magnetic compass is the most commonly used instrument in determining
and measuring directions and angles. If you plan on sea kayaking
or offshore touring in Florida, a compass is mandatory. It is possible
for fog to last for extended periods and the compass (or a GPS unit)
is required to keep traveling on a straight line.
Compasses used for kayaking come in two styles; those which are
permanently or semi-permanently mounted to the kayak's deck and
the hand-held units. Both work fine for kayaking and each has it's
own advantage. A deck mounted compass is convenient as it is always
available and you can quickly check your bearing. Hand-held units
are inexpensive and don't require precious deck space. Additionally,
hand-held compasses can be placed on a map for better chartwork.
Silva style compasses are especially useful.
Note: If your deck-mounted compass starts acting quirky, check
to see what's stored immediately below the compass. It's possible
to confuse it if anything is made of a ferrous metal. There are
many good books available for learning orienteering with a compass.
Check your local library or bookstore for more information.