Magnetic or True Direction

All paper charts give direction in degrees true. You can convert these directions to magnetic if you wish. All magnetic compasses show direction in degrees magnetic (with an error due to deviation if this is applicable).

When steering the boat using a magnetic compass to determine the direction, we need to know the 'course to steer' in degrees magnetic. It is, therefore, traditional to convert all directions to magnetic.

Global positioning system (GPS) and electronic chartplotters have the Earth's variation chart built in, so that if they know where they are, they will know the local variation. Therefore, if you wish, you can tell the GPS or chartplotter to show all directions as degrees magnetic. I prefer to do this as I can compare all direction information directly with my magnetic compass without having to tax my poor old brain.

If you have an electronic compass, and use your magnetic compass only as a back up, you can use true direction if you prefer. If you do so, ensure that all the 'electronics' use

true direction and that your crew understands what you are doing. At the present time, this is a non-standard procedure, but in the future, this may become the norm.

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