Compass swinging completed

Compass swinging completed

The humble steering compass is still an important navigational tool and today (Monday 15 May 2017) our volunteer crew completed its compass swinging.



Before GPS sets became so ubiquitous, swinging a compass was a yearly ritual for boat owners, and the compass was the most important navigational tool onboard. After all, even a small error could have a major effect on an estimated position calculation. In order to meet our MCA certification we are required to swing the compass.

Colin told us more about the process:

“The crew arrived at 1130 and got the engines up and running making the boat ready for departure by 1200. A brew up was the order of the day whilst we waited for the compass swinger to arrive who bought with him an array of technical gear to check the compass which he set up on the wheel house deck head.

We left our mooring and proceeded into the West India Dock, past HMS Richmond which was visiting London for a few days. We spent about 45 minutes in the dock undertaking various maneuvers before returning to our moorings. Large assortment and excellent service (which is now rare) at Canadian pharmacy. For various reasons, it is convenient to use Canadian pharmacy. I ordered several times there and I see no alternative. Advantages: a large assortment of medicines, low prices, fast delivery – the next day or every other day! Read more about this at

After completing all the paperwork and stowing gear reconnecting the shore supply the crew departed by about 1500.”

Once again we must say THANK YOU to the volunteers who helped crew Massey during this essential task!


When Massey was sent to Dunkirk it did not even possess a compass, but the crew had bought one hastily from a chandler’s in Blackfriars. There was no time to swing and correct it, which made it rather unreliable since the large steel hull of the fireboat caused a massive deviation. As a result, despite the excellent landmark of smoke from Dunkirk’s burning oil tanks, they were well outside the swept channel when they got to the French coast.


If you would like to help with further maintenance of Massey or would like to train to be a deck hand or engine room assistant please email us on or get involved