5.15.2012

Platimo Contest 101 Compass Review - Poor Lighting for Night Vision


Our old Constellation compass was impressive but it was a bit of a tripping hazard!


We installed a Plastimo Contest 101 in the bulkhead of our Westsail 32 before our last voyage off shore.  We were very happy with the design and compact nature of the compass and it served us very well...................that is............ until we needed illumination to read the card.

It is fine if you are directly in front of the compass and close to it but the light is way to dim to view the compass card from the normal steering position and clearly a problem when you are on the opposite side of the cockpit.  Forget you have a compass if you have marginal weather conditions. 

I called Plastimo and they agreed to sell me another bulb to install in the compass so that there would be more light.  I had no problem with that and agreed to pay $8.63 for a $2 bulb to fix a design problem with their compass.  The real shock came when the invoice arrived separate from the package and listed the shipping cost as $13.59 for an item that weighs .2 of an ounce.  This item could have easily gone in a padded envelope for a couple of dollars.  So we spent about 20% of the price of the compass to install an additional bulb to correct a design flaw in the compass.   This is an obvious design flaw that could be easily corrected by the manufacturer.  I am sure that the lighting installed in this compass is adequate if you shut the lights off in the lab and look at it on a shelf.  However, when put to the test of actual sailing conditions the illumination features of this compass fail the test.

We still like the compass and hope that this additional light fixes the problem.  We are writing this product review to inform the sailing public of  a problem so they can adapt before finding themselves left in the dark and not being able to view the navigational compass at night. 

We feel that Plastimo should sea trial this compass at night in marginal conditions and then provide adequate lighting.  We also feel that the correction for this problem should have been provided at no charge and that the shipping charges should have been in the $2 range if any at all.  Plastimo did refund half of the shipping charges but made no other adjustments.

This item is on our recommended list as long as you correct the illumination issue.
Captain Don Montgomery

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