For decades, people have been painting messages on a boat that Hurricane Hugo left landlocked beside Folly Road.
But now, the roadside public billboard seems to be sending a message of its own: “Scrape the paint off me once in while, will ya?”
On Monday, Folly Beach city officials examined what appears to be a several-inches-thick rubbery like layer sagging off the entire side of the boat facing the road. Something like this also happened “seven or eight years ago,” when paint layers, accumulating year after year and one atop the other, became too heavy to cling to the boat, Folly Beach Mayor Tim Goodwin said.
Goodwin, who inspected the boat Monday with the city Public Works Department Director Kevin Whitsett, said he city employees will be back Tuesday to pull the paint layer off. The layer will be sent to the Charleston County landfill, he said.
The boat has risen to iconic status since Hugo left it high and dry among oleander bushes and between Folly Road and a wide expanse of picturesque marsh. Messages and art creations are painted on the boat’s side, sometimes daily and sometimes more than once daily. Messages have included birthday and wedding wishes, wedding proposals, requiems for lost or missing loved ones, announcements of coming local events, support for sports teams, political appeals, and just plain artsy creations.
The boat has a Facebook page, with more than 7,615 likes, and its own webpage, FollyBoat.com. Fans of the boat chat via Twitter, @follyboat, where the vessel is described as ”a South Carolina legend and landmark.”
The boat is depicted on the cover of Frank Melvin Braden’s “The Humours of Folly.”
At Follyboat.com, a photo gallery illustrates some of the many inscriptions left on the boat. Stratton Lawrence provides a detailed “How to Paint the Folly Boat,” and in a blog, Folly Beach City Clerk Marlene Estridge says that when officials are asked for permission to paint the boat, “We just tell people to go ahead and do it.”
There’s no guarantee your message will be seen for long, she explains.
“It’s first come, first serve,” Estridge writes, “You might paint it and 45 minutes later someone else comes along.”
The Facebook page invites viewers to check out FollyBoat.com, and explains the website “was created so that painters and lovers of the folly boat can upload and share their memories of the landmark gifted by Hurricane Hugo in 1989 that greets each and every person as they travel to the Edge of America.”
Goodwin said that some seven or eight years ago the city carried off a thick layer of paint that began drooping off the boat, similar to, but smaller than the layer seen Monday.
“Sooner or later, it just gets so heavy it turns loose,” Goodwin said. “So many layers of paint, it looks like a solid wall of rubber,” he added.
Goodwin pointed to a multi-colored area of asphalt between the boat and Folly Road, and said people are invited to paint the boat, but asked not to paint the road.
“It’s illegal and it’s not safe,” adds Lawrence in his Follyboat.com commentary.
“You don’t have to wait for a special occasion to get your tag on. If an image appears in your head, grab some paint, brushes, and a friend or two and head out to the Folly Boat. Just remember to take a picture before you drive away, because inspiration will likely strike someone else tomorrow,” Lawrence advises.