Historical information

The ship's log part, called a fish, is likely to be from a mechanical taffrail log system. It was recovered from the wreck site of the barque, the 1840-1852 Grange. There are no marks on the fish to identify its maker or model. It is part of the John Chance Collection.

This ‘fish’ is part of an early to mid-1800s ship's log. It would likely have been part of a taffrail log connected to a rotor (also called propeller, spinner) by a strong line, and the other end connected by a line to a dial mounted on the taffrail, or stern rail, at the stern of the vessel. As the propeller rotated through the water it would spin the log, which in turn would cause a number to register on the dial, showing the current speed in knots; one knot equals one nautical mile per hour.


A taffrail log is a nautical instrument used for measuring the speed of a vessel, providing vital navigational information to be calculated, such as location and direction. A log has been used to measure the speed of a vessel since the 1500s. A simple piece of wood was tied to a long line and thrown into sea at the back of the vessel. The rope was knotted all along at equal distances apart. On a given signal the log line was pulled back into the vessels, the knots counted until the log came up, then the figures were calculated by a navigator

In 1802 the first successful mechanical log available for general use was invented by Edward Massey. It had a rotor 'V' section connected to a recording mechanism. The water’s movement rotated the rotor, which intern sent the movement to the recorder. There are examples of this invention available to see in some of the maritime museums. Thomas Walker, nephew of Edward Massey, improved on Massey’s design, and Walker and his son took out a patent on the A1 Harpoon Log. In 1861. Both Massey and Walker continued to improve the designs of the taffrail log. New designs were still being introduced, even up to the 1950s.

THE GRANGE, 1840-1858-

The wooden barque ’Grange’ was a three-masted ship built in Scotland in 1840 for international and coastal trade.

On March 22, 1858, the Grange set sail from Melbourne under Captain A. Alexander, carrying a cargo of ballast. The barque had left the Heads of Phillip Bay and was heading west along the Victorian coast towards Cape Otway. The ship struck Little Haley’s Reef at Apollo Bay due to a navigational error and was stuck on the rocks. The crew left the ship carrying whatever they could onto the beach. Eventually, the remains of the hull, sails and fittings were salvaged before the wreck of the Grange broke up about a month later.

About 110 years later, in 1968, the wreck of the Grange was found by divers from the Underwater Explorers Club of Victoria. They were amazed to find a unique, six to nine pound carronade (type of small cannon) and a cannonball on the site. There have been no other similar carronades recorded. In that same year the anchor of the Grange was recovered by diver John Chance and Mal Brown.


The ship’s log is significant historically as an example of hardware used when building wooden ships in the early to mid-19th century.
The ship’s log is historically significant as an example of the work and trade of blacksmith.
The ship’s log also has significant as it was recovered by John Chance, a diver from the wreck of the Grange in the 1968. Items that come from several wrecks along Victoria's coast have since been donated to the Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village’s museum collection by his family, illustrating this item’s level of historical value.
The ship’s log is historically significant for its association with the 1840s wooden barque, the Grange.
The Grange is an historical example of a Scottish built vessel used for international and coastal trader of both cargo and passengers in the mid-19th century.
The Grange is an example of an early ship, designed with a wooden hull. It is significant as a ship still available to divers along the south coast of Victoria, for research and education purposes.
The Grange is an example of a mid-19th century vessel that carried a weapon of defence onboard.

Physical description

Ship log fitting, called a fish; part of a brass navigational instrument, likely to be from a taffrail log.
The metal is a tan colour and has rough surface with a sheen, and discolouration in places. Its basic shape is a hollow cylinder with ends tapering to a smaller size. In the centre there are opposing openings cut out, showing a rough texture inside. One end on the cylinder is closed with a ring and shank installed, fixed by an embedded screw through the end of the cylinder. There are no inscriptions.