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Boating in the UK – A Brief History

 


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How It Started
Boats have been used as a form of transporting passengers & goods across short distances since the earliest of times. Man originally took to the water for a reason, either to travel or discover land he could see, or for some material benefit such as fishing. In those days, men would have been working on boats, rather than using them for leisure proposes. Historians suggest that one of the first types of boats was a log (dugout) boat. In 1964, a log boat was discovered in Poole Harbour, Dorset which is claimed to have dated back to 300 BC and could house 18 people. These types of boats were made from large oak trees, and were generally used for the purpose of fishing and standard trading.

Who Would Have Done It?
Fishermen in those days would have used boats primarily as a way of catching fish to help feed their families, or by selling their catch for a source of income. In this current day and age, men and women use boats to venture out on fishing trips as a hobby or a form of relaxation, rather than solely to catch the evening’s meal. In years gone by, owners of boats who used them for leisure, would have come from an upper-class background. Back then, the working class public wouldn’t have had much spare time or money for those sorts of activities. Nowadays you can find a lot more people using or in fact owning fishing boats, canoes and powerboats for socialising, day trips or family holidays.

The Boats Involved
The boats involved vary between those used within ‘inshore’ and ‘offshore’ waters and there is a large difference between those two environments. Anything from rowing boats to canoes, paddleboats to dinghies, would be classed as ‘inshore’ and powerboats to sailing boats, trawlers to submarines would be classed as ‘offshore’. The majority of these boats could in fact be used for leisure as well as business use.

How It’s Changed Over The Years
Changes over the years have been technology driven, from hull form and design, sailing rigs, development of small engines and wood, giving way to GRP (Glass Reinforced Plastic). These days you could find yourself on a renovated barge or a powered boat for a luxury dinning experience, which sails up and down your local canals and rivers.

As of April 2012, new laws introduced now require anybody sailing out into international waters to sign a declaration to confirm that their boat is not being fuelled by red diesel. Reports suggest that up to 1 million recreational boat owners could be affected by the change. However, red diesel is still allowed to be used for boats within UK waters.

In August 2012, at the London Olympics, UK’s Ben Ainslie became the most decorated sailor in history by winning his forth gold medal of his career. His boat, named Rita, which he sailed to glory in at the previous three Olympics, will now be heading to the Maritime Museum in Cornwall.

Graeme is writing on behalf of boating holiday provider Ferry-marina.co.uk

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