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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, 2017

BOWFISHING ON A BUDGET: Part IV of IV ~ Boats & Beauty Surrounding Bowfishing

by Bob Banfelder

Continuing from yesterday, we'll take a quick peek at a couple of boats from which you can enjoy the sport of bowfishing without breaking the bank. Keeping it simple is the key. In September of last year, I had written a two-part article for Nor'east Saltwater covering Porta-Botes. If you are in the market for a truly portable boat, look for September 1st and 2nd, 2016 along the left column and click for the two articles.

Porta-Botes ~ Four Fantastic, Foldable, Affordable Angling/Hunting Boat Models ~ Part I for September 1, 2016.

Porta-Botes ~ Four Fantastic, Foldable, Affordable Angling/Hunting Boat Models ~ Part II for September 2, 2016.

Author's10 ft. foldable, affordable Porta-Bote ~ Muzzy Addict Recurve bowfishing setup.

Friend and mentor's 10 ft. aluminum Tracker jon boat.

Early a.m. on the Peconic River, Riverhead, Long Island, New York.

Most importantly, your first order of business before drawing back the bow is to make sure that the arrow's shock pad (bumper) is in the upright position, safety slide forward along the arrow shaft, and that the reel is in free-spool mode. You don't want the arrow flying off erratically. Going bowfishing your first time out with someone who is experienced is certainly sage advice.

Author aiming to take a carp.

Left to Right: author with friend and mentor, David Lee Fulton. Both men flaunt the same Muzzy setups: bows, reels, arrows, et cetera.

Dave Fulton broke me into bowhunting for deer twenty-six years ago and more recently led me into bowfishing. He is a consummate archer/hunter, having harvested deer out to 60 yards with a compound bow. Dave practices archery several times a week, point being that practice does, indeed, make perfect—or darn near it. Dave guided me (quite literally) along the shallow waters for bowfishing in the lower and upper reaches of the Peconic River in Riverhead, Long Island, New York. With either a compound bow for deer hunting, or a bowfishing outfit for carp, David is at home. He has taken sizable carp from the river, which the man knows like the back of his hand.
Referencing bowfishing, he modestly relates his successes and failures, for bowfishing presents many challenges. Refraction (the bending of light as it passes from one medium into another) is but one of those challenges.
"Shoot four inches low for every foot of water," was David's mantra as I missed with my first, second, and third shot at a six pounder.

"Not uncommon to see ten pounders around here, Bob," Dave said encouragingly. "Right around the bend by that dock over there, I think you'll see a couple of big guys; maybe twelve pounders. Remember, shoot four inches low for every foot of water. We'll be in about a foot or so. If you can't hit one of those big boys, there's that side of a barn over there by the horse. Maybe you can practice hitting the barn wall," he bantered.

I reminded David that he was my gillie for the day and to just keep rowing. He asked me if I had my sea legs, meaning that a sudden clumsy stroke from either oar could easily propel me from a standing position into a warm bath of water and vegetation. If not for bow and arrow in hand and at the ready, I might have welcomed David's not-so-subtle warning, for it was already a hot early July morning, and the sun was only beginning its ascent.

One of several impressive properties along a stretch (between lower and upper region) of the scenic Peconic River.

For those long hot summer days working a body of water, an electric motor is a blessing, offering stealth in lieu of signaling and, consequently, spooking fish.

Minn Kota electric trolling motor.

Foreground: Typical summer vegetation encountered bowfishing along the banks of the Peconic River.

For a bow unequipped with a quiver, a few 6-inch strips of ¾-inch wide Velcro from a roll that wraps onto itself is perfect for attaching arrows to bow while transporting. I also secure Selway's Limbsaver Recurve Bowstringer to the bow as if stringing it, placing the bow's bottom limb tip into the stringer's pocket (cup), running its loop and rubber block toward the top limb, wrapping the line around the upper limb near the tip, then inserting a cable tie through the hole in the rubber block to secure it to the limb. This way, everything is intact and ready to go: bow, arrows, ‘switch-out' extension connections, and bow stringer.

