A magnetic compass is the most important piece of direction finding equipment a master can have, particularly in bad visibility or out of sight of land.

Electronic equipment such as a GPS and battery operated hand held devices are useful supplements but can fail when electrical power runs low.

Under the Marine Safety Act most classes of recreational vessels operating on coastal waters including power boats, sailing boats, and paddle craft are required to be equipped with a compass if the vessel operates more than 2 nautical miles from the coast.

Image with the text "Keep magnetic compasses away from large metal objects such as engines or anchors to avoid inaccurate measurements."

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