A term which embraces a variety of small vessels.
1 In its older meaning it referred to a small, decked ship with one mast and a bowsprit, with a gaff mainsail on a boom, a square yard and topsail, and two jibs or a jib and a staysail. The rig was introduced in about 1740. These vessels, armed with up to ten 4-pounder guns, were relatively fast on the wind and were employed mainly as auxiliaries to the war fleets and in the preventive service against smuggling. Later they were widely used by Trinity House, which still class their light tenders and pilot vessels as cutters.
2 A clinker-built ship's boat, 7.3–9.3 metres (24–32 ft) long, with 8–14 oars. It was originally rigged with two masts with a dipping lug foresail and a standing lug mainsail, giving way in the 20th century to a single mast with a de Horsey rig.
3 A powered vessel of about 2,000 tonnes used by the US Coast Guard for a variety of purposes.