Early boats were used for work. Through the years, pleasure boats developed from working crafts. Today, pleasure boats outnumber the working boats. The United States is the leading boating nation, with more than 8.5 million being enjoyed.Canada, Australia, Brazil, France, Great Britain, Italy, Japan and the Scandinavian nations also being heavily in pleasure boating.
We don't know who invented the boat. We do know, however, that almost as long as man has been civilized, he has been a sailor. The world's first boat was most likely a log used to carry the world's first sailor across a river.
By 4000 B.C. man had learned to lash bundles of reeds together to make boats with spoonlike shapes. The Egyptians came up with this idea, and used rows of paddlers to power their craft. By 3200 B.C. they had added sails to their boats. Plank boats were built by 3000 B.C.
About three fourths of all the pleasure boats in North America today are less than 20 feet in length. About two thirds of these smaller crafts are motorboats.
Pleasure boats range in size from 10 footers all the way up to those 100 feet long. Generally speaking, most boats over 30 feet in length are called yachts.
The most popular motorboat today is one 14 to 16 feet long that is powered by an outboard motor of about 40 horsepower.
After World War II ended in 1945, boating popularity grew rapidly in Canada and the United States. During the 1950s, the number of pleasure boats in those two countries rose from about 1.5 million to 5 million. The number of persons who went boating increased from about 5 million to 20 million.
By 1960, Canada and the United States had more than 9 million pleasure boats and over 44 million persons enjoying boating.
In the 1940s the average power of an outboard motor was about 3 horsepower. It was close to 40 by the early 1970s. The use of aluminum alloys in outboard motors made them lighter and easier to carry and also helped to build their popularity.
The introduction of boat trailers after World War II also helped to make boating more popular. It became easy to keep a boat up to 25 feet in length in a back yard, and then easily drive it to a launching ramp at a public or private boat docking area.
The growth of boating has also brought a tremendous increase in the number and size of special harbors with docking areas. These new harbors are called marinas.