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Historical Materials: Vessel Types

Historical Materials  »  Vessel Types  »  Chebacco Boat / Dogbody / Pinky

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Chebacco Boat / Dogbody / Pinky

View related Fitz Henry Lane catalog entries (16) »

The colonial American shallop is the ancestor of many regional types of New England fishing craft found in Lane's paintings and drawings, including "New England Boats" (known as "boats" and discussed elsewhere), and later descendents, such as "Chebacco Boats," "Dogbodies," and "Pinkies."

These boats were very common work boat types on Cape Ann throughout the 1800s. They were primarily used for inshore coastal fishing, which included lobstering, gill-netting, fish-trapping, hand-lining, and the like. They were usually sailed by one or two men, sometimes with a boy, and could be rowed as well as sailed. An ordinary catch would include rock cod, flounder, fluke, dabs, or other small flat fish. The catch would be eaten fresh, or salted and stored for later consumption, or used as bait fish. Gill-netting would catch herring and alewives when spawning. Wooden lobster traps were marked with buoys much as they are today, and hauled over the low sides of the boat, emptied of lobsters and any by-catch, re-baited and thrown back.


In the Chebacco Parish of the Ipswich Colony, a larger version of the colonial shallop evolved to a heavily ­built two-­masted boat with either a sharp or square stern. This development included partial decking at bow and stern, the former as a cuddy which was fitted with crude bunks and a brick fireplace for cooking. Further development provided midship decking over a fish hold with standing rooms fore and aft for fishing. At this stage, low bulwarks replaced simple rails and in the double­-enders were extended aft beyond the rudderhead to form a “pinched,” or “pink“ stern. Some time in the second half of the eighteenth century, boats with these characteristics became known as Chebacco Boats. The square­stern versions were called Dogbodies, for reasons now forgotten. (1)

Chebacco Boats became the vessels of choice for Cape Ann fishermen working coastal grounds for cod, mackerel, herring, and groundfish with hook and line or with nets. This did not prevent them from venturing further, particularly in pursuit of migrating schools of mackerel. The “Bashalore,” a corruption of the Bay of Chaleur in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, was a favorite destination for Cape Ann Fishermen who fished for mackerel in that region. (2)

Lane undoubtedly saw Chebacco Boats in the years prior to his move to Boston, but if he made drawings or paintings of them in that period, none have come to light. A small lithograph, titled “View of the Old Fort and Harbor 1837,” is attributed to him, but the vessels and wharf buildings are too crudely drawn to warrant this undocumented claim. (3) Lane did see and render accurately the Chebacco Boat’s successor the Pinky—which was larger and had a schooner rig (two masts, main sail, fore sail, jib, and main topmast staysail).

Schooners with pink­sterns were recorded early in the 18th century later that there were models and graphic representations of hull form and rig (Ref. 4). By then, the pinky was very similar in hull form to Chebacco Boats, and some Chebacco Boats were converted to pinkies by giving them schooner rigs. A pinky in Lane’s The Old Fort and Ten Pound Island, Gloucester, 1850s (inv. 30) (mis­dated 1850s, more likely mid­-1840s) is quite possibly an example of such a conversion.

Lane’s depictions of pinkies in Massachusetts waters are numerous and sometimes very informative. Examples in his views of Gloucester Harbor portray them at various angles, from broadside (see Gloucester Harbor from Rocky Neck, 1844 (inv. 14), The Old Fort and Ten Pound Island, Gloucester, 1850s (inv. 30), and View of the Town of Gloucester, Mass., 1836 (inv. 86)) to stern (see The Western Shore with Norman's Woe, 1862 (inv. 18), The Old Fort and Ten Pound Island, Gloucester, 1850s (inv. 30), and Gloucester Harbor, 1850s (inv. 391)), but few, if any, bow views. His portrayals of pinkies in Boston Harbor and vicinity are more in the foreground and more generous in detail. The earliest of these, from 1845, shows a pinky getting underway in a hurry as the yacht "Northern Light" bears down on her in The Yacht "Northern Light" in Boston Harbor, 1845 (inv. 268). A late harbor view (id ) offers a rare bow view.

