HMS Victory cutter and the Captain’s gig

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    Malcolm Lewis

    During my time as a National Service Upper Yardman (NSUY) in 1954 aboard the training ship, the carrier HMS Indefatigable, I was coxswain of the Captain’s gig. Looking at the picture of the Victory cutter in the recent most interesting SNR publication The Mirror of the Seas (Plate 6), it does look very similar to the gig.
    The RN cutters in the 1950s were the beamy 32’ single masted craft. It is difficult to remember all the details of the [Indefatigable‘s Captain’s] gig, but it was two masted with a dipping lug rig and narrow in the beam. I also recall it was inscribed by, I think the builder, with the date ‘1912’.
    Would the gig have been a descendent of the cutter from Nelson’s time and was it ever an official RN ship’s boat?
    What boats does a modern RN ship carry?

    Frank Scott

    Looking through various editions of the Admiralty Manual of Seamanship, from 1908 to 1951, it seems most likely that HMS Indefatigable’s Gig was a 30 foot carvel boat (double diagonal mahogany) with two dipping lugs and a drop keel. Ship’s boats are covered in Vol One for 1908 and 1937 editions, but by 1951 they have migrated to Vol Two, and the gig has disappeared. The 1937 edition has the best diagram, and the most extensive description (pages 272 & 274).

    W. E. May, The Boats of Men of War (London 1974, revised edition 1999) covers the evolution of ship’s boats up until 1914 in considerable detail.

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