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    Re: The Nautical Day
    From: George Huxtable
    Date: 2004 Feb 12, 15:48 +0000

    In discussing the nautical day, and the way log-books were written up in
    the "grain race" square riggers, Trevor Kenchington said on 7 Feb.-
    >There are many memoirs of the grain "races" but mostly written by young
    >middle-class Englishmen who shipped before the mast for the adventure.
    >They would not have been involved in navigation. The ship's officers
    >were mostly Swedish-speaking Finnish nationals from the Aland Islands
    >and they have not left us readily-accessible accounts.
    >I do have Greenhill & Hackman's "Herzogin Cecilie" (1991), which
    >includes some quotations from that ship's logbook in the hours leading
    >up to her stranding in 1936. Those clearly used the civil day (changing
    >24 to 25 April at midnight). Thus, I would tend to agree with George's
    >scepticism. Before withdrawing any suggestion of such a late use of the
    >nautical day, however, I would note that the same logbook says that they
    >"Changed the ship's time to land time at 2100 hours" of the day that
    >they arrived off Falmouth for orders. Most likely, that was either a
    >matter of correcting their reckoning for small accumulated errors in
    >their chronometer time or perhaps an adjustment of the watch schedule to
    >match GMT rather than local apparent time. However, it remains possible
    >from this limited evidence that the ship had been using the nautical day
    >during her blue-water voyage from Australia and changed to the civil day
    >on arriving in coastal waters.
    At the time, I agreed with Trevor that a likely interpretation of that
    passage was that a noon-to-noon log had been kept at sea.
    However, since then, I have dug up my old copy of "The Tall Ships Pass", by
    W L A Derby (Jonathan Cape, London, 1937), mostly about "Herzogin Cecilie",
    on which Derby had sailed.
    He quotes a long extract of several pages from the log of an earlier voyage
    of Cecilie, from Port Augusta in Australia to Falmouth, via Cape Horn, in
    One eventful day was March 17, near Cape Horn, when the "Notes" column states-
    "Set royals again 4a.m. Took in all fore-and-aft canvas during morning but
    reset at 4p.m. 7p.m., main royal blew out; fore upper t'gallant split.
    10p.m., mizen lower t'gallant blew out.
    Heavy seas coming over. Ship labouring heavily. Sundry damage on deck.
    Shortened down to storm canvas."
    It's clear, from this entry and others, that this log runs from
    midnight-to-midnight throughout. However the daily position is given in the
    "Noon position" column, not at the end of the day-by-the-log. Presumably,
    the reckoning was being summed-up on a "day's work" form, that was still
    run from noon to noon, and was independent of the log. At that date, one
    would expect civil time to be used for the log, because the almanac had
    changed to do the same a few years before.
    contact George Huxtable by email at george@huxtable.u-net.com, by phone at
    01865 820222 (from outside UK, +44 1865 820222), or by mail at 1 Sandy
    Lane, Southmoor, Abingdon, Oxon OX13 5HX, UK.

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