Velcro strips to secure arrows and bow stringer to bow while transporting.

Lower stretch along the beautiful Peconic River.

Ample Parking off of West Main Street in Riverhead ~ dirt road opposite Snowflake (ice cream shop).

Hope to see you soon on this gem of a river for some fine bowfishing. The season will close at the end of this month.

Bob Banfelder

Crime-Thriller Novelist & Outdoors Writer

Member: Outdoor 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

Recent recipient of Who's Who in America Lifetime Achievement Award (August 9, 2017)

Bi-monthly contributor to Nor'east Saltwater ~ presented on the 1st & 2nd of every month.

Several of My Crime-Thriller Novels Incorporate The Great Outdoors

Top Row ~ Left to Right:

The Richard Geist Trilogy
Dicky, Richard, and I
The Signing
The Triumvirate

The Justin Barnes Four-Book Series
The Author
The Teacher
The Good Samaritans

Middle Row:
Trace Evidence – inspired by the Robert Shulman serial killer trial in Riverhead, N.Y.

Battered – based on the true story of an abused woman who murdered her husband; also, her subsequent trial and experiences in prison

Bottom Row: Nonfiction
The Fishing Smart Anywhere Handbook for Salt Water & Fresh Water

The North American Small & Big Game Hunting Smart Handbook: Bonus Feature: Hunting Africa's & Australia's Most Dangerous Game

The Must-Have Guide for Writers

All books now available on Amazon

March 02, 2017

Step-By-Step Spring Commissioning for Outboard Engines & Boats

by Bob Banfelder

Springing into Action ~ Part 2

We're continuing with our spring commissioning procedures from where we left off yesterday.

PHASE THREE: bottom painting

Important Note: One has to first decide on what type of antifouling paint to use: [ablative, hard, or hybrid]. I'll be addressing ablative antifouling paints.


Items: protective clothing and covering for head, face, hands, and eyes [tight-fitting respirator & spare filters] ~ Interlux Micron CSC ablative antifouling paint, or Pettit Ultima SR 40 ablative paint ~ paint stirrer ~ roller paint tray ~ solvent resistant paint liner(s) ~ solvent-resistant 3/8-inch smooth to semi-smooth knap paint roller(s) ~ paint-roller poles (both long and short handles) ~ painter's 2-inch wide masking tape ~ slot-head screwdriver ~ nail ~ hammer ~ trash container

The most important item you should consider when bottom painting your boat— even outdoors—is a tight-fitting quality respirator and spare filters. A paper mask just doesn't cut it. If you are bottom painting out-of-doors, pick a day with no rain or heavy wind in the forecast. It would be very frustrating to have to stop in the middle of this project because of the elements.

A respirator for priming and bottom painting is a must because your health should be your number-one concern

Step 1: Tape the boat's entire waterline with painter's 2-inch wide masking tape.

Step 2: With a slot-head screwdriver, open the can's lid and remove. Place the tip of the nail into the lid's track and, with the hammer, make several evenly spaced holes for paint to drain when pouring.

Step 3: With a chip brush, first paint around any exterior fittings.

Step 4: Stir the paint well and pour just enough to fill the well of the solvent-resistant liner set within a metal paint tray. Use a chip brush to wipe clean the lid's track. Carefully roll and pick up just enough paint to load and encircle, not completely saturate the roller. Roll along liner to spread and release excess paint.
Step 5: Work from the bottom of hull upward to the taped waterline, covering the area(s) with a single coat if and where needed. You'll recall from yesterday's Part 1: If no gray primer is showing through the ablative top coat, simply forego bottom painting until the following boating season before rolling on a single light coat of ablative bottom paint to the entire hull—with a roller—right up to the waterline. Again, why add unnecessary weight (paint) to the hull? I have been alternating this step every boating season since 2010/11.

