Explore the Underwater World on a Sea Scooter

Also known as “underwater scooters,” the sea scooter will have you zipping around underwater like you’re on a jet ski!

What is it? 

The sea scooter is a SCUBA diver’s luxury vehicle! Also called a Dive Propulsion Vehicle (DPV,) as an underwater mode of transportation, there are a number of different options.

More personal and portable scooters are simply a torpedo-shaped motor that divers hold onto with both hands as it propels you through the water. Divers use these to cover more area faster either for recreational or working purposes. Indeed, there is a need for SCUBA divers as an occupation. When a person is diving for a living, it often requires rapid travel underwater. The ability to move quickly is a huge advantage for those types of divers. 

Non-SCUBA Options

There are some other really cool options for those that want to ride a sea scooter, but have no SCUBA experience. A video presented by the YouTube channel Oddity Mall showed that there are underwater scooters with a breathing chamber that let you ride approximately 15 feet underwater. These scooters look very much like actual street scooters but include an oversized helmet that allows you to breathe freely underwater.

These vehicles are very expensive and not typically an impulse buy for private use. To meet the demand, they are often found in major diving destinations for rental and group tours. 

Sea Scooter History

The Diving Almanac identified that the first Dive Propulsion Vehicle was “The Torpille” in 1952 by Dimitri Rebikoff from France. But the sea scooter as we know it today was first called the Aqua Scooter. The story, according to H.I. Sutton, is that an East German chemical engineer named Bernd Boettger created the scooter as a way to flee East Germany to get across the Baltic Sea to Denmark.

This daring escape plan made the sea scooter an instrument of necessity that has evolved into many different options from recreational to professional. It has become a huge hit though in the recreational diving market because it can allow a diver to see more underwater, getting more mileage out of your air tank—literally! 

Options in Sea Scooters

The price point for a sea scooter has a very wide range. How deep do you want to go? How fast do you want to go? What additional features do you want it to include? These are all pressing questions that have a range of answers. You can get sea scooters rated to a more shallow depth that travels only a few miles per hour at a very reasonable cost. Many scooters also include a camera mount, so you can do a little cinematography while you explore the underwater landscape.

The amount of time you get on one run is also another consideration. While you won’t be underwater for hours on end anyway, you want to make sure that your battery won’t give out on you mid-trip. Professional quality sea scooters will take you to much greater depths at faster speeds. These are not at all cheap, but then again are not necessary for recreational divers.

People have always wanted to see what life is like underwater. SCUBA allows this, but sea scooters provide an opportunity to see and do more of this beautiful world. The functionality of sea scooters has come so far over the years with options for virtually any budget and certainly any level of dive experience.

With options available for people to enjoy without SCUBA experience, the sea scooter has definitely come to a point where everyone can enjoy life among the fish for a little while. 

Oil Tankers: Fueling Countries for Centuries

The oil tanker is so much more than just a giant floating barrel of oil. The uses for tankers old and new are innovative and will absolutely amaze you!

The History Behind Oil Tankers

Eniday identifies that ships have been used since at least the 16th century to transport all manner of goods. Tales of pirates attacking ships and stealing either the ship, its cargo or both are very familiar to everyone.

Since then, we have built bigger, sturdier and better ships with different purposes and designs to more efficiently move cargo.

The first oil tanker as we know it was constructed in the United Kingdom in 1886. This ship allowed for oil to be pumped into the hull without the need for barrels. During the World War I era, the United States built 316 oil tankers to keep up with the demand for oil. World War II saw similar increases in demand.

The Exxon Valdez Spill

Perhaps the most famous incident in history involving an oil tanker was in 1989 when the tanker named the Exxon Valdez crashed into the Bligh Reef in Prince William Sound in Alaska. The Valdez spilled 11 million gallons of crude oil into the water which resulted in the killing of hundreds of thousands of animals in the area.

The disaster gained international attention and ultimately cost the Exxon corporation 3.8 billion dollars for both clean-up and restoration costs for the habitat. Captain Joseph Hazelwood avoided felony charges in the matter but received a community service work requirement and a $50,000 fine. 

