Tuesday, September 2, 2008

DIY Folding Kayak

Last year, my Boy Scout Troop built a sailboat--a Puddleduck Racer, in fact. They did a rather magnificent job of it too, if I do say so myself. It even floated!

A few months after we finished the Electric Current (that's the aforementioned boat...), one of my Scout's grandparents mentioned that many years ago, her son built a kayak and had long since abandoned it at their house. If I wanted it, I could have it, she said. Why not?

So I went over and picked up this thing, not quite sure what to expect. Even still, I wasn't expecting a flattened thing with a canvas strip down the middle. Huh? I ended up not using it at all--or even really assembling it--until yesterday.

Since I had the day off, and since it was a nice hot day, and since I was in a cleaning mood, I figured I'd check this thing out and see if it floated still or whether I ought to send it to Davy Jones' Locker. I grabbed J, the kayak, and its homemade paddle and set off for a nearby lake.

Once I got it to the shore, I had a bit of a hard time muscling the supports into the kayak. Two very kind chaps arrived and offered help--really, I just think they were so curious that they wanted to see this thing up close and in action! The three of us figured it out together and got it assembled. Admittedly, I was a bit nervous about trusting this who-knows-how-old do-it-yourself boat to float, but it held just fine just resting in the water by itself.

So then I pushed down on it a bit with the paddle, not sure whether the canvas would and sink the whole thing. It held. So I ever so gingerly sat in it, still right next to the shore. By some miracle, it still held! I pushed off from the shore and paddled around the shallows for a minute or two, and when I saw that it wasn't going to collapse from my weight, I got a bit more brave and took it out into the lake proper. I tooled around on that little kayak for about 20 minutes and found no discernible leaks! There was a bit of water inside the kayak, but I'm willing to wager that 99% of it was from drips off the paddle!

Curious about its construction, I scoured the web and found a few sites with instructions:

http://diyfiles.com/kayak.html has decent instructions, but the images are small and won't "blow up."
http://foldingkayaks.org/kayak.doc is much more detailed, and I'd recommend a look.
http://www.vhcbsa.org/camping/kayak.pdf is probably the best of the instruction options and is geared towards Boy Scouts making them.

I just might put one of these (or perhaps a small coracle) together for J so that we can tool around on the lake together. After I finish fixing all the kitchen chairs, of course.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Unbelievable! I am the original maker of that kayak....it had to be about 1975 or 1976 when we made these. There were only 3 made that I know of. I cannot believe that it still floats....I was amazed that it floated the first time we took it out. It hung around in Mom's garage since the maiden voyage and gathered dust. I am pleased to see it on the internet and even more pleased that it still floats. Best Regards,
Dennis Wells