Steering Compasses and Nautical Charts
A good compass and chart are always useful. Having a compass and knowing how to use it are invaluable when darkness, fog, or a storm occurs. Therefore, it's a good idea to take a basic course in navigation, usually available from the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, U.S. Power Squadrons, American Sailing Association, and others.
A compass, which is used to assist in navigation, is an instrument that shows magnetic north. You must apply a correction to determine the direction of true north. The ability to steer a boat by a compass is useful if land is out of sight, visibility is reduced, or the boat operator is disoriented.
Mount a boat compass away from iron, magnets, and electrical wiring and equipment. Practice with your compass and other navigation equipment in good weather. Make sure you know how to use them. This will give you confidence during bad weather.
Charts contain important information such as water depths and the locations of channels, sand bars, rocks, and vegetation. This is especially helpful when boating in bays or in large lakes. They also can be used to determine the most direct course possible for fuel conservation.
Check with the local marina for charts. If none are available, obtain local knowledge before boating in an unfamiliar area.