The S.S. Minnow is a small charter vessel that seven castaways were traveling on when they got beached on the Island. It was a small steam-powered craft owned by the Skipper, as its Captain, and Gilligan, as his First Mate. It was used to provide three-hour tours to tourists and guests around Hawaii with free lunches. During one of the tours, a huge storm swept the Minnow, and its passengers out to sea. Apparently, the radio had accidentally broadcast the weather report from the previous day, not allowing the Skipper enough warning of its approach. The ship's wheel/rudder control was broken during the storm. After the storm abated, they drifted for a few days and hit an underwater reef near the island before eventually getting beached.
Shortly after the wreck, the Professor tried to make nails to patch up the holes in the Minnow but failed. Gilligan and Mary Ann eventually found tree sap to substitute for syrup which turned out to develop into a hardy glue when it was heated. However, right after patching up the holes with the glue, the glue dried into powder and lost its adhesive properties, causing the Minnow to completely fall apart. The Skipper was completely reimbursed for the loss through Pacific & Western Insurance after they left the island.
History of the Minnow
The S.S. Minnow actually has a long and detailed history represented by several different crafts of varying characteristics. The following crafts have appeared as the Minnow in all of its incarnations.
The first Minnow was a Honolulu rental with the call numbers GG 1001; these numbers don't appear on the later versions. It rested in the Honolulu port and was used to tape the passengers' arrival. Gilligan appears on it as the Skipper poses nearby at the sign, "S.S. Minnow island Charter - Exotic Trip - Free Lunches."
The second Minnow was a Marina Del Rey rental, an 11-meter long 1964 Wheeler craft powered with two Detroit diesel engines that appears in the opener sailing from the harbor and out to sea. It appears very briefly in one scene with the Minnow 1.0.
The third Minnow, make and model unknown, was the beached craft seen in the pilot when the Skipper wakes and goes to investigate. Gilligan dives off it when he thinks the Skipper was washed over board. Segments of this footage re-appear in Birds Gotta Fly, Fish Gotta Talk with actors John Gabriel and Kit Smythe from the pilot still seen on board.
The fourth Minnow was a huge prop from CBS studios used in the opening shots of the color episodes. It appears in Goodbye Island as the Professor fixes the holes with tree sap used as glue. Gilligan climbs on board trying to save it.
The fifth Minnow is the huge stripped down Minnow from Goodbye Island showing the craft as a wood skeleton with Gilligan still holding the wheel, and everything, including the factory-attached parts, rejected from the boat by the defective glue.
The new Minnow is a modern craft, make and model unknown, acquired by the Skipper in Rescue from Gilligan's Island from his insurance money. Although he was not held accountable for the wreck due to the events in Court-Martial, he still had to get the signatures from the castaways as a promise not to sue the Skipper for damages. Re-painted and re-outfitted, the Skipper takes the craft out on a Christmas cruise reunion with the Castaways. Thanks to Gilligan they get lost again in a storm: This Minnow actually sinks off the island, indicated by a plank of wood marked Minnow 1, although why this plank has a number on it where a number didn't exist before is unrevealed.
The second new Minnow was an old World War Two bomber recovered from the jungle by the last storm to hit the island. The Professor restores it to the best of his abilities in The Castaways on Gilligan's Island with spare parts and the remnants of two other planes found at the uncovered airfield, but even with his repairs and modifications, it doesn't last long. Seconds after taking off, the Professor says they need to lose weight, and the Skipper orders Gilligan to jettison everything to lighten the weight in an attempt to keep the craft airborne, but the huge pull of the airflow causes Gilligan to grabbed into the open sky. Turning back to rescue Gilligan, the Professor just barely managed to land before the engines fall off, but their appearance and disappearance from radar does attract the attention of the Coast Guard to rescue them on the island.
One year after the flight of the Minnow III, the island has been annexed as United States territory and linked to Hawaii. A resort hotel known as The Castaways has been built on the island, financed by the Howells. Skipper now runs a motor whale boat, where he and Gilligan go to cruise ships and gather people and luggage and then ferry them to the island. This boat is christened the Minn0w IV. Unlike the previous three Minnows, this craft is seaworthy and operates without incident.
- The Minnow was named for Newton Minow, the chairman of the FCC in 1961 who called television "a vast wasteland."
- The Minnow 1.1 has since been found and restored and now gives tours near Vancouver, Canada.
- The Minnow 1.3 is now stored at MGM-Disney Studios in Florida.
- In the Season One opening, an unidentified eighth figure can be seen on the Minnow as it heads out to sea.
- In the Second and Third Season openings, the crow's nest is missing in the long shot of the Minnow in the storm. The beached version also has one extra window.