Yacht Racing - Compass Courses
( Originally Published 1911 )
THERE is not a great deal to be said in regard to compass courses for small racing boats, as generally the races are sailed on inside courses and the marks can be seen when you have approached within a mile of them. It nevertheless is important to always carry a chart and compass, as it is impossible to tell when they might be of the greatest use to you in winning the race. If, for instance, you see a fog shutting in, get your direction by compass, and also the general direction of the wind, and if there are any marks between you and the turning buoy, pick them up one by One, using them as guide marks. This will insure your correct direction. Be careful in using a compass that there is no anchor or any amount of metal under the cockpit floor, as this will throw your compass out of true. If you are going to windward, sail your boat by your watch, say five to ten minutes on one tack, and the same length of time on the other, making short hitches. Then you cannot be far out, no matter what happens.
If the wind is very light the tendency of many skippers sailing in a fog is to allow the boat to fall off and off, not having kept an eye on the compass and getting completely turned around by the fog. It is an excellent thing to have all courses laid out on the circular or chart with the compass directions written in, then there will be no delay in plotting them.