Massive Modern Tankers

The bigger the tanker, the more oil it can carry. The more oil it can carry, the lower the cost of shipment. This is highly important to keep the cost of fuel down for consumers. This major demand has sparked some huge innovation in the design and construction of oil tankers. Eniday says that today’s ultra-large crude carriers (ULCCs) can be 1,300 feet long! Imagine laying the Empire State Building down on the ground, and that would be roughly the length of these tankers. According to Clearseas.org, 60% of all oil transported around the world travels by oil tankers. 

Repurposing 

Something as massive as an oil tanker has to have some cool features. Just as cool is what has been done with some of the old tankers that are no longer in use. In Antigua, this YouTube video shows how a decommissioned oil tanker has been turned into a floating water park.

Other ideas, like The Black Gold Project in the Persian Gulf countries, seek to use these decommissioned tankers for land use. They could be hotels, shopping centers, airports, apartments and more. The intrigue that comes from repurposing these ships for this purpose seems to be enough to “fuel” a whole new pseudo-real estate empire.  

Environmentally-Friendly Oil Tankers

You read that right—oil tankers are becoming far more environmentally responsible! While it would seem that a vehicle carrying fossil fuel would be one of the least eco-conscious vehicles on the planet, that is becoming very inaccurate. Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) powered tankers are being commissioned for their ability to nearly eliminate the release of sulfur oxide and nitrogen oxide, as well as reducing the release of carbon dioxide by approximately 40%.

But more than just the use of LNG vessels, tankers like Deliverance have been designed to use solar and wind power to handle half of the ships power needs. The other half would come from liquefied natural gas. All of this actually costs less to manufacture and saves oil companies a tremendous amount of money. Beyond the cost savings, the environmental impact will be substantial—in a great way! 

Bigger and Bolder: The Evolution of the Superyacht

Most people will never see a superyacht in their lifetime, let alone set foot on one of these streamlined, gleaming luxury vessels.

But for the crème of the top one percent wealth bracket, a superyacht has become a must-have status possession and the perfect way to party and travel in style.

Luxury yachts have sailed the seas since the first half of the 20th century. Since then, their designs have got bigger, better, extravagant, and adventurous. This article traces the history of these opulent vessels and the emerging trends and technologies in their build and design.

What is a Superyacht?

A superyacht is a large, professionally crewed luxury yacht (motor or sail powered) with a load line length of at least 24 meters. Superyachts are available for commercial charter or are used exclusively by their owners. They may be designed to emphasize speed, comfort, or expedition capability.

The number of superyachts has grown significantly since the 1990s such that, today, only those vessels exceeding 65 meters (213 feet) stand out as impressive.

Since a significant number of yachts are over 3000GT, all their deck and engineering officers require full merchant navy certification.

Brief History of the Superyacht

The yacht was first invented in the 14th century by the Dutch. At the time, they used small, fast boats (called jaghts) to chase pirates, criminals, and smugglers at sea. Eventually, rich ship merchants and owners started using these jaghts to sail out to sea to welcome or celebrate their returning ships.

The world’s first yachtsman was Charles II of England who picked up the sailing hobby while in exile in Holland. After a ten year exile, Charles II triumphantly returned to the English throne aboard a luxurious 60 ft. yacht presented to him by the city of Amsterdam. He soon took up sailing on the Thames and built about 20 yachts in his lifetime.

Years later in 1720, the Cork Water Club was opened becoming the world’s first yacht club.

Fast forward to the beginning of the 20th century; wealthy individuals started constructing large, private yachts, which became the precursors of today’s superyachts. The first large motor yachts also appeared during this period, including superyachts like Jemima F. III (1908), Savarona (1931), and Christina O (1947).

Superyacht Design and Layout

A modest superyacht between 40 and 60 meters may have cabins for up to 15 guests and a crew of similar size. It may be configured as follows:

  • A lower deck with an exterior swimming pool at the stern, four to six guest cabins, crew quarters forward, and an engine room amidships.
  • A main deck with a saloon, dining room, galley, entrance amidships, and the owner’s suite and study forward.
  • An upper deck with an exterior deck aft used for outdoor dining, a sky lounge, the captain’s cabin, and the bridge.
  • A sun deck with a Jacuzzi and a gym (if it’s not below-decks).

