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Boat by definition is a small vessel that moves or travels on water. Today, you would be wrong if you still go by this definition because boat's sizes now varies and are no longer a small vessel as you would think it once was and it is all down to improvement in ideas and technology. A more apt definition for boat is coming from Wikipedia, which is a watercraft of different types and sizes.
Smaller boats like Canoe can be found at inland waters such as rivers or lakes, where they are either used for fishing, sports or transportation.
Boats varies in construction methods, it all depends on the purpose, type of water and availability of the materials needed in building it.
Etymology Of Boat
Man Powered Boats
Dugout canoe were believed to be the firs t boat built by man for water activities. It is mainly propelled by man's energy as it needs rowing with a stick called paddle for movement on waters. It is only not powered on downstream waters, when a free movement occurs.
Canoe or dugout canoe was the earliest boat and research has it that the oldest canoe recovered was found in Netherlands and is currently at the Museum in Assen, believed to be built before 7600BC. Built by just woods, these boats played a huge part in the evolution of mankind on water as it helped reduce the stress of swimming or diving into water for fishing or other activities on water.
These are boats propelled by sails for movement. It requires the availability of wind and reduces the stress of paddling just like on canoe. Its invention brought about recreational activities like sports.
These are the modern boats and where the idea of building a vessel that moves on water has brought us. Technology is all about making it easier for mankind and the invention of Motorboats has made that fact all the more interesting and true.
Motor boats are mainly propelled by diesel, electric or gasoline. A built and installed engine needing the aforementioned resources to move freely with less stress from humans riding it. These boats has gone a long way to improve the activities on water, example of such is the lifeboats, quicker to rescue victims of accidents on water.
This is a more larger vessel than boat on water, it carries much people and goods unlike boats, travels farther and covers a wider distance. It improved economy in the early days, bringing the world together through water.
Without doubt, boat brought about the creation of ship and with time, much larger and stronger ones were created depending on its use and availability of materials.
Woods were used to build water vessels in the early days as most boats like canoes were purely made of wood. Today, irons are mainly used for more durability and lesser attention paid to woods.
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Note: All images without source reference are Google sourced.