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Bob Banfelder

Bob is an award-winning crime-thriller novelist and outdoors writer. "The Fishing Smart Anywhere Handbook for Salt Water & Fresh Water" is endorsed by Lefty Kreh and Angelo Peluso~online at Amazon.

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September 02, 2016

PORTA-BOTES ~ Four Fantastic, Foldable, Affordable, Angling/Hunting Boat Models ~ Part II

by Bob Banfelder

Let's continue and thoroughly examine Porta-Botes's Alpha Series construction. What exactly is it made of, and how does it compare to aluminum, fiberglass, hypalon, or PVC materials? Porta-Bote's unique FLEXI-HULL™ is a flexible space-age material that "cooperates" with the water, not counteracts against it. The hull is, again, flexible, not flimsy. The entire craft is unbelievably strong. I'm a careful writer, so I don't use words carelessly. I'll repeat with emphasis: The entire craft is unbelievably strong.

Example: Picture loading one of their four production models with 600-plus pounds of concrete blocks, raising the craft 20 feet above a body of water then dropping the boat! This durability test, depicted in Porta-Bote's colorful brochure, was conducted by Japan's Coast Guard. As a result, Porta-Bote passed with flying colors and is also marketed in Japan. Keep in mind that the new Alpha Series has an integral, foldable one-piece (built-in) transom, unlike their older Genesis Series. In order for the transom to fold, it is hinged. The above test is testimony to the strength of Porta-Bote's patented polypropylene waterproof hinges, too. All four Porta-Bote models (8½ feet, 10 feet 8 inches, 12½ feet, and 14 feet) are constructed of high-impact polypropylene-copolymer. It is an amazingly hard, engineered resin originally developed for use in the aerospace field. This material withstands the abuse that would otherwise render aluminum, fiberglass, hypalon, and PVC inferior by comparison. Polypropylene-copolymer will stand up to jagged rocks, sand, salt, and even acid. Molded-in colors and finish (aside from cosmetic scratches or scrapes caused by severe abuse) remain unaffected. Three standard colors are available: Pearl White, Olive Drab, and Aluminum, which is actually a subdued gray color as pictured throughout with reference to our 10-foot 8-inch Porta-Bote model. Also, a special-order Orange color is available at an additional cost. Come waterfowl season, I'll simply cover the craft (and myself) with a Mossy Oak camouflage netting material.

Also pictured in the brochure, demonstrating Porta-Bote's stability, is one angler, seated, rod held high, fighting a huge fish in the River Seine (France), while the other man, standing, hauls up the massive hundred plus-pound fish high over the gunwale. The freeboard on all four models is, to say the least, generous: 22-inch depth mid-ship referencing the 8½-foot model; 24-inch depth mid-ship referencing the 10-foot 8-inch, 12, and 14-foot models. Flexi-Hull™ provides stability personified and has been endorsed by such magazines as Field & Stream, Hunting, Trailer Life, Small Boat Journal, Practical Sailor, and Alaska Outdoors. Additionally, Porta-Bote is CE certified (Conformité Européene; i.e., European Conformity) by the leading trade association for recreational boaters; specifically, the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA). These boats are virtually unsinkable as thick foam flotation runs along the entire interior of the vessel, right beneath the gunwale. Even the flexible hull material is buoyant. Porta-Bote guarantees the hull material for 10 years against defects.

Donna and I enjoy all forms of fishing: bait casting, spin casting, and especially fly casting. It's a pleasure to comfortably stand in a Porta-Bote and cast a fly without having to do a balancing act. Referencing other comparably-sized portable watercrafts for the purpose of angling, such as kayaks, canoes, and especially inflatables, Porta-Botes excel because you have lots more room, comfort, and stability. When likened to Porta-Botes, inflatable boats are, in my mind's eye, rendered obsolete.

In the final analysis, pricing, you'll find that in most cases the cost of a Porta-Bote is less than purchasing a quality inflatable boat of even the more costly hypalon material. What more could you ask for? In addition to the options already mentioned, you may choose from a sufficient listing. For example: Back-Saver Swivel Seat, Bimini Porta-Sunshade. For you seafaring salts, you can even sail your Porta-Bote by employing a sail kit (lateen-rigged) on the 10-foot 8-inch, 12½ foot, and 14-foot models. The kit includes all the necessary rigging, materials, and marine hardware: triangular sail, boom, gaff, mast, tiller, leeboards, lanyard, fore-stay halyard, main sheet, blocks, metric bolts, et cetera. The only tools you'll require is a center punch, electric drill [5/16-inch (8mm) drill bit], and a Phillips screwdriver.

Porta-Botes are easily transported any number of ways: simply placed into a station wagon or pickup truck, folded flat upon vehicle rooftops or roof racks then secured with a pair of nylon car-top straps (offered as an accessory option), carried vertically alongside a motorhome with a set of specially designed locking RV mounts (accessory option), conveniently conveyed by sailboat, powerboat, and sea planes, too.

