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Old 05-01-2019, 21:22   #1
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Porta-bote haters: what's not to like?

Several forum regulars have porta-botes and extoll their virtues. And what's not to like? Light, easy to store, can be rowed, sailed, or motored, long lasting, stable, gets up on plane with a small motor, etc etc etc. From the reports and reviews I can't figure out why anyone uses anything else.


So, what's the catch?


The only negative things I've been able to find are:
  1. Some people are concerned about the potential for damaging the stanchions on the mother ship, if the folded bote is lashed to them (as is customary) and green water comes over the deck.
  2. There was one isolated report of problems with build quality serious enough to detract from the ownership experience.
  3. Some people with limited upper body strength have trouble unfolding them.
What else? Bring it on...
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Old 05-01-2019, 21:47   #2
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Re: Porta-bote haters: what's not to like?

Never had one but how hard is it to board, in deep water, with snorkel gear?

I've seen them and pondered getting one but always wondered how you would get back in after swimming a reef.
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Old 05-01-2019, 22:23   #3
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Re: Porta-bote haters: what's not to like?

I can provide a data point that is of a former user who's come back to inflatables.
First -- the seats and transom combined add about 25 pounds to the published weight, and more than double the stowed space requirements. Those are cheaply made and will likely require replacement or repair within the first few years. They aren't stow-friendly either -- with hard edges and odd shapes.
Compared with an inflatable:
Pros: P-botes have a very durable skin and can't be punctured in normal use, row better and are faster with a small motor.
Cons:P-botes are less stable, cannot be boarded from the bow at a crowded dinghy dock, will mark your decks and topsides. Seats and transom are very likely to fail but are easily repaired or replaced with common materials.
Stowing is NOT an advantage of a P-bote when you take into account the seats and transom. It stows flatter than a deflated RIB but you're left with what to do about the extra parts, and it is definitely less stowable than a roll-up or air floor. The seats/transom by themselves will take at least as much room to stow as a roll-up or air floor inflatable.
The vinyl rub rails get very hard in cool weather, and a corner can damage topsides of cored hulls. The colder weather also makes it harder to open the P-bote because the hull stiffens.
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Old 05-01-2019, 23:22   #4
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Re: Porta-bote haters: what's not to like?

We had / have a portabote, but I plan on trading up to a RIB. I don't find it to be very stable and is very sensitive to weight loading on one side or the other. It sits quite flat in the water, even on a plane, and so with any amount of chop is likely to scoop water inside. Also, in chop and at speed it is pretty wobbly, not a good feeling! Not enough positive flotation to keep it floating when filled with water (with engine mounted) - a heavy rain will sink it unless you bail it out.
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Old 06-01-2019, 01:39   #5
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Re: Porta-bote haters: what's not to like?

Quote:
Originally Posted by SailFastTri View Post
I can provide a data point that is of a former user who's come back to inflatables.
First -- the seats and transom combined add about 25 pounds to the published weight, and more than double the stowed space requirements. Those are cheaply made and will likely require replacement or repair within the first few years. They aren't stow-friendly either -- with hard edges and odd shapes.
Compared with an inflatable:
Pros: P-botes have a very durable skin and can't be punctured in normal use, row better and are faster with a small motor.
Cons:P-botes are less stable, cannot be boarded from the bow at a crowded dinghy dock, will mark your decks and topsides. Seats and transom are very likely to fail but are easily repaired or replaced with common materials.
Stowing is NOT an advantage of a P-bote when you take into account the seats and transom. It stows flatter than a deflated RIB but you're left with what to do about the extra parts, and it is definitely less stowable than a roll-up or air floor. The seats/transom by themselves will take at least as much room to stow as a roll-up or air floor inflatable.
The vinyl rub rails get very hard in cool weather, and a corner can damage topsides of cored hulls. The colder weather also makes it harder to open the P-bote because the hull stiffens.
I get in mine from the bow at dinghy docks. I have the 12 foot version.
I made (actually a friend did a lot of the work) plywood thwarts to reduce the space problem.

One of the posts mentioned diving, from the PortaBote site -
https://youtu.be/nHtvj8oCj34
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Old 06-01-2019, 02:00   #6
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Re: Porta-bote haters: what's not to like?

I think SailFastTri’s comments are pretty accurate.

Stowing is a challenge, although this is true for all dinghies. It’s why so many use davits. Botes are more tippy than an inflatable, but not more than most other hard dinghies (that I’ve experienced). The wobbliness puts some people off, but this doesn’t make them less stable. It’s just different.

I board from the bow. Takes a bit of balance I suppose, but it’s not that hard. It’s just different than inflatables. Getting in from the water is hard for someone like me (overweight, out of shape), but I have done it. And PB sells a special boarding ladder for this purpose (which I’ve never tried).

The older versions, like mine, can leave marks from the rubrail. Apparently the new version solved this problem. I just carry a small fender.

I’ve had the same 10-foot bote for going on 15 years now. Same seats, same transom, but I can see a day when I will have to replace them.

Before owning this bote I had a number of years with decent inflatables. They were fine, but after a few years I learned what was important to me. I wanted a dinghy that was easier to stow (on my boat it is easy), was fairly light and very tough. I really wanted something that rowed well, but would still move with a small outboard. Finally, I wanted something I could easily bring on board, without the need of hoists.

The portabote is one of the few that checks all these boxes. As with most things, it is a compromise, but for what I want, it seems to be the best option.

