I was recently offered a ride on a Snipe with my friend Cam and jumped at the chance because it's always fun trying something new.
We were sailing on a small Dallas lake that I know well, but felt lost because Cam's compass was not working.
I suggested that he consider getting one but he prefers using a shore reference to see when the wind shifts. I did a really lousy job explaining why there's a better way because it's not just one thing but rather a bunch of little things.
Here are ten:
- Using a shore reference is not very accurate unless you're in the middle of the boat. Which means hardly ever.
- Your shore reference changes each time you tack.
- The wind can change as you're tacking, especially on a lake.
- A shore reference like 'those trees that all look the same' may not tell you much.
- If you sail in a different location, your favorite shore references are gone.
- Looking at your shore references encourage looking forward, not around you.
- Tactical compasses are easy to read - there's no math involved.
- Compasses are good for getting a game plan before the race and then knowing if it's working during the race.
- You can switch between your shore reference and compass reading.
- You may not want to tack when you're headed. This is so important that I wrote an entire post on when not to tack.