On sailing a Folksong – five boats

This blog never set out to be a website for the Folksong as a class. It was designed for me to find out more about my Folksong. (At the same time it has given me a chance to share maritime subjects that inspire me).

Folksong are not common. I still do not know how many home-completion hulls were built and sold from Eric Bergqvist’s yard in Lymm, Cheshire. So when owners and prospective owners come out of the ether as they do at intermittent intervals, its always a pleasure to hear from them. They are an independent lot.

For the record, here are five boats whose owners (or, in one case,  prospective owner) contacted me in 2009 – (and if they’re reading this, “Happy New Year!”):


Sailing out of Fortrose on the Moray Firth in Scotland, Fram is the most ‘authentic’ of the Folksong I have come across. Finished to Bergqvist’s original plans in 1984 by her current owner, her maiden voyage included a circumnavigation of the north of Scotland – clockwise Fortrose to Fortrose  via the Caledonian Canal.


Solaire was discovered this year after ten years beside a barn on a farm in New South Wales, Australia. She is due for complete renovation on the western shore of Port Phillip Bay. Of course, the big question is: “how did she get to Australia?”


And Matilda, on the south coast of England, is also a recent purchase, the owner looking for thoughts on the rig and news of other Folksongs in the area.


In September, I was contacted about Betsy, which was for sale in the Algarve. I had to admit that I didn’t know of her previously – but I was fascinated by the blue stanchions!

Sea Pigeon

And Sea Pigeon, seen here at Brightlingsea. Back in 2007, it was Sea Pigeon’s cabin, and particularly the engine housing, that gave me ideas for the layout in Blue Mistress.

Sea Pigeon is now for sale. For an excellent description of a Folksong, I commend her details to you.

On sailing a Folksong – Mike Burns and ‘Fram’


Mike has kindly written the following about Fram:


“I thought I might just add to this email the raison d’etre for my boat being called Fram

so Episode 1

Back in around 1965 at the age of approx 23 I signed on as a marine geophysicist with the British Antarctic Survey. I had some Scottish rock & snow climbing experience but only a couple of races sailed as crew on an Enterprise at Kippford in Scotland. I had however as a Grammar School pupil in Sunderland attended the local Cathedral at some memoration ceremony to RF Scott

Three years under canvas as a dog driving scientist down south was certainly “justifiable training for the youth of GB” as once stated by Fuchs the then Director of BAS.

I completed my polar exploration stint & returned to UK, Birmingham University, to work on & eventually publish my scientific findings.

No chance of a PhD but I did get a Polar Medal and eventually a mountain named after me. (This turned out to be more of a ridge than a mountain) very aptly named “Burns Bluff”

The thought of what to do next was challenging, so I married, we canoed in two slalom canoes around north cape in northern Norway on our honeymoon and then thought that the next best thing to dog sledging would be sailing a boat travelling at around 4/5 mph with every day changing plans as to the destination according to weather etc.

Having read much of Antarctic history I grew to favour the Norwegian approach as opposed to that of Scott, It did not take long to find that Nansen had a much more erudite approach to travel and hence the Norwegian word forward or “Fram” was obvious. Nansen’s nautical travails were also far more challenging than those of Scott

In addition as a tight fisted half Scotsman four letters certainly fitted the frugality constraints which resulted in “FRAM”

perhaps Episode 2 might follow in a day or a week or perhaps a month or so as to how I found the boat in Doncaster !”


I look forward to Episode 2 Mike. By the way, what were you studying?

And is Fram still for sale?


Boat names can be tricky. I called briefly into Plymouth Yacht Haven the other day, and, as I passed a very large yacht,  a young woman looked down and asked if I had a green and a red mistress too. There were several answers to that – all of which came too late!

On sailing a Folksong – Fram and Eric Bergqvist

I am not the only one owning a Folksong. In fact, compared to some, I am very much the novice – (as anyone who has read this blog for a while can testify). However, I have learnt a thing or two and I know a gem when I see it.

Kite gybe

This is Fram. The picture speaks for itself.

Mike Burns wrote at the end of last month:

“I home completed a Folksong in 1984 . . . and still have her . . .

“Maiden voyage in 1985 was circumnavigation of the north of Scotland, ie. clockwise Fortrose to Fortrose via the Caledonian Canal.

“Raced her last weekend single handed, flew spinnaker & also had to anchor up when wind dropped & strong tide, only came third out of 8 mixed handicap boats. Had to winch up the anchor with the genoa winch!!”

He has kindly sent images of Fram and copies of his original documents, and has given me permission to publish them here which I am delighted to do. Thank you, Mike. I hope we will exchange more details as time goes on.

~ ~ ~

Among the documents is an interview with the Folksong designer – Eric Bergqvist.

In it, he says: “I wanted a yacht fit for sailing single-handed in the Irish Sea.

“The first of my three requirements was that she had to be attractive. Pride of ownership is always a top priority and a gentle evening’s sail followed by a few pints and a chat at the club can be just as rewarding as a landfall after a long passage.

Fortrose Harbour

“My second priority was performance – speed on all points of sail and the ability to keep going in a short steep sea where you’ve the combination of wind over tide in shallow water. Self-steering is, in my opinion, the best aid to navigation, enabling the skipper to keep dry, warm and alert. The Folksong’s long keel gives good directional stability and suits the construction of a very simple self-steering device.

“My third requirement was ease of construction. Simplicity is the essence of both good design and economy, and I’m not in the position of having a lot of money tied up in a yacht.

These three requirements: looks, performance and economy all add up to a fibreglass Folkboat.”

With dolphins

That sums it up for me. Even though I have spent more money than planned on Blue Mistress – (yeah, well . . .), she is still more economical than many similar boats from the more well-known classes. She performs well and looks good.


Now, some detail. In the extract above, he talks of “the construction of a very simple self-steering device.” Do any Folksong (or Folkboat, Folkdancer or similar long-keeled boat) owners know which one from the early eighties he may have been referring to?