Product Reviews

Porta-Bote
The Unique Foldable Fishing Boat


by Richard Komar, Plano, TX


In early 2003, I was searching for a watercraft to fish the ponds and lakes here in north Texas. I wanted a craft that was 1) portable, 2) buoyant, 3) stable, 4) durable and 5) versatile. After trying most of the conventional fishing platforms, I found none of them fit all the criteria for my fishing boat. Except one. The Porta-Bote folding boat made by Porta-Bote International in Mountain View, California.

I have had my Porta-Bote for 15 months now and have found it to be everything it is advertised to be and more. I opted for the 10- foot model. There is also an 8 footer, a 12 footer and the newest member of the family, a 14 footer. Available colors are olive drab, Pacific Pearl (off-white) and aluminum.

All models have a 5-foot beam, 4-inch draft, full-width bench seats, transom, floatation collar and oars. The 8 footer weighs 47 lbs. (hull only), my 10 Bote weighs 58 lbs., the 12 footer is 69 lbs., and the 14 footer is only 96 lbs. Maximum outboard engine weights range from 35 lbs. to 86 lbs. and all models can accommodate any size electric trolling motor. The smallest model has a capacity of 445 lbs. (persons, motors and gear) while the biggest model can handle 807 lbs. All models fold to a thickness of 4 inches and a width of 24 inches.

Portability:

I store my 10- foot Porta-Bote by hanging it on the wall of my garage. I do not have room for a conventional boat and trailer, but I do have room on the wall. Once you get comfortable with the balance point of the hull, you can easily slide it in and out of its "mooring" and transfer it directly to the top of your vehicle in one wide sweeping motion. I chose the 10 Bote, because it is big enough for two flyfisherpersons, yet not too big for one person to lift safely. The 12 and 14 footer are more suited for a two-person operation.

Buoyancy:

The Porta-Bote will float even when completely filled with water and it can even be rowed when filled with water. This can be attributed to the unique floatation collar which lines the hull all the way around under the gunwales and across the transom. I personally have not tested this feature, but I am confident the buoyancy is as advertised. The collar is 2 inches thick.

Stability:

The Porta-Bote is a flexible V-hull craft. Its keel and concave "vee" section provide exceptional directional stability. The hull design means the Porta-Bote is more comfortable to ride in because the flexible polypropylene hull absorbs shocks and the Bote does not bounce like an inflatable or pound like a rigid boat. The flexible hull allows for easy, stable standing. The inside of the hull is rough-surfaced for traction, even when wet.

When you stand up, the hull flattens against the water's surface with a suction effect adding to the stability. Because of the wide 5-foot beam, the Porta-Bote is exceptionally stable even when fully loaded and planing at full speed. The same suction effect that allows you to stand up safely also keeps the boat solidly on the surface. It feels good to stand up and stretch, look out over the water and comfortably fly cast with no worries about the Bote tipping over.

Durability:

The Porta-Bote Company says there over 50,000 Porta-Botes afloat around the world. Some are as old as 30 years and still floating. Porta-Botes attribute their durability to the unique design hinges and lightweight, flexible polypropylene hull.

The hinges are waterproof and can take a stress of over 90,000 lbs. per square inch. They are designed to take a beating. I have pushed and pulled my fully loaded Bote while launching and beaching, all the while on the keel hinge with no noticeable adverse wear.

The hull is made of flexible polypropylene and utilizes an ultra-violet filter and anti-oxidant for resistance to sun and saltwater damage. This hull material is used in Astro-Turf, car bumpers and highway signs. Porta-Bote's "Flexi-Hull" flexes inward and absorbs wave energy and disperses its force. The same flexibility allows the Bote to "give" safely when bumping against underwater obstacles. The Porta-Bote's hull is almost inch thick, thicker than an aluminum hull.

I have watched my Bote's hull flex inward when the Bote rubbed against a partially submerged stump or branch and I watched it spring back. Upon inspection on shore, no damage could be seen on the hull, not even a scratch.

It never needs painting. All I do at the end of the day, before I put it back on the wall, is to sweep out any dirt from inside the hull, make sure it is dry on the inside, and wipe down the outside hull and hinges with a some vinyl-protectant. That's it.

Versatility:

The Porta-Bote can be used on ponds, lakes and rivers. It can be a fishing boat, a sailboat (with optional sail kit), a duck-hunting boat, a ship-to-shore dinghy or just a weekend family pleasure boat. It can easily be transported on top of most vehicles, RVs, seaplanes and yak. The British Royal Air Force Climbing & Rescue Team used it on their record setting climb up Mt. Everest. The team used the Porta-Bote at 20,000 feet to cross a glacier lake. Inflatables were too puncture-prone and unreliable while ordinary rigid boats were too heavy to carry up Everest. The Porta-Bote fit perfectly on the back of a yak. I use my Bote as a flyfishing boat and transport it on top of my Jeep Cherokee. If I ever need to put my Porta-Bote on top of a yak someday, I am confident it will perform as advertised!

The Porta-Bote comes with the parts as seen above. The Porta-Dolly wheels are optional if you need to transport the Bote a good way to the water's edge.

Step 1:

Insert the provided "hull opener" to open the Porta-Bote.

Step 2:

Insert the middle seat and remove the "hull opener." The seats are held in the hull bracket by long cotter pins on each side. I glued an aluminum yardstick on each side of the middle seat as a convenient measuring aid for me and my bow passenger.

Step 3:

Insert the rear seat the same way as the front seat.

Step 4:

Now insert the short front seat.

Step 5:

Next, insert the transom. Four wing nuts (two gasketed) are provided to secure the transom to the hull. The transom sits inside the hull.

Step 6:

Attach your motor and oars. Here I have attached my electric 50-lb. thrust trolling motor and show the oars in their sockets. I normally store the two-piece oars along one side of the hull between the middle and rear seats. The Bote will also handle a bow-mounted trolling motor if you decide to use a gas outboard on the transom.

Step 7:

Shown are the optional Porta-Dolly wheels if the Bote needs to be pulled a way to the water. I added the blue towropes to aid in pulling.

Step 8:

The Porta-Bote is ready to go! I usually set up the Bote right at the water's edge and just push it off the shore. I add the following items to my Bote: two rod-holders, two small buckets with mushroom anchors, a gunwale boat bag, full-size trolling marine battery under the rear seat, plastic accessories container behind rear seat, long handled net and a thick nylon loop at the bow for pulling. That's it! Everything fits inside my Jeep and the Porta-Bote is secured to the luggage rack with straps. It takes me about 20 minutes to set up the Porta-Bote and 10 minutes to fold it back up at the end of the day.

For more information on the unique, folding Porta-Bote contact:
Porta-Bote International
1074 Independence Ave.
Mountain View CA 94043
(650) 961-5334
(800) 227-8882
Fax: (650) 961-3800
email: info@porta-bote.com
website: www.porta-bote.com
~ RK



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