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  • A small steamboat that provided a vital supply link around the west coast and Hebrides islands of Scotland. Puffers developed from the gabbert; the original was the Thomas, an iron canal boat of 1856, less than 66 ft long to fit in the Forth and Clyde Canal locks, powered by a simple steam engine without a condenser so that it "puffed" with every stroke. By the 1870s similar boats were being adapted for use beyond the canal and fitted with condensers so that they no longer puffed--but the name stuck. A derrick was later added to the single mast to lift cargo.

    February 5, 2008