Gibbs and His BoatsThis is a featured page

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Workin' on the boat

What do we know about Leroy Jethro Gibbs and his passion for boat building? Find out below.



"Yankee White", 1x01
  • First appearance of both Gibbs and boat
"Hung Out to Dry", 1x02
  • Gibbs is working on his boat when Tony enters the basement, fills Gibbs in on the particulars.... He looks around, sees Gibbs' cell phone in a jar of paint thinner and the land-line ripped out of the wall. He comments that he tried to call; Gibbs simply says, "Don't ask."
  • Tony offers the use of his power tool; Gibbs declines
"High Seas", 1x06
  • Gibbs is in his basement, working on his boat, with a ball game on the television. His phone rings; he lets the machine get it. The voice on the line announces itself as Stan Burley, admonishing Gibbs to put down whatever he's doing with "that stupid boat" and pick up.
  • Gibbs is using a ?steam box? to make the wood more pliable.
"Marine Down", 1x09
  • No physical appearance of the boat. However, on the firing range when Gibbs tapes Tony's cap and Kate's PDA to the targets, Kate suggests to Tony that if they mess the shots up that they should break into Gibbs' basement and set fire to his boat.
"Left for Dead", 1x10
  • We join Gibbs in his basement. This morning he is not working on his boat; he is asleep under its shell. The television blares the opening of the U.S. Farm Report as the telephone rings. It is Tony, calling from the office at 05:20.
"Enigma", 1x15
  • Ryan visits Gibbs in his basement while he is working on the boat.
  • Kate at Ryan's cabin (Ryan's partially-built boat is outside.): Do all Marines build boats?
Tony: Only the ones who've been married a few times...The others can afford to buy one!"
"Heart Break", 2x08
  • First scene after commercials has Gibbs working on the boat, hand-drilling holes for dowels with a brace-and-bit, and listening to the Farm Report. The boat seems to be hull-up, with the ribs complete. He's putting the planks on. He gets a call, then asks for a drop-off from an unidentified redhead, who is studying the blueprints.
"Doppelganger", 2x12
  • Dead PO's civilian boss flirts with Gibbs, he responds, and he tells her about the boat he's building. They make a conditional weekend date.
  • Gibbs gives Wilkerson a sanding lesson. Gibbs has her close her eyes and make another long pass with the sander. "Feel the wood?" She nods yes. "You don't get a sensation like that from a power tool". She thinks about that for a moment and then they both laugh.
  • Boat is hull-up, ribs seem complete, some planks on near keel (bottom, now on top) on at least one side.
"Kill Ari", 3x02
  • Jen saw the boat Diane that he burned because of the breakdown of his marriage with Diane. Jen knows that he "didn't care who sailed off on Diane". ...
  • In Jenny's first episode, she goes home with Gibbs so he can change clothes after being out in the rain storm. She asks if this was the same boat he was building 6 years ago. He said no. She said what happened to the other one. Gibbs tells her that he burned the boat. Jenny guessed correctly that Gibbs had named it after an ex-wife ... Diane.
"Honor Code", 3x07
  • Gibbs entertains Zach, the son of a kidnapped torture victim in his basement. When Zach inquires about removing the boat from the basement, Gibbs suggests removing the wall and building a ramp.
"Bloodbath", 3x21
  • Gibbs in the basement with Abby in "Bloodbath": Didn't even get mad when she chipped a bit off the boat (but he had that extreme patience-being-tested look that parents get).
  • Abby: I can see why you like to work on your boat, Gibbs. Very, very cathartic. (she picks up mallet and chisel, hits the boat, and something falls off. Chastened, she hands the tools to Gibbs, with her eyes downcast). Oops. Suddenly having a stalker on the loose isn't so scary."
  • The boat is hull-up. The ribs and planking from before are there.
"Shalom", 4x01
  • Ziva, then Gibbs, are seen in Gibbs' basement. Tony joins them later. The current boat is just in the background. At this point canvas or tarps cover most of the ribs. Near the end of the episode, Ziva is throwing her knife. More of the boat seems uncovered and the planks are visible.
"Escaped", 4x02
  • After the murderer is in custody and escapee cleared, Jenny comes to Gibbs' house unannounced, finding him sitting (where else) in the basement. They discuss his future.
  • Boat is hull-up, all ribs seem in place. Planks are in place (seems to have made little to no progress since 2x08 Heartbreak)
"Faking It", 4x04
  • Mike Franks asks Gibbs what number boat this is. Gibbs replies that it is number 4.
"Sandblast", 4x07
  • Mann pays Gibbs an unannounced visit at his house, much to his annoyance. Gibbs is working his boat, naming her “Kelly” after his dead daughter. The boat's hull is finished, ?varnished?, and he is carefully painting the name on in black. He does not explain anything to her.
  • The boat's hull has progressed rapidly from just a few planks in Escaped to this finishing touches point.
"Sharif Returns", 4x13
  • Gibbs goes home to think while working on the boat's cabin. "Same place he always goes to think." Mann follows. "Where's your boat?" She is mystified, so there must be no obvious way to get it out. "Had to move it to make some room."
  • At the end, Gibbs and Hollis in her apartment: She says, before we do this I just need to know one thing (Gibbs looks tense) did you get that damn boat out of your basement? (Gibbs smiles).
"Blowback", 4X14
  • Gibbs tells Jenny that sitting in the dark, watching your enemies could be called obsessive. Jenny replies, "Kind of like building a fourth boat when you haven't sailed the first three."
"Grace Period", 4x19
  • Mann visits Gibbs in his basement again, bringing food. The cabin seems not much further along than in "Sharif Returns". It is background, not discussed.
"In the Dark", 4x22
  • Lt Colonel Mann and Gibbs have a long scene working on the boat, while she tries to have a serious conversation about the future.
  • The visible part of the boat seems to be just the "skeleton" of the cabin/top part of the boat. There are two solid wood pieces on one end, with space for entry between them.
Season 5
  • Gibbs finished the bottom (hull) of his boat "Kelly" ... season five shows him continuing to work on the top half of it.
"Ex-File", 5x03
  • Mann and Gibbs, well dressed in party clothes and Gibbs carrying an ice bucket with beers, are cheerfully descending into Gibbs' dimly lit basement, with Mann asking why all romantic nights on the town finish with sanding boats in the basement. Turns out Stephanie is sitting inside the upturned boat. Embarrassed, she stands, rubs her hands over the "Kelly" name on the boat and comments "Sweet", with a smile. [[from the recap]] Stephanie is Gibbs' third ex-wife.
"Tribes", 5x11
  • The current boat Gibbs is working on in his basement is his fourth (see s04.04). He has finished two others since Langer moved to the FBI. Langer was familiar with Gibbs's first boat.
  • The top of the cabin portion seems to be nearly structurally complete, though the wood is still unfinished.
"Internal Affairs", 5.14
  • There are 4 scenes in Gibbs' basement, while the team is "investigating the FBI". What is visible of the boat seems to be the top part of a cabin, finished or nearly so; it has been painted/varnished. It's on wooden supports, and the top is about elbow-to-shoulder height. Ziva kneels on top to hold up McGee's phone to enable a jury-rigged wireless connection. No part of the main hull was seen. About the mystery:
Gibbs: Any questions?

