AskDefine | Define pinnace

Dictionary Definition

pinnace n : a boat for communication between ship and shore [syn: tender, ship's boat, cutter]

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. A light boat, traditionally propelled by sails, but may also be a rowboat. Pinnaces are usually messenger boats, carrying messages among the larger ships of a fleet.

Extensive Definition

A pinnace is one of two marine craft, the first a small vessel used as a tender to larger vessels amongst other things, and the second a ship rigged vessel popular in northern waters through the 17th-19th centuries.
The smaller pinnace is a light boat, propelled by sails or oars, formerly used as a "tender" for guiding merchant and war vessels. In modern parlance, pinnace has come to mean a boat associated with some kind of larger vessel, that doesn't fit under the launch or lifeboat definitions. In general, the pinnace had sails, and would be used to ferry messages between ships of the line, visit harbors ahead of the fleet with messages of state, pick up mail, etc. The pinnace was also widely used during the pirate infested 1600s, mostly in the Caribbean area. The Spanish favored them as lightweight smuggling vessels while the Dutch used them as raiders. Pirates infrequently used them as scouts and for night attacks since they were small, reliable, and extremely quick, even against the wind.
The second, larger type was developed by the Dutch during the early 17th century. She had a hull form resembling a small "race built" galleon, and was usually rigged as a ship (square rigged on three masts), or carried a similar rig on two masts (in a fashion akin to the later "Brig"). Pinnaces saw use as merchant vessels, pirate vessels and small warships. Not all were small vessels, some being nearer to larger ships in tonnage. This type saw widespread use in northern waters, mainly by the Dutch, as they had a shallow draught.
pinnace in German: Pinasse
pinnace in Spanish: Pinaza
pinnace in French: Pinasse du bassin d'Arcachon
pinnace in Lithuanian: Pinasa
pinnace in Russian: Пинасс
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