Emerging trends and Technology

The most obvious direction for next-generation superyachts is an increase in size.

The size and designs of the superyacht are directly linked to the increase of billionaires.

Owner-preference and competition continue to drive new design and features such as icy spa chambers, personal gyms, helicopter pads (the new normal), stabilized pool tables, aquariums, wine cellars, movie theaters equipped with high-spec IMAX projection.

Other design trends are:

  • Noise reduction.
  • Exterior and interior designs that allow guests to get closer to the water with features such as beach clubs and sea-level pools.
  • Low-emission and eco-friendly sailing.

The superyacht has a variety of uses depending on the owner’s preference ranging from business matters to parties and sporting activities. However, the main use of the superyacht is going on private vacations to relax.

Narrowboats: The History of These Floating Homes

If you live in or have visited England, it’s very possible that you’ve heard people talk about the many beautiful canals that flow across the country.

One of the most common boats on these English waterways is the narrowboat, which today is frequently used as a floating home—but it hasn’t always been this way.

History of the Narrowboat

Historically, narrowboats were referred to as narrow boats, with a space. This terminological difference marks the split between the modern leisure narrowboat and the traditional working narrow boat.

Narrow boats were first designed in the 1700s as a way to transport goods across Britain’s extensive canal system, making use of the rivers just as we make use of highways today. Their name comes from their distinctive size and shape—never any wider than 7 feet, and generally about 70 feet long. They were most likely designed by an engineer named James Brindley specifically so that they could more easily navigate the narrow canals.

Boats With No Engine

Before they had even invented an engine for them, narrowboats were being used by hundreds of companies across the country. In these early days, the boats would have been pulled by a horse walking along the edge of the canal.

Steam Engines

In the late 1800s, narrowboats began to make use of steam engines. This enabled them to make longer cross-country journeys. During this time, narrow boats began to struggle to keep up with the convenience of the railroads.

Modern Engines

Starting in the early 1900s, narrowboats used more modern gas and diesel engines. This meant less room on the boat was taken up by the large steam engines, and fewer crew members were needed to keep the boat running.

The Fall of Working Boats

By the 1960s, the use of narrowboats to transport goods was in sharp decline. The waterways had fallen into disrepair after World War II, and modern methods of transport meant that narrow boats were simply not needed the way they had been for almost 200 years.

The Modern Narrowboat: A Floating Home

Today, narrowboats are rising once again in popularity, but for a different reason: people like to use these boats for leisure, sailing along the peaceful canals and often living on board.

Even back in their working days, there was a precedent set for living aboard these vessels. The families of boatmen frequently lived on board and traveled alongside the boatmen, as this was cheaper than keeping a separate house on land.

Today, living on board a narrowboat offers a number of pros and cons. It can be quiet, since you will be moored in dedicated marinas and will be away from the noise of the city. It can also be much cheaper than more traditional living arrangements such as houses and apartments, and allows you to easily travel without ever leaving home. If you’re curious as to what this living situation might look like, take a look at this couple’s video tour of their own narrowboat.

However, life on a narrowboat can be difficult. You need to deal with severe cold, constantly ensuring that your stove is lit so that your boat remains heated. Plumbing can be an issue, and the boat frequently has to be moved unless you’re paying a residential marina. You also have to be a handy person, able to identify and fix problems and maintain the boat in case of any damage.

But if you’re the sort of person who loves to travel, doesn’t want to stay anchored in one place, and is willing to take on an adventure, life on a narrowboat might be the perfect choice for you.

Flyboards: The Safest Jetpack Alternatives Around

A flyboard is the closest and safest way to feel like you are jet-powered.

Many facts about the flyboard are also almost, but not quite,  as fun as watching someone pilot it.

What Exactly is a Flyboard?

A flyboard is a brand new invention having been created only in 2011/2012. Basically, it uses water jets to lift up a board platform so you can fly around above the water. The board itself is connected by tube to something that looks like a little boat that floats on the water. The water is sucked up by the boat on the water and pulled up the tube into the air so it can be shot down from the board. So, just like that, you have an instant board that’s water-jet powered.

The nice thing about it is that you’re only ever above water, so it’s a little safer than jetting around on land where your fall is going to be a lot less pleasant. You’re also never going to run out of fuel since the entire lake you’re on is your fuel supply. You’re not very likely to run out of that!

