It's the Origami Boat: Foldable, Minimalist, DIY Design


The Origami foldable boat, with its designer.

Designer Robin Benjamin has been trying to get TreeHugger's attention for some time, he says, to shine a little bit of blogging light onto his minimalist dinghy designs.

Benjamin, or Benjy as he's known, thinks his boats - the foldable Origami, the very lightweight stackableStasha, and the pedal-powered Deckster - are uniquely easy to build, using minimal materials. Assembled from lightweight woods such as cedar and (unfortunately) PVC cloth, using Benjy's dowloadable designs, the boats are foldable or stackable, and though a bit boxy, even good to look at. A restorer of classic yachts, Benjy looked back to designs from 1930's for his DIY dinghies. And, to reconnect animal habitats, his company, Wooden Widget, plants a tree in Madagascar for each set of plans sold.

Benjy conceived his idea for DIY dinghies from an old folding dinghy he was given. Updating the design with modern materials, the Origami was born. Origami folds down to the size of a large, long suitcase for easy transport. After Benjy wrote about the Origami, requests for him to build more piled up, and Benjy decided to create downloadable plans. This helped keep Wooden Widgets carbon footprint quite low, as the company doesn't sell any physical products. Benjy said he believes builders will be able to source all supplies needed for boat assembly locally.

All three boats are lightweight - the Stasha weighs less than 25 pounds, the Orgami 6 less than 35, and the Deckster 66 pounds.

"Because they fold or nest they take up very little space and will easily go inside most cars so there's no extra fuel used when transporting them, unlike non folding designs which inevitably get towed or put on a roof rack. They are so light they could easily be towed behind a bicycle."

Price to build any of the three dinghies will vary - the plans cost between 38 and 45, with materials running approximately $250. The dinghies can also take an engine, or a sail, or be rowed.

More about alternative boats:
Solar-powered Boat Supplemented With Pedal Power

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