All compasses are fitted with a gimbal ring to keep the bowl and card level under every circumstance of a ship's motion in a seaway, the ring being connected with the binnacle or pedestal by means of journals or knife edges.
Ere now it has been related how Ahab was wont to pace his quarter-deck, taking regular turns at either limit, the binnacle and mainmast; but in the multiplicity of other things requiring narration it has not been added how that sometimes in these walks, when most plunged in his mood, he was wont to pause in turn at each spot, and stand there strangely eyeing the particular object before him.
Lighting the pipe at the binnacle lamp and planting the stool on the weather side of the deck, he sat and smoked.
That when the compass is placed in the binnacle the line joining the pivot and the lubber's point be parallel to the keel of the vessel.
Mr. Starbuck, look at the binnacle watch, and in three minutes from this present instant warn off all strangers: then brace forward again, and let the ship sail as before.
But, spite of all this, I could see no compass before me to steer by; though it seemed but a minute since I had been watching the card, by the steady binnacle lamp illuminating it.
But in either case, the needle never again, of itself, recovers the original virtue thus marred or lost; and if the binnacle compasses be affected, the same fate reaches all the others that may be in the ship; even were the lowermost one inserted into the kelson.