Winslow here is a 14-foot “skiff,” a word that apparently originated as a variant of small “ship.” American skiffs usually are light, open boats designed for the use of one person or very few people; they typically are rowing vessels. (Some Mainers, therefore, call them “pulling boats.”)


Many skiffs have flat bottoms, but not Winslow; she has an elegant hull that makes her very high-riding. There is no hard-and-fast definition of a skiff. You may remember that Santiago’s 16-foot “skiff” in Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea had, in addition to oars, a small sail on a removable mast that the fisherman took home at night. Winslow is part of the WoodenBoat School’s fleet, but we’ve never seen a sail on her. (Brooklin, Maine)