Deck Compass Installation Directions

Because I have installed compass on several of my kayaks and several on others’ kayaks, I get occasional requests of how to install a compass on the deck of a kayak, and I write back the instructions without saving them. Sometimes, it’s just easier to do it for them; I shop for the screws and hardware, get out the tools and get ‘er done.

Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day; show him how to catch fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.

I wasn’t doing myself or anybody any favors by doing it for them.

This time I made a detailed directions while installing on my new P&H Cetus.

Always wear safety glasses when working with power tools and airborne particulates.

Parts will cost less than $10 at your local hardware store:


  1. Four # 6-32, 3/4″ Stainless steel panhead screw
  2. Eight #6 Stainless steel washers
  3. Four #6 Neoprene washers
  4. Four #6-32 Stainless steel Nyloc Nuts

A quality Stainless steel is non ferrous (magnetic) and won’t affect the accuracy of the compass. Test this out with a magnet; if a magnet doesn’t pick up the part, it won’t affect the magnet of the compass.


The order these parts are installed is important: starting at the outside, the layers are:

  1. Screw
  2. SS washer
  3. Compass Bezel
  4. Kayak body
  5. Neoprene washer
  6. SS washer
  7. SS Nyloc Nut

IMG_1312I ordered my compass from Amazon this time and paid less than ever before. The Brunton (Nexus) 70P is the only model that will fit into the custom receptacle.

Brunton 70P in box

Brunton 70P in box









IMG_1314The first step of the installation is remove the four sharp screws from the corners of the compass. If you choose to use them, they will poke holes in the drybags you store in your front hatch.IMG_1317









IMG_1315Next, remove the front bezel (the nice plastic trim piece) and toss away the brass bracket.IMG_1316











IMG_1319Select the correct drill bit by sizing a new screw using a guide. The screw should barely fit in the sizing hole. The drill bit size will be the same.








Enlarge the holes on the bezel with the drill and bit of the size just chosen. Be sure to drill slowly so you don’t crack the bezel.


IMG_1321Clean the compass receptacle and insert the compass with the bezel on top. This is your first glimpse of how it will look and fit. If it seems like a snug fit, You’re doing well. If it doesn’t fit right,  either buy a new kayak with the appropriate size receptacle, get a different brand compass or go in the trash to retrieve the brass bracket you  discarded in the first step. Using the bezel holes as you template/guide for drilling holes in the fiberglass of the kayak. Be sure to drill slowly so you don’t crack the gel goat or fiberglass.Also drill at right angles to the bezel and mounting hole. Once this is done, remove the bezel and compass and carefully clean the wasted material left from drilling. Use caution though; this contains fiberglass shavings which will be annoying and uncomfortable if it gets in you skin. Use a vacuum cleaner.


IMG_1327Now return the compass and bezel to it’s new home. Carefully fit a screw and stainless steel washer into each hole, then add the neoprene washer, stainless steel washer and stainless steel Nyloc nut.

Inside of kayak showing washers and nut

Inside of kayak showing washers and nut












IMG_1323Before tightening the screws and nuts down, make sure the compass lubber lines are line up properly. Lubber lines are the marks on the compass globe you will get your reading from.







Eyeball the lubber lines from the stern end of you boat to get it as accurate as possible.

Use a screw driver and socket wrench to tighten it down, but don’t tighten one screw at a time. First get all four screws a little snug, then tighten, but don’t go to town with your wrench – everything can crack. Tighten just enough so it feels snug, and the neoprene washer is compressed. The Nyloc nut will hold things in place for many happy years of reliable use.