I think you'll find that the "which dinghy" question is a bit like the "which anchor" question. Whomever you ask will likely tell you that the one they have is the best, and that may be... for them anyway. On this board you can go to a previous thread started by Gord May at http://www.cruisersforum.com/forums/f117/dinghy-wars-hard-soft-nesting-folding-3885-4.html?highlight=porta+bote
for some thoughts, from a lot of good cruisers, as to what they feel is the best dinghy.
The link to the SSCA by Euro Cruiser is an excellent read for the Bote. Another one talking about it's use as a platform for scuba
is at ScubaBoard - Porta Bote?
. There was also a recent post on the Tayana Owners Group (TOG) from a guy thats just returned from an extended cruise
. You have to log on to get to their forum so here's the text.
Earlier I had reported that we found it more difficult to enter the PortaBote from the water than our old Avon
inflatable. This was a problem in technique on our part. Once we figured out the best techniques, we found it no harder to get back in the Porta and it makes a great platform for snorkeling from.
The 12' Porta Bote and the Tayana 37
work very well together. As you noted,when on passages, we stored it on the Stbd cabin
top. It fits perfectly between the forward and aft dorades without protruding out into the side deck
. By storing the aft and center seats under the Bote, it lifted it up just enough so that it wasn't resting (and rubbing) on the side rail. I never really noticed the lack of the side rail to grab when going forward or returning to the cockpit
and with all the reefing/unreefing and foresail changes we did, we did this often.
Before I get into a list of the problems, I want to stress that overall, the Bote worked very well for us and the other cruisers we ran into using them. None for us have any desire to go back to using an inflatable.
OK, here are the issues we and others had with them:
- The plastic seats just didn't hold up to daily use. After less than a year, they were replaced with wooden ones we had made. I understand that they have redisgned them, but never having seen or used the new factory ones, I can't comment on them. I can say that we liked the wooden ones we had made (and painted white) much better than the plastic ones. They not only felt much more solid, but black plastic gets REALLY hot in the sun.
- The oars that came with it also did not hold up. One of the blades broke, the other one warped and the fittings on them rusted badly. Finding replacement collaspable ones while "out there" is impossible. We finally replaced them while on a visit back to the US.
- Some of the pop rivets that hold the seat brackets and the oar locks on failed. These were easy to replace with small SS bolts we had onboard. Before going out again, we'll go ahead and replace all of them.
- After 2 years, our wooden transom is pretty warped and we will be making a new one before heading out cruising again. I understand that the Botes are now shipping
with a plastic one, but have never seen or used one of the new ones
- Some others, not us, had a problem with the black plastic piece that covers and protects the keel
joint coming off. The Bote is still usable when this happens, I'd just be reluctant to run it up on some rocks, something we never worried about.
Balanced against this is the incredible ruggedness of the hull
(we never worried about it rubbing against barnacle covered pilings or rocks), never having to deal with leaks
or failed seams (a pretty common thing among those using inflatables), much easier rowing, smaller/lighter outboard
needed to go the same speed as the inflatable and more room for groceries and more. In our minds, the Porta Bote comes out way ahead. We carried an old 10' Avon
along as a spare, but never inflated it and will be getting rid of it in order to recover the storage
space it consumed before heading out again.
S/V Tricia Jean - T37 #192
Hope the "Bote" works out well for you.