BTW, one factor which I’m appreciating more and more is the longevity of these portabotes. They seem to last a lot longer than most rubber dinghies. They’re not cheap, although no more expensive than a quality rubber boat. But they seem to last a lot longer. Mine is well into its second decade and shows no signs of ending.
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Old 06-01-2019, 02:49   #7
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Re: Porta-bote haters: what's not to like?

They are not lighter than decent equivalent inflatable yet can only handle half the payload. They aren't any cheaper than a decent inflatable either. They are more limited in the size of engine that can be used.

I remember Sailing Uma were wax-lyrical about there's when they first got it. After a season with it, they couldn't wait to get rid of it.

Subjectively, they are ugly as sin
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Old 06-01-2019, 06:22   #8
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Re: Porta-bote haters: what's not to like?

I need a dink that **rows** very well. Don't mind limited motor options.

So, Portaboat compared to a nesting dinghy?

Sailing would be a huge plus - do botes?
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Old 06-01-2019, 06:36   #9
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Re: Porta-bote haters: what's not to like?

Quote:
Originally Posted by john61ct View Post
I need a dink that **rows** very well. Don't mind limited motor options.

So, Portaboat compared to a nesting dinghy?

Sailing would be a huge plus - do botes?
We built a B&B nesting dinghy, and while it was smaller length overall, it's height nested totally limited forward visibility on our 34'. A port a boat would have worked, but instead we bought a RIB with folding transom that was about the size of a surfboard when deflated.

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Old 06-01-2019, 07:47   #10
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Re: Porta-bote haters: what's not to like?

But poor rowing, and no sailing, right?

Thanks for that height issue.
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Old 06-01-2019, 09:16   #11
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Re: Porta-bote haters: what's not to like?

Which decent inflatable are you talking about Mike? Iíve not seen one which is lighter. My friends with decent inflatables, which all include some sort of hard floor or hull, all must use hoists or block & tackle to lift their dinghies. I haul mine out myself. Perhaps a pressurized floor? I looked hard at those, but have always been warned off due to unreliability.

As for cost, again, they might cost about the same, but they last way longer. Amortized over each lifetime and Iíd say the PB are a lot cheaper.

John, they row quite well. Probably not as well as a true solid dinghy, but they move very well under oar. This was one of the primary reasons I selected one. And they are designed to take a small sailing rig; a lateen rig. I have it, and have used it. Itís fun to play with, but very lightweight. I consider it a toy, but it does work.

Iíve posted some pics and vids of my latest play days using the sail rig.



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Old 06-01-2019, 09:41   #12
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Re: Porta-bote haters: what's not to like?

Rode in one once..
I'd rather go 100mph in a Volkswagen bug
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Old 06-01-2019, 09:44   #13
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Re: Porta-bote haters: what's not to like?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jammer View Post
Several forum regulars have porta-botes and extoll their virtues. And what's not to like? Light, easy to store, can be rowed, sailed, or motored, long lasting, stable, gets up on plane with a small motor, etc etc etc. From the reports and reviews I can't figure out why anyone uses anything else.


So, what's the catch?


The only negative things I've been able to find are:
  1. Some people are concerned about the potential for damaging the stanchions on the mother ship, if the folded bote is lashed to them (as is customary) and green water comes over the deck.
  2. There was one isolated report of problems with build quality serious enough to detract from the ownership experience.
  3. Some people with limited upper body strength have trouble unfolding them.
What else? Bring it on...


While there has been a good discussion of the pros and cons of the boat, I would conjecture that it is just a simple case of aesthetics that keep many buyers from even considering it. It is just not a pretty boat to my eye. I know others have a different sense of beauty and the usefulness may overcome many peoples dislike for the form but to me I just canít get past the odd look even though many of the features I would love to have.

Jim
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Old 06-01-2019, 10:03   #14
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Re: Porta-bote haters: what's not to like?

I don’t have one, but have been helping a friend fix problems with his P bote. His transom cracked from the 5hp Tohatsu outboard and we had to reinforce it with aluminum plate. He complained about how hot the black plastic seats got in the Mexican sun, so he painted them white. The plastic doesn’t take paint well and mostly fell off so it looked like crap. It sank while they were at anchor when waves filled it. He was happy the bags of garbage he had on the P bote “dissappeared” during the sinking, the rest of us were appalled. From my own aesthetics (I like pretty boats (and young gals) the P Bote is as pleasing to the eye as boating in a plastic garbage can.
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Old 06-01-2019, 10:05   #15
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Re: Porta-bote haters: what's not to like?

i didnot like the insecurity of a wobbly floor for entry from a moored boat. they were great for play , but i will not use those.
i prefer the idiotic rigidity of a walker bay 10 for hauling goods and heavy items such as 5 gallon jugs of water or fuel.
the portabote's oilcanning was uncomfortable in longer distances, i prefer the rigidity of a walker bay. even my rollups with inflatable floors were better than a portabote, but each to his own standards.
many use portabotes with glee and happiness.
i have owned and used sevylor crap, rollups, portabotes,achilles inflatables, metzler inflatable--that sucked bad but was a great toy, and rigid inflatables by avon and caribe... and 2 sizes walker bay rigid. prefer the 10 ft family wagon for carrying loads and rowing. even the coleman 8 ft 250 usd plastic boat was better than a portabote..except for the convenience of folding the thing for transporting during passages, i disliked the portabote.
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