Ultralight home-made kayaks and pontoon boat

In a round about way, after contacting Matt at DIYPackrafts for some material to repair a couple of my folding kayaks, I found out about Tim Evans, a Canadian who designs and builds incredibly light boats, including folding 17’ touring kayaks under 10 pounds and even a very cool catamaran with a built in tent. Check out his website: http://www.cubenmaker.com

Ok…but I’m thinking that tube going through the cockpit could be uncomfortable.

In the video, what caught my eye was the classic “arm paddling”, but the ultra light weight craft is intriguing.

One oyster bed and you’re toast…soggy toast.

A lot of novelty inventions like this are ultimately impractical, but they do often contribute to innovations in product development and material utilization. He does give instructions for creating parts drawings and converting them to electronic files so that you can have them made on a 3-D printer, something that any gear and boat building tinkerer should welcome.

Besides durability questions, I also wondered about trying to use that pontoon set-up for camping in the Everglades, as the builder specifically suggests. Lack of mosquito netting was the first thing I noticed – but, hey, he’s Canadian.

Dubside… famous Greenland paddler, has a video out where he has a skin on frame kayak similar to the above that he carries in a bag on the bus to the launch. They have their uses.

I met Dubside when he was one of the featured instructors at Greenland Training Camp in upstate Michigan this past August. He is a shy guy but overheard me telling another attendee that I have a Feathercraft Wisper (one of 8 folding kayaks I have owned) – his face lit up and he told me that he used to have one too. I replied that I had seen the YouTube videos of him rolling it and complimented him on that expertise.

Folders not only “have their uses”, some of us actually prefer them in many conditions, as I have for 15 years now. They have a different feel in the water than a hardshell, weigh one third to half as much as plastic or composite boats of the same dimensions and can be checked as luggage on international flights. They have long been more popular in Europe and Asia where people tend to live in smaller houses and apartments and don’t drive big vehicles. They have not been widely marketed in North America and most people don’t even know that they (or folding canoes) exist. Two of the major makers of them closed up shop a year ago (Feathercraft, the Rolls Royce of folder, who hand made them in a small shop in Vancouver, BC, and Folbot, one of the most venerable brands). Pakboats of New Hampshire has the widest range of both canoe and kayak models readily available in the Americas, all reasonably priced.

One of my smaller folders, plus all the gear and clothing needed to paddle and transport it on the rental car, all packed in the check-able sized 48 pound rolling bag that accompanied me to England earlier this year:

I knew that Folbot had shut down, but I didn’t realize that Feathercraft was also gone.

There is a Folboat wood frame at the canoe/kayak club boat house. It is old…and heavier than any two kayaks.

I had a chance to buy a feather craft whisper for $600, but I am boat poor already. Hated to pass as that was a good deal. Yost works has plans for making your own folder. I have a mid 70s Folbot super. It’s a 17’ tandem with wood and aluminum frame, and vinyl skin. It is still in very good shape. Lighter than most plastic tandems the same same size. Here are a couple of photos form a trip at Juniper Springs