Göran R Buckhorn writes:
On 17 November, HTBS posted a question from Terry P. in Belgium. Terry had acquired an old watercraft – well, actually a frame – and he wondered if there was anyone among the HTBS readers who could help him to identify the boat. HTBS readers began to leave comments, and rather soon it was established that it was not a rowing boat, but a canoe or kayak.
‘Chris’ thought it was a folding kayak, a ‘Klepper’, which Jonny Cantwell and Ian Marriott also thought, well ‘minus its skin’, as Ian wrote. Ian continued to suggest a great website for information about folding kayaks, take a look here. Ian writes that ‘In the intro to the folding kayak website it mentions folding kayaks can be paddled, sailed and rowed which might explain the collar on the oar [in one of Terry’s photographs]’.
HTBS’s Tim Koch had a drastic way to determine if the watercraft was a rowing boat or a kayak. He wrote: ‘Try setting fire to it – if it does not burn, it’s a kayak. This is because you cannot have your kayak and heat it.’
‘David’ also thinks that it is an early Klepper, maybe from the 1930s. He wrote ‘I have a similar boat from the 1950s. There were a number of manufacturers in the 1920s and 1930s, so without close-up of the connections, it’s hard to discern. The ring on the collar appears to be a drip ring that usually resides closer to the blade; they tend to dry out in a few years and crack.’
In an e-mail, rower and rowing historian Stephan Krajewski, who attended the Rowing History Forum at the River and Rowing Museum in Henley-on-Thames on 21 November, was certain that it is not a rowing boat. Stephen wrote: ‘It is the wooden infrastructure of what is called a “Faltboot”. It is not a rowing boat, but a kayak. These watercraft can be taken apart and put in special bags to transport them. They have been very popular in Germany since the 1930s, as that type of craft enabled people who didn’t have much money to transport their boat and go on tours.’
Stephan was also kind enough to enclose a photo of a Faltboot (see above). He also mentioned that it is difficult to find out who might have built it ‘as there have been a very big number of people who made them; some big factories, but most of them being relatively small.’
Thank you very much to all of you who had thoughts on Terry’s watercraft. It is nice to know that HTBS has such good readers who are willing to share their knowledge.