William Longyard's Folbot Modification Page II

Here are some more things I did to prepare my kayak for a summer's kayaking trip across Europe. These ideas are applicable to other kayaks besides Folbots, however, I chose a Folbot Aleut because it offered what I felt was the best value in mini-singles, and the easiest assembly.

To see pictures from my trip press here: Europhotos

To see my first Modification Page press here: Mods. 1

To ask questions, or offer comments, press here: Email

Launching in Cophenhagen, Denmark on a chilly summer morning.

Here I am in my Folbot Aleut "Pam", named after my wife. You can see what I think is the main benefit of the expedition option, the additonal D-rings which allows the fitting of a grab line, in case you need to self-rescue. I've never fallen out of a kayak, but it's better to be safe than sorry.

I found the 12ft boat to be surprisingly roomy inside. Under the rear deck I stowed the folding luggage dolly, and another bag of gear. On the rear deck is my 25 lb. backpack stuffed inside the Aleut's "small" bag (the one the skin normally is in.) I bungeed it across the rear deck. I was able to take everything with me in the boat that I needed for my trip. They call them "minis"?

Across the front of the washboards you see the "knee skirt" I made. It is a triangular piece of water-proofed dacron with velcro sewn under its sides. A 1/2" (12mm) pvc pipe is sewn into its rear (inside black webbing pocket). The pipe's ends rest on the washboards, thus supporting the entire skirt, and allowing water to roll off. Around my neck is a bag to carry wallet, passport, etc. Don't carry those in your pockets when paddling in case you ship water unexpectedly.

It's easy to apply "iron on" letters to your boat. Just support underneath with a piece of plywood, keep the iron moving, but use sufficient heat.

Sorry for the poor quality of this photo. You can just see how I converted the "small" bag into a backpack. I did this by first cutting off the factory provided bag handles. Next, I took a seam ripper and opened up the side of the bag so that I could sew in webbing straps that had D-rings in their ends. I made the harness out of 2" (48mm) webbing, and included shoulder and hip pads. The harness ends all had plastic snaphooks that hooked into the bag's D-rings. This may seem unnecessary, but it allowed me to remove the harness when not needed. Webbing, D-rings, and shaphooks are available at most outdoor stores.

A big improvement to both of the bags can be made by sewing in doubled-over pieces of 3/4" (18mm) webbing, with metal D-rings in the folds. Then, use a small lock to bring the two D-rings together. You don't have to seam-rip either of the bags to do this. (All my sewing, including up to 6 layers of webbing, is done on a household sewing machine! I use 100% nylon upholstery thread available at any sewing store.) The lock obviously provides "some" protection against theft, but it also greatly reduces your chance of spilling anything out of the bag during normal transport. Most thieves, too, are opportunists. A locked bag is a hassle. Keep the lock WD-40ed. You can already see rust on the D-rings!

Normal kayak boat carts just don't cut it in the urban jungle. For my trip, I planned on using a lot of public transportation, including trains, and the occasional taxi. After numerous experiments at building my own boat cart, and even converting the Aleut "single bag" onto a cart itself (too long to tell here!) I found that a normal luggage cart offered the best means of transporting the bags (I decided on the double bag option for my Aleut). The cart on the right is my "Mark I" version. It uses tiny wheels, and a "wire" frame to hold the bags. Result: It lasted a week before I junked it and bought a more substantial cart (Mark II on left) in Milan. Notice how I use crossed bungee chords to hold the bags tightly against the frame, and support the lower platforms. When folded, I had no problem stowing these carts under the rear deck of my Aleut. It proved necessary to further modify the Mark II by adding diagonal stiffeners below the lower platform (not seen). I had to use rebar that I "liberated" from a construction site in Vienna to do this.

I traveled extensively by train using a Eurail Pass. For people over 25 you have to get a first class pass, no choice. Thus, it often happened after paddling somewhere during the day, I would be on a train at night with my bags (seen here both strapped onto the Mark II cart). In a car of well-dressed businessmen and women, I would be the sun tanned scruffy interloper with the wet pant cuffs. In Switzerland the bankers in my first class car were tortured by their curiosity about what was in those two bags which seemed to be leaking water! I just stared out my window and pretended I didn't know what they were looking at.

(Note the foam filled shoulder pad I made and added to the long bag's normal carrying strap.)

Yes, you can sit my most of your luggage on European trains, though it is more common to put them in the luggage areas at either end of each car.

Throughout Europe most train stations have lockers to lock up luggage. Here I've put my boat bags in long ski lockers in an Austrian station. Even though I had my Aleut with me, I'm certain I could have put my Greenland II in one, if I had brought it instead.

A three foot lenth of 3/16" (5mm)cable is all you need to secure both of your boat bags when riding a train, or leaving them in a hotel room. Again, most thieves look for easy targets, and anything that slows them down may be passed over. I used a combination lock with this.

Hope you found this page helpful. If you have questions or comments, I'd be glad to hear from you:


Copyright: Wm. Longyard