Above and below: Clearly, two excellent ablative topcoat choices

PHASE FOUR: protection for metal hardware at or below the waterline


Items: protective clothing and covering for head, face, hands, and eyes [goggles] ~ painter's 1-inch wide masking tape ~ 2-part Pettit Protect Epoxy Primer (4700 and 4701 Gray) ~ Pettit Prop Coat Barnacle Barrier 1792 aerosol spray ~ 220 grit sandpaper ~ short handle brass scratch brush ~ various size chip brushes (1in.– 4in.) ~ paint-stick stirrers ~ come-a-long ~ large bucket ~ three empty 5 oz. tuna cans ~ craft sticks ~ wide slot-head screwdriver ~ newspaper ~ rubber hammer ~ paint thinner for cleanup only ~ rags ~ trash container

Step 1:
Address all metal hardware at or just below the waterline that requires your attention; for example: swim platform bracket (stainless steel), outboard bracket below waterline (aluminum). Tape around hardware. With a chip brush, apply two coats of 2-part Pettit Protect Epoxy Primer (4700 and 4701 Gray), followed by two coats of Interlux Micron CSC ablative antifouling paint, or Pettit Ultima SR 40 ablative antifouling paint.

Allow time between coats to thoroughly dry; follow label instructions.

I had removed and stored the pair of stainless steel aerator screen strainers from the transom during the winterizing procedure. Using a brass scratch brush, clean the screens and spray both sides with two coats of Pettit Prop Coat Barnacle Barrier 1792 for superior protection.

A fine choice for underwater metals

PHASE FIVE: painting transducer/transducer wire, checking and reinstalling batteries, replacing zincs, reinstalling prop.


Items: disposable nitrile gloves ~ MDR Transducer Antifouling Paint (with built-in-brush-cap) ~ thin sheet of cardboard

Step 1. Brush on transducer paint.

Step 2. Slip a thin sheet of cardboard between the transducer wire and hull at transom. Paint the transducer wire, too.

MDR Transducer Paint

Note: Never-ever paint your transducer with bottom paint because it will render it ineffective. Use only specially formulated antifouling transducer paint, which will help prevent barnacle buildup and allow for a strong signal to be sent to your electronic unit.


Items: multimeter as battery tester (voltmeter) ~ 12-volt battery charger (6/2 amps) slot-head screwdriver ~ distilled or demineralized H2O ~ bulb-type battery filler ~ disposable nitrile gloves ~ three craft sticks ~ ruler ~ paper towels ~ trash container ~ 17mm socket wrench ~ 14mm socket wrench ~ kneeling pad ~ mechanic's pad on which to place tools (protects gelcoat's surface)

Step 1: With a multimeter set to DCV voltage 20, check the condition of your 12-volt batteries.

Step 2: Using each end of three craft sticks, fill battery cells [if needed] to a level measuring approximately 1-inch above cell's plates. Wipe sticks clean and discard.

Step 3: If the batteries need charging, set on a slow 2-amp charge until fully charged.

Note: Toward the end of last season, I saw that I needed new marine batteries. Blue Jacket deep-cycle lead acid-batteries are produced by East Penn Manufacturing Company, Incorporated (the world's largest single-site, lead-acid battery facility) – Deka [registered Trade Mark]. Blue Jacket marine batteries are distributed in Aquebogue, N.Y. by Lighthouse Marine, Inc.; a fine marine supply house, and a fine battery choice.

New batteries and paraphernalia

Step 4: Reinstall batteries, cables, and accessory wires in the inverse order that you had removed then during the winterizing procedure. We had covered those steps in detail at that time. Consult your notes so as not to put the wrong accessory wire(s) on the battery terminal post(s).


Items: stiff wire brush ~ 10mm socket wrench ~ new zinc(s) if needed.

Step 1: Remove the sacrificial zinc shown just below the outboard bracket.

