Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Gig Boats, Isles of Scilly

Here we are on the The Isles of Scilly courtesy of Zegrham Expedtitions. The Isalnds have a particularly long and distinguished history when it comes to pilot gigs. Local pilots who know the waters around the Islands like the back of their hand would be taken out to any vessel requiring assistance of any kind and put aboard. The boats from each Island would race to the vessel, and the first one there would get the contract for the pilotage. St. Agnes was particularly successful regarding being first to put a pilot on board as it had the best access to the western approaches. At it's height as an industry, St. Agnes had four pilots living on it. Gigs were made in different shapes in order to fit the purpose for which they would be used, for example, long gigs with fine lines were built for speed whereas a wide gig would be build for stability and for carrying cargo.

The Isles of Scilly is currently home to thirteen gigs, the number would have been more than twice that when they were used as working boats. The gigs now are used as a sports event and the weekly races are seen by many as one of the main social activities on the islands bringing the community together. Every Friday evening in the Summer, the men's gig race takes place, usually about eight or nine gigs will take part in this. Wednesday night is women's gig racing night.  Have a great day now.

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