S. S. Minnow
|First appearance||Gilligan's Island Pilot (1963)|
|Propulsion||Unclear (see article)|
The ship ran aground on the shore of "an uncharted desert isle" (in the south Pacific Ocean), setting the stage for this popular situation comedy. The crew of two were the skipper Jonas Grumby and his first mate Gilligan, and the five passengers were millionaire Thurston Howell, III, his wife Lovey Howell, movie star Ginger Grant, professor Roy Hinkley, and farm girl Mary Ann Summers.
The shipwreck was first seen in the season 1 episode "Two on a Raft", which begins with the crew and passengers awaking on the ship. Several times in the course of the series they plan ways to repair the Minnow to get off the island. In the episode "Goodbye Island", Gilligan discovered glue that was believed to be waterproof and permanent. However, it was later revealed that the glue was temporary and before they could push the repaired ship out to sea, the entire vessel literally fell to pieces.
There are many other references to the ship in the rest of the series, such as in the episode "Court-Martial", where an investigation was launched into the Minnow's disappearance, which at first determined that the Skipper was responsible, then later concluding that the Skipper wasn't aware that a storm was coming. It is also revealed in this episode that the reason for the Minnow's wreck was that Gilligan threw its anchor overboard without a rope attached to it.
Origin of its name
A minnow is a very small bait fish, but the TV boat was actually named for Newton Minow, who Gilligan's Island executive producer Sherwood Schwartz believed "ruined television". Minow was chairman of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in 1961, and is noted for a speech in which he called American television "a vast wasteland".
The ship prefix S.S. is used for ships that are powered by steam. However, incidents within the show have at different times implied the Minnow has either a gasoline engine, as in an episode where the Professor is trying to make spark plugs for the engine out of sea shells, or a diesel engine, as in a scene where, after the castaways use home-made glue to repair the boat, all its boards spring off, revealing what appears to be such an engine. Therefore the correct ship prefix should be either M.V. (motor vessel) or M.Y. (motor yacht).
S.S. Minnow II
The S.S. Minnow II was a successor boat purchased by the Skipper from insurance money for the first in the 1978 made-for-TV movie Rescue from Gilligan's Island. At the end of that movie, the cast and boat are wrecked on the same island, as shown by Gilligan's discovery of a plank with "Minnow I" on it. How they knew to call the first vessel "I" before there was a second is not explained.
This version of the Minnow got destroyed in another ill-fated storm due to Gilligan removing the magnet for the compass during their voyage and the castaways ended up marooned back on the very same island they had escaped months before.
The Minnow III is the plane built by the Professor in the made-for-TV movie The Castaways on Gilligan's Island, the sequel to Rescue From Gilligan's Island. It does not have the prefix "S. S.", as it is not a steamboat.
S. S. Minnow today
The S. S. Minnow used in the opening of the second and third season color episodes, previously named the Bluejacket, now resides at Schooner Cove Marina on the east side of Vancouver Island, in Nanoose Bay, British Columbia. Having put the boat through a major restoration, the new owner plans to use it for charters and sight seeing tours. It is equipped with an old life preserver with "S. S. Minnow" on it, as well as other show items.
- Robert M. Jarvis (1998). "Legal Tales from Gilligan's Island" 39. Santa Clara Law Review & Jamail Center for Legal Research: 185–205. Retrieved 2007-12-30.
- Associated Press, "Nostalgic Ride", Express (Washington, D.C.), Sep. 16, 2008, p. 21.
- "Gilligan's SS Minnow to offer 3-hour Vancouver Island tours". CBC News. 2008-09-13. Retrieved 2008-09-13.