Sailors have always had a need to know how far and how fast they are traveling over the water. In the age before satellite tracking technology, they used a nautical device known as a log. One such devise was called a taffrail log named for the aftermost railing (taffrail) at the stern of a ship where the device was mounted or attached. The taffrail log was an ingenious yet simple mechanical device comprised of two primary parts. The first was a “torpedo” or “propeller” which was dragged on a braided line behind the boat. The torpedo was designed to spin as it moved through the water which also turned the attached line and the revolutions were captured by the log instrument which translated them into distance measurements. Once you know how long it takes to go a set distance it is easy to calculate your speed.
Charles C. Hutchinson had a long association with all things nautical beginning when he served as an apprentice to F.W. Lincoln, Jr., a nautical instrument maker and math instructor. F.W. Lincoln and Company was a nautical instrument seller located in Boston in the mid-19th century. In 1858 Charles Hutchinson became a partner in the company with Lincoln. By 1883 Hutchinson bought out the business and renamed it Chas. C. Hutchinson Nautical Instruments. His business imported and sold nautical and surveying instruments, charts, marine glasses, telescopes and flags. The company remained in the nautical business until 1940.
The description of a taffrail log above explains the function of the Chas. C. Hutchinson Yacht Log taffrail set, in its original wooden box, which is being offered by Yellow Garage dealer Bayshore Nautical. The dial face is marked Chas. C. Hutchinson Boston.. The set also has the 3 fin spinning drive torpedo, the connecting rope and instructions for the care and use of the log. The kit also contains an extra glass face for the gauge. This log set is in very good condition with wear appropriate to age and outdoor use as seen in the pictures. This complete taffrail log set represents a rare and valuable piece of history for any nautical collector.
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Charles C. Hutchinson Taffrail Log in original Wooden Box