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Know What is a Binnacle on Ships?

Whether it is an old ship, or a modern day invention, binnacle on ships are always a mysterious item. But it turns out that this tool that you see on a ship has so many functionalities.

We will be discussing all about binnacle so that you can understand all about it. Binnacle is attached to a compass that is also known to be magnetic. On top of that, there are many things that the binnacle is used for. This tool is basically a navigational tool and is equipped in most ships nowadays.

The binnacle will be used to hold all of the other tools in place. For example such as compasses, as well as other navigational tools. This is just some of the main things that binnacle is very useful for.

What is Binnacle on ships Generally?

Binnacle serves a lot of functionalities. But this does not mean that it is only there as a decoration or to fill the space. Binnacle is a tool that is shaped rounded and has a height of around 1 meter to 1,5 meters. The binnacle is shaped like a cylinder and that it is usually built from wood. On top of it, it will be made from other materials such as aluminium, zinc, and stainless steel.

Nowadays, different components of the binnacle on ships is mixed up so that it can create the most lightweight binnacle for the ship. On this binnacle, it is stationed into the left and right part. To summarize it, there will be components of a compass.

Compass is basically the main function of the binnacle. It is shaped the way it is so that it does not have to be very tall. But on top of that, the binnacle is supposed to counter any magnetic effects. When a ship is moving on a direction, there are many things that affects the ship’s magnetic fields. And when this happens, it will be hard to know where to go if you do not have an electric compass.

Needless to say, electric compasses are not as reliable anymore because you have a limited supply of network. That is why a binnacle is functional in these situations.

History of the Binnacle

Binnacles are created when there is a problem and that there is a demand for the problem to be solved. This tool was created in the year of 1700s. Right when sailors started sailing across the sea and that there are more ships in the vessel.

People were looking for solution on the problem they are facing. Which is on why they often get lost in the sea even though they are already using a compass. The binnacle is placed on top of the deck nearby the sailors station. To be more specific, the binnacle is located near the helmsman. And then there is a compass placed on top of it. This makes it easy for the captain to see where they are heading.

After there are more problems caused by the lack of balance in compass, then the army started developing tools. They used basic designs but ended up using a cylindrical design. On top of that cylindrical design is the compass is a perfect fit.

There is also a great reason why the binnacle is only above 1,5 meters in height. It is because the binnacle is supposed to aid the sailors. Hence making it short would be easy for sailors to take a quick peek.

Components of a Binnacle

Binnacle on ships is not a simple tool to describe due to its shape as well as the specifications. There are 5 items that needs to be understood on a binnacle. First of all, there is the flinders bar. And then there is also the quadrantal spheres, athwartship magnets, fore and aft magnets, as well as the heeling magnet.

You may be wondering why there are around 3 different magnets. Each magnet has its own function as well as power level. These magnets are calibrated and designed with precision. When a compass is moving in the seas, it would keep flipping and rotating left and right. This is because there are many distortion from the sea ripple. In order to counter affect that effect, binnacle is used to help and calibrate.

Is Binnacle Expensive?

Just as any other sailing navigational tools, the binnacle is also affordable. But there are some high end types of binnacle. The lower end binnacles can be priced very cheap. Usually, it is around $200 up to $500. These types of binnacles are cheap because it has a base material of wood. Lower end binnacles are only used on ships that has a mast, as well as in need of a manual compass.

Usually the big ship such as cruise do not use binnacle on ships. But just in case to increase aesthetic, they can buy a specific type of binnacle. The higher end binnacle costs around $1000 and over. The use of modern day GPS should be more than enough to replace binnacles.

Where to Order Binnacles and Installation

Binnacles are a heavy duty item and one of the things in Ships Navigation Equipment. This means that you cannot simply get one at a store. This is because binnacles need to be pre ordered before hand. On top of that, you also need to find the right engineer to do this job. After you have pre ordered, then it will take some time to make it if the stock is not in place.

You can order a binnacle that is tailored to the height of your captains. We advise that you order a binnacle with around 1 meter up to 1 and a half meter in height. By doing this, you could easily already use the binnacle and it will be compatible with everyone.


In modern either conventional ships, binnacle will be very easy to be found. because of its usefulness on holding all of the tools in place, such as compas and any other navigation tools. That is all about today’s article. We really hope that you could learn more about binnacles and fit one to your ship if necessary. See you next time.