Thursday, December 9, 2010

Reinventing the Folbot


A while back I picked up this book called Fabulous Folbot Holidays at the local used book store.  I got it mostly for the pictures, I thought.  I loved the vintage 70's era photos.  I took the boat home and stuck it in the bookshelf and didn't look at it for a year.  A week ago I pulled it out again for whatever reason and started reading it.  Really quite entertaining.  It's part stories and testimonials by people who owned Folbots and part advertising copy for different Folbot models like this one following.

 Hey, it's the 17-1/2 foot Super.  Looks a lot like my first baidarkalounger which comes in at 18 feet and is 32 inches wide.  Only the Super is 37 inches wide.  If you click on the photo, you'll get a large view and can probably read the specs and the advertising copy. So what I discovered was that a boat that big is too much for one person to paddle casually, though I've done it.  It's not impossible.  It's just not desirable, It's just more work than I typically want to do.


So then I built another baidarka, this one a little shorter, 15 feet and 30 inches wide.  And wouldn't you know it, Folbot had a 15 foot boat as well. They called it the Sporty and made it 32 inches wide.  You might almost say that I was channeling Folbots for a while there. 
I don't really know how these things happen.  I wasn't thinking of Folbots when I made my baidarkas.  They just turned out proportioned like slightly slenderized Folbots.  I was really taking my inspiration more from sailing canoes of a hundred years ago, at least on a conscious level. 
And then I started thinking that yes, back in the 60's my dad had a Folbot and I used to paddle that but it didn't make any kind of impression on me that I could tell at the time.  Never had a desire to own a Folbot, but here I am building baidarkas that are shaped an awful lot like Folbots.  The workings of the boat building mind are truly mysterious.
And the weirdest thing about these Folbots is that they really are not bad boats.  They are a little wide by today's standards, but they are stable and probably paddle a heck of a lot better than plastic sit on tops.  Who knows, I might be tempted to build a real Folbot, one that fols up into a bag.

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