Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Vintage kayak sighting

After escorting our two neophytes back from York Island a couple Sundays back, RonO and I fired up the stove at Little Sand Bay to make our delayed bacon, eggs, and hash brown health food breakfast. As we cooked, a car pulled up with Indiana plates and an interesting craft on the roof. It appeared to be a father/son duo but being the two reserved Minnesotan's that we are, we didn't pry. We did ask them about the boat and the older fellow said it was a 1963 Folbot that he had rescued from 35 years in a guys barn.

It was indeed an intersting craft. I looked through some old Folbot stuff and couldn't find the model or a picture of a similar craft so I can only assume that it is indeed a Folbot. It had a nice wooden frame, a canvas or fabric skin, and a nice bright orange spray skirt which was obviously a retrofit. All of the rest of the stuff looked original including the long, rather unwieldy looking paddles. It didn't really look like any folding boat that I have seen and it had an aluminum rub rails screwed along the side where the deck met the gunwhales, and the owner said it came apart but that he had not had it disassembled since he had owned it.

That particular day had building seas with a forecast wave height of 8-10' by dusk. The guys were heading out to Sand on the start of a 5 day trip and were perfectly prepared to be windbound, a wise and refreshing comment that Ron and I were happy to hear. We wished them well and headed off to Washburn to make sure the Summit Porter at Patsy's Bar had not gone stale since the last time we were there. I'm sure they had a great trip, given the weather the rest of the week, and it made us feel good to see a 46 year old boat on the water and guys who knew how to paddle it.

P.S. In the lightning fast world of the internet, Tom Lynch confirmed in the comment section that this is indeed a Folbot and that he has one in his garage. Just a bit later, I received an email from Wanda at the Folbot plant in Charleston, SC, who said it looked like a Super which was made up until Hurricane Hugo leveled their plant in 1989. When they rebuilt they redesigned the entire line. Check out this old magazine ad for a Super with its 37" beam, which tells us that it's "NOT to be confused with undersized kayaks". And don't forget your "two 9' paddles"; those 230cm sticks are for wimps!


Tom Lynch said...


It is indeed a folbot. I have basically the same tandem model (1980's?) sitting folded in the rafters of my garage. I cannot remember the last time I've have had that boat in the water. I've made many trips to the AINLS in this boat, it is a very stable sea worthy kayak; however, it is bit slow and both paddlers have to paddle in synch due to the length of the boat. Back in the late 1980's, the Gitchee Gumee Adventure Team made a trip from Jack Fish Bay Ontario out to the Slate Islands in my folbot. This was our first leg of the Lake Superior circumnavigation quest. Some day ... I may get around to blog about this with photos.

Tom L.

riverkrewson said...

I have a rigid model Folbot that I built from a kit in the summer of 72. It's the Big Glider model that's 16' long & 40" wide and has been a really great boat. It isn't fast or sporty, but I had no qualms about loading my wife & 5-month-old daughter in it with all our gear and going camping on a lake in Ontario. That daughter is now 33 and the boat is still floating and our 15-year-old granddaughter likes Folboting, too.
I do enjoy my "sports car" playboat, but a "tour bus" like the Folbot is great for lots of stuff, too; as long as you can stand the occasional ridicule.