The Flyboard’s Inventor: Franky Zapata

Franky invented the board after being a huge watercraft enthusiast.  It ‘s mesmerizing to watch someone do tricks on the board including backflips, figure 8s, and more. Mr. Zapata first rolled out the board at a Jet Ski world championship in China.

Anyone Can Learn

While owning your own may be out of the question for cost reasons, there are plenty of places to rent them, and the claim is that anyone can learn to ride a flyboard. You just have to have a basic level of fitness to use the vehicle, but people over the age of 50 regularly do it. One site even said that they’ve seen an 89-year-old woman master it in just 5 minutes. So, there’s no age limit, though it may be more difficult to do tricks. However, you still have a shot to fly around on what is essentially like a jetpack.

You can either fly it by yourself with a special module, or you can have another person help control the flow of water up into the jets as well as the unit on the water.

There’s also An Air Version

Zapata invented an air version of the Flyboard that he just calls the “Flyboard Air.” This one requires Franky to wear a backpack full of kerosene that connects to five turbines. Recently, he achieved feats like flying over the English Channel. This version is more difficult to fly and requires a lot more care because it’s dangerous as it can reach up to hundreds of feet in the air. The military is actually interested in possible applications from the device as a way to scout. Zapata got millions of dollars from the French military in the form of a grant to develop the flying machine.

Frank actually had to land on a boat in the middle of the English Channel to refuel before going out the rest of the way. As a result, people call him the “French Green Goblin” from the similarity to the vehicle the supervillain rides.

It looks a lot like the water-based flyboard, except without the secondary tube part. It’s just a platform with an area to strap on shoes and the tubes where the jet air comes out to provide lift and propulsion. Frank has said that it’s tricky to learn to fly since you have to do a lot of flying with leg movements.

Overall, it’s a unique water vehicle that will give you a taste of living in the future.

Icebreaker Ships

Ice is no joke when it comes to travel on the high seas. There are boats that are specifically designed to break-up some pretty remarkable ice.

These ships known as “Icebreakers” have been around for a remarkably long time.  

Icebreaker History

Dr. Stephen Jones wrote in the Journal of Ocean Technology about the history of these fearless vessels. According to Jones, the Hudson River in 1836 had a paddle-powered boat titled the Norwich that was designed to break the ice. But centuries before this, ships in Arctic countries were reinforcing their hulls and doing their best to prepare for some light ice travel. Finland was one of the first countries to utilize icebreaker ships in large numbers. In the late 1800s and into the early 20th century during the industrial revolution as shipbuilding expanded, more icebreakers were seen on the water. The bow of these ships is designed using a great deal of math to arrive at a result that will break the ice without penetrating the hull of the ship. Large cruise liners line the famous Titanic demonstrate how ice can easily puncture and quickly sink even the largest and sturdiest of ships. Through the mid to latter part of the 20th century, advancements in diesel engines created opportunities to build more powerful ships capable of breaking thicker ice even faster. 

The Importance of Breaking the Ice

Ice is a huge hazard in the polar regions. The North Atlantic, as well as other Arctic waterways, have a great deal of boat traffic. Historically, the transportation of goods, patrolling the coastlines for defense, as well as transporting people have been key in this region. Solid blocks of ice created barriers where a clear passage was needed for other boat traffic. Even today, icebreaking is absolutely necessary for commerce as well as defense. According to Sabrina Shankman with InsideClimate News and published via NBCNews.com, the United States Coast Guard only has two, very aging icebreakers. There are serious demands to add ships to the fleet with heavy icebreaking capabilities. This is necessary for a number of reasons, including search and rescue, environmental disaster clean-up and defense. 

Different Vessels

Today, there are many different types of icebreakers. As seen in this YouTube video on the Top Fives channel, there are various types of icebreakers that can meet a variety of needs. Some icebreakers are smaller and used to clear channels and smaller waterways for commercial traffic. They are used to maintain these waterways, keeping them clear of ice for other ships. Russia is the only country in the world to use icebreakers with nuclear reactors. Kyle Mizokami in Popular Mechanics writes about the new Russian ship the Ural, and its ability to break through ice ten feet thick. With warming Arctic temperatures, areas that have been impenetrable are now possible to navigate. Russia is using its nuclear icebreakers to try to control this region. 

