Past stripped from iconic Folly Boat

The Folly Boat is stripped of paint Tuesday. (WCIV)

By Lia

FOLLY BEACH, S.C. (WCIV) -- Years of paint layers on the "Folly Boat" amounted to five inches in thickness and a weight that only a bulldozer could lift.

On Tuesday, the City of Folly Beach removed the paint layers from the boat that's greeted visitors to Folly since Hurricane Hugo.

Mayor Tim Goodwin said it usually starts to peel on its own, every nine to 10 years and it was time to make sure the debris was properly disposed.

"What happens is the paint builds up in layers and mixtures of different kinds of paint. The paint is not adhering, or it gets too heavy and turns loose and just falls off of the boat structure itself," Mayor Goodwin said.

Among all the paint removed -- written messages of love, memorials, congratulations and birthday wishes.

Eric Draper is one of the people behind the website,, a website that captures painted messages the boat has boasted over the years.

"There are always the memorials, or will you marry me, will you be my date to prom, and it has also been a nice way to say goodbye to a loved one or welcome someone to town," Draper said.

It took several hours for workers to chip away at what could have been countless hours of work for some. The boat is known to switch paint frequently, even getting repainted in less than an hour.

There are some though that stick around longer, Draper said.

"This past 4th of July someone did a memorial for September 11 which was really touching," Draper said. "They built some wood towers to represent the twin towers that sat on top of the boat. It sat here for a week or 10 days, which is probably close to a record."

Tuesday afternoon, Mike Vitale came to scope out the fresh canvass to paint. He is getting married this weekend and wanted to paint a message for his wife.

He said he was snapping a photo to capture it for the wedding.

"I know from living here for seven years it doesn't last more than an hour. So, I know investing a lot of time will ultimately be a waste," he said. "I'm going to have it printed and matted to put at the sign-in table at the reception."

Folly beach officials say everyone is welcomed to paint the boat, as long as they clean up after themselves. The city also stresses no one paint on the street.