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Old 13-11-2012, 20:38   #1
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Porta-bote or Inflatible?

Anyone have experience with Porta-botes? How do they compare to using an inflatible to keep stored on your boat so you don't have to tow a dinghy?

How do the two compare in regards to set up time?
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Old 13-11-2012, 20:48   #2
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Re: Porta-bote or Inflatible?

Got two Porta Botes, no inflatable. Can be cumbersome to set up until you do it a few times. Row OK. I replaced my oar lock fixtures on the 12' boat this summer and it made a difference. We have a motor but I like to row. I have rowed a few miles in a day.

Need to tow them very short, bow up. Else they will fill and torpedo.

I don't mind the flexible floors, some find them troublesome.

Lash it to the life lines. No problem in 7,000 miles.

I bought a second for the second boat so I guess my money is where my mouth is.
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Old 13-11-2012, 21:04   #3
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Re: Porta-bote or Inflatible?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Muscongus View Post
Anyone have experience with Porta-botes? How do they compare to using an inflatible to keep stored on your boat so you don't have to tow a dinghy?

How do the two compare in regards to set up time?
I have had my 8 foot porta bote for 11 years and is still going strong. It replaced the hard sided dingy I lost towing in a gale. I really like the PB. Easier to row than an inflatable and I can store it on deck unfolded if I want. Mine takes a beating. Recently it got flipped over at the dock during Sandy. The outboard went to the bottom and the Porta Bote took a pounding overnight but, just had to right the Porta bote and I was back in business the next day. I've never owned an inflatable but, always found the smaller ones to be kind of a wet ride when I was in one. Porta bote is pretty dry in comparison and has a lot more space for "stuff". At 50 lbs I can lift it on board or up the beach pretty easy. As I said I usually store mine on board set up. But, have also carried it folded along the lifelines with no problem. You will need to store the seats and transom somewhere. I lashed them to the deck or found space in space in the cabin. I'd never wished I had an inflatable since I've owned it.
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Old 13-11-2012, 22:19   #4
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Re: Porta-bote or Inflatible?

cruising friend of mine bought a porta bote a dozen years ago. gave me his old inflatable. he's been using it ever since. i had a chance to row it once and found it rowed remarkably well. he uses a 3hp yamaha on it and has no plans on changing dinghys....
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Old 14-11-2012, 01:12   #5
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Re: Porta-bote or Inflatible?

I have had a 10' PB for two years. I keep it tied to the life lines and store the seats and transom in a cockpit locker. I have also cruised 7000 miles this year with no incident. I put it together on the foredeck and hoist it (outboard on) with a halyard. I added some padeyes to the hull for hoisting it. I am not usually in a hurry and estimate that I usually have her in the water in 10-15 mins most of the time.

Compared to an inflatable:
- it is far easier to row,
- it has more room and "real" seats that my wife loves.
- planes easily with a smaller engine when not fully loaded
- usually a dryer ride
- don't tow it
- if it fills with water during a heavy storm it will not keep the outboard above the water.
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Old 14-11-2012, 06:51   #6
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Re: Porta-bote or Inflatible?

My experiences echoes other responses here. I've used the 10' version for the past five years now (seasonal cruising). It's been great. Tough, light, rows well, and stows easily on our deck. We can put it together, or tear it down, on the foredeck in about 10 minutes. It takes a small outboard (we currently use an electric trolling motor), but b/c it rows so well, I rarely need the motor. I also bought the sail rig option, which turns the bote into a lateen-rigged dingy. It's purely for fun, but fun it is .

Those who dislike porta-botes argue that they feel tippy, are too hard to assemble, don't tow well, and won't take a big enough engine:
  • They are tippier than inflatables, but once you understand how they move, they are really very stable.
  • Assembly is a skill you have to develop, but it's really not that hard. It's certainly no more difficult than hoisting a heavy inflatable over the side.
  • There are plusses and minuses to towing. The plus is that the botes are so light, they have zero effect on the mothership (as opposed to towing a heavy inflatable). But b/c they move so well, they can overtake the mothership if they get surfing down a wave. And they can flip in the wind. If that happens, they become a scary drogue. Tow them with the bow slightly hoisted, right up to the transom of the mothership.
  • Engine sizes (weights) are more limited. My 10-footer is limited to 56#, which translates to about a 3.5hp 4-stroke outboard. This limits your dingy speed, but b/c the botes are so light and travel so well, they still move very well with smaller outboards.
Porta-botes aren't for everyone, but for me, they're the perfect dink.
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Old 14-11-2012, 07:17   #7
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Re: Porta-bote or Inflatible?

When the tubes on my Zodiac RIB started to peel away I had a choice of "retubing" in Hypalon or getting a used 10 foot Portabote.

I got the Portabote and am pleased with it. I run it with a Honda 2 HP that I can hold in one arm. It's compact enough to simply stow below over the winter.

I kept the f/g RIB hull and will at some point retube it, but I'm taking the Portabote and a nesting dinghy for two tenders when we go on passage. Much more flexible...for us. Others love their Zodiacs, but they MUST go on deck in a seaway (I've had a davit snap in what I would consider a modest swell) and they usually need an engine that requires mechanical advantage to get onto the transom.

If I were just doing the Caribbean, I might have a different point of view, but this isn't the plan.
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Old 14-11-2012, 07:37   #8
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Re: Porta-bote or Inflatible?