The Future of Icebreakers

It’s pretty clear that as polar areas continue to warm, there will be an increased demand to navigate those waters. Both governmental and private interests will be seeking to get their feet in the doorway. This will continue to require more ships with icebreaking capabilities. Not only the deep icebreakers, but icebreakers of all sizes and abilities will continue to see a strong workload for the foreseeable future. These ships have come a long way in the last few hundred years and are truly a sight to behold. Watching the beautiful dance between sheer size and strength, mixed with the power of geometry and physics that is evidenced in the design is truly a sight to behold. 

Longships: The Vessel of the Vikings

When you think of the Vikings, you might imagine warriors, adventurers, and horned helmets.

But how much do you know about their iconic mode of transportation, the longship?

Building a Longship

Longships, true to their name, ranged in length from 45 to 75 feet long. They were completely symmetrical, with both sides mirroring each other. This served to make the vessels much easier to maneuver, because it enabled them to reverse direction without turning the longship around. At top speed, longships could sail at about 17 knots, or roughly 20 miles per hour.

Archaeologists estimate that it would have taken 100 men approximately a year to build a single longship. These vessels became the true symbols of the Vikings, bringing them around the world on their explorations and raids. They were built using the “clinker” method, which involved overlapping planks of wood being nailed together. The spaces in between the planks were filled with tarred wool, hair, and moss, ensuring that the vessel remained watertight for its long journeys up and down the European coast and across the sea. 

Longships were built with a single sail in the center, and were sailed by a combination of wind power and rowing. Long and low to the ocean, the ships were incredibly sturdy and could be sailed even in shallow water. They generally had large, imposing wooden figureheads at their prow. Carved images of snakes and dragons were particularly popular, as the purpose of these figureheads was to strike fear into the hearts of anyone who saw them.

History of the Longship

This vessel became the quintessential mode of transport for the Vikings. “Viking” was actually the name given to sailors from Norway, Denmark, Sweden, and Finland, and the Viking Age lasted from 700 to 1100 CE. Longships were used for over 1,500 years, and their primary goal was to carry warriors and bring Vikings to new lands to settle. In fact, it was this iconic ship that brought Norse Viking Leif Erikson to North America in the year 1000 CE, making him perhaps the first European to set foot in America. 

This tale has been passed down for centuries; reportedly, Erikson heard about another Viking having spotted the landmass of eastern North America, and decided to seek it out for himself. He set sail from Greenland in a longship, and when he explored the American coast for the first time he found grapes, leading the Vikings to call North America “Vinland,” which translates to “Wine Land.”

Longships provided no shelter, which makes it even more impressive that Vikings could make such long journeys on these small vessels. If they were out at sea on a longship, the crew would sleep on the deck underneath blankets made of animal skins. 

Viking Raids

When they weren’t sailing to new places, Viking warriors used the longship to raid coastal areas along the European coast. The size of the vessel made it perfect for this kind of attack. Because of its length, it could carry many warriors while still being relatively easy to sail. Its ability to sail in shallow water meant that the longship could quietly make its way inland along rivers and streams, enabling Viking warriors to attack settlements and monasteries without warning. 

While the Vikings didn’t see themselves as thieves, their reputation as raiders and warriors is one of the things that the world remembers most, even centuries after the end of the Viking Age. This is due in large part to the incredible success of Viking raids—and the success of the raids can be attributed to the powerful longships that the warriors built for themselves.

A Study in Power: The Speedboat

A speedboat is a craft that lets you fly on the water.

There are few vehicles that give you as much of a feeling of power quite like a speedboat. Its history is full of those who gloried in the dream of defying gravity on water.

Invention

The first time someone thought to strap a motor to a boat started with the steam engine and James Watt in the 18th century. The first time you could really call something a ‘speed’ boat would likely be in the 1900s where there was a competition for motor boating. The winner was Dorothy Levitt in a boat called the Napier. She came in at around 19.3 miles per hour, which was mind-blowing for the time!  This was especially true when she showed up wearing a full, head-to-toe early 20th-century getup, and then blew the competition out of the water. Many of the other boats didn’t even start. There’s nothing like beating your foes while wearing skirts that drop to the ground.

