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Terminology help please: renard de navigation and renard de présence


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Would any forum members know the English names of these objects?

The one with the compass rose is called a "renard de navigation" in French and was used to keep track of a ship's route. Whoever was on watch would place a peg in a hole in the section for the corresponding direction. The pegs on strings were used to record speed.


The brass (?) board is a "renard de présence" and records which officers are on board.


"Renard" means fox. Apparently the "renard de navigation" resembles an old board game called "The fox and the chickens".


Thank you.

Renard de navigation.JPG

Renard de présence.JPG

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Bonjour Sandra,

VERY interesting piece.

Does it perhaps have a relation to Louis Renard who wrote the  Atlas de la Navigation?  A first addition of that book is available for all of our bibliophiles here at MSW.  Little too pricey for me even though I have a translator here in the form of my admiral.   There are later additions available for as "little" as US$2,000.  


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Romme, whose dictionary of 1804 I mentioned in another post, has the following:


RENARD, subst. masc. (Traverse board.)

1°. Instrument de pilotage. Morceau de planche coupé en rond, avec un petit manche, sur lequel on a figuré les trente-deux aires-de vent de la boussole, le Nord étant désigné par une fleur de lys, &c. Sur chaque  rumb, sont percés huit petits trous, pour représenter les huit demi-heures que durent  chaque quart. A chaque demi-heure, mesurée par l'ampoulette, ou horloge de sable,  le timonnier met une cheville dans l'un des trous qui sont percés sur le rumb où il a gouverné : le premier trou, vers le centre de la planche, sert pour la première demi-heure ; celui d'après, pour la seconde demi-heure, & ainsi de suite.  Ce renard, ainsi marqué de huit chevilles à la fin de chaque quart , sert à l'officier de  quart à écrire sur le journal la route que le vaisseau a faite ; & ensuite tous y prennent  les renseignemens nécessaires pour calculer cette route, ou faire leur point, ayant égard  à la dérive, à la variation de la boussole, & autres circonstances.


Cette  pratique est sur-tout fort utile par des vents mous & variables, & contraires à  la droite route du vaisseau, pendant lesquels on change souvent de direction, & on cherche  continuellement à se rapprocher de son véritable chemin , à mesure que le vent le  permet; & aussi lorsqu'on louvoie à petites bordées. Voy. la Fig. 340, Planche XVI.


2°. RENARD. (A dog , or cant-hook.) Croc de fer qu'on enfonce dans le bout d'une pièce  de bois, pour aider à la tirer & traîner sur terre , pour la transporter d'un lieu  à l'autre, par le moyen d'un cordage frappé sur ce renard. Voyez x , Fig. 3 19 ,  Planche XV.




Edited by tkay11
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And here's what Wikipedia, the source of all knowledge, has to say about traverse boards - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Traverse_board


Looks like the same thing.


The "renard de présence" is a fairly common item in businesses etc, but I have no idea what its right name is in English. But I'm assuming the "renard" part is just a sort of carry-over from the name of the traverse board.



Edited by Louie da fly
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Sandra, the first of the items is (in English) called a 'Traversing Board'.  They were used as a form of 'dead reckoning' navigation by recording the direction and speed run during a period of time, or at time of course alteration.  The usual practice (as far as I have determined) was to record the course and speed (by log or estimation) each turn of the glass (about a half hour).  This would allow a 'dead reckoned position to be determined from the last fix.


Can't help with the second.





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We had a board similar to the second one on the quarter deck (in port) of the USS Oklahoma City CLG-5 in the 1970s. It carried the names of all the officers assigned to the ship (about 200). Each name was engraved into a plastic strip. The name strips slid back and forth in metal guide rails.


The "quarter deck" was the area where the officer's brow (gangway) attached to the ship - where officers left or boarded the ship. As officers came and went from the ship the name strips were moved left or right to signify whether the person was on board or ashore. This allowed the Officer of the Deck to keep track of which officers were aboard.


I have no idea if the "officers name board" had an official name.



Edited by Dr PR
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The origin of the name and this instrument is much older than Louis Renard. It comes from a board game, "The fox and his hens", where, on a grid board, pawns represent the hens which must escape from the fox.

The method is similar to the game "Solitaire" with pawns to move on the board.
The traverse-board (renard) uses the same principle by adapting the board, the pawns are placed to trace the route of the ship.



Edited by G. Delacroix
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In many a fire station over the years a version of the "in/out" board has been used. For each piece of apparatus there are various riding positions, each of which brings specific initial fire ground responsibilities. The name of the individual assigned each position was placed next to the position for accountability purposes. As an example, an Engine may have 4 positions and you would find:


Officer - LT Smith

Engineer/Driver - FF Jones

Nozzle - FF Spray

Hydrant - FF Giardelli



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