Step 2: Brush the zinc bar with a stiff wire brush, loosening the surface buildup of particles that are deteriorating the anode. The rule of thumb is to discard the zinc if it has lost approximately a third of its properties, replacing it with a new anode. You can generally get two seasons out of that one particular zinc.
With the engine raised after returning home, the zinc found on the bottom of the anti-cavitation plate need not be changed often—if at all. If zincs are subject to electrolysis, they will be compromised quickly. An annual, visual inspection will determine when they need replacement.

Note: Do not paint zinc(s) or area behind zinc(s) or you will render them ineffective.


Items: marine grease ~ chip brush ~ rubber hammer, block of wood ~ 7/8-inch socket wrench with 4-inch extension, paper towels or old rags ~ kneeling pad to protect knees ~ new cotter pin—if needed

Step 1: With a chip brush, apply marine grease to spline.

Step 2: Replace prop on the spline in the reverse order (of course) than it was removed during the winterizing procedure. See your winterizing notes or refer to your owner's manual.

Step 3: Insert cotter pin.

Step 4: Screw on and tighten propeller nut with socket wrench and extension.

Note: I do not prime or paint prop blades

PHASE SIX: sprucing up boat's exterior and interior.


Items: bucket ~ Mother's soap or Meguiar's Car Wash (preserves wax protection) ~ Mr. Clean Magic Eraser ~ Simoniz Royale Marine Fiberglass Boat Cleaner Wax ~ NuFinish Car/Boat Polish (you can apply this product in the sun) ~ NEVER-DULL Wadding Polish ~ MaryKate Big Bully Bilge Cleaner ~ polishing cloths ~ large soft towel ~ rags ~ 303 Aerospace Protectant ~ boat motor ear muffs (flusher) ~ 303 Aerospace Protectant ~ engine boat key

Step 1: After soaping and washing the hull with warm water, I use a Magic Eraser to remove any stubborn marks. Rinse well and dry.

Step 2: Next, I apply a coat of Simoniz Royale Marine Fiberglass Boat Cleaner Wax for superior hull protection. This wax is expressly formulated for fiberglass. Apply in one foot square clockwise sections—wax on; then buff counterclockwise—wax off. I'm sure most of us remember the Karate Kid. Yes? Next, apply a coat of NuFinish Polish.

Step 3: Wash and wax the boat's interior using the same wax/polish procedure as for the hull, after which you can chip away at polishing stainless steel bow rails and bases, bow pulpit plate, anchor and mooring cleats, latches, hinges, hasps, et cetera, with NEVER-DULL Wadding Polish. You can wait until the boat is in the water, which may prove easier, especially if you're at a floating dock.

Step 4: For the ultimate in cushioned vinyl seat protection, I use 303 Aerospace Protectant.

Note: If you had covered the cooling H2O inlet covers (vents) on each side of the lower unit duct tape (reason explained in Part 2 of the winterizing procedure) be sure to remove those two strips.

Step 5: Follow the label instructions on MaryKate Big Bully Bilge Cleaner.


Item(s): water source, hose, boat motor ear muffs (flusher) ~ drain plug ~ engine key

Step 1. First, set up items for flushing engine on land as you do not want any surprises when launching boat. Turn on water supply. Start ‘er up and warm ‘er up.

Step 2: Before launching boat, make darn sure that the transom drain plug is secure.

Everything shipshape?

Good to go.

Step 3:
Launch boat.

Spring is but three weeks away. Have a great fishing/boating season, guys and gals.

Bob Banfelder

Crime-Thriller Novelist & Outdoors Writer

Member: Outdoor 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 ~ presented on the 1st & 2nd of every month.

Available on Amazon in paperback and e-book formats

Available on Amazon in paperback and e-book formats

March 01, 2017

Step-By-Step Spring Commissioning for Outboard Engines & Boats

by Bob Banfelder

Springing into Action ~ Part 1

If you had followed my 2016 winterizing procedures in Nor'east Saltwater for November 1st (Part 1) and November 2nd (Part 2), titled STEP-BY-STEP WINTERIZING WIZARDRY FOR OUTBOARD ENGINES, the majority of the work is now behind you. Let's move on to Spring Commissioning, referencing both your outboard engine and boat for this 2017 season. I'll continue using our 90 horsepower Yamaha TXR 4-stroke outboard engine and 18-foot Nautic Star center console as a generic model. If you hadn't followed those winterizing instruction as a general guide, you may want to copy those earlier pages for future reference. If so, please log on to Part 1: and Part 2: for complete details.

