Word of the Day – Wednesday, June 21st



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SCOW (skow)

A large flat-bottomed boat with square ends
Common clues:
Flat bottomed boat; Tub; Refuse transportation; Garbage barge; Garbage tower; It’s full of garbage; Harbor hauler; Square-ended boat; Trash taker
Crossword puzzle frequency: 3 times a year
The Odyssey of the Mobro 4000

A scow, in the original sense, is a flat bottomed boat with a blunt bow, often used to haul garbage or similar bulk freight; cf. barge. The etymology of the word is from Dutch schouwe, meaning such a boat.

A uniquely American design, the schooner rigged scow was widely used for coastal and inland transport from around 1850 through the early 1900s. Scow schooners had a broad, shallow hull, and used centerboards, bilgeboards or leeboards rather than a deep keel. The broad hull gave them stability, and the retractable foils allowed them to move even heavy loads of cargo in waters far too shallow for keelboats to enter. The squared off bow and stern allowed the maximum amount of cargo to be carried in the hull. The smallest sailing scows were sloop rigged (making them technically a scow sloop), but otherwise similar in design. The scow sloop eventually evolved into the inland lake scow, a type of fast racing boat.

The Alma

The scow schooner Alma, of San Francisco, built in 1891, restored in the 1960s, and designated a national historic landmark in 1988, was one of the last scow schooners in operation. She is a smaller example, 59 feet in length, 22.6 feet in beam, with a draft of 4 feet and a loaded displacement of 41 tons.

In the early 20th century, smaller sloop and cat rigged scows became popular sailboats on inland lakes throughout the midwestern United States. First popularized by Johnson Boat Works in Minnesota, these boats were distinguished by their larger sail plans, retractable bilgeboards, and (in some classes) twin rudders. There are many active racing classes throughout the Midwest, Western New York, the New Jersey Shore and parts of the South.

The Breck Marshall, a 20-foot Crosby catboat

Contrary to the connotations of the old definition of "scow" (large and slow), the inland lake scows are extremely fast--the wide, flat bottom hull allows them to plane easily. As a consequence of this, the A scow is the highest rated centerboard boat according to the US Portsmouth yardstick numbers.

The squared off shape and simple lines of a scow make it a popular choice for simple home-built boats made from plywood. Phil Bolger and Jim Michalak, for example, have designed a number or small sailing scows, and the PD Racer is a growing class of home-built sailing scow. Generally these designs are created to minimize waste when using standard sheets of 4 foot by 8 foot sheets of plywood.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Scow".