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floating platform of wood, cork, or air-inflated rubber for conveying goods or people. Originally, several logs, bound together by vines, strips of animal skin, and later rope, formed a flat surface upon which goods and people could move across bodies of water. From prehistoric times to the 19th cent. rafting was an important means of transportation. Rafts were indispensable in the frontier period of American history; on rivers such as the Ohio and Mississippi they were used to convey settlers and transport supplies. Large rafts are still used occasionally on the Pacific coast to float lumber along the coastline. In recent times life rafts have come to replace lifeboats on many vessels. Because they are more easily handled and cannot capsize or crash in launching, life rafts can merely be thrown over the side of a ship or permitted to slide down into the water. They contain distress signals and other emergency paraphernalia to sustain the lives of persons awaiting rescue.



(1) A transport unit composed of bundles of logs that is used for timber flotation. Usually rafts are towed by a vessel; more rarely they float with the current of the river. The shape of river and lake rafts is usually rectangular, and their volume may be as much as 27,000 cu m. Seagoing rafts are cigar-shaped, and their volume may exceed 1,500 cu m.

(2) A platform made up of several connected floating objects, on top of which a plank flooring is usually laid. People and cargo are transported over water on rafts. The rafts are propelled by poles, oars, or sails. For making the rafts, logs, reed bundles, floats from hollow objects (barrels or boxes), or inflated containers are used.

(3) A means for rescuing people; part of the rescue equipment of a vessel or aircraft.


A quantity of timber or lumber secured together by means of ropes, chains, or rods and used for transportation by floating.
A rock fragment caught up in a magma and drifting freely, more or less vertically.
An accumulation or jam of floating logs, driftwood, dislodged trees, or other debris, formed naturally in a stream by caving of the banks.


a buoyant platform of logs, planks, etc., used as a vessel or moored platform


(Resource Area For Teaching, San Jose, CA, www.raft.net) A non-profit organization that offers materials and its Silicon Valley facility to help K-12 kids learn science, math, technology and art with hands-on activities. RAFT recycles surplus and used equipment as well as scrap materials and routinely sends trucks to local donors for pickup. See e-cycling.
References in periodicals archive ?
The dry tissue biomass of the entire mussel raft was then estimated multiplying [M.
Fortunately, HS-14's maintenance officer was in Lighting 623 so we were able to coordinate with him over the radio to acquire a life raft bag from their squadron on the carrier.
The RAFT collagen-based process helps scientists create a realistic cellular environment to study cells' complex behavior.
A coastguard spokesman said the boys appeared to have found the navigation of the river on a raft more difficult than first imagined.
The project began in 1996, and last season the rafts attracted about 300 pairs of terns, with 400 chicks fledged, making this the largest and most productive tern territory on Scotland's west coast.
You'll want an emergency gear kit or "ditch bag" either stowed inside the raft or attached to it by a strong cord.
The study here includes the design comparison of integrated and discrete super and substructure raft models with equal and unequal adjacent spans.
Upon arrival, responders discovered a two-foot uninflated raft in the bedroom of the house.
She said: "We have been made aware that a long running raft event did not go as well this year.
I'm inviting pubs, clubs, schools and businesses across the city to start planning their rafts for next year's Cardiff Raft Race, ready to challenge Pencae Dads for the title.
The volunteers who come from across the company, including managing director Stuart Cameron, entered the life raft at 5pm on Friday and remained inside until 5pm on Saturday.