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A yacht is a watercraft used for pleasure or sports. The term originates from the Dutch word jacht (which means "hunt"), and originally referenced light, fast sailing vessels that the Dutch Republic navy used to pursue pirates and other transgressors around and into the shallow waters of the Low Countries. The yacht was popularized by Charles II of England as a pleasure or recreation vessel following his restoration in 1660.
Yacht lengths normally range from 7 metres (23 ft) up to dozens of meters (hundreds of feet). A luxury craft smaller than 12 metres (39 ft) is more commonly called a cabin cruiser or simply a cruiser. Yachts may be classified as "large" (over 24 m (79 ft), which have higher construction standards; "commercial," carrying no more than 12 passengers; "private," which solely for the pleasure of the owner and guests, or by flag, the country under which it is registered.
Cruising (maritime)
Boats were almost exclusively used for working purposes prior to the nineteenth century. In 1857, the philosopher Henry David Thoreau, with his book Canoeing in Wilderness chronicling his canoe voyaging in the wilderness of Maine, was the first to convey the enjoyment of spiritual and lifestyle aspects of cruising.
The modern conception of cruising for pleasure was first popularised by the Scottish explorer and sportsman John MacGregor. He was introduced to the canoes and kayaks of the Native Americans on a camping trip in 1858, and on his return to the United Kingdom constructed his own 'double-ended' canoe in Lambeth. The boat, nicknamed 'Rob Roy' after a famous relative of his, was built of lapstrake oak planking, decked in cedar covered with rubberized canvas with an open cockpit in the center. He cruised around the waterways of Britain, Europe and the Middle East and wrote a popular book about his experiences, A Thousand Miles in the Rob Roy Canoe.
In 1866, Macgregor was a moving force behind the establishment of the Royal Canoe Club, the first club in the world to promote pleasure cruising. The first recorded regatta was held on April 27, 1867, and it received Royal patronage in 1873. The latter part of the century saw cruising for leisure being enthusiastically taken up by the middle class. The author Robert Louis Stevenson wrote An Inland Voyage in 1877 as a travelogue on his canoeing trip through France and Belgium. Stevenson and his companion, Sir Walter Grindlay Simpson travelled in two 'Rob Roys' along the Oise River and witnessed the Romantic beauty of rural Europe.
The Canadian-American Joshua Slocum was one of the first people to carry out a long-distance sailing voyage for pleasure, circumnavigating the world between 1895 and 1898. Despite opinion that such a voyage was impossible, Slocum rebuilt a derelict 37-foot (11 m) sloop Spray and sailed her single-handed around the world. His book Sailing Alone Around the World was a classic adventure, and inspired many others to take to the seas.
Cruising is done on both sail and power boats, monohulls and multihulls although sail predominates over longer distances, as ocean-going power boats are considerably more expensive to purchase and operate.
Sailing near the coast (coastal cruising) gives a certain amount of safety. A ship is always granted 'innocent passage' through the country (most countries usually claim up to 22 km (14 mi) off the coast). When this method is practiced however, if the ship needs to stop (e.g. for repairs), a trip to a customs checkpoint to have passports checked would be required.
Cruisers use a variety of equipment and techniques to make their voyages possible, or simply more comfortable. The use of wind vane self steering was common on long distance cruising yachts but is increasingly being supplemented or replaced by electrical auto-pilots.
Satellite communications are becoming more common on cruising boats. Many boats are now equipped with satellite telephone systems; however, these systems can be expensive to use, and may operate only in certain areas. Many cruisers still use short wave maritime SSB and amateur radio, which has no running costs. These radios provide two-way voice communications, can receive weather fax graphics or GRIB files via a laptop computer, and with a compatible modem (e.g. PACTOR) can send and receive email at very slow speed. Such emails are usually limited to basic communication using plain text, without HTML formatting or attachments.

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