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from Bob Roth
Longview Fibre Co.

Reading your lead article in the January 2000 newsletter reminds me of my first brush with declination. I was a student at the University of Florida in Gainesville and the agonic line (0 degrees declination) ran just west of town.

Our mensuration instructor recommended we get Suunto compasses. These are liquid filled like the Suunto clinometers, and there was no way to set declination in these. Not knowing any better, most of us trooped off to the campus bookstore and bought compasses. The guy should have known better — it wasn’t like he never got into the field, in fact he did a lot of cruising work on weekends, etc., for the consulting forester that I wound up going to work for when I graduated.

That’s when I realized my Suunto compass was about useless once you got away from the “line”, unless you were adept at making the declination adjustments in your head.

Originally published April 2000

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