Li'l Beauty

This kayak which I named Li'l Beauty, was created by two desires. The first was the desire to replace my trusty old Fol-Bot® kayak which I gave to one of my sons. It had provided me with over 12 years of memorable pleasures. However, I wanted a kayak much lighter than the Fol-Bot® which weighed 87 pounds. My age was beginning to tell getting it on and off the cartop rack!

The second desire arose from my sending for current brochures and price lists of not only Fol-Bots®, but of about 15 other companies that make kayaks. To my surprise, I found that the Fol-Bot® I'd had for over 12 years now cost over $1,000! (I had paid only $350 for mine around 1980). Other kayak firms charged even more... up to over $2,000 for ones similar to Fol-Bot®. In short, I had simply been priced out of the market!

So, taking the basic, established kayak design, I set about building one of my own, with length and weight (about 38 pounds) more suited to my needs. The result was Li'l Beauty, a 12 foot kayak, capable of seating a heavy adult with ample room for camping and fishing gear. At only 38 pounds, it is a breeze to cartop. Also, the plans could be easily upgraded to a 14 foot length, which would allow two adults with gear.

Like my Fol-Bot® model, I prefer an open cockpit (with both ends covered and each end containing lots of foam flotation). The cockpit has a small "deck" running the length of each side. "People-space" is very roomy and for those who like to fish, this has an advantage that ordinary kayaks don't have. It has a full amount of capability in choppy lakes and in swift running rivers ... but not foaming white-water such as the Chatooga River in Georgia, which cascades through all sorts of rocks and boulders. For those dare-devils, I leave them to their $2,000 white-water expedItion models!

Li'l Beauty has performed so well in the two medium-size lakes and "regular-type" rivers in my local area, that it catches the attention of any other boaters. Those who come close enough for conversation invariably want to know where I got such a boat!

Li'l Beauty can be built with only $75 to $85 in materials. I've simplified and fine-tuned the construction method so that I can now build one with about 14 to 18 hours work-time. It can be built with a minimum of ordinary shop tools, such as a hammer, screwdrivers, electric drill, C-clamps, and a hand-held saber saw. Of course, an electric circular saw and a table saw cuts way down on the time required. (You can probably get a shop friend or even get a cabinet shop to rip the 8 or 9 stringers needed for less than $10, if you don't have these power saws).

My booklet lists all of the materials (which can be purchased from local builder's supply stores) and contains photos of each building step.

Whether you want an excellent kayak for your own pleasure, at a small fraction of the cost of a store-bought one, or whether you want one for that plus an opportunity for expanding it into a home-based supplemental income, you'll find my booklet an excellent value. (I sell the four or five I build in winter months for about $350 each in the Spring!)

In the words of the late George Herter, who was the owner of the excellent Herter's Hudson Bay outdoors equipment company in Minnesota in the 50's through the mid-8O's: "Why don't you 'order-out' one today?" I did a lot of ordering from him.


Walter Head

[Hobbycrafts is no longer in business, but I have posted my copy of the plans on this web page