Points of the compass Tradition / Ritual in Red Sunrise | World Anvil

Points of the compass

"How many points of the compass are there?" Captain Rose asked Harry Watts.
-"Uhh what are points?" Harry asked confused while eyeing the compass disk in front of his helm station.
-"Oh like North and South. So that's uhm four. And four for North-East and such. And then you got another four for North-North-East. So that makes twelve." Harry said convincingly.
"Nope sorry. It's thirty-two."

"Yes, you got the first four right, the cardinal directions; North, East, South, and West.
Then you have the ordinal directions North-East, South-East, South-West and North-West. That's another four.
Together those eight make up the main winds. Each forty-five degrees from another.
Then you make a mistake. If you divide those up again, you get eight extra points, not four."
Rose pointed out the diamond shapes on the compass rose between each big triangle. -"Ah yes, so that's North-North-East, East-North-East, East-South-East, South-South-East, South-South-West, West-South-West, West-North-West, and North-North-West." Harry summed them up as Rose moved her finger around."

"Excellent. Those are the eight half winds. Making sixteen points of the compass so far. Each twenty-two and a half degrees offset from each other. For meteorology, this is precise enough. As the wind is always a bit moving around, and never exactly one direction. But for steering a course, it is not good enough. So we divide those spaces in between up again, to sixteen extra spaces.

Between North and North-North-East, we get North by East."
Rose pointed out the small triangles between the big triangle showing north and the diamond mark showing North-North-West.

"These quarter winds are always relative to their biggest neighbouring main wind, never to half winds. So the next one will be, North-east by North." Pointing at the mark between North-North-East and North-East. So if we go around again. North-East by East, East by North, East by South, South-East by East, South-East by South, South by East." Rose dictated. Now she looked at Harry, and he picked up the queue. Eyeing the compass rose, he continued the circle.
-"South by West, South-West by South, South-West by West, West by South, West by North, North-West by West, North-West by North, and North by West."
"Very good, so that are all we are using. The classic thirty two. If you were in the navy you might be dividing those up again into even smaller parts. They'd be going North and a quarter, North and a half, North and three quarters, before arriving at North by East. Making one hundred and twenty-eight points. But we don't use that. If we need to get more precise, we just use the three hundred and sixty degree scale." Rose explained.

"So what is our heading?" Rose asked Harry.
-"East-North-East Captain."
Rose looked up at the sails.
"The wind is slowly veering, make it East by North.
-"East by North" Harry answered dutifully, while he turned the helm a bit to starboard. While eyeing the compass rose turning underneath the mark in the glass.

"Tramontana, Greco, Levante, Scirocco, Ostro, Libeccio, Ponente, Maestro. The Boatswain interrupted, while pointing around.
-"What?" Harry said, confused.
"The traditional Mediterranean winds, I assume. But I have to admit I don't know them." Explained Rose.
Michael smiled. "So you don't know which way Quarto di Levante verso Greco is?
"Nope, should I know?" asked Rose.
"Nah, no need, I only know the eight names, and that one too." Michael explained.
"So what is it then?" Harry asked.
"East by North" Bobby answered, to the surprise of all."

Thirty two points
of the compass

No. Point Code Degrees
0 North N
1 North by East NbE 11¼°
2 North-North-East NNE 22½°
3 North-East by North NEbN 33¾°
4 North-East NE 45°
5 North-East by East NEbE 50¼°
6 East-North-East ENE 67½°
7 East by North EbN 78¾°
8 East E 90°
9 East by South EbS 101¼°
10 East-South-East ESE 112½°
11 South-East by East SEbE 123¾°
12 South-East SE 135°
13 South-East by South SEbS 146°
14 South-South-East SSE 157½°
15 South by East SbE 168¾°
16 South S 180°
17 South by West SbW 191¼°
18 South-South-West SSW 202½°
19 South-West by South SWbS 213¾°
20 South-West SW 225°
21 South-West by West SWbW 236¼°
22 West-South-West WSW 247½°
23 West by South WbS 258¾°
24 West W 270°
25 West by North WbN 281¼°
26 West-North-West WNW 292½°
27 North-West by West NWbW 303¾°
28 North-West NW 315°
29 North-West by North NWbN 326¼°
30 North-North-West NNW 337½°
31 North by West NbW 348¾°
32 North N 360°

Boxing the Compass

Boxing the Compass is the art of an navigational officer in training of naming all the thirty two points in order, going around the compass. It is used as a training tool.

Cover image: by Johannes Plenio


Please Login in order to comment!
Dec 27, 2021 15:30 by Amélie I. S. Debruyne

That's all so complicated!!!! XD Very interesting to see them all :D

Dec 28, 2021 06:50 by Bart Weergang

:P Not that complicated, it's just keep splitting the leftover space in half. Glad you like it!

Jan 16, 2022 16:19 by E. Christopher Clark

I always love reading your work, because it reconnects me with my maritime ancestors. They sailed and fished for hundreds of years before more recent generations got afraid of the sea, and I love thinking about all of this knowledge they probably had in their heads.   Anyway, fantastic work here!

Now it's time for the awkward wave.
Jan 17, 2022 04:51 by Bart Weergang

Thank you!
There is no need to be afraid of the sea, she's not afraid of you either.