A boat is a watercraft of any size designed to float or plane, to provide passage across water. Usually this water will be inland (lakes) or in protected coastal areas. However, boats such as the whaleboat were designed to be operated from a ship in an offshore environment. In naval terms, a boat is a vessel small enough to be carried aboard another vessel (a ship). Another less restrictive definition is a vessel that can be lifted out of the water. Strictly speaking and uniquely a submarine is a boat as defined by the Royal Navy. Some boats too large for the naval definition include the Great Lakes freighter, riverboat, narrowboat and ferryboat. The term armed boat, used primarily by English speaking naval forces, referred to any boat carrying either a cannon or armed occupants, such as marines.
Boats have served as short-distance transportation since early times. Circumstantial evidence, such as the early settlement of Australia over 40,000 years ago, and findings in Crete dated 130,000 years ago, suggests that boats have been used since ancient times. The earliest boats have been predicted to be logboats. The oldest boats to be found by archaeological excavation are logboats from around 7,000–10,000 years ago. The oldest recovered boat in the world is the Pesse canoe; it is a dugout or hollowed tree trunk from a Pinus sylvestris. It was constructed somewhere between 8200 and 7600 B.C. This canoe is exhibited in the Drents Museum in Assen, Netherlands; Boats were used between 4000 BCE and 3000 BCE in Sumer, ancient Egypt Boats played a very important part in the commerce between the Indus Valley Civilization and Mesopotamia. Evidence of varying models of boats has also been discovered in various Indus Valley sites. The Uru wooden big boat made in Beypore a village in south Calicut, Kerala, in southwestern India. These have been used by the Arabs and Greeks since ancient times as trading vessels. This mammoth wooden ship was constructed using teak, without any iron or blueprints which has transportation capacity of 400 tonnes.
The accounts of historians Herodotus, Pliny the Elder, and Strabo suggest that boats were being used for commerce and traveling.
Boats can be categorized into three types:
- Unpowered or human-powered boats. (Unpowered boats include rafts and floats meant for one-way downstream travel. Human-powered boats include canoes, kayaks, gondolas and boats propelled by poles like a punt.)
- Sailing boats, which are boats propelled solely by means of sails.
- Motorboats, which are boats propelled by mechanical means, such as engines.
Parts and terminologyEdit
Several key components make up the main structure of most boats. The hull is the main structural component of the boat which actually provides buoyancy for the boat. The roughly horizontal, but chambered structures spanning the hull of the boat are referred to as the deck. In a ship there are often several decks, but a boat is unlikely to have more than one, if any at all. Above the deck are the superstructures. The underside of a deck is the deck head.
An enclosed space on a boat is referred to as a cabin. Several structures make up a cabin: the similar but usually lighter structure which spans a raised cabin is a coach-roof. The "floor" of a cabin is properly known as the sole, but is more likely to be called the floor (a floor is properly, a structural member which ties a frame to the keelson and keel). The vertical surfaces dividing the internal space are bulkheads.
The keel is a lengthwise structural member to which the frames are fixed (sometimes referred to as a backbone).
The front (or forward end) of a boat is called the bow. Boats of earlier times often featured a figurehead protruding from the front of the bows. The rear (or aft end) of the boat is called the stern. The right side (facing forward) is starboard and the left side is port.
Building materials Edit
Until the mid 19th century most boats were of all natural materials; primarily wood although reed, bark and animal skins were also used. Early boats include the bound-reed style of boat seen in Ancient Egypt, the birch bark canoe, the animal hide-covered kayak and coracle and the dugout canoe made from a single log. By the mid 19th century, many boats had been built with iron or steel frames but still planked in wood. In 1855 ferro-cement boat construction was patented by the French. They called it Ferciment. This is a system by which a steel or iron wire framework is built in the shape of a boat's hull and covered (trowelled) over with cement. Reinforced with bulkheads and other internal structure, it is strong but heavy, easily repaired, and, if sealed properly, will not leak or corrode. These materials and methods were copied all over the world, and have faded in and out of popularity to the present. As the forests of Britain and Europe continued to be over-harvested to supply the keels of larger wooden boats, and the Bessemer process (patented in 1855) cheapened the cost of steel, steel ships and boats began to be more common. By the 1930s boats built of all steel from frames to plating were seen replacing wooden boats in many industrial uses, even the fishing fleets. Private recreational boats in steel are uncommon. In the mid 20th century aluminium gained popularity. Though much more expensive than steel, there are now aluminium alloys available that will not corrode in salt water, and an aluminium boat built to similar load carrying standards could be built lighter than steel.
