Boats are large and bulky when on land. They are annoying to store and transport.
Many designers have come up with take apart and folding boat models. The goals are often quick assembly and break down, light weight, and small storage footprint.
Folding boats are convenient if you need a tender on your keelboat but don't want to take up too much space.
Inflatable boats is one solution but inflating and deflating them tends to be more time consuming and complex that is useful, so most inflatable remain inflated and the benefit of small storage is lost. They also tend to be heavy.
In my page on take apart boats I list several designers who offer plans for true take apart designs often with sections that fit inside each other for even greater space saving. There are a number of people who have devised clever folding boats. Many will collapse flat and can be easily carried and put away.
Some plans look sturdy and reliable others don't inspire much confidence, at least for me. Here are a few that seem to work well.
Glen-L Folding Boat
This folding boat is over 10 feet long and folds flat for easy transport or storage. When needed it can be unfolded into a useful rowboat. It is made from plywood hinged with flexible material.Glen L rowboat being unfolded a fun sequence of photos. In ten minutes you have a boat!
Photos courtesy Glen-L. Their website is Here. They have a free book available. A consumer's Guide To Building Your Own Boat. You just have to write to them.
Sea Hopper is a commercial folding boat
It has been around for several years and is well thought out and robust. It is a good benchmark for folding crafts.
Folding boats have been around for many years.
Gavin Atkins describes an example of an antique Hudson folding boat from the early 1800's It's worth a visit to his blog, In the Boatshed.
Another antique folding boat is the Shellbend folding boat
photo from Photograph by Mike Peel (www.mikepeel.net).
"Shellbend folding boat, circa 1900. Designed by Mellard Treleaven Reade (1867-1943), who founded the 'Shellbend' folding boat company of Liverpool. Made of Mahogany. On display at the Merseyside Maritime Museum"
Svenson's has a free folding boat plan from one of the Popular Mechanics plans.
The Micro Folding Dinghy is a cheap and sturdy boat. Plans and detailed instructions are FREE
Dave and Mindy Bolduc are a sailing and cruising couple who have sailed to the Bahamas several times. Check out their website.
Here is a Duckworks Magazine page which has a link to a funny oval folding kayak. It's an old plan from popular mechanics.
Pak Yak plans are available here. There is also a link for a new and improved aluminium model.
A Coroplast folding boat from Ken Simpson's fertile imagination
Another offering from Ken Simpson: A plastic folding boat which compresses down to 2 feet by 4 feet and only 6 inches thick. He is currently making free plans available. Click on the image for a link.
Ken specializes in designing boats which are easy to build and get you on the water cheaply and conveniently. It's worth wandering through his web pages.
He has also produced a plywood folding boat. KWICKY
Ken Simpson has developed a number of quirky boat designs which are simple to build. Great for a project with the kids or to get on the water quickly.
Read about Coroplast, the new boatbuilding material! This is what Ken has used in his folding boat.
Oru Kayaks make lovely folding kayaks from corrugated plastic. These fold up in easily transported flat package that can be taken on planes and used during your holiday. Sturdy and well though out these are easy to set up and fold away.
Gina Siepel built this boat
The Boy Mechanic book published in the early 1900's has a folding boat project. I don't think the plans are particularly good but someone actually built one.
The bulkheads are a bit ... well... bulky and there is not good interior space but I think this would be a good place to start.
Have a look at the side links. I've put a whole lot of links re folding and nesting boats. In particular check out the Foldboat and the Ar-vag, boats as art/design projects. Sheets of plastic folded in boat shape.
Building and using boats can be dangerous if you are not careful, so be careful already. Some of these plans and ideas are quite experimental and untested. They are fun to explore and consider. Since I have not built or tested them I can't recommend them.
email me if you find mistakes, I'll fix them and we'll all benefit: Christine