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Ritchie Compasses

Ritchie Navigation

Ritchie boat compass

Safe, successful marine navigation begins with the right tools. Did you know that Ritchie has been making compasses (and nothing else) for nearly 150 years? This experience and focus means that no other brand can compare when it comes to details that make a difference.

Without a compass, you're lost. Modern electronics can't give true real-time heading. Compasses don't suffer any lag-time when you turn, or lose accuracy when you slow down. There's never the issue of your heading being off a few degrees. A good compass means you won't spend time over compensating and wasting time.

The best boating move is learning to interpret and apply both GPS electronic and compass data when you are out on the water. GPS does a good job with speed, direction, and position, but wind, current, and boat speed can complicate things by creating a discrepancy between what the GPS displays and what is really happening. This is where Ritchie distinguishes themselves.

Navigation Depends On The Right Compass

The most important instrument on your boat, a properly sized, installed and compensated compass will provide accurate heading no matter how rough the seas or weather, when radio signals or satellite communication-based navigation tools might not be effective.

Low cost competitor models lacking quality components will suffer from accuracy and stability problems that manifest themselves at the worst possible time.

cutaway of a Ritchie compass, showing engineering details

Ritchie Engineering Details & Features

  • Ritchie compasses features optically-clear polymer domes that promote clear and accurate dial magnification. Bowls and housings are made of brass and glass reinforced polymers
  • Internal gimbal system prevents bottoming out caused by the boat pitching and rolling. A bi-axis gimbal system is found on most models.
  • Gimbal rings nad pins suspend the dial and hold it in place with spring loaded pins. The entire assembly is kept level by brass counter balances.
  • Fluid baffles reduce turbulence and roller diaphragms minimize the effect of temperature or pressure changes while preventing bubbles.
  • Corrector magnets maintain accuracy. A common problem with inexpensive compasses is deviation, which is when something on your boat draws the magnets away their normal attraction to Earth's magnetic field. (Electric motors, marine electronics, engines, stereo speaker magnets, batteries, engine controls, steering wheels, and cabin appliances can all do this). Built-in compensators make sure this does not happen with Ritchie compasses.
  • A wide range of dial sizes, from 2" to 6". Many models offer traditional Flat Card or Direct Reading Dial. A combination of the two styles, CombiDial, is both a flat card & direct reading dial. This is a feature reserved for Voyager, Helmsman, and Navigator models.
  • High speeds and rough seas can cause spinning and dial jumping in lesser compasses. PowerDamp lightweight baffle system prevents this.

    Mounting Styles & Dial Design

    When choosing a compass, the primary considerations are dial size, mounting style, size, card readability, and boat design. If your own a powerboat with limited dash space, consider a dash mount model. Smaller or racing sailboats need to maximize space and keep clear of lines. Bulkhead mount models work best in this situation.

    Bracket mounting allows dash or deck installation while maintaining correct viewing angle. Modern boat designs frequently feature compact hull designs best suited for flush or surface mount installation, and Binnacle mounting features an outer case, sometimes with a light-shielding hood to enhance viewability on sun-exposed open cockpit installations.

    Compass Positioning & Dial Balancing

    Ideally, a compass should be mounted directly in front of the well, directly above the hull centerline. If this is not an option, Ritchie strongly recommends mounting parallel to the centerline.

    Magnetic dials should be balanced to adjust for magnetic field 'dips'. As delivered, Ritchie compasses are balanced for Zone 1, which covers nearly the entire Northern Hemisphere. If your boat will be used in waters outside of this region, it is crucial that your zone and boating area be indicated at the time of order.

    Warranty Information

    All Ritchie compasses are backed by the manufacturer's 5 year warranty and are warranted to be free or workmanship or material defects when new. Warranty will not honor breakage due to accident or misuse.

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