Mariners used to toss a wooden log overboard, and while its line spooled out, they would count each of the knots that passed through their hands.
After 28 seconds, they recorded their boat's speed in knots, or nautical miles per hour.
Today, 200 years later, boaters look at their digital instrument panel and still see their speed in knots.
That tradition was nearly subverted when the Newport Beach Harbor Commission voted in April to change the city's municipal code to measure speed in miles per hour, a slightly slower measure than knots.
The change would make the city's law consistent with the county's. But a few dedicated sailors protested the maneuver, and the harbor commissioners will reconsider their reforms Wednesday.