1 With the dugout, perhaps man's earliest form of marine transport. The seagoing bamboo sailing raft of Taiwan, used for raids on the Chinese coast as far back as the 8th century, is a likely progenitor of the Chinese junk, and rafts for transporting goods can still be seen on some Chinese rivers. Similar craft were used in Indo-China. Balsawood sailing rafts, which were manoeuvred by centreboards only, were also widely employed off the coasts of Peru and Ecuador, and the northern coast of Brazil, in the days of the Inca. Thor Heyerdahl constructed both a balsawood raft, and Egyptian ones made of papyrus, for his epic voyages across the Pacific and the Atlantic.
2 A flat, floating framework of spars, planks, or other timber formerly used to carry goods or cargo from the shore to a ship lying off for loading on board. Similarly a temporary platform made on board for lifesaving as a substitute for a boat.
3 Lumber, cut inland, lashed together, and floated down a river to the sea, is also known as a raft.