The Famous Folly Beach Boat

The Famous Folly Beach Boat

For years, visitors have been curious and interested to learn about the 50-foot boat located right before the bridge on the way to the island. Where did it come from? What’s with the ever-changed paint job? The boat has a history that isn’t simple, and it’s future is currently unclear.

Origin: Hurricane Hugo

The boat first appeared on Folly Road as a result of one of Charleston’s most infamous storms: Hurricane Hugo. The storm surge pushed the boat onto a spot close to the bridge, and the owner never came forward to claim it. The hurricane hit in 1989, and the boat sat in the place the storm left it for almost three decades.

Soon after Hugo, residents and visitors began using the boat as a place for writing messages and displaying art. The boat was used to wish passers-by special happy birthdays, to propose many marriages, to and display varying political sentiments. The messages painted onto the side of the boat never lasted very long though—sometimes messages were painted over and changed daily.

While some of the messages were innocent and harmless, there were many times in which the boat was used as a billboard for hate speech and commercial purposes. Messages painted onto the boat were featured in the local news more than a few times for unseemly content that caused lots of controversy.

After years of painting over the boat, the layers began to thicken more and more until entire chunks of the boat began to come loose. Nevertheless, messages and art continued to be painted on to the side of the boat and it continued to be a vessel of free speech—literally.

Present Day: Tropical Storm Irma

By the time 2017 rolled around, the folly boat had become a true unofficial landmark of the island. Hurricane Irma, a storm that hit in fall of 2017, swept the boat back out and landed it on a privately owned dock on Sol Legare Road.

Ever since Hurricane Irma swept the boat away, there has been a lot of disagreement when it comes to what should happen next. While Save The Folly Boat, a non-profit, would like to move the boat back to its position next to the bridge, some government officials and residents are wary to welcome it back due to the controversy it created and potential safety concerns.

While the fate of the boat it still in limbo, we have a feeling that we haven’t seen the last of the famous Folly Boat yet!