Although not typically thought of as fishing equipment, boats have been used as part of fishing since prehistoric times through to today. Nearly all sea fishing is done from boats, and they are very often employed on larger bodies of water, such as lakes or large rivers.

Some of the earliest evidence of humans using boats dates back to Flores approximately 900000 years ago, although this evidence is highly circumstantial. The earliest boats were likely to have been dugouts, a boat made from hollowing out a tree trunk, and would certainly not have been seaworthy, but would have functioned well on a lake or river. The earliest boats which have been found by archaeological excavation, date from around 7000 to 10000 years ago, with one of the oldest being the Pesse canoe, which was found in the Netherlands.

Rafts have been in use for at least 8000 years, and were an essential part of many cultures, even aiding in the construction of civilisation in some areas, as the rafts allowed for more comfortable fishing.

Boats have undoubtedly been an essential part of all human civilisation since the beginning of history, with their use allowing greater access to fish, as well as for travel and commercial trading. Boats have also been an important part of warfare, being used to transport troops across areas which would be inaccessible, or difficult, to access over land. One of the more famous uses of boats for war were the Viking longboats, whose iconic design is known almost globally and often used in popular culture.

Until the mid-19th century, almost every boat was made from natural materials, primarily wood, although smaller boats made from reed, bark, and animal skins have also been found. However, these were generally limited to use on lakes or rivers, where durability against harsh weather was less of a concern.

Metal frames constructed from iron or steel have been used since the mid-19th century, although most boats at that time still had their hulls built from wood. It wasn’t until 1855 that man-made materials became more common in boat construction when the French patented a system where a boat’s hull was built from cement; this had the advantage of being easier to construct, as well as remaining durable and easier to maintain than wood.

With over-harvesting trees starting to become a problem in Britain and Europe, combined with the easier production of steel in 1855, steel started to become the de facto building material for boats, something which remains today, with almost every larger boat or ship. However, some other modern materials, such as fibreglass, are now commonplace.

Today, boats are a common sight around the world, with boat ownership at its highest rate throughout any point during history.

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