Taking Inventory: Boat
#goatsbeforeboats? Not in this article!
Ahh, a life on the ocean wave! A home on the rolling deep! Where the scatter’d waters rave, and the winds their revels keep!
When the stresses of land-life get too much - the constant grind of mining, collecting resources, smelting them, and filing them into a series of carefully-sorted chests ('Ignore Duncan, kids! Minecraft is great! Buy ten more copies!' - panicking marketing team) - the best medicine is our item of the week. Craft up a boat, grab a few supplies and your favourite pig, and set sail for shores anew.
Boats were added to Minecraft alongside cacti in Alpha version 1.0.6, way back in 2010. They’re made with five planks arranged around the bottom of a crafting grid, plus a spade if you’re playing on Bedrock edition. Once you’re holding your finished boat, all you need to do to deploy it is to hit the use item button when facing some water. Splash!
Once it’s bobbing about, ready to go, a second tap of the use button will sit you inside. You can then use the normal movement controls to pootle around to your heart’s content - much faster than walking. When you reach your destination you can get out again by hitting “sneak”, and retrieve the boat by attacking it until it drops. Take THAT you lousy boat! That’ll teach you to be a convenient and wistful form of oceanic transport!
One thing worth knowing is that using a boat doesn’t deplete your hunger meter. This makes it a very handy way to travel long distances, especially if you don’t have any food handy. If you know you’re never going to use the boat again, you can also use it as fuel in a furnace, or sell it to a fisherman villager.
Humans have been building and using boats since prehistoric times. The earliest mariners that we have evidence of lived between 800,000 and 900,000 years ago on the islands of what is now Indonesia. Carved stone tools, made of non-local materials, have been found on the island of Flores - which was separated at the time from other populated islands by a 11.4-mile-wide strait.
The earliest actual boat that archaeologists have found is the Pesse Canoe - crafted from a hollowed-out tree trunk in what is now the Netherlands, about 8,000 years ago. Ancient civilizations around the Mediterranean made wide use of boats for trade and exploration.
Today, human civilization is totally reliant on boats - well, ships. Global distribution networks use cargo ships to transport everything from raw materials and food to chemicals and manufactured products. Naval power is vital to the militaries of coastal countries, and their fishing fleets are vital for their economies.
So next time you’re planning a long journey of exploration in Minecraft, take a boat with you! Just watch out for lily pads, or you’ll be treading water faster than you can say “well that was a titanic success”.