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Please consider the following and fill in the blank. This has driven me crazy ever since I moved to florida. How would somebody say the travel often by a boat without any sails.

  • I drove from New York to California. <-- By Car
  • I flew from New York to California. <-- By plane
  • I sailed from New York to London. <-- by Sailboat
  • I blank from New York to Florida <-- by motorboat
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up vote 7 down vote accepted

Sail can be used to describe the generic act of traveling by water, regardless of whether the craft used actually has a sail for its propulsion or not.

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I agree, this is probably the most acceptable; This does not give an appropriate visual image of the mode of transportation. It's like driving somewhere and saying "I wheeled to the store", (bike,train,car,wagon, anything with wheels) – MVCylon Jan 31 '11 at 21:50
also, if I where to travel by some non-traditional; hot-air balloon. I would expect to have to say "I flew from NY to LA in a hot-air balloon". In the case of travelling by water, isn't motorized boat the traditional way in modern times? Should it be expected that I say "I sailed from NY to LON by speedboat" – MVCylon Jan 31 '11 at 21:54
I wouldn't use sail for travelling by kayak (I would paddle) or row-boat (I would row)... – HorusKol Jan 31 '11 at 22:21
I'd go with "I took a speedboat from NY to London" (although that would be pretty noteworthy since speedboats are generally small pleasure craft used for trips measured in hours, not suited to week-long voyages). For larger, commercial vehicles, you might say steamboat, passenger ship, or cruise ship. – Hellion Jan 31 '11 at 22:23
@Doug: Must be one heck of a fuel tank on that speedboat... ;-) – Brian Nixon Jan 31 '11 at 23:31

Motor-boated. It makes sense and is in the dictionary, first used way back in 1922.

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does that mean boated is a verb? – MVCylon Jan 31 '11 at 21:47
Boat is also a verb, and it means to travel or go in a boat for pleasure. – kiamlaluno Jan 31 '11 at 21:52
Could you just use motored? – HorusKol Jan 31 '11 at 22:21
Not to spoil the party, but have you considered urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=motorboat? It's the first/second result when googling motorboat or motor-boat. – Hello71 Feb 1 '11 at 0:18
@Hello71: I don't even need to click that link to know what it refers to! My answer would be if you can't use the word 'motor-boat' without some of the more immature members of your audience sniggering then perhaps you should reconsider them as audience members! – user3444 Feb 1 '11 at 8:58

Cruised is another common term.

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Steamed is the technical term, though sailed is more usual.

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Yes, and ironically, sails are still widely used but steam is only used by a small number of hobbyists. – mickeyf Dec 9 '11 at 17:34
@mickeyf: ...and nuclear warships. – TimLymington May 10 '12 at 12:17

I would say I raced to Florida by motorboat, or cruised if the trip was more leisurely.

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