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Whaleboat

Whaleboat

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A whaleboat is a type of open boat
Boat
A boat is a watercraft of any size designed to float or plane, to provide passage across water. Usually this water will be inland or in protected coastal areas. However, boats such as the whaleboat were designed to be operated from a ship in an offshore environment. In naval terms, a boat is a...

 that is relatively narrow and pointed at both ends, enabling it to move either forwards or backwards equally well. It was originally developed for whaling, and later became popular for work along beaches, since it does not need to be turned around for beaching or refloating.

Whaleboats have also been used in warfare. The whaleboat was used by Roberts Rangers in the French & Indian war. In 1772, American colonials used whaleboats to attack and destroy
Gaspée Affair
The Gaspée Affair was a significant event in the lead-up to the American Revolution. The HMS Gaspée, a British customs schooner that had been enforcing unpopular trade regulations, ran aground in shallow water on June 9, 1772, near what is now known as Gaspee Point in the city of Warwick, Rhode...

  in Narragansett Bay
Narragansett Bay
Narragansett Bay is a bay and estuary on the north side of Rhode Island Sound. Covering 147 mi2 , the Bay forms New England's largest estuary, which functions as an expansive natural harbor, and includes a small archipelago...

. During the American Revolutionary War
American Revolutionary War
The American Revolutionary War , the American War of Independence, or simply the Revolutionary War, began as a war between the Kingdom of Great Britain and thirteen British colonies in North America, and ended in a global war between several European great powers.The war was the result of the...

, there were many whaleboat raids, including one with 230 men led by Return J. Meigs, Sr.
Return J. Meigs, Sr.
Return Jonathan Meigs [born December 17 or December 28 , 1740; died January 28, 1823] was a colonel who served in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War, was one of the founding settlers of the Northwest Territory in what is now the state of Ohio, and later served as a federal...

 to sack Sag Harbor
Meigs Raid
The Meigs Raid was a military raid by American Continental Army forces, under the command of Connecticut Colonel Return Jonathan Meigs, on a British Loyalist foraging party at Sag Harbor, New York on May 24, 1777 during the American Revolutionary War. Six Loyalists were killed and 90 captured...

 on Long Island
Long Island
Long Island is an island located in the southeast part of the U.S. state of New York, just east of Manhattan. Stretching northeast into the Atlantic Ocean, Long Island contains four counties, two of which are boroughs of New York City , and two of which are mainly suburban...

 in 1777. On December 7, 1782, two fleets of whaleboats fought a bloody battle on Long Island Sound known as the Boats Fight. During the desperate hand-to-hand conflict, every man involved was either killed or injured.

Whaleboats are traditionally oar
Oar
An oar is an implement used for water-borne propulsion. Oars have a flat blade at one end. Oarsmen grasp the oar at the other end. The difference between oars and paddles are that paddles are held by the paddler, and are not connected with the vessel. Oars generally are connected to the vessel by...

-powered, although in whaling use often had a dismountable mast and sails, too. After 1850 most were fitted with a centreboard
Centreboard
A centreboard or centerboard is a retractable keel which pivots out of a slot in the hull of a sailboat, known as a centreboard trunk or centerboard case...

 for sailing. When sailing, steering was with a rudder
Rudder
A rudder is a device used to steer a ship, boat, submarine, hovercraft, aircraft or other conveyance that moves through a medium . On an aircraft the rudder is used primarily to counter adverse yaw and p-factor and is not the primary control used to turn the airplane...

; when rowing, steering was done with an oar held over the stern. Whaleboats used in whaling had a stout post mounted on the aft deck, around which the steersman would cinch the rope once the whale had been harpooned, and by which the whale would drag the boat until it was killed.

The term "whaleboat" may be used informally of larger whaler
Whaler
A whaler is a specialized ship, designed for whaling, the catching and/or processing of whales. The former included the whale catcher, a steam or diesel-driven vessel with a harpoon gun mounted at its bows. The latter included such vessels as the sail or steam-driven whaleship of the 16th to early...

s, or of a boat used for whale watching
Whale watching
Whale watching is the practice of observing whales and other cetaceans in their natural habitat. Whales are watched most commonly for recreation but the activity can also serve scientific or educational purposes. A 2009 study, prepared for IFAW, estimated that 13 million people went whale watching...

.
On modern warships, a relatively light and seaworthy boat for transport of ship's crew may be referred to as a whaleboat or whaler. It may also refer to a type of vessel designed as a lifeboat or "monomoy" used for recreational and competitive rowing in the San Francisco Bay Area and coastal Massachusetts.

External links

  • Whaleboat, an award winning scaled replica of a traditional whaleboat