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n. The horizontal direction in which a ship actually points or heads at any instant, expressed in angular units from a reference direction, usually from 000° at the reference direction clockwise through 360°. Heading is often designated as true, magnetic, compass, or grid. Heading should not be confused with COURSE, which is the intended direction of movement through the water. At a specific instant the heading may or may not coincide with the course. The heading of a ship is also called SHIP’S HEAD.

In a seaway, the heading generally swings back and forth across your desired course. "Course heading" is a redundant, and possibly confusing, phrase for "course." The question "What is your course?" means which way do you want to go. "What is your heading?" means which way are you going right now. See Course and Bearing. See also Course over ground, which, independent of these two, is the actual way you are moving.

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