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"floating platform," late 15c., originally "rafter" (c.1300), from a Scandinavian source, cf. Old Norse raptr "log" (Old Norse -pt- pronounced as -ft-), related to Middle Low German rafter, rachter "rafter" (see rafter).
1680s, from raft (n.1). Related: Rafted; rafting.
simplest type of watercraft, made up of logs or planks fastened together to form a floating platform. The earliest were sometimes made of bundles of reeds. Most rafts have been designed simply to float with the current, but they can be equipped with oars or sails or both and can be navigated in the ocean over long distances, as was dramatically demonstrated by Norwegian scientist Thor Heyerdahl in 1947; to test his theory that the Pacific islands might have been settled by people from South America, he sailed a large balsa raft, the Kon-Tiki, from Peru to islands near Tahiti in a voyage of three and a half months. The double-hulled catamarans of India are also seaworthy rafts.