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2012-11-18

Knowing when to fold 'em

Practical or flat-water toy?

About two and a half years ago, I wrote on the subject of recent developments in folding boats, a seemingly fertile ground for the inventive sailor or otherwise aquatically inclined traveller.

Fertile ground is usually seeded with money, and the website Kickstarter allows crowd-sourced funding of little inventions. One which recently caught my eye was an 11-kilo vessel touted as a revolutionary folding kayak. It's been successful in getting press, and plenty of attention from the alternative outdoorsy types.

Batteries not required, but can it stand battery in general?


But at eight hundred bucks per, it had better work. Compactness is the main draw of folding boats, but durability is very much an issue. If you lived in an apartment next to a canal system or a big pond, I can very much see this as an attractive means of kayaking for the space-challenged. The downside for the cruiser, of course, is that there's very little space for cargo. Cruisers' tenders need to haul things back and forth, although this would be ideal for exploring a mangrove swamp or a calm lagoon if you only packed a lunch

And there are few more space-challenged than aboard a sub-50 foot cruising sailboat.

Here's a video of the kayak being folded up:


Interestingly, there are several less-polished versions of the same basic "coroplast kayak/boat" concept:


and this one, which is made of wood for the traditionalists among you:


I like the idea of foam or inflatable tubes lashed to the gunwhales of a tender. It's one used by the Walker Bay tender manufacturers and it's an idea I intend to adapt for our own Portabote and nesting dinghy

Still, it seems that there are many ways to construct folding boats, and the field seems full of interesting ideas and unusual materials. Whether they would suit cruisers as real-life tenders in sometimes choppy conditions will become clear with use and anecdote.