Famous Speedboats You Can Rent: The ‘Shaken Not Stirred’

This boat is a 36-foot long Sunseeker Superhawk, and it was actually used in the opening credits for the James Bond movie The World Is Not Enough, starring Pierce Brosnan. Amazingly, you can rent the boat as a private citizen in London, England. It’s not exactly a cheap rent, however, as prices start at around $850 an hour. Still, many people do it just to say that they were on the James Bond boat, if only for a little while.

Speedboats for Catching Pirates and Terrorists

The usefulness of having a small craft that can turn at 90 degrees in just seconds was not lost on the government. An example of this kind of craft has the official designation of HSIC or “High-Speed Interceptor Craft.” They can get up to speeds of more than 50 knots. Generally, these ships are used by law enforcement agencies or in similar applications to catch criminals defying governments on the high seas. This could include Somali pirates trying to capture and ransom larger cargo ships, for example.

It could also include anyone trying to smuggle drugs or weapons past authorities, or even organized crime and militias. A motorboat is a real boon when you’re fighting pirates, and it’s likely the pirate-hunters of old would be jealous of all that power and speed.

World Record Held by a Wooden Boat

Believe it or not, the world record for fastest boat in the water is held by a boat made of wood. It seems beyond belief at first, but it starts to make sense as you think about it. Ken Warby made his boat, The Spirit of Australia, by buying 3 J-34 engines for under $300 total at a surplus auction. Then, he got up to 317.58 miles per hour on his hydroplane speedboat. All he needed was a drill, a belt sander, a circular saw and a few hand tools.

After all, what you want is the lightest frame possible than can take the biggest engine. This is just about exactly what Ken Warby from Sydney did. The record still holds today.

Overall, motorboats are only growing in popularity. People dream about the fast ride every day. Just recently, Christy Brinkley posted from a speedboat as it cut through some rough waves off the coast of Long Island. Everyone from supermodels to everyday people can get behind being on a ship that can do just about anything it wants in the water. It’s a dream most people have had ever since learning to swim.

Fortunately, this is a dream that can come true.

Fireboats: Putting Out Fires Since 1765

Even a boat that’s floating in the middle of the water can catch fire.

That’s actually when it can be the most dangerous for the boat and the passengers: in the wide-open sea, there’s no fire truck and no emergency exit so you can run away from the fire. That’s where fireboats come in.

What Is a Fireboat?

Fireboats are specially-designed boats that are equipped with pumps and hoses to fight fires. They can put out shipboard fires, extinguish fires in dockside warehouses and buildings, and even pump water to land-based fire-fighting teams. Fireboats provide quick access to emergencies, and they (and other rescue boats) can help evacuate passengers.

While they might carry a tank of treated water to deal with chemical fires or fires near specialized equipment, the real value of fireboats is they can pump water directly from the lake or ocean they’re in for a never-ending extinguishing system. Even better, fireboats are designed to reach where land-based fire vehicles can’t. For example, they can directly target the underside of burning docks and warehouses to stop the spread of the fire at its base.

Many modern fireboats look just like sea-faring ships, so you might not recognize them unless you see ‘Fire Rescue’ emblazoned on the side. But you can find them at water-based parades that are welcoming new ships or celebrating local historical events. They’re the ships spraying water into the air, much like a highly choreographed airplane display.

What Did the First Fireboat Look Like?

The first fireboat was considered a ‘fire-float.’ The small watercraft got its start in London in 1765, and it was a regular rowboat modified with a manual water pump.

A similar boat was made in Bristol within the next twenty years. The idea spread to New York City by 1809, and soon fireboats became regular fixtures along coasts that depended on boats and trade. It wasn’t until the 1870s, over one hundred years later, that the first steamboats completely designed and built for fighting fires were made for the Boston Fire Department.

Who’s in Charge of All the Fireboats?

The Sun Fire Insurance Company owned London’s first fire-float, and fireboats in general spent their first several decades owned by private insurance groups. While municipal fire departments retrofitted their own fire-floats, it wasn’t until 1866 that the New York Fire Department leased their first powered fireboat. This was the John Fuller, a steam salvage tug widely regarded as the first modern fireboat.