Let's uncover the boat and continue where we left off. It would be a good idea to first read through each procedure carefully before proceeding so that you will be familiar and highly organized. You will receive several useful suggestion as well as very important information that you may not be aware of. This approach will save you time, money, and frustration.

Come spring is when I change the Fuel/Water Separating Filter, address touch-up primers and paints for fiberglass and underwater hardware, check and reinstall batteries, replace zinc(s), reinstall prop, wash and wax exterior/interior of boat, clean the bilge, polish on-deck fixtures and fittings, and protect vinyl seats. Therefore, these are the steps we'll be covering referencing Spring Commissioning.

Let's get started.

PHASE ONE: changing the Marine Fuel/Water Separating Filter


Items: Yamaha MARINE FUEL/WATER SEPARATING FILTER-High Performance 90 GPH/10 Micron Filtration ~ oil filter wrench ~ rags ~ paper towels ~ aluminum pie pan ~ glass jar ~ ¼ pint fresh gas

Step 1. Raising my outboard engine allows access to where the FUEL/WATER SEPARATING FILTER is located. Doing so shifts the group of cables out of the way for easier accessibility.

Note: The location of the spin-on/-off FUEL/WATER SEPARATING FILTER is rather difficult to reach and remove because it is practically touching the stern/starboard corner bulkhead—deep within the recess of my 18-foot Nautic Star.

A metal looped band-type filter wrench is required to remove the filter in that narrow space. No other type of oil filter wrench worked. I needed the thinness of that band to encircle the filter. However, the wrench would not properly grip the filter and kept slipping. What to do?

I took a thin sheet of cork gasket material, measured and cut two narrow strips to fit neatly within the metal band, and secured them in place with Gorilla Glue. The strips have remained firmly in place since 2010. The modified tool is a godsend. Yes, necessity is, indeed, the mother of invention. Hopefully, your filter is located in a more accessible area.

Note cork gasket material strips at one o'clock and seven o'clock positions within filter wrench band

Step 2. While removing the Fuel/Water Separator, it has to be supported in my left hand as I loosen the filter with the wrench held in my right, being careful not to spill any gas as I remove it. I have a disposable aluminum pie pan placed beneath the filter canister to catch any spill.

Step 3. Pour the old gas into a clean, clear jar and check for water, dirt, debris, and other contaminants. The gas should be clear, not cloudy or white in color. If you do have water in the gas, you'll see its separation at the bottom of the jar as the water is heavier than the gas; gas floats atop water. Consult your authorized marine mechanic if this occurs. I never had an issue using a Yamaha MARINE FUEL/WATER SEPARATING FILTER-High Performance 90 GPH/10 Micron Filtration canister.

Step 4. Nearly fill the new Fuel/Water Separating Filter with fresh gasoline to facilitate priming the fuel system.
Step 5. Lubricate the new filter gasket with engine oil, carefully spin on and tighten securely— approximately ½ turn after the gasket contacts the filter head base.

PHASE TWO: touch-up priming


Items: protective clothing and covering for head, face, hands, and eyes [goggles] ~ 2-part Pettit Protect Epoxy Primer (4700 and 4701 Gray) ~ tight-fitting filtered respirator mask (not paper) ~ paint scraper ~ 220 grit sandpaper ~ various size chip brushes (1in.– 4in.) ~ paint-stick stirrers ~ come-a-long ~ large bucket ~ three empty 5 oz. tuna cans ~ craft sticks ~ wide slot-head screwdriver ~ newspaper ~ rubber hammer ~ paint thinner for cleanup only ~ rags ~ trash container

