Nautical instruments

Hand log with reel, chip and peg – ca. 1850

The hand log was first described in 1574 (Sharp, p 5). It consists of a wooden chip with peg, the log line, a reel and a 28 or 14 second sandglass. The chip in the shape of a circle sector and weighted with lead, is fitted with two lines to the peg, the end of the log line forms the third. After a stray line of about thirty meters, the log line is equally divided into parts of 23 feet 9 inches (7.20 meters) to start with a flag or bunting. Thus at every 47 feet 3 inches knots are placed to denote the number of miles. The chip is thrown astern of the ship and remains static whilst the line is paid out and the ship sails away from it. The number of knots sailed out in 28 or 14 seconds indicates the speed of the ship in miles per hour or knots.


With this log a speed up to 12 knots can be determined. The stray line is twenty six meters. The starting point, the zero mile, is indicated with a leather vane. Five knots are marked with a red flag, ten knots with a blue one. From six knots every half knot is indicated by asimple line without knots. It needs a hour glass of 14 seconds.


Catalogue: NM.6-29
Date: ca. 1850
LD reel: 64×20 cm
Signed: not signed
Origin: unknown
Condition: complete and in good and working condition, wear consistent with age and use

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