In the days of sailing ships, a vessel would carry several ship's boats for various uses. One would be a longboat, an open boat to be rowed by eight or ten oarsmen, two per thwart. In other words the longboat was double banked: its rowing benches were designed to accommodate two men.
Unlike the dinghy or the cutter, the longboat would have fairly fine lines aft to permit its use in steep waves such as surf or wind against tide where need be. Like other ships' boats, the longboat could be rigged for sailing but was primarily a pulling boat. It had the double-banked arrangement in common with the cutter. This was possible as it had a beam similar to a cutter's but broader than that of a gig, which was single banked.
The longboat was generally more seaworthy than the cutter, which had a fuller stern for such load-carrying work as laying out an anchor and cable. In a seaway or surf therefore, the cutter was more prone to broaching to.
The Oxford English Dictionary notes uses of the word from 1515 to 1867. In later years, particularly in the Royal Navy, the longboat tended to be replaced by the whaler. The cutter was still in use in the 1950s but had been largely replaced by the 32 foot and 25 foot motor cutters.
In some places such as Tristan da Cunha and Pitcairn Island, the surfboats are known as longboats, perhaps because the settlers who introduced them were European seamen. The Tristan da Cunha boats are single banked.
The French link is to chaloupe, which in this context is a cutter, but lent its name to the Dutch sloep or sloop.
Ship's boats Age of Sail Modern
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Look at other dictionaries:
Longboat — Long boat , n. (Naut.) Formerly, the largest boat carried by a merchant vessel, corresponding to the launch of a naval vessel. [1913 Webster] … The Collaborative International Dictionary of English
longboat — ► NOUN 1) historical a sizeable boat which could be launched from a large sailing ship. 2) another term for LONGSHIP(Cf. ↑longship) … English terms dictionary
longboat — [lôŋ′bōt΄] n. the largest boat carried on a merchant sailing ship … English World dictionary
longboat — UK [ˈlɒŋˌbəʊt] / US [ˈlɔŋˌboʊt] noun [countable] Word forms longboat : singular longboat plural longboats a long low boat, used especially in the past for travelling on the sea … English dictionary
longboat — noun Date: 15th century a large oared boat usually carried by a merchant sailing ship … New Collegiate Dictionary
longboat — /lawng boht , long /, n. Naut. (formerly) the largest boat carried by a sailing ship. [1505 15; LONG1 + BOAT] * * * … Universalium
longboat — noun Among the boats carried by a ship the largest, thus the most capable of boats carried on a ship … Wiktionary
longboat — long|boat [ lɔŋ,bout ] noun count a long low boat, used especially in the past for traveling on the ocean … Usage of the words and phrases in modern English
longboat — n. largest boat carried on a ship (Nautical) … English contemporary dictionary
longboat — noun a large boat which may be launched from a sailing ship. ↘another term for longship … English new terms dictionary