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post #7 of Old 05-09-2007
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Originally Posted by Sailormann
Hmmm - actually "knot" is a colloquial contraction of the term nautical mile, phonetically spelt, so the gentleman is actually correct in his employment of the term... (just trying to help )
Perhaps some people believe the term "knot" came from a "colloquial contraction". But I've always thought it derived from the "chip log" sailors tossed overboard for measuring boat speed.

The wooden chip was attached to the end of a long rope, with knots spaced every 47'-3". A crewman would turn over a 30 second hourglass and count the number of knots which were played out - then recorded this data into the log (hence "chip log"). The number of knots counted in 30 seconds was the boat's speed in knots.

How did 47'-3" come to be used as a knot spacing? Well, I forgot that part and had to look it up -

The length was based on converting [1 nautical mile per hour] to [feet per second(fps)], and then multiplying [fps] by 30 seconds (which was a practical time to spend counting knots with a sandglass). The result was the calibrated length in feet at which to tie the knots for a 30-second run of the chip log.

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