CacheCrazy.Com: MY GEOBAG II

Friday, November 29, 2013



Grab a cup of coffee, or tea, sit back and check out what's inside of my Geobag.

If you did not read last weeks post My Geobag then you probably should go back and check it out.

Okay, so I’m wondering what this last item is? Here, let me clear the dust off of it first. There, I think I can open it now. S Q U E A K ….. Come on, I’ve almost got it open. Come on; just a little more. Okay!  Wow! This is so cool. Now let me see, where is the button to turn it on? Oh, it doesn’t have a button. So then where do the batteries go? What do you mean it doesn’t take batteries? Oh, duh, it’s always on.  I think I know what it is, but I’d better Google it first just to be sure. Here's a picture of my last item. 

For those of you who guessed last week that it was a compass, well you're right. 

Here is the Wiki-pedia definition of the last thing in my Geobag.

COMPASS:  A compass is a navigational instrument that measures directions in a frame of reference that is stationary relative to the surface of the earth. The frame of reference defines the four cardinal directions (or points) – north, south, east, and west. Intermediate directions are also defined. Usually, a diagram called a compass rose, which shows the directions (with their names usually abbreviated to initials), is marked on the compass. When the compass is in use, the rose is aligned with the real directions in the frame of reference, so, for example, the "N" mark on the rose really points to the north. Frequently, in addition to the rose or sometimes instead of it, angle markings in degrees are shown on the compass. North corresponds to zero degrees, and the angles increase clockwise, so east is 90 degrees, south is 180, and west is 270. These numbers allow the compass to show azimuths or bearings, which are commonly stated in this notation.

You are probably wondering why you would need one of these little non electronic devices since you have your GPSr , and, or a smartphone. Well let me tell you that cell phones sometimes don’t get reception, and sometimes batteries die. Yes, that’s right they can die.  And the spare ones you bought could actually be bad ones. Here’s a true story.

I had bought a brand new pack of Energizer Ultimate Lithium AA batteries and I had them in my geobag. Well eventually my GPSr batteries died so I replaced them. Guess what? Not even 10 minutes later those NEW batteries died. What? How could they die? They were brand new in the pack and I just bought them. Well guess what? They did die. I was out there. Luckily I was in an area I knew well and I did not have to worry about it. When I got home I contacted the manufacturer and they sent me a new pack at no charge. Those did work. This led me to always carry my trusty compass because I know it always works.

A good compass relies on the earth’s magnetic field and will always point to either Magnetic North (MN), or True North (TN), sometimes referred to as  Geographic North. It depends on how you have it set. Magnetic North changes over time, therefore maps are set for Geographic North, which does not change.  My compass is set for True North with a declination of about 12 degrees west for our area.

Below is an example of what could happen if you followed Magnetic North without changing the declination.

True North is the line running straight up and down from the star on the left, and Magnetic North is the one on the right. Notice you have only walked 1.25 miles, but you are already 1700 feet off course. The further you walk along MN the further away you get from TN. This could cause great problems if you are traveling a long distance. Just imagine if you walked five miles searching for a cache. You'd end up WAY off course. So if you do carry a real compass make sure you set the declination for it.

Now you're probably wondering why should you carry such an outdated instrument? Well as I mentioned before your GPS batteries could die, or worse yet you drop it and it crashes. A good compass can see you through in an emergency and sometimes you need them to complete certain multi-caches.

Have you completed a cache where you need to use a compass? I have.  Cozy Squirrel Lookout This cache was in the woods and when you got to GZ you had to find the real coordinates and use the compass to find the actual cache. I know some of you have the compass on your GPSr, or your cell phone, but most of those only work while you're walking. A real compass will point you in the right direction whether you're moving or not. Searching for the cache I mentioned  was lots of fun and I hope to find more that want you to use a compass.  

Another incident that happened to me was while I was night caching with my kids. We got turned around and after finding the cache we tried heading out only to find out I did not have a waypoint set for where the car was. If I would have been carrying my compass then I could have used it to help us find our way out since my GPSr was jumping all over the place. (BTW, We did find our way back out.)

Well how about you? Have you had to use a real compass while out caching, and do you even carry one with you? Maybe sometime we should get together for an Orienteering class using topo maps and REAL compasses. 


Kim@Snug Harbor said...

All great information. I don't carry a compass and I really should, especially since we spend so much time in the woods. Could you do a tutorial on how to do "offshoot" caches?

Heather Cook (Lady-Magpie) said...

Answer to your questions BigAl. No I haven't had to use one in geocaching days but did in the 60's when orienteering across Dartmoor for a competition. Do I have one in my bag, no as I have one on my walking pole, just flip the top cap and I'm all go, not sure I would get it right but we don't have the same problems of distance in the UK. Good info post though.


I knew it was a compass. I carry one on big hikes but I would be a little rusty using it. Great work!

Mark Dowding said...

Never had to use a compass while caching, but learned the skills when I was in Army Cadets. Our youngest (he's 8) brings one along with him, when we go out caching.

Mark Dowding said...

I take back my previous statement. We used the compass at the weekend.

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