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In the very early days of sailing ships, the ship's records were written on thin shingles cut from logs.  These shingles were hinged and opened like a book.  The entire record was called the "log book."  Later on, when paper was readily available and bound into books, the record maintained the name.

Today, almost any record can be called a log.  The ship maintains several legal records in logs.  The ship's Deck Log is the primary record of daily events.  It is maintained on the Bridge while underway and on the Quarterdeck while inport.  In both locations, entries are supervised by the Officer of the Deck.  While underway, a Ship's Position Log traces the path of the ship across the ocean.  The Engineering Log records happenings within the ship's engineering plant.  The Bell Log (or Bell Book) records orders from the Bridge that command response from the ship's engines.  Taken together, they can completely describe what and where events occurred.  The miscellaneous logs that are kept on a ship are too numerous to mention, although many are directed for administrative and audit purposes.

Posted on Sunday, January 2, 2005 6:15 PM Day Job , & Etc. | Back to top

Comments on this post: Nautical Terminology: Log Book

# re: Nautical Terminology: Log Book
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the core idea is that the log is inviolate - with a wood log, once written it cannot edited, providing an audit trail (and it would be likely to survive the sinking of the ship). "Written in wood" instead of "stone" doesn't have the same ring though.

I recently saw a demonstration of 'knot' as relates to speed of a ship - apparently sailors would throw a weight attached to rope (sheet?) over the stern. As the ship moved on, the rope would pay out. At regular intervals knots were tied into the rope - as these passed the stern of the ship they provided a measure of distance and time. So the passage of the ship was measured by the knots that passed in a set period of time.
Left by petal on Jan 04, 2005 7:21 PM

# re: Nautical Terminology: Log Book
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Regretfully, in today's world inviolate logs no longer exist. The OOD would have to initial any lineouts in the Deck Log. If there were too many or if it was poorly written, the Quartermaster would rewrite it and get all the appropriate OODs to sign it.

I wrote about the history of the knot here ( awhile ago.
Left by Mark on Jan 04, 2005 9:27 PM

# re: Nautical Terminology: Log Book
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apologies - so you did (in far better terms than I) - it's a problem I have with blogs, that the brain unloads before thinking of a doing a simple search. I may very well have read your original, but it slipped my mind.
Left by petal on Jan 05, 2005 5:34 PM

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