Saturday, December 6, 2008
Row Ho Ho
The original purpose of the pilot gig was as a general work boat, and the craft was used for taking pilots out to incoming vessels that were heading to port. Races were often held to see who would be the first gig to get their pilot on board a vessel, get the job, and hence the payment.
Today, there are numerous racing clubs that have pilot gigs. These 34 foot wooden boats are rowed by team of six generally with a coxswain. We don't race here but go for long rows in the Harbor, sometimes with five to eight rowers. Each person has a single large oar.
The other use of these boats in the local area was as fishing vessels that were rowed or sailed by African Americans. The boats were part of the Mosquito Fleet. The crew would row or sail the boat out to the nearshore fishing areas to bring back blackfish for sale in the streets or at the city market. The use of these vessels for fishing is no more. But we crew these boats at festivals around the state so that people have a reminder of the way that it used to be.
This morning, we're going to meet up at the Maritime Center, get the boat decorated, make a few repairs to the thule pins and get everything ready for tonight's festivities. After the parade of boats, I'm going to an oyster roast. First of the season--can't wait to suck down those succulent molluscs.
Have a peaceful Saturday doing what you enjoy.