The vessels are 38’ 2” long X 6’9” wide, and draw 14”. They row ten oars, 5 of which are over 18’ long. Mast steps in the original indicate a sailing rig, but with no original sail information available from the museum, the rig has been adapted from comtemporary craft of this period. The sails are dippings lugs, which means that the yards must be lowered and dipped to the other side when tacking, and the halyard transferred to the weather rail as a shroud. The halyards are never cleated, but dory hitched with the bight held live in the hand of a crew member. Sheets to the loose footed sails are never cleated at all, but held ready for instant release by crew members in case of a gust.
The gigs are elegant, exhilarating vessels. They can be rowed at 6 knots in calm water, and sailing have been known to top 10 knots on a reach in a good wind. In operation they require 1st rate teamwork. Tacking requires the whole crew working in unison, as yards must be dipped, the fore backed, and a tacking oar often brought out to bring her round. The long keels do not allow the boats to turn easily. The crew is often required to alternate between rowing and sailing, as the boats do not make good progress to weather, and are often rowed into the wind. All this teamwork makes a wonderful training vessel, and the crews, usually consisting of 10 to 12 young people, are always busy. The many positions aboard, including coxswain, mast captains, bow watch, etc., make the gigs excellent vessels for teaching leadership and responsibility. In two countries at least, the gig is used in local programs for expeditions, with crew members sleeping and eating aboard.