Captain's gig

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U.S. Navy sailors from the USS Essex (LHD-2) raise their captain's gig out of the sea in August 2002.
For the racehorse, see Captain's Gig (horse).

The captain's gig /ˈɡɪɡ/ is a boat used on naval ships as the captain's taxi. It is a catch-all phrase for this type of craft and over the years it has gradually increased in size, changed with the advent of new technologies for locomotion, and been crafted from increasingly more durable materials.


Wooden captains' gigs[edit]

A four-oared Russian Navy Gig (Gichka) of Boat Base Monterey re-enacts the landing of Captain Mervine during the annual Sloat's Landing ceremony in Monterey, California, 2013

In general, during the era of wooden ships, it was smaller and lighter than the longboat, barge or pinnace. It was usually crewed by four oarsmen, and a coxswain. Generally the oarsmen sat one to a seat, but each only rowed a single oar on alternating sides. The gig was not as sea kindly as the longboat, but was used mostly in harbors.

The gigs generally had a high wineglass transom, full skeg, full keel, straight stem and somewhat rounded sides. There was in general very little rocker in the keel. The gunwales on many were nearly straight from bow to stern. It appears[to whom?] to be the precursor to the Whitehall Rowboat. Some wooden captain's gigs were quite large and were powered by sail.

Modern captains' gigs[edit]

A U.S. Navy sailor hauls a motor whaleboat and the captain's gig in the hangar deck of USS Enterprise (CVN-65) in April 2004.

With the coming of metal ships and combustion engines the size of the captain's gig increased and the boats could transport more sailors swiftly. Some modern built craft with sails have been named captain's gig as well.

In popular culture[edit]

See also[edit]

  • Cornish pilot gig, a larger boat (crewed by 6 plus a cox) which used to be used to transport pilots out to ships.

External links[edit]