A caboteur is a small boat used for trans-shipping from a larger one or from a quay, which is how most goods are moved around the city of Venice. I suppose the 20th century English would be ‘barge’ or ‘lighter,’ though in my London riverside childhood these did not imply a self-propelled vessel. By very unromantic extension some types of truck transport around the EU are described as ‘cabotage’.
I like Venice. I like observing the practicalities of life in Venice. It feels as if the difficulties of doing things like deliveries, rubbish collection, building works, even fire brigade and ambulance transport by boat in small canals means things are done always on a human scale. We are often oppressed by motor vehicles in the rest of the world – I think it their noise and presence have made us anxious and our lives uncomfortable. Give me a boat any day.