McGee: How do you get the boat out?
Gibbs: Break the bottle, McGee.
  • In the 3rd scene, Dr. Mallard is doing a photographic "autopsy" of La Grenouille. His makeshift autopsy table is a sheet of plywood on 2 wooden sawhorses. Ducky walks around and around the table, followed by the camera. No large opening was visible. On the end nearest the stairs, the painted name "Kelly" is seen. This name is not the same place, size, or paint color as the name painted on in "Sandblast", 4x07.

NOTE: The Did You Know page says: "The boat that Gibbs is building is an Amigo Kit from Glen-L."

PUZZLEMENT 1: Is there a Kelly and a Kelly II? Kelly is being finished in 4x07, and was moved out by 4x13. In 5x03, there seems to be another Kelly boat -- this time the name is already painted. If you have an answer from the episodes, or other authoritative source, please insert it here.
  • Answer: The Kelly has two main parts. The hull and the Cabin. The hull, Gibbs is building in Seasons 1,2,3 and the start of 4. The hull is built upside, as you can see in every episode the hull is there. The flat part of the hull (what you stand on) is level with the ground of his basement. When he finishes the hull, he takes it out (How we may never know) and starts building the Cabin. The Cabin is half built at the time of 5x03 and is finished by 6x24. The Cabin is then taken out and the two parts are put together. The "Kelly" on the Cabin part in 5x03 is another Kelly painted (off screen), the name of the boat can be written more than once on a boat!