Porta-Bote Accessories

As pictured above, Porta-Bote's necessary accessories take up very little space: three bench seats with hinged brackets, oars and oarlocks, and the necessary hardware. That's it! The other ancillary yet essential items, also shown, include life vests, security cable, and lines, which are seen atop the bow cap for display purpose. I slip the cap and its contents into a boat bag for compact carry. Without even removing our Subaru Outback's luggage cargo cover, note that there would be ample room for a small outboard engine, a mid-size cooler, tons of your fishing gear, clothing, ad infinitum. If you feel that I'm trying to sell you on a Subaru Outback as well as a Porta-Bote, you are correct. Best vehicle that Donna and I have ever owned; best small craft that we have ever owned, too. Period.

When you are ready to set up your Porta-Bote, simply unfold and hold open the boat's beam with the aid of a specially designed 56½ inch x 2½ inch notched wooden slat (included but not shown), insert the two 2 inch-thick x 9½ inch wide, solid, comfortable, heavy-duty plastic bench seats into their brackets; lastly, setting the 42-inch angled bow seat into place. Our 10-foot 8-inch model has six cup holders molded into the seats. Each seat comes with three stainless steel fold-down supports that fit into clips beneath the gunwales and gives the boat its shape. Locking pins ensure that the clips stay firmly in place. A thorough set of step-by-step printed instructions in addition to accompanying pictures make unfolding and folding a Porta-Bote painless. Initially, setup may take some time. However, after you unfold and fold your new boat several times, you should be able to do either procedure in a matter of a few minutes. Everything's easy once you know how. Also, a wearing-in of the hinges, precise seat/bracket placement, and the hull material itself, will all ease up a bit, facilitating the procedure. A good analogy might be to that of breaking in a new pair of shoes. Too, with another person assisting you, it becomes a breeze.

Showing Porta-Bote's Alpha Series foldable transom panels, creating a one-piece integral stern unit

Porta-Bote's Alpha Series transom panels locked securely in place, forming a solid, one-piece integral transom unit and motor mount

Once you take your Porta-Bote out for a ride, you will quickly realize that it is an entity unto itself. The boat neither bounces around like an inflatable, nor does she pound the surface like a rigid craft. What the boat does do, because of its flexible V-entry design, is to dig into that watery surface and go with the flow—quite literally. Flexibility is the operative word. Comfort and stability are the results. Why this boat material, design, extraordinary ride, coupled to its compactness, is not the be-all and end-all for portable boats ranging from 8½ feet to 14 feet is remarkable in itself. Porta-Bote, believe me, is in a class all its own. It is the perfect portable, foldable, affordable, angling/hunting boat.

Our 10-foot 8-inch Porta-Bote Model Set up for Fishing

Porta-Bote's 12½-foot model weighs in at 87 pounds (less the weight of three seats). The hull's beam is 5 feet (same as the 10-foot 8-inch model). The 12½-foot model would most definitely serve as a comfortable, all-around craft for a trio of anglers, not to mention waterfowl shooters come the season. The integrated foldable transom will accommodate up to a 56-pound gas engine as does the 10-foot 8-inch model.

Last in the quartet is Porta Bote's 14-foot model, weighing in at 108 pounds (less the weight of four seats). The hull's beam is 5 feet, the same as both the 10-foot 8-inch and 12½-foot models). The integrated foldable transom will accommodate up to an 89-pound gas engine. This vessel will easily accommodate four outdoorsmen, such as anglers, waterfowl shooters, scuba divers and their equipment, et cetera. For divers, an optional, removable boarding ladder may be attached to the bow for easy entry and egress.

Note: All four models fold to a 4-inch thickness and a 2-foot width. Too, all models can accommodate respective outboard gas engines utilizing a short-shaft length of 15 inches. All four models can accommodate an electric outboard with a shaft length of 30–42 inches.

Let's take a look at the new Alpha series pricing:

8½ ft. Porta-Bote ~ $2,499.
10-ft. 8-in. Porta-Bote ~ $2,699.
12½ ft. Porta-Bote ~ $2,849.
14 ft. Porta-Bote ~ $3,199.

So, what are you waiting for? Check out Porta-Botes online at You'll thank me later.

