Thomas the Tank Engine Wikia
Thomas the Tank Engine Wikia

Skiff is a railboat. He was originally owned by Sailor John, but now gives Railboat Tours around Arlesburgh Harbour with his new captain, Joe.


Thomas & Friends

Skiff was given wheels after Thomas had his accident and discovered Captain Calles' pirate ship. He helped Sailor John and Thomas look for the treasure, thinking Sailor John would give it to the museum. When he found out that John in fact intended to keep the treasure for himself, Skiff tried to stop him but could not do much. He saved Thomas from having dynamite thrown at him by shaking Sailor John and later purposely capsized to stop Sailor John getting away with the treasure. After Sailor John was arrested, Skiff was recovered, repainted into a white-and-blue livery, sold to Captain Joe and started giving "Railboat Tours" around Arlesburgh Harbour.

When a storm was approaching Sodor, Skiff and Captain Joe were checking the harbour to make sure everything was safe before a storm. While Joe was busy elsewhere, Skiff's sail came loose, his anchor rope snapped and he was blown down the line into a fallen tree, where he derailed, came loose from his chassis and got his sail trapped under a branch. Duck and Oliver were both approaching the tree from opposite directions, but Skiff just managed to free his sail in time and warn them of the danger, preventing a serious accident. The following morning, Sir Topham Hatt praised Skiff and said that he deserved an award for his heroic actions and everyone gave Skiff three cheers.

Later on, Skiff overheard Sir Topham Hatt talking to the museum manager, and became convinced that a mermaid was coming to the harbour. The following morning, he was to take Sir Topham, Stephen and Bridget Hatt on a tour. While Captain Joe was getting the children's lifejackets, Skiff saw something in the water that looked like a mermaid's tail, and took off after it with Sir Topham Hatt on board. The chase resulted in them getting marooned on the beach at Bluff's Cove and Harold and Captain had to come and rescue them. Back at the harbour, Skiff learned that the "mermaid" was really a figurehead, which was to be attached to the Pirate Ship's bow as a decoration.

One winter, Skiff helped Joe with the lighthouse in case ships would come near the harbour. He told Nia about how lighthouses work and how they guide ships safely. This later gave Nia the idea of using the lights on the big wheel at Ulfstead Castle to guide Harold to the castle during a snowstorm.


Skiff is a feisty, fun-loving little boat with a very upbeat and positive attitude, in spite of the fact that his former captain - Sailor John - was not very nice to him. But no matter how much Sailor John bossed Skiff about or how hard he stomped on Skiff's deck, it never seemed to dampen Skiff's spirit. Skiff remained keen to make up again and genuinely thought of Sailor John as his friend, at least until John revealed his true colours. Skiff treats every day as an exciting new adventure; he likes to see the best in everyone and think of the world as a wonderful place. This leaves him vulnerable to persuasion to the point of appearing gullible.

Technical Details


Skiff is based on the Eastport Pram with an added railway chassis. The concept of a railboat comes from the Ffestiniog Railway's Spooner's Boat, which served as the inspiration for Skiff. A faceless boat seen in a photograph in the Sailor's Cafe and a capsized boat in Thomas' fantasy also share this basis.


Skiff's hull was painted white, while his mast and woodworkings were stained brown and his wheels were rusted. At the end of Sodor's Legend of the Lost Treasure he was repainted in a new livery; his woodworkings are now painted blue and turquoise, his wheels red, and his sail is white with yellow stripes, while his hull remains white.



  • Skiff's name comes from a small watercraft that can carry a small crew, normally one person.
  • Skiff's model was used in the twenty-second series episode, Cyclone Thomas to represent a capsized boat.
  • In the 2016 version of the Australian television program, "The Chaser's Election Desk", 4 Wooden Railway toys of Skiff appear in a skit about Australian politician, Peter Dutton, about how he talks about "stopping the boats".
  • Concept art of Skiff reveals that the sign saying "Skiff's Railboat Tours" on his side originally said "Skiff's Railroad Tours".
  • Skiff is the first vehicle character to be owned by a human antagonist before reforming. Sonny is the next to be originally owned by Baz and Bernie before reforming in the twenty-fourth series.
  • The word "Railboat" is a combination of the words "sailboat" and "rail."


Non-rail vehicles

* RWS only | ** T&F only | *** Other Media only