A few weeks ago, at one of the local boat shows, I talked to the Porta-Bote representative.

Up until that time I had fully intended on building another dinghy. Probably something nestable; although I have downloaded a few folding dinghy plans that look interesting. Unfortunately, anything involving boats, and in particular boat-building, even of very simple design, takes time. Sometimes a lot of time. Time is something that is in decidedly short supply, so I decided to buy. I like rowing, and inflatables row like crap, so they were out. I was thinking of something along the lines of a Walker Bay dinghy, but my boat is pretty small, and stowing it on the fordeck would be troublesome. So I kind of figured the Porta-Bote would be a good compromise.

The boat I ordered and payed for was the eight foot model. The boat that arrived was the ten foot model. It’s kinda large, and a lot heavier than I’m used to. It is way, way bigger than the old Apple Pie dinghy I built. Frankly, it is an ugly thing. It took me an hour to assemble in my back yard for the first time. I have my concerns about being able to assemble it on the deck of Seeker; but I have high hopes it will all work out. Honestly, about the only time I have to store it on deck is if I’m doing some real offshore work; which, at least for the next couple years, is not likely to be a large part of my life. I think I will be able to assemble it, in any case, if a set it up athwartship, although I may have to drop the lifelines to do it. It will be interesting to find out.

Here’s day one:

Porta-Bote Packaging

The package, as it arrived. The hull itself is wrapped in a heavy plastic. The seats, oars, and miscellaneous arrived in a big box. The photo loses the sense of scale.

Porta-Bote first opening

The first unfolding required more effort than I expected. They do include a notched board which helps to force the boat open.

Portabote opened

After it is opened up a little, I was able to climb inside and force it all the way open. The included “tool” helps keep it spread.

Porta-Bote fully assembled.

Then it’s just a matter of locking the transom in place (the new version…I understand this is a recent upgrade) and installing all the seats. There is definitely a front and back to each of the seats. They aren’t marked so it is necessary to pay attention to their shape.

The oars look OK. I’m not a fan of the oar locks, though, and may change them out.