Traverse board

Simple traverse boards were used in northern Europe by the 16th century to keep a record of a ship’s movements. They were circular and had a series of holes along lines marking the 32 points of the compass. Pegs were attached to the board by string and placed in the correct hole for the course being steered, normally one hole for each half hour of the watch, as measured by a sand-glass. At the end of each watch the records were written down, usually by the ship’s master, and the pegs pulled out ready for the next watch. The circular section of this traverse board has eight holes along each compass point but the pegs are now missing.

Later versions, like this one, also had a series of holes along the bottom to record the ship’s speed, which was measured with a log and line. This example has 15 columns, each with four holes. According to the donor, this traverse board was last used by Captain Michael Otto Granquist, who sailed out of the family village of Grannas, Nagu, Finland.

Object Details

ID: NAV1699
Collection: Astronomical and navigational instruments
Type: Traverse board
Display location: Not on display
Creator: Unknown
Date made: circa 1850
People: Granquist, Michael Otto
Credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
Measurements: Overall: 23 mm x 210 mm x 317 mm
Parts: Traverse board

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