About Us

Our Programs

We row from April to December, weather permitting, on Gloucester Harbor. Most rows are for one hour, often with one or two  short breaks. Our programs include rowing for all abilities.

If you’re newly interested in rowing with us, we’ll give you some orientation training, and you can then decide whether to join and become a member. Once you’re a member, you can participate in all kinds of rows: recreational rows around the harbor, conditioning rows, or for experienced rowers, competitive racing against other New England clubs. We provide general rowing training and cox training (if interested) for all members.

Rowing schedules are very flexible. In fact there are no permanently fixed schedules! Any member can initiate a row for an available boat and time, using our online scheduler, and other rowers join on. With our large and active member base, this works very well. In a typical summer month, we have over 120 rows scheduled.

For competitors: Races are as short as a few hundred yards, and as long as 20 miles around Cape Ann.  We also hold fun intra-club scrimmages throughout the season.

For more information, please contact us at info@gloucestergigrowers.com.

Our History

The Gloucester Gig Rowers started in 1985, when a group of Cape Ann women approached boat builder Larry Dahlmer and asked him to build them a boat inspired by the Scilly Isles pilot gigs of Southwest England. The result was the Siren Song — a 30’, plywood-construction gig launched in October of 1987. The original group of women remained active until the early 1990s.

Siren Song was later loaned to rowing programs at the Hull Life Saving Museum , Gloucester Museum School, and in Kittery, Maine. In the spring of 2001, Siren Song returned to Gloucester. Ann Banks organized a rowing program within the newly-formed Gloucester Maritime Heritage Center.

Two more boats

Between 2004-2007, a second boat – Gannet –  was built by Dave Condino;  this one more in the tradition of the older English pilot gigs.

Over the winter-spring of 2012, we commissioned a new gig to be built at the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, and named it the Annie B in honor of our own Ann Banks.

In 2017, we retired the original Siren Song and replaced her with a new gig, built to our specifications by Lowell’s Boat Shop in Lowell, Massachusetts.

Pilot Gig History

The Cornish pilot gig is a s a 32′ six-oared boat with a beam of 4’9.  The Cornish gig was developed in the early 1800s, and has its roots in the Scilly Isles, 40 miles off of the coast of Cornwall, England. The boats were used to transport a local pilot to incoming sailing vessels, and needed to be both fast and seaworthy. The first boat to reach the ship offshore got the job of guiding the vessel through the treacherous shoals in that area (and therefore shared in the profits).

These boats were multi-purpose, however, and were also used as shore-based lifeboats that went out to vessels in distress, freight carriers among the islands, and to smuggle contraband across the English Channel.

There are now hundreds of pilot gig clubs for racing and recreation in the UK and other parts of Europe. Gigs have been adopted (and often adapted) by many youth and adult rowing programs around the United States.

The Dory

Originally, Gloucestermen fished from Grand Banks schooners using hand lines over the side of the schooner itself. Later they developed a system that involved launching dories from the mother ship. This system allowed the crew to cover much more territory, and was therefore more efficient. The dories varied in length; our dory is ~17’. While it’s easier to fish with two people handling the dory (and catch), many schooners—including the Lettie Howard—worked with one man setting tub trawls, or jigging over the side of the dory. Our dory is a one-person version.

Join

We are always welcoming new members! Please explore our website, and send an e-mail to info@gloucestergigrowers.com if you’re interested.