Bob Banfelder

Award-Winning Crime-Thriller Novelist & Outdoors Writer
Member: Outdoors Writers Association of America
New York State Outdoor Writers Association
Long Island Outdoor Communicators Network
Cablevision TV Host Special Interests with Robert Banfelder & Donna Derasmo
Bi-monthly contributor to Nor'east Saltwater

Now available on Amazon in paperback and e-book formats

Now available on Amazon in paperback and e-book formats

September 01, 2016

PORTA-BOTES ~ Four Fantastic, Foldable, Affordable, Angling/Hunting Boat Models ~ Part I

by Bob Banfelder

Imagine four portable boat models that fold to a four-inch thickness, are the shape and width of a surfboard, come in easily transportable lengths of 8½ feet, 10 feet 8 inches, 12½ feet, 14 feet, and are comparatively lighter yet more durable than other boat manufacturing materials. The second generation Alpha Series Porta-Bote design boasts a one-piece integral transom. Forget about inflatables. This assemblage of foldable Porta-Botes is the epitome of portability.

Packaged and Shippped Securely

Somehow, someway, the Porta-Bote International line of portable, foldable boats had eluded me as it has a good many angling/hunting folks. In my research, I had asked myself why this is so. How could a mode of truly fantastic, foldable, portable, affordable watercraft have escaped me? Over 100,000 Porta-Bote owners throughout the world are more than satisfied with their readily transportable craft and its unique features. Why not a million-plus people? Many folks are not even privy to these remarkable boats. Perhaps the answer lies in that Porta-Bote's older Genesis Series models (dating back twenty of now forty years of operation) had a separate transom, which required more setup time, plus the fact that there were minimal leaks along the seam where it joined the hull when attached. Not the case with the Alpha Series one-piece foldable transom. This more modern innovation incorporates an intricate multi-step welding system that joins four foldable panels by way of a sealant sandwiched between them via an injection process, incorporating a series of stainless steel wire staples that secure the seams and form the transom—guarding against leaks. Ingenious! This technique is also utilized in the aerospace industry.

Still, we're talking two decades where I somehow missed the boat so to speak; that is, the foldable, affordable Porta-Bote evolution. In its hull construction, Porta-Bote employs the space-age material polypropylene-copolymer, which is nearly twice the thickness (i.e., ¼ inch) of the aluminum used in building both riveted and welded recreational crafts. Unlike aluminum, polypropylene-copolymer is virtually puncture proof. In my opinion, referencing portable boats, this aerospace material makes all other materials obsolete. We'll see precisely why as we move forward with one of the most exciting watercrafts that I've reviewed to date.

Had I known about Porta-Botes earlier in time, I would have purchased one of four models from which to choose in lieu of most any kayak on the market. Granted, different types of vessels serve different purposes. A kayak can, indeed, get you into some very skinny water. So, too, can Porta-Botes with their 4-inch draft—and with considerably more comfort, room, and, most importantly, superb stability. Had I known about Porta-Botes back then, I would have purchased one in lieu of any inflatable boat. A small to medium-sized inflatable will serve as a suitable tender (dingy) as well as a fair-to-middling fishing craft. However, in reality, an inflatable boat, regardless of the size you select, you'll find that the interior space (beam, length, and bow area) has considerably less room than first imagined because of the vessel's air chamber diameters. As a comparative example to my 10-foot 8-inch Porta Bote, an Achilles inflatable model LSI-330E also has an overall length of 10 feet 8 inches; yet the inflatable has an actual inside length of only 5 feet 8 inches. Its overall beam is 7 feet 5 inches, which interiorly narrows down to 2 feet 7 inches because of a pair of 18-inch air tubes taking up most of the space. Ostensibly, you may be thinking that you're getting a 10-foot, 8-inch length inflatable boat with a beam of about 7½ feet when in actuality you're getting far less interior space than what you first imagined. You'll note the difference the moment you sit inside. Narrowing things down factually and arithmetically, you are losing approximately a whopping 67% of otherwise usable interior space!

Keep in mind the fact that most inflatable boat owners generally leave their crafts inflated for seasonal use, deflating then inflating them biannually for winter storage and spring commissioning, respectively—negating the purpose of normal portability. Why? The answer is because it is a commonplace pain in the butt to manually pedal-pump up those air chambers: three air tubes on soft bottom inflatables (two side tubes serving as bulkheads (walls)–one keel tube serving for the floor (deck). As a tender aboard a larger vessel, an inflatable is just easier to leave inflated, contending with either cumbersome maneuvering or expensive davit systems.

Porta-Botes offer considerably more comfort, room, and outstanding stability than inflatables, with emphasis on the ‘stand-alone' root word, standing, for you can comfortably stand, dance the jig, and maneuver about without fear of tipping over when casting or fighting a denizen of the deep. A promotional video on one of their web sites shows this antic. Trick photography you may be thinking? For those of you who know me well via my article writing—through the years—know that I tell it like it is. If a product has certain flaws, many a magazine would edit out such negatives, or wouldn't run the article at all. Nor'east Saltwater allows me to present both sides of a controversial argument. I have owned and/or paddled sit-in and sit-on-top type kayaks as well as touring and fishing canoes. I have propelled many a rowboat on rivers, lakes, bays, and the ocean. Porta-Bote's foldable hulls are stability personified whether purchased in 8½ foot, 10-foot 8-inch, 12½ foot, or 14 foot lengths.

