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Choosing the right compass for your boat

The most vital instrument on your boat is your compass, so when buying one, make sure you have thought carefully about the size and type of compass and mount you need.
It’s important to remember that a GPS is not a replacement for a compass, as the GPS can’t give you a real time heading, taking into account current, wind and boat speed.
So when it comes to size, it’s useful to know that compass dials range in size from a 2 inch dial to a 6 inch dial. As larger boats tend to travel greater distances, you'll spend much more time looking at your compass on a long journey so you’ll want to think big. You’ll also need to take into account what type of mount will best suit your needs, dependent on the layout and space limitations of your piloting area. 
Choosing the right compass for your boat can be tricky as there are many models available. Here are a few popular compasses to get you started on your research, and we hope our videos detailing their main features will be helpful.
Many thanks to Allspars and Raymarine for providing compasses for us to try out. 
Silva 70UNE Compass
The Silva 70UNE is a universal compass that can be used in its bracket as a steering compass or as a bearing compass when handheld. The design allows for many mounting alternatives. It can be installed in any inclination or position with a bracket that allows for fast and easy removal. It is suitable for kayaks, dinghies, canoes and small boats. 70UNE comes with built in diode illumination, powered by two watch batteries and a waterproof switch.
Boatshop24.com takes a closer look at the Silva 70UNE Compass
Silva 85 Compass
The Silva 85 is a very stable compass, ideal for small and fast dinghies. Deck mounted with flat underside, there’s no need to make big holes in the deck. A common installation is two Silva 85 compasses, one on each rail. The 85 model also has a memory ring for setting a desired course. The construction of the compass card makes the 85 very well dampened and suitable for high speed and rough conditions.
Boatshop24.com takes a closer look at the Silva 85 Compass
Velocitek SpeedPuck 
Here’s an excellent wireless electronic GPS magnetic compass featuring count down, heading and speed. The award winning (Practical Sailor Best Choice Award 2010) SpeedPuck is completely self contained and can be installed very quickly, without the need for tools. Instead of using a paddlewheel, the SpeedPuck calculates your speed by measuring the Doppler shift in GPS signals to provide you with an updated reading twice a second. The SpeedPuck never needs to be calibrated and maintains uniform accuracy at all speeds.
Price: £225 
Boatshop24.com takes a closer look at the Velocitek SpeedPuck
T060 Micro Compass
The aim of the Raymarine Wireless Micro Compass is to give you a racing advantage. This model is billed by Raymarine as “light, easy to read, reliable and precise”. The Micro Compass's tactical scale gives you clear stable figures for port and starboard tacks. When you’re tacking, the readings are always the same, meaning you don’t need to keep numbers in your head. Installation of the T060 is straightforward, with no wires to connect. The unit is lightweight at only .34lbs, has a useful battery level indicator, and is totally waterproof, submersible from 10m.
For a wide range of marine compasses visit our sister site Mailspeed Marine

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