Around the mid 1960s, boats made of glass-reinforced plastic, more commonly known as fibreglass, became popular, especially for recreational boats. The United States Coast Guard refers to such boats as 'FRP' (for Fibre Reinforced Plastic) boats.
Fibreglass boats are extremely strong, and do not rust (iron oxide), corrode, or rot. They are, however susceptible to structural degradation from sunlight and extremes in temperature over their lifespan. Fibreglass provides structural strength, especially when long woven strands are laid, sometimes from bow to stern, and then soaked in epoxy or polyester resin to form the hull of the boat. Whether hand laid or built in a mould, FRP boats usually have an outer coating of gelcoat which is a thin solid colored layer of polyester resin that adds no structural strength, but does create a smooth surface which can be buffed to a high shine and also acts as a protective layer against sunlight. FRP structures can be made stiffer with sandwich panels, where the FRP encloses a lightweight core such as balsa or foam. Cored FRP is most often found in decking which helps keep down weight that will be carried above the waterline. The addition of wood makes the cored structure of the boat susceptible to rotting which puts a greater emphasis on not allowing damaged sandwich structures to go unrepaired. Plastic based foam cores are less vulnerable. The phrase 'advanced composites' in FRP construction may indicate the addition of carbon fibre, kevlar(tm) or other similar materials, but it may also indicate other methods designed to introduce less expensive and, by at least one yacht surveyor's eyewitness accounts, less structurally sound materials.
Cold molding is similar to FRP in as much as it involves the use of epoxy or polyester resins, but the structural component is wood instead of fibreglass. In cold moulding very thin strips of wood are laid over a form or mould in layers. This layer is then coated with resin and another directionally alternating layer is laid on top. In some processes the subsequent layers are stapled or otherwise mechanically fastened to the previous layers, but in other processes the layers are weighted or even vacuum bagged to hold layers together while the resin sets. Layers are built up thus to create the required thickness of hull.
People have even made their own boats or watercraft out of materials such as foam or plastic, but most homebuilts today are built of plywood and either painted or covered in a layer of fibreglass and resin.
The most common means are:
- human power (rowing, paddling, setting pole and so on.)
- wind power (sailing)
- Motor powered propellers
Track-driven propulsion Edit
An early uncommon means of boat propulsion was referred to as the water caterpillar which is similar in construction to paddles on a conveyor belt and preceded the development of tracked vehicles such as military tanks and earth moving equipment. A series of paddles on chains moved along the bottom of the boat to propel it over the water.
The first water caterpillar was developed by Desblancs in 1782 and propelled by a steam engine. In the United States the first water caterpillar was patented in 1839 by William Leavenworth of New York.
A floating boat displaces its weight in water. The material of the boat hull may be denser than water, but if this is the case then it forms only the outer layer. If the boat floats, the mass of the boat (plus contents) as a whole divided by the volume below the waterline is equal to the density of water (1 kg/l). If weight is added to the boat, the volume below the waterline will increase to keep the weight balance equal, and so the boat sinks a little to compensate.
- ↑ Denemark, Robert Allen; el al. (2000). World System History: The Social Science of Long-Term Change. Routledge :3 ISBN 0-415-23276-7 Page 208
- ↑ McGrail, Sean (2004). Boats of the World: From the Stone Age to Medieval Times :3. USA: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-927186-0 page 251
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 McGrail 2004, pages 50–51
- ↑ Template:Cite web
- ↑ Are They Fiberglass Boats Anymore? by David Pascoe, Marine Surveyor
- ↑ The Caterpillar Is Now Being Applied to Ships, Popular Science monthly, December 1918, page 68, Scanned by Google Books: http://books.google.com/books?id=EikDAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA68
- PDRacer - The Easiest Sailboat In the World To Build
- Sailboats database: sailboat data sheets all over the world
- University of Washington Libraries Digital Collections -- Freshwater and Marine Image Bank -- Vessels - images of boats and vessels