Removeable compasses

Just put $ down on a CD Extreme. Am looking for advice on the following:

  1. Permanant recessed compass, or removeable compass?

  2. If removeable compass, what brand, model #?

    I would go with a removeable if they have a stable mounting system and are trustworthy in rough conditions. They should also have a large enough readout for my ageing eyes !! I prefer a mount location further up the bow so the readibility is important.

    Any advice?


If you have more than one boat, a removeable will save you $$$$$. If you only have one boat & don’t plan on buying another, a permanently installed one can be a very good choice.

As far as readability, they vary. I have an Aquameter Sailor II removeable, and my girlfriend has a Ritchie Kayaker removeable, and also a Brunton Nexus 70P recessed in one of her boats. The Brunton is easy enough to read, and also gives you reciprocal bearings.

I find all 3 easy to read, even without glasses. The Sailor is the easiest for me to read because the card is black, and the numbers are white, but I have no trouble reading the Ritchie either. YMMV depending on your eyesight. Look at a few different models in the store from about 8 feet away & buy the one you can read the easiest.

What I like best about the Sailor is the inclinometer on top of the card ---- it’s great for packing the boat to go camping. You put the boat in the water empty, note where the inclinometer is, and pack the boat such that when you put it in the water full, the inclinometer reads the same. You avoid a lot of trim problems this way.


Think about when and for what you will actually use it.

Rough stuff- it must be far enough away to don’t have to look down and back up to paddle, or it will make you sea sick.

In fog, better be really large and visible

At night, illuminated or useless.

Extra weight/can get whacked by equipment rolling surf etc.

I use a an illuminated wrist compass, best of all the above together for me. Second would be the sailor II.

Caution, opinionated response!

– Last Updated: Mar-16-05 12:13 AM EST –

All sea kayaks and all sea kayakers need compasses. The more the merrier. There is little that I see as more misguided than a paddler with a $3,000 boat, $400 carbon-fiber crank-shaft paddle, decked out with another $2,000 worth of brand-new misc gear and no compass or chart on their boat. A compass shouldn't be considered an option for a sea kayak, rather the kayak is just an extension of the mount for the compass.

Each of my four sea kayaks (4? shhh, the wife thinks I'm storing boats for friends) are fitted with permanent recessed compasses. I keep an illuminated stap-on in the day hatch for night / low-light work, a base-plate compass in a PFD pocket and another base-plate in the emergency kit.

Mount the compass far enough forward to be useful, close enough amidships to be read easily. In rough conditions you'll have more to worry about than being able to read a compass to an accuracy of less than 15°. CD has a factory-installed compass option ($150?) for a very good Ritchie compass. Buy a $40 strap-on (Suunto Orca?) for night paddling. Keep a $10 base-plate on your PFD. Get a bunch of good charts and practice using the compasses and reading the charts until both become second nature.



PS Enjoy the Extreme, it's a "wicked fast" boat and rolls like a log! Every now and then I regret having sold mine.

Agree! If have young eyes!!!
So true. Navigation is given short shrift by many. Being in a trance is the “Timothy Leary” way of paddling, yet best to stay focused and oriented times 3!

That said, “Young Eyes”, those that focus well and see details at 8 feet, merit such compasses. For those of us who are sight challenged, deck compasses best be huge, way illuminated, or seek alternatives.

That said, go Jed, staying found by knowing where one is at all times before the fog jumps up, ferrying in a current, and best be knowing whether headed to shore or sea.