The Chinese character 舟 (zhōu) refers to a boat or a ship. In ancient pictograph form, the character was often slanted slightly, making the two sides of the character representative of the sides of a boat.
The line through the middle and the two dots were originally three horizontal lines that delineated the cabin, the front, and the back of the boat.
The character 船 (chuán) is typically used today to refer to a boat or a ship, while 舟 (zhōu) is more often used in literary works or in specific terms.
During the Dragon Boat Festival, the decorated, carved boats used for racing are called 龍舟 (lóng zhōu), or literally, “dragon boat.”