Kayak Compass Location on Deck?

I recently spent a day out in the marshes on the intracoastal side of Mustang Island near Corpus Christi/Port Aransas, TX (Sunday after the Wooden Boat Show!).  I don't have a handheld marine GPS and hated the hassle and monetary risk (plop, ooops!) of checking my phone GPS very frequently.  And with a good breeze blowing I didn't cherish the idea of taking wrong turns into dead-end coves instead of through- channels.  I've got plenty of experience on the water (Nav/Ops in the navy all around the world), but found navigating those marshes (even with plenty of radio towers, oil rigs, etc. visible on the horizon) from down at the kayaker's eye level just as challenging as any navigation I've ever done.  Thus, I just ordered a compass and wood block base from CLC.  Enough for the stories.

I have a Chesapeake 17.  I have just enough room (maybe 6 inches total) to put the compass mount between the forward cockpit coaming rim and the aftermost deck bungee, and still room to get the spray skirt on and off.  That might make the compass feel like it is "in my belly button" but will make it easily reachable for wiping off, adjusting the bezel, etc..  Off course I can put it further forward (more in a natural line of sight) ahead of my foredeck bungee set up (which is only about 18 inches wide) - but I often put my life jacket (it has pockets for suncreen & etc) on my foredeck, so I do have to be sure to place the compass far enough forward to see over any bulk gear I decide to strap on.  No matter what, any mounting location forward of the bungees means I can't reach the compass while underway.  I checked with da'Google and see compasses mounted many differing locations.  Plastic sea kayaks with pre-made mount locations seem the have the compass about half-way up the foredeck.

Off course I can do temporary mounting and see what I like with trial and error.  But I'm sure some of you have tried (and maybe erred?); so, opinions and justifications for them appreciated.  Thanks.

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RE: Kayak Compass Location on Deck?

my preference is natural line of sight where i don't have to look down/nod my head down.

having to look down to read it is, in my view, a recipe for problems.  particularly if the weather gets a bit rough.

i am not overly concerned about not being able to touch it.   most kayak compasses have no adjustment you would need to make while underway. declination (difference between magnetic and true north) is about the only adjustment i can think of but it doesn't change while underway for any paddling i am aware of.

fwiw...the clc-sold compass appears to have a movable bezel.  not a feature you need in my book for a kayak...but a nice feature for dinghy racing....which you are not doing.

the link below shows more traditional compasses for kayaks....



RE: Kayak Compass Location on Deck?

hspira, you assume too much ;)   

I'd already decided the compass will do double duty on my Flying Scot.  I'm not sure I'll really use it, as I'm very used to picking out shore references (and don't do traveling regattas).  At least it will give me something else to think about/fuss with while racing.  I've raced dinghies (fresh water) all my life without a compass.  The only time I ever wished I had one was during foggy Laser race I got into at the invitation of some French guys - sailing in Marseille during a midshipman summer cruise. 

But I'm sure I can figure out how to scapegoat the compass as something to blame for poor results while having the obligatory post-race beer.

RE: Kayak Compass Location on Deck?

I agree with Howard on the more forward location.  You may not notice it on the stable Ch17, but everytime you look down, you loose stability.  Further forward allows you to keep your head up, which will help with stability in rough weather.

Now regarding the PFD.  Please wear it regardless of how strong of a swimmer you are.  In the last two weeks, we have had two kayaker drownings in Florida.  Neither was wearing a PFD.  If your PFD is not comfortable, then buy one that is.  In the picture, I am wearing a MTI Cascade.  This is a very good USCG approved PFD for rough water that is not too restrictive.  For skinny water inland paddling, we wear USCG approved "fanny pack" inflatables.  For racing, I wear either a Vaikobi or Moche.  Both have a slim profile that makes reboarding easier and have pockets for hydration bladders.  Neither are USCG approved but the water police don't seem to care as long as you are wearing something.



RE: Kayak Compass Location on Deck?

Looking down at that area isn't too unnormal. I put the GPS on tje bungees on the end of my day pack, but thats foward of your place. . Gps is normally on "trip computor" , speed, average, time, etc window.   The map goes under the bungees at the cockpit. The water bottle moves around in that area. There's the contact tow line in there.  There's just too much going on for a compass to work correctly there. It needs to go foward of the bungees. The classic space is foward of the foward hatch. Wife's works great there.  mine....?  I use the wife. Some put a removable kayak compas with four attachment points made to go "where-ever" attached to the lifelines. They usually end up in the "deck bag" area. True north, error, etc usually doesn't much fall into normal kayak navigation.

Then too there is the problem of magnetic interference. Naw not the boat but the knife, stove, can goods, keys, etc that end up in and around the center of the boat.    

In the marsh I use current more than anything for navigation.

RE: Kayak Compass Location on Deck?

my apologies.....i probably should have said when you are paddling....you are not dinghy racing.   but i certainly didn't mean to suggest kayakers can't also be dinghy sailors.

im a member of that club too.   before i got into kayaking, i sailed competitively for several decades and then when i was tired of campaigning a keel boat i downsized to laser masters for a couple years.  i am very impressed that you have sailed off of Marseille....that's a pretty windy venue where you often find the sailboats have short rigs so they are not constantly over-powered.

the thing i have really enjoyed about the kayaking is the reduction in barriers to get out and going.  no crew, carry my own boat....not overly concerned about banging a keel on rock.....able to actually build one myself.   so my approach has been pretty minimalist on the sport.....sort of my ludite side happily not being a hostage to stuff. 

that said, i will share, to Marks point, the few luxuries i do engage in -- they are a top-end paddle and a top notch PFD which i wear at all times.   had some MOBs during my racing days and had one instance, where if the g-ds were a little less favorable, i would have been telling my friend's wife that i didn't bring her husband home......

just feel a lot better knowing that i can focus on how to get out of a predicament vs how to keep my head above water.

thanks for sharing your story...h



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