time I finished; lots of navigation involved back in the dark days before gps,) for 5 years. I carried a lot more metal than you have in your kayak. Always take off your steel pot and put down your machine gun before you shoot an azimuth and you should be fine, you should be ok if leave your ammo belt on. (Sorry, I'm being a bit facetious but you can see my meaning.)

I prefer my gps.

I like my GPS too
I have a Garmin Foretrex, the waterproof wristwatch one.

Problem was, I was in Africa last November and eventually found a place to charge it… in a hospital 100 km from nowhere via solar cells on the hospital roof (after kicking the goats and chickens away). BUT, my charger was bad. I had about 20 seconds to turn on, get a lock and note the lat/lon before the battery died and shut down. Never could get a lock in that short a time.

Never trust technology!

I also saw a guy paddle down the Calif coast in an inflatable. He had his GPS in a pelican case and the sun steamed the inside so bad the whole inside of the case was fogged so bad he couldn’t see and probably cooked the GPS.

I suggested that he toss into the case a few of the silica gell packets to absorb the humidity. I do that in my soft-case for my big GPS.

Good info on the kayak compass. Hioping to hear more experiences on them.

Sorry bout that.

– Last Updated: Feb-13-08 6:29 PM EST –

Went in to get one of these installed:

Dealer talked me out of it, said they have a tendency to get broken in storage or transit.

Got one of these:

Don't bother with it, between float, spare paddles, chart kits, water bottles and lunch, I already waste too much time strapping crap I actually use on my deck before I can start paddling and I got my map compass in my chart kit that I can also navigate fairly well with, and never actually use that anymore anyway because the other thing works better anyway. But it is a real nice compass, and easy to read, rolling deck no problem, seems tough, not too expensive and it easy to set your course with it mounted . . . They are nice.

thats all I got.

You ain’t lost…

…if you don’t care where you are.