Clearly an excellent primer choice for barrier protection

Let's first examine the all-important barrier-coat primer. I'll start by saying that when I pulled the boat for winterizing during the 2016 season, I did not have a single barnacle on the hull, having employed three coats of both an excellent 2-part epoxy barrier primer and ablative antifouling paint when the vessel was brand-new in 2010/11. What I did initially note at the end of the 2016 season was a light, slimy marine growth buildup, along with a few barnacles (very few) on the metal hardware, at and just below the waterline, which came off easily by immediately pressure washing. Additionally, having carefully inspected the hull after power washing, I noted a few small, patchy-white areas where not only the black ablative paint had worn away, but where the gray primer coat had begun to wear away, too, barely exposing the fiberglass/gelcoat. This was after six seasons. Most of those tiny areas were where the trailer's rollers had covered areas of the hull the season before. Therefore, when hauling the boat, I position it on the trailer so that I can access those worn-away spots come spring.

A few worn-away areas along hull (grayish-white); use come-a-long (if needed)

The magic to maintaining a virtually barnacle-free bottom is to first lightly sand the gelcoat—not with a heavy grit sandpaper, but with a fine 220 grit sandpaper. You want to prepare the area so that the primer will adhere well, not roughly scratched to the point where the protective gelcoat compromises the fiberglass. Next, apply three light coats of gray primer to the exposed area. This sounds like a lot of work. Actually, it's not. The initial step takes longer because you have to first lightly sand then wipe clean the area before applying your first coat of primer, allowing it to thoroughly dry. The second and third steps go quickly because you need not sand and wipe clean; however, you do need to apply all three coats with a brush—not a roller.

Allow those three colors to serve as your guide: white (fiberglass/gelcoat), gray (primer), and black (ablative paint). If you are not down to the exposed white surface of the hull, you need not prime. If you have only small areas of gray primer showing, with a chip brush, hit those areas with one coat of black ablative bottom paint. If no gray is showing, simply forego bottom painting until the following boating season before rolling on a single light coat of ablative bottom paint to the entire hull—with a roller—right up to the waterline. Why add unnecessary weight (paint) to the hull? That's the bottom line.

Note: In fact, I wrote an article for Nor'east Saltwater back in April 2013 titled Barrier Epoxies & Ablative Paints ~ The Bottom Line. You need not read the article to proceed with any of these Spring Commissioning procedures. I mention it simply because it covers Barrier Epoxies & Ablative Paints in depth. If you're interested, log on to

For hull touch-up, I'm going to stick with the 2-part epoxy barrier primer and ablative bottom paint for the 2017 procedure (stick being the operative word).

Note: Here is how I went about doing this touch-up job without making it seem like work. Call it a rationalization if you must. I pick a warm day between fall and spring. You could be raking leaves or cleaning up the garden, washing and/or waxing the car, cleaning screens, et cetera. In between these chores, I chip away at this important touch-up priming project.

Step 1: Scrape any loose paint from hull area.

Step 2: With a wide slot-head screwdriver, open up both cans of 2-part epoxy primer.

Step 3: Using separate stirring sticks, mix each can well. After noting the mixture ratio stated on the label, use the same sticks with which you just stirred the contents to simply dip and drip a small amount of primer and catalyst into an empty tuna can. A little bit goes a long way in covering small areas. With either newspaper or rags, wipe the sticks clean and save for next time.

Step 4: With a wooden tongue depressor, mix the combined contents well; discard stirrer. That's all the primer paint you'll need for applying each coat with a 3-inch chip brush to those small, well-worn painted areas. Allow to dry overnight.

In a large bucket, have all the items needed neatly stored and handy for repeating two more applications.

Tomorrow we'll continue with Part 2, Phase Three: Ablative Paints.
Stay tuned.

Bob Banfelder

Crime-Thriller Novelist & Outdoors Writer

Member: Outdoor 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 ~ presented on the 1st & 2nd of every month.

Available in paperback and e-book formats on Amazon

Available in paperback and e-book formats on Amazon

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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