Well, after agonizing over no less than four different reasons why we may need a more typical hard dinghy, we nearly leapt out of our skins when we saw a USED (Never. Happens.) Porta-bote up in Santa Rosa, which is maybe 6000 miles away as the 900-dollar Volvo flies. But dedicated we were and we got up at the crack of dawn (like, 9:30) to get an early start, coffee in our porta-mugs.
To make a winded explanation short, the used Porta-bote was “Eh” to “Hrmmm.” It was maybe 15 years old and weathered to the point that the polypropylene was breaking down where it had been stored in the sun for the past decade and the “safety” flotation foam was an icky UV-trashed mess. We left somewhat dejected and drove to Napa where we planned on getting drunker’n Cootie Brown at my friend’s birthday party.
Miraculously, we still remembered the incident of the used Porta-bote after the debauchery of Michelle’s 32nd and the next day, I called the actual Porta-bote office (which, um, is just down the street, Bay Area speaking) in order to inquire about the oxidation of polypropylene and the specs and oh, just stuff. Her response was somewhere in the league of, “everything breaks down in the sun if you leave it sitting for a decade.” That’s science for you. I had a brochure in hand and the prices were listed at $1700ish for the 10 footer (way way too much, I mean come ON! My Volvo cost $900); however, she said that the factory prices they could quote (since I’m in the area and special) were $1200 or something like that. I was taking careful notes. Or, she said casually, we do have this one boat – you wouldn’t probably be interested or anything – that we could sell for $850 because it was the demo and so has a few scratches, and I don’t even know why I’m mentioning it haha…
Again, to cut down on the windage, a mere 23 hours later, I was driving home with the Bote tied to the top of my car. They threw in a lot of extra rivets, like 2 extra sets of cotter pins and bolts/wingnuts, some oars, oarlocks, some rope, etc. Plus the hull still has the 10-year warranty. Score!
V E R D I C T
Good. I like it. In fact, I think it’s great. It actually is easy to put together (not just a marketer’s prank). Assembling the bote on the deck of “the big boat” was also no big whoop. It fits nicely on the trampoline under the catwalk and isn’t that heavy. In the water it is very stable – due to the semi-rigid quality (it wobbles with the water rather than bouncing atop it). It rows easily (especially when Joshua rows) and, although we haven’t gone through the hassle of taking our 6hp off Time Machine, it should take our motor with no problem.
Minor design flaws: The seats are not as ingeniously designed as they could be and, although they look great on the boat, they are somewhat awkward to stow (they should fold too, I think). They are black and I imagine a damp towel will be in order in the hotter climes. And, I guess my only other complaint is that the drink holder was clearly designed by the marketing department and not an engineer.
“I’m thinking of implementing a drink holder; have Randy work up a spec on that.”
So unfortunately, it is too big for a beer can/bottle and too small for a beer can/bottle wrapped in a canwrap. Drat.