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; other very old dugout boats have been recovered. A 7,000 year-old seagoing boat made from reeds and tar has been found in Kuwait.