I have an 8'. Never had an inflatable. Started out keeping the boat stored folded. It is a little bit of a hassle unfolding it so I now store it unfolded and upside down off my davit. I use a 2.5 hp engine that gets me there. The oar locks that come with it are flimsy and will break is you row too hard. I have had 4 people (none were obese) in the boat without a problem. No inflatable for me.
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Old 14-11-2012, 08:12   #9
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Re: Porta-bote or Inflatible?

Cool concept . I wanted to buy one and almost did,but reputation for towing (and flooding)
argued against. On the plus side they do row reasonably well,are rugged and so ugly that they are not likely to be stolen. On a larger boat I have seen them stored flat on cabin tops and believe this is superior to the lifelines forward, since any serious boarding sea could easily tear out a number of the stanchions. I also look askance at adding so much windage forward even when the seas are down. I have always believed that the design could be massaged and an improved version marketed (at increased cost) that would address some objections voiced above and including improved materials for seat and transom.

FWIW: there is a small Canadian manufacturer that makes an interesting aluminum folding boat that can be viewed on U Tube,but don't know if the aluminum used is salt water compatible.
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Old 14-11-2012, 08:23   #10
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Re: Porta-bote or Inflatible?

It really depends on what use you'll put the dinghy to. If your dink is to be your car or truck get an inflatable. If you intend going hunting or exploring far and wide, get an inflatable. If your dink trips are short, in sheltered areas and you prefer to row, a portabote will be fine.

Find the porta-bote.

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Old 14-11-2012, 08:31   #11
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Re: Porta-bote or Inflatible?

A friend of mine bought a porta-bote at the beginning of his retirement cruise. Fell into the boat one day while trying to unfold it, and got trapped inside. The boat was up on Craig's List the next day.
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Old 14-11-2012, 09:06   #12
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Re: Porta-bote or Inflatible?

Does anyone have trouble spotting which deflatable is theirs, amongst the huddle at the dock?
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Old 14-11-2012, 10:07   #13
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Re: Porta-bote or Inflatible?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike OReilly View Post
My experiences echoes other responses here. I've used the 10' version for the past five years now (seasonal cruising). It's been great. Tough, light, rows well, and stows easily on our deck. We can put it together, or tear it down, on the foredeck in about 10 minutes. It takes a small outboard (we currently use an electric trolling motor), but b/c it rows so well, I rarely need the motor. I also bought the sail rig option, which turns the bote into a lateen-rigged dingy. It's purely for fun, but fun it is .

Those who dislike porta-botes argue that they feel tippy, are too hard to assemble, don't tow well, and won't take a big enough engine:
  • They are tippier than inflatables, but once you understand how they move, they are really very stable.
  • Assembly is a skill you have to develop, but it's really not that hard. It's certainly no more difficult than hoisting a heavy inflatable over the side.
  • There are plusses and minuses to towing. The plus is that the botes are so light, they have zero effect on the mothership (as opposed to towing a heavy inflatable). But b/c they move so well, they can overtake the mothership if they get surfing down a wave. And they can flip in the wind. If that happens, they become a scary drogue. Tow them with the bow slightly hoisted, right up to the transom of the mothership.
  • Engine sizes (weights) are more limited. My 10-footer is limited to 56#, which translates to about a 3.5hp 4-stroke outboard. This limits your dingy speed, but b/c the botes are so light and travel so well, they still move very well with smaller outboards.
Porta-botes aren't for everyone, but for me, they're the perfect dink.
Mike:

I wish they made a sail kit for the 8 foot model. Trying to rig one up is on my list of things though way down on the list.
As far as towing I drilled two holes in the transom where I can install eye bolts when I want. I was wondering about towing it backward by the transom like the Dingy Tow rig which is used by some with inflatables. But, without needing all the transom hardware the Dingy Tow uses. Have not got around to trying it yet since it's easy and light enough to bring on board.
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Old 14-11-2012, 10:19   #14
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Re: Porta-bote or Inflatible?

Quote:
Originally Posted by mrohr View Post
Cool concept . I wanted to buy one and almost did,but reputation for towing (and flooding) argued against.
I only tow ours when doing small hops, and only when I am very confident of the forecast. This means we rarely tow. But since it's so easy to pull on board and stow away securely, it's not really much of an issue.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mrohr View Post
On a larger boat I have seen them stored flat on cabin tops and believe this is superior to the lifelines forward, since any serious boarding sea could easily tear out a number of the stanchions.
I agree with this. I would not recommend securing the boat to stanchions/lifelines. It would be too precarious in even modest seas. We are able to store the folded boat snugged up against our cabin, secured via the handrail. This way there is no added windage, and minimal chance of a boarding sea causing a problem. Our side-decks are wide enough, so this arrangement does not limit access.

The one downside to carrying the boat this way is that it blankets a few of our ports, reducing light below. Like everything on a boat, it's a tradeoff.
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Old 14-11-2012, 10:27   #15
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Re: Porta-bote or Inflatible?

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Originally Posted by mbianka View Post
As far as towing I drilled two holes in the transom where I can install eye bolts when I want. I was wondering about towing it backward by the transom like the Dingy Tow rig which is used by some with inflatables. But, without needing all the transom hardware the Dingy Tow uses. Have not got around to trying it yet since it's easy and light enough to bring on board.
It sounds like an interesting idea Mike. Perhaps I'll give that a try, although b/c we carry a windvane, I don't like towing in general.
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