Nowadays, fireboats tend to be municipal, state, and military vehicles. Most cities that sit on the coast have their own boats in the city’s fire department, especially if the city is a large port.  Coast guards and other national rescue agencies around the world also have fleets of fireboats that they can use during natural disasters or large marine fires.

Most fireboats are government property, though oil rigs and similar sites might have privately owned vessels at vulnerable sites to minimize potential damage or danger.

2 Fireboats That Famously Saved the Day

Fireboats are out saving lives and putting out fires every day. Two fireboats that have a spot in fire-fighting history include:

1. USS Hoga

The USS Hoga (YT-146) was at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Ten of the crew’s men were aboard, and the ship was out saving people just ten minutes after the first strike. The team helped pull people out of the water, put out fires, and pushed USS Nevada out of the channel as it sank.

2. John J. Harvey

Following the attacks on the World Trade Center towers in New York City on September 11, 2001, the old fireboat John J. Harvey came out of retirement. Many of the city’s water mains were too damaged for firefighters to use. But John J. Harvey and two other fireboats were there to pump water to the site.

The Skiff: For Rowing, Sailing, and Pirates

The term skiff is associated with a variety of small boats – some with a sordid past.

In some cases, skiff is used to refer to small motorized boats used for nefarious actions such as piracy or drug smuggling. The skiff isn’t all bad, though. Read on for more information on this interesting vessel.

History of the Skiff

References to vessels as a skiff date back as early as the 1540s, deriving from the French term “esquif,” the Italian “schifo”, and Germanic “scif,” all meaning either boat or little boat. There are references to skiffs on the River Thames as early as 1812. The term appears in connection with a variety authors and pieces of literature:

  • John Milton’s book Paradise Lost in 1670
  • Famed poet Percy Bysshe Shelley was taken on expedition by skiff and ultimately drowned sailing in a skiff off the coast of Italy
  • Sir Walter Scott’s Lady of the Lake
  • Jerome K. Jerome’s Three Men in a Boat
  • Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick
  • Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea

The Many Forms of the Skiff

A skiff is defined by Merriam-Webster as “any of various small boats especially: a flat-bottomed rowboat.” These boats have also been described as being small in size, having a smaller crew, and being used for leisure, utility crafts, and fishing. With these broad criteria, a number of boats have traditionally been defined as skiffs, including:

  • Sailing skiff: Common in New Zealand and Australia, sailing skiffs are primarily used for racing. These vessels are still used for racing in sizes ranging from 10 to 18 feet. Technology has continued to develop, spreading desire for similar boats across the world. Internationally, the term skiff is used for boats that would otherwise be referred to as dinghies such as the Cherub Skiff, International 14, 29er, and 49er. Racing skiffs is also a way for the younger generation to enjoy sailing, as the smaller nature of the boats allow for young people to enter the sport. Organizations such as O’pen Skiff support this effort.
  • Rowing skiff: Originating out of the skiffs originally used on the Thames, rowing skiffs gained popularity in the 19th They are generally round bottomed boats which are capable of sporting a sail. There are still regattas today that feature these boats, including those organized by the Skiff Racing Association which was formed in 1901 to provide a governing body for skiff racing.
  • Fishing skiff: In America, the term skiff is most commonly used with fishing boats, usually a flat-bottomed, open boat with a pointed bow and flat stern. These vessels were originally powered by rowing but have since developed to include outboard motors.

The Darker Side of Skiffs

While skiffs may be associated with literature and regattas, they also have a darker association with piracy and drug smuggling.  The small size and quick movement of the vessels make them ideal for individuals attempting clandestine acts on the open seas.  While piracy may seem like a thing of the past, associated with Pirates of the Caribbean, it is alive and well and heightened by the conflicts created by war and the difficulty countries have in policing the seas.  In fact, it has been reported that the seas are getting more dangerous rather than less. Skiffs appear frequently in news surrounding piracy and drug smuggling, including:

Don’t let this reputation of skiffs scare you away from climbing aboard one of these boats. These small vessels are still great for racing, fishing and leisure.