North Sea Navigator / Rose Kemp Lyrics Follow
The points of the compass mark the divisions on a compass, which is primarily divided into four points: north, south, east, and west. These cardinal directions are further subdivided by the addition of the four intercardinal (or ordinal) directions—northeast (NE), southeast (SE), southwest (SW), and northwest (NW)—to indicate the eight principal winds. In meteorological usage, further intermediate points between cardinal and ordinal points, such as north-northeast (NNE) are added to give the 16 points of a compass rose.
At the most complete division are the full thirty-two points of the mariner's compass, which adds points such as north by east (NbE) between north and north-northeast, and northeast by north (NEbN) between north-northeast and northeast. A compass point allows reference to a specific course (or azimuth) in a colloquial fashion, without having to compute or remember degrees.
The European nautical tradition retained the term "one point" to describe 1⁄32 of a circle in such phrases as "two points to starboard". By the middle of the eighteenth century, the 32-point system was extended with half- and quarter-points to allow 128 directions to be differentiated.