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Tourist-oriented Bumboats on the Singapore River

A bumboat is a small boat used to ferry supplies to ships moored away from the shore.[1] Originally referring to a scavenger's boat, the name comes from the combination of the Dutch word for a canoe—"boomschuit" ("boom" meaning "tree"), and "boat".

In Tobias Smollett's 1748 novel The Adventures of Roderick Random, a "bumboat woman" conducts business with sailors imprisoned on board a pressing tender moored near the Tower Wharf on the Thames River, London, England. In HMS Pinafore, W.S. Gilbert describes 'Little Buttercup' as a Bumboat Woman.

In Singapore the term "bumboat" is applied to small water taxis and boats that take tourists on short tours.


  1. ^ Bradwell, Judy (12 March 1979). "The private fun of Lodge and Heath". New Zealand Woman's Weekly: 24–26.

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