A compass is an instrument used for navigation and orientation that shows direction relative to the geographic cardinal points.
A compass usually reflects the markings in degrees. North corresponds to zero degrees, and the angles increase clockwise, with east being 90 degrees, south being
180 degrees and west is found at 270 degrees. These numbers allow the compass to show bearings or azimuths.
The magnetic compass was first invented as a device for divination in the Chinese Han Dynasty (206 BC) and was later used for navigation by the Chinese Song Dynasty around the 11th century. Compasses were first used in Western Europe and Persia in the 13th century.
One of the most important instruments on a boat is its magnetic compass. And, it doesn’t have to be a top-of-the-line model that is going to require you to take a further bond on your house to pay for it. Even an inexpensive compass will stand you in good stead and keep its arrow aimed north for many years.
When your boat’s electrics have been fried by lightning, the compass is the one navigation tool that will still function and able to guide you home. This is why it is important to do simple compass maintenance to keep you pointed in the right direction.
There are a few things that can go wrong with compasses. It can suffer from a cracked dome, it can leak, it can have a bubble form in the fluid and the buildup of dirt inside the compass can cause dampening of the dials and prevent them from rotating smoothly. A worn pivot bearing can also cause problems for the compass.
A mechanically sound compass can also experience problems if there is severe magnetic activity on the boat. Compass problems are best handled by a proper compass repair shop.