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Activity 5: Ships' Logs

The captain of a ship - today and in Nelson's time - is responsible for keeping a record of the weather and all other main events which take place on a ship at sea. It's a sort of ship's diary.

The diaries or 'logs' from Nelson's time are very helpful to historians and scientists. The weather pattern for the battle of Trafalgar has been reconstructed from the logs of the ships and other observations taken at that time.

If you click on Log of the Carcass, September 1773, you will find the log of the ship Nelson was on in that year, as a 14 year old, very junior, officer. You will find a page from this part of the log printed on pages 30 and 31 of "Nelson - I am myself a Norfolk man" so that you can see what the original looked like.

See if you can answer some of the following questions using the log. Use the 'back' button of your web browser to move back from the log to this page.

A note about the log

As you will see from the book, the handwriting of the master of the Carcass is quite good, but there are some points where we haven't been able to be sure of what he has written - and occasionally when we have been very unsure, we have put in a question mark. Generally we have used the spellings and abbreviations he used, but a computer can't always write the text in exactly the same way. For instance, we have had to write out the words 'two thirds' rather than show them as a figure.

Occasionally we may have interpreted something wrongly, and if you're a real expert on 18th century writing and ship information, please send us a note and we will change the file!

The word Do. or do. is short for ditto, which means 'the same as before'.

The log of the Carcass is the copyright of the National Archives in London.

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