    Gibbs and His Boat Photos Page 4 - NCIS
    PUZZLEMENT 2: In "Internal Affairs", 5x14, during Ducky's "autopsy", there are 2 views of the boat. One seems to be about knee-high, at least the portion visible. In the second view, the part seen is about elbow-or-shoulder height, as in the first 2 scenes. Opinions? Is this maybe a misfire to the canon, with the cabin having been moved? Or does one end of the cabin extend to the basement floor?
  • Answer: Yes, one end does extend to the basement floor.
    Gibbs and His Boat Photos Page 4 - NCIS

    General questions/discussions:

    What does he do with the boat(s) when and if he finishes them?
    And how does he get it out of his basement? Ideas? [[Ideas as of 12/16/08 have been copied from existing threads on this site]]

    • Maybe he dismantles them and starts over with a slightly different configuration.
    • I've often wondered myself and believe the only way out is by dismantling them.
    • I wonder if he "dismantled" the "Diane" boat with a sledge hammer? *evil grin*
    • Right after I posted the "sledge hammer" thought, I remembered what he told Jenny her first day on the job. He said that he burned the "Diane" boat, because he didn't want anyone else sailing off on her. However, in order to burn it, he would have to get it out of the basement ... via sledge hammer?
    • That works for me.... he smashed it to pieces with a sledgehammer and then took it out back and burnt it! :)
    • I believe that he destroys them or takes them apart to get them out.
    • Apparently he's supposed to have burnt each of the previous boats, presumably outside his basement, although to date we have yet to find out how he actually gets the boats out of his basement in the first place.
    • I believe that you are right. I seem to recall Gibbs telling an inquirer (I think that it was Tobias), that he finished the previous boat, and was now building a new one....and, he would have had to take it apart, in order to get it out of the basement.
    • We haven't seen the full basement, he might have a very huge door to move the finished boat.
    • I seem to recall a few episodes where visitors, to Gibbs' basement, ask him how he plans to get the boat out. All that I can remember is Gibbs saying that he will have to take it apart...or, something to that nature. I am sure that if Gibbs had a basement door large enough, to accommodate a boat, he would have said so, no?
    • I have NO idea how he plans to get Kelly's boat out of the basement now. He once mentioned building a ramp and knocking out the wall.
    • I reckon the scriptwriters still haven't found a plausible method :-)
    • We know how he gets them out!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ;) Through the one wall they don't show where the camera is. ;)
    • Even if there is a wall that Gibbs is using to take all of the boats he builds out of his basement, where is he taking them? Is there a Marina somewhere, where he has all of his boats sitting at dock? Is he sailing any of them? And, how many boats are we talking about that he has finished building? I can only remember that there have been two.
    • In a season 4 episode Gibbs' basement was shown to have a large door. It has never been seen since! I am guessing it will never be seen again either! -- I am pretty sure it was early in season 4.

    WHY does he build the boats?:
    [[Ideas as of 12/16/08 have been copied from existing threads on this site]]

    • Per his team, the basement is:"Same place he always goes to think." according to "Sharif Returns", 4x13
    • I think he makes them as keep himself calm and "in-check".
    • It's the making that's important, not the finished product. That would actually explain a lot about Gibbs' character.
    • For any of you that has worked with wood, you know that it can be soothing to the nerves. You can work your frustrations out and forget other things for a while.
    • I figure he puts a lot of time and care into it... it's therapy for him. :) It's calm, quiet in his basement (until everyone enters without knocking) , he's got music, coffee and his tools.
    • I don't think that he would destroy them, though, since building boats seems too cathartic/therapeutic for him....and, I can't envision Gibbs taking them apart and re-using the same wood for a new boat.
    • I have never seen a boat really built in a basement. Any good marine or sailor use places like a hanger for a plane, but never have I met one building in a basement. It might be his "white white". I just saw the episode with him writing his daughters name on it. So, I believe it is for his character to show the craftmansfhip of a man who anything he really does, "HE DOES IT WITH GREAT PRECISION, and all of his heart.
    • I've always thought that Gibbs builds his boats for just three reasons: 1) he loves working with his hands, and building his boats is a true passion and relaxation for him, 2) depending on who he names his boat after, he has his own personal reasons for the amount of love he puts into them, and 3) in each instance, he has already planned to destroy the boat once it is finished. Thus, getting them out of his basement won't be any problem for him. I figure that he will keep building his boats for a long time to come...I'm betting that a new one is already in the works for Jenny *smile*.
    • It's my opinion that he has made a boat for each ex-wife for the joy of building, then smashed it up to get it out for burning.
    • Gibbs doesn't deal with his loss; he's building boats to cope better, but he's not really moving forward because he probably can't do it all by himself.
    • I believe be builds the boats to have something to do, and as seen with 'Diane' and 'Kelly', he may use the boats to work through emotions.

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