The word yacht generally refers to a fast and small craft that is used extensively for short voyages and small crossings. The word has originated from the Dutch jagen, meaning to chase or hunt. They were originally built and used as fully rigged vessels. Today, all varieties of boats, whether the private family type or a motorized luxury boat, are termed yachts.
In the 17th century, the yacht was a spacious vessel that could carry several men with several months of supplies. Historically, yachts were built to be seaworthy, as well as to be fast and nimble. People used them for exploring uncharted lands as far as Australia, New Zealand and India. Apart from exploring, yachts also took part in many wars and sea battles. It was at this point that seaworthy warships forked off as larger and more capable, with improved technology. The yacht remained with the primary role as a courier and a transport vessel.
Boating for passion and pleasure is a trend much older than yachts, as borne out by the tombs of Egyptian Pharaohs. They made elaborate barges, which were buried alongside the Pharaohs, essentially built to help them to transport themselves in the sort of style and elegance befitting royal kings. However, the common man started enjoying the yacht much later.
The Chinese were the first to cross the oceans in their vessels and start trading with India and other eastern countries. However, it was the Dutch that created the yacht and made it suitable, both for trade and sea battles in and around the Netherlands. These were the vessels that the Dutch used to establish their supremacy in sea trade and to plunder the eastern lands.
Yachting for pleasure soon spread across to Europe and other parts of the world. Today, private yachts have made unparalleled advances in technology both in construction and onboard equipment; not only are they built of composite material that gives them exceptional strength and durability, they contain all the modern means of computerized GPS navigation as well as luxurious amenities, making them a favorite for those who adore life on the open water.