Like the Chebacco Boat, the pinky was primarily a fishing vessel, doing much the same kind of fishing in coastal waters, but large enough to venture further offshore to work on the banks in the Gulf of Maine in pursuit of the cod. By the 1820s, pinkies reached their largest size: 50 to 60 feet on deck. Beyond that size called for a different deck arrangement and higher rails, so men could stand on deck and fish from the rails – an arrangement offered by the banks fishing schooner. (5)

What is perhaps Lane’s most detailed and narrative view of a pinky appears in Becalmed Off Halfway Rock, 1860 (inv. 344) and dominates the right foreground. Fitted-out for mackerel gill­netting, she has a dory and a wherry in tow, the latter with the net in the stern. The crew is relaxed, enjoying the evening calm as the vessel heads for port. The barrels on deck are filled with freshly caught mackerel, which will be sold as such when landed, most likely at Gloucester. This pinky was probably fishing on Stellwagen Bank or Cape Cod Bay, which were good fishing grounds for mackerel, and close enough to Gloucester to make trips in smaller vessels worthwhile. To judge from his paintings, Lane found only a few pinkies in the parts of the Maine Coast he explored. Only one drawing (Southwest Harbor, Mount Desert, 1852 (inv. 184)) and two widely published paintings (Entrance of Somes Sound, Mount Desert, Maine, 1855 (inv. 347) and Bar Island and Mt. Desert Mountains from Somes Settlement, 1850 (inv. 401)) illustrate this type, and then at a distance. What is apparent is that pinkies in southern Maine did not differ markedly from those on the Massachusetts coast. Had Lane ventured further Down East, he might have found modifications to the type that reflected Canadian influences. (6)

– Erik Ronnberg


1. William A. Baker, Sloops & Shallops (Barre, MA: Barre Publishing Co., 1966), 82­–91; and Howard I. Chapelle, The American Fishing Schooners, 1825­–1935 (New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1973), 25­–27.

2. G. Brown Goode, The Fisheries and Fishery Industries of the United States, Section V, Vol. I (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1884–87), 275,­ 287, 298­–300, 419­–21, 425–32, 459–63.

3. John J. Babson, History of the Town of Gloucester, Cape Ann (Procter Bros., 1860, reprint: Gloucester, MA: Peter Smith, 1972), see lithograph facing p. 474.

4. Goode, 275–77, 280, 294–96.

5. Chapelle, 36–37.

6. Ibid., 45–54.

Related tables: New England Boat / Shallop (ancestral type) »

photo (historical)
Pinky "Mary" at anchor (detail)
Martha Hale Harvey
Glass plate negative
3 x 4 in.
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive
photo (historical)
Photo of the pinky "Maine" under sail
Albert Cook Church
photo (historical)
Photo of the pinky "Wellfleet of Friendship," Maine in Gloucester Harbor
Walter Gardner
Cape Ann Museum
Gloucester Harbor from Rocky Neck
Fitz Henry Lane
Oil on canvas
34 x 45 3/4 in.
Signed and dated lower right: F H Lane, 1844
Cape Ann Museum, Gloucester, Mass., Gift of Mrs. Jane Parker Stacy (Mrs. George O. Stacy), 1948 (1289.1a)

Detail of pinky.

Chebacco Boat model
Model and photography by Erik A.R. Ronnberg, Jr.
Model of Chebacco Boat, early nineteenth century with wherry alongside

Also filed under: Ship Models »

Dogbody model

Also filed under: Ship Models »

Model of the pinky "Essex"
Model and photography by Erik A.R. Ronnberg, Jr.

Also filed under: Ship Models »

Model of the pinky "Essex" with dory and wherry alongside
Model and photography by Erik A.R. Ronnberg, Jr.
Pinky (fishing schooner) "Sailor's Delight"
J. Doane S. Nickerson
Wood, metal, cordage
20" l. x 19" h. x 3 3/4" w. [not to scale]
Cape Ann Museum. Gift of Mr. J. Hollis Griffin, 1940 (891)

"Pinkys" were early nineteenth-century schooner-rigged derivations of Chebacco boats. This model is a good example of a traditional “sailor’s model,” or in this case, a sailmaker’s model, Mr. Nickerson having been a sailmaker.

Also filed under: Ship Models »

Silhouettes of vessel types
Charles G. Davis
Book illustrations from "Shipping and Craft in Silhouette" by Charles G. Davis, Salem, Mass. Marine Research Society, 1929. Selected images
View of the Old Fort and Harbor 1837
Fitz Henry Lane, attr.
In John J. Babson, History of the Town Gloucester (Gloucester, MA: Procter Brothers, 1860)
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archives, Gloucester, Mass.

See p. 474.

Citation: "Vessel Types." Fitz Henry Lane Online. Cape Ann Museum.§ion=Chebacco+Boat+%2F+Dogbody+%2F+Pinky&ref=catalog:344 (accessed July 23, 2024).
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