Let's start with Porta-Bote's smallest 8½-foot model, weighing in at 68 pounds (less the weight of two seats). The hull's beam is 4 feet 8 inches. It most definitely serves as a great tender as well as a doable craft for two anglers. The integrated foldable transom will accommodate up to a 35-pound gas engine. The craft is easily carried short distances by one person from vehicle to nearby access point. Too, setup is a breeze.

Since Donna and I were looking for more comfortable angling conditions, I opted for the 10-foot 8-inch model, weighing in at 78 pounds (less the weight of three seats). The extra 10 pounds over that of the 8½-foot model is certainly a consideration as far as portability is concerned if handled by one person. Although Donna and I are up there in age, we have no problem lifting and positioning the folded boat atop our Subaru Outback—and that's without the aid of any mechanical device. It lays folded flat to a 4-inch thickness, 2-foot width. The integrated foldable transom will accommodate up to a 56-pound gas engine. I have a 3.5hp Tohatsu 2-stroke outboard engine weighing 28.7 pounds. Also, I have a 5hp Yamaha 2-stroke outboard engine weighing 46.2 pounds. As both engines have integral gas tanks, you need to factor in the weight of the volume of gas for each engine. For my 10-foot 8-inch Porta-Bote model, each engine's internal gas tank filled to capacity falls under the maximum engine/gas allowable weight specification.

After unlocking then locking the integrated rail cross bars across the roof of our 2015 Subaru Outback, we have a sturdy platform for which to safely transport our 10-foot 8-inch Porta-Bote. Love this vehicle, love our Porta-Bote.

For example, my Yamaha 5hp 46.2 pound engine has an integral gas tank of 2.96 quarts. Gas weighs just over 6 pounds per gallon. Therefore a quart of gas is 1.5 pounds—multiplied by approximately 3 quarts is rounded off to 4.5 pounds. Hence, I have to add approximately 4.5 pounds to the weight of the engine, bringing the now total weight of engine and gas to 50.7 pounds, which is still 5.3 pounds under the allowable total weight to hang from the transom. Good to go. Keep in mind that the newer 4-stroke engines are heavier than the older 2-stroke engines, so do the necessary math before deciding which model Porta-Bote and gas engine is right for you, both in terms of the maximum outboard weight allowable and portability. I use the lighter 3.5hp engine when traveling some distances from body of water to body of water. I use the 5hp engine when leaving the boat set up locally, no differently than most folks leave their inflatable or rowboat set up with the engine secured to the transom.

One day when I upgrade from my older 2-stroke engines, I'll research dependable 4-strokes. A suggestion would be to consider Suzuki's model DF6S 6hp outboard engine with a 1.5 liter (1.585 quarts) integral gas tank. You'll be good to go for the 10-foot 8-inch, 12½ foot, and 14 foot Porta-Bote models; the latter of which will accommodate a Suzuki 4-stroke 9.9hp engine. I mention this because Porta-Bote offers special pricing on Suzuki models 2.5hp–30hp. Of course, for covering small bodies of water, Porta-Bote's oars and oarlocks (included) will suffice. These 2-piece oars are made from lightweight yet durable plastic blades and aluminum handles. They store conveniently crosswise and out-of-the-way beneath a seat. Whether under oar or outboard power, our craft rides high and tracks extremely well due to its patented semi tri-hull configuration.

Our 10-foot 8-inch Model Porta-Bote

To facilitate matters when traversing demanding distances from vehicle to access area, the Porta-Dolly's™ 13¾-inch wheels are an indispensable, optional item. They are cleverly designed and install in seconds. You can even wheel the boat right into the water then quickly and easily remove the pair. I'm very impressed with this setup. Save yourself a step and order the dolly wheels when you order your Port-Bote. You'll thank me later. The dolly wheels and adjustable frames fit all four models. Also, note that I bungee-cord a pair of Type II life vests beneath the mid-section bench seat for out-of-the-way stowage. Good to go.

Porta-Bote & Porta-Dolly

Tomorrow, September 2nd, we will continue with Porta-Bote's Alpha Series and its superb construction, including the 12½ foot and 14-foot models.

Bob Banfelder

Award-Winning Crime-Thriller Novelist & Outdoors Writer
Member: Outdoors Writers Association of America
New York State Outdoor Writers Association
Long Island Outdoor Communicators Network
Cablevision TV Host Special Interests with Robert Banfelder & Donna Derasmo
Bi-monthly contributor to Nor'east Saltwater

Now available on Amazon in paperback and e-book formats

Now available on Amazon in paperback and e-book formats

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