A caïque (Greek: "kaiki", from Turkish: "kayık") is a wooden fishing boat usually found among the waters of the Ionian or Aegean Seas.It is traditionally a small wooden trading vessel, brightly painted and rigged for sail. The Caïque is also a typical case of positioning the beam far aft, with a long sharp bow. [Robertson, J. C. "The Mechanics' Magazine, Museum, Register, Journal, and Gazette". [ Page 314] ]


Caïques were built on the foreshore in a shipyard, from pine wood.

The hull of the craft is built with sawn ribs and a timber keel, stem, etc. covered with caravel planking, terminated with the deck. The frame of the craft is often painted with orange primer, to preserve and seal the timber. The caïque usually has a short mast .

A bowsprit is stayed by rigging. In the stern of the caïque the predominant form is the tiller. These wooden steering arms are sometimes carved in the face of a dog or animal. The caïque often has a horizontal windlass mounted over the bow. The bow is also known in Greek as the "proura" or "plowri", similar to the English prow.

Most caïques are painted white, to counter the powerful sun, with the strakes and topsides in vivid chromatic colors. The name of the boat is painted or carved on a tablet, on the planking below the bow. Letters on Greek vessels representing the islands of Greece give the boat's provenance. The prefix N stands for Nisi, the Greek word for Island.

Each caïque is unique. The majority are built from the boatbuilder's craft and memory having no plans. The bow post distinguishes the caïque from other Mediterranean working boats.

Modern-day use

Traditionally the caïque was used for fishing and trawling. Of late they have become a short excursion vessel, and former fishermen make money from the summer tourist trade on the busy islands, such as Corfu (Kerkyra) and Mykonos.

The art of the boatbuilder is dying as plastic and fiberglass craft supersede the wooden craft.


From the French "caïque", from the Italian "caicco", from the Greek "kaiki", from the Turkish "kayık"(the source of the word loaned into the Greek and ultimately the English word as well), from the Ottoman Turkish: "qayïq or qayïk"), related to the Persian "qayeq" but ultimately from the Old Turkic "qayghug" and "qayghuq". [ [ Penwith District Council - Boat Types ] ] [ [ The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology] "caique": light boat used in the Mediterranean. XVII. "- French "caïque" - Italian "caicco" - Turkish "kayik"."] [ [] "Persian "qayeq" and Greek "καΐκι", “boat”, are from a source akin to French "caique", It. "caicco", i.e. probably Turkish "kayik", O.Turkish "qayghug", maybe from an old Turkic (or otherwise old Asian) word, possibly related to American Indian "kayak", and American Spanish "cayuco". Hence, MIE "kájik", "boat", "caique", "kájak", "kayak"." Here MIE means stands for "Modern Indo-European"] [ [ American Heritage Dictionary, 2000 - Caique entry] ]


* [ Merriam-Webster Online - Caïque entry]

External links

* - [ Imperial "caiques" on the Bosphorus]
* Caïques of the Sultans - [ Photo gallery of Imperial "caiques"]

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