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sometimes a Scout compass is better than a pile of microchips...

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I recently had the opportunity to tour the new house boat that had been built for a couple that is friends with my family. The couple were in the process of taking it down river from the builder to the lake they vacation at, and they made a stop in the local area.


Anyhow, this was by far the nicest boat I had ever set foot on.


It had the latest GPS with moving map display.


It had a RADAR system.


It had all the modern electronic controls.


Yet, what did I notice sitting beside the massive steering wheel on the console?


An old BSA compass.


I asked the owner about that, and he said that as far as he could tell, it was the only thing on the boat that could tell which direction was which, and it was from his own days as a Scout. So, even after a several decades, the old compass, and the old Scouting skills, are serving him better than the latest digital navigation equipment.

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Eagle, in this scenario, I'd rely on the GPS, the RADAR, and the NAVAIDS on the river. A land navigation compass is not the same as one built for the waterways.


However, if it's a symbolic use that we're after, I whole heartedly agree.


Eagle (former ship driver)

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I just love playing with all the new toys that are out there. Let me lose in a store and I can spend hours trying to see how things work, pushing buttons, twisting knobs. I am in my element, Her That Must Be Obeyed tries not to go with me and OJ informs me that I'm an over grown kid.

Car salesmen are pushy, when you go and play with the new cars they are like wasps at a picnic, they swarm in thinking they will make a sale. I like a lot of what is happening in cars. On Star is a great idea, I don't have it but never the less what a great toy. Pam has it on her little Mercedes, I like getting lost just so I can push the button. When the voice fills the car it's like talking to God. I'm not as yet sold on satellite radio. I think that I'm just too cheap to pay $20.00 a month to hear the radio.

I don't really travel that much in my car. Most of the time the trips are the same: To and from work, off to the store or just around town. I look at the new video navigation tools and while they impress me, I don't really need them. For trips when I don't know how to get where I'm going I use Map-quest or Yahoo. Her That Must Be Obeyed will get a trip-ticket from the AAA.

I have been keeping an eye on the hand held GPS units and see how the price is falling, I really don't need one but think that I will get one. It will be added to the other toys that I have and don't use that much.


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Good advice I would say.


However, I don't think he will have any trouble reaching his destination even if he doesn't have any navigational equipment at all. It also happens that he is right, the compass was the only thing on the boat that can tell which direction is which... when the boat isn't moving. I don't know why the builders didn't include a nice marine compass, or one of those digital ones. Maybe they figured you would never need it unless you were moving fast enough for the GPS to calculate it.





GPS is nice, and it comes in handy on occasion, but it takes a while to really learn how to make best use of it.


Just don' throw out the old compass.


GPS can only tell which direction is which while you are moving.


If you are sitting still, it can't tell North from South, or East from West.


Though, I think there are a few models that are now including a built in digital compass, but most still don't have that.

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This semester, I just beat my class again in a contest to do a series of quick trig calculations. Their tool, a scientific calculator. My tool, a 37-year-old slide rule (accuracy beyond 3 places would have put them ahead). I say hold on to that compass...in case the batteries fail.

BTW, some of them could hardly believe such an invention actually existed, much less sent a man to the moon (the slide rule, that is, not the compass.)

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Nipper has been on my case to buy him a new calculator. Last year we bought him one through the school for about $45.00. This year he keeps steering me toward ones that cost about $150.00. It has a USB connection for a computer and way too many buttons that I don't know how to use. $150 seems like a lot, but he is telling me that he needs it.


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