Daily Post: Compass

Compass on deck.. and a chart in the case!

By Johna Till Johnson

Today’s daily post is “Compass”.

I almost always paddle with one, even when there’s almost no chance of getting lost. (Hint: If you’re going south on the Hudson River, Manhattan is to your left!).

A compass can be useful in many ways. You can practice guessing the directions, and checking your guess against the compass: “The sun is behind me, and it’s an afternoon in the winter, so the sun is in the southwest which means I’m pointing… Northeast? Yes!”

You can also use one to precisely locate objects, particularly when paddling with a friend:  “See that bird on our left? About 90 degrees?”

And believe it or not, a compass often comes in handy when you least expect it. I’ve had fog so thick that I couldn’t see the Manhattan side of the Hudson from New Jersey—I was happy to have a compass then!

Because I have several boats, I have a compass that clips on to the deck lines, so I take it from boat to boat. (Actually, I have two compasses; I inherited one from Vlad). Many paddlers have the compass physically attached to their boats, so they don’t have to worry about traveling with one.

And, oh yeah, here’s a tip: Don’t put your compass on top of the deck bag in which you also have your car keys. The metal and electronics in the key will mess up the compass… and, as happened to me on a recent trip, you’ll wonder why the compass always tells you you’re pointing north!

6 responses to “Daily Post: Compass

  1. “If you’re going south on the Hudson River, Manhattan is to your left!” – That’s what I once, as a navigator on a sailing-boat, on a trip from the Mediterranean to Belgium, told about finding my way: “Europe is always on the right!” :D

    Liked by 1 person

    • Johna Till Johnson

      There is actually a book called “Keep Australia On Your Left” by Eric Stiller (who also runs the Pier 84 boathouse in Manhattan).

      But, you know, there may be a few interesting embayments en route. Like, oh, the Adriatic sea, in your case ! ;-).

      Thanks for reading, and posting…

      Liked by 1 person

      • Well, actually we didn’t start that far east, only on the coast of southern Spain. So, no detour through the Adriatic with my way of navigation. ;) And I also dared to take the short cut across the Bay of Biscay! :D


  2. So lovely to find your post today, Johna. It’s good advice for life, isn’t it. Don’t let your compass get messed up. Warmest greetings to you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Johna Till Johnson

      Ha! I hadn’t thought of it that way, Tish! I suppose that’s true. I was priding myself on writing a very literal interpretation of the day’s post…but yes, you’re right, there are larger implications.

      Greetings right back to you, and thanks for posting!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. My husband laughed when I read your tip to him. He always carries a compass (and a GPS) when he is hiking–in the same pocket as his car keys! He learned that lesson really quick. Thanks, Johna.


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