Compass Keeper: The Essential Role of the Binnacle in Maritime Navigation

First, compasses were used for navigation by early explorers. Then, the binnacle was developed to house the compass and provide protection from the elements. Furthermore, they have both been essential tools for sailors and navigators throughout history. In addition, their importance in maritime navigation cannot be overstated. They changed the way sailors travelled the world. With the advancement of technology,  different types of compasses and binnacles have appeared that can meet different navigation needs. The magnetic compass is a magical tool for everyone at sea. The sea and the ocean are bad places to get lost. Travelling by sea or across oceans requires certain machinery and tools that allow for smooth sailing. In the early days of exploration, sailors relied on compasses to find their bearings. This continues to this day in Maritime Navigation. 


A compass is a boating accessory that helps indicate Maritime Navigation direction. As always, before purchasing a compass and binnacle for your boat, you need to know your exact requirements. To go further, you need a bigger compass. For boating equipment, we recommend using a compass that can be read from a distance. Be sure to pay attention to the colour and design of your compass to ensure compatibility with your boat. A compass has become an essential piece of equipment on every boat, yacht, or ship. There are a wide variety of compasses to suit different needs, including magnetic, GPS, and celestial compasses. A common purpose is the ability to steer a boat on a magnetic course.

Magnetic Compass  

The magnetic compass was first used for navigation by the Chinese around 1044 AD. Since then, magnetic compasses have been installed on all ships going to sea, regardless of their purpose. A magnetic compass acts as a guide to point north and is based on the principles of the  Earth’s magnetic field. The compass allows sailors to locate their boat or vessel and determine whether their boat is crossing the path of another boat or on a collision course. To collect this data, create a plot line using a bearing with a hand-bearing compass. Her two bearings 45 degrees apart can give the sailor a fixed position, and the third bearing can provide enough information for smooth sailing.


Compass geostationary satellites are used in the GPS compass to determine the Maritime Navigation and direction of your boat. GPS compasses are more reliable than magnetic compasses because they do not fluctuate with changes in the Earth’s magnetic field. Additionally, GPS compasses are significantly cheaper and  available on smartphones

Electronic Fluxgate Compass 

Wrapping two or more coils of wire around a highly magnetic material aligns them with the Earth’s magnetic field. This is how an electronic fluxgate compass works. Using modern technology, that moment can be digitally analyzed and transferred to a display for review by the sailor. This is one of the biggest advantages of fluxgate compasses over traditional magnetic compasses. These compasses can, therefore, be used to support autopilot. One drawback of this type of compass is that the magnetic field is disturbed when the local magnetic field interacts with the system. As yacht and boat design and technology have advanced, changes can now be compensated for electrically, and sensors can be mounted remotely without affecting the magnetic field or the boat’s course.

Compass And Boat

The alignment and installation of the compass on the boat must be done carefully. The compass must be in line with the fore-and-aft line of the boat.

Forward refers to the direction of the ship or bow, and stern line refers to the direction of the stern. Therefore, the compass is placed in the middle of the ship, in the so-called midship zone, where it is easier to align. This ensures that the compass is not affected by the ship’s movements and provides accurate readings for navigation.If the compass is offset amidships, the sailor must measure the distance of the compass from the bow and stern lines. On boats made of fibreglass-reinforced plastic or GRP, the hull usually does not interfere with the compass. Additionally, do not place any electronic devices or metal objects near the compass. The interference chart display and chart plotter should not interfere with the smooth operation of the compass. 


Therefore, it is recommended to keep the display card at a safe distance from the compass. All display cards and plotters include a “Safe Distance to Compass” indicator to assist with system installation. Steelboats have an inherent problem with magnetism. Steel has inherent magnetic properties, so the compass must be placed in the boat accordingly. Each compass has iron balls or washers on each side that are used to correct the induced magnetism. A larger compass is more directional than a  smaller compass.

If you are planning to buy the best magnetic compass system in Dubai, consult marine equipment experts. With years of experience and a trusted resource for a wide range of maritime services, they can help you find the best magnetic compass service for your sails in the UAE Magnet Bow and Stern Magnet, Located in the centre section of the lower half of the hull. There are a number of holes in which correction magnets are placed to eliminate the magnetic influence from the hull. The specifications of the correction magnet are determined by a certified “compass adjuster” usually used in ports. Additionally, the access door to these correction magnets must remain locked at all times. However, it may need to be opened for adjustment.

Flinders Bars 

They are soft iron straighteners that are mounted vertically to the front or rear of a barge, depending on the extent of the barge’s rear or front superstructure area. Additionally, the length of the bar can be changed when setting up the compass.

The quadrant corrector 

It is two soft iron balls mounted in holders on either side of the Binnacle. Furthermore, you can change the distance between the quadrant correctors when adjusting the compass.

The helmet 

It is attached to the top of the reed and is made of non-ferrous metal

 This is  to protect the compass bowl from the elements and harsh conditions

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