Sooner came with a hard shell dinghy, which I think was fiberglass over a wooden frame. You can see it on the front of the boat in this pic:
It was really cute, but was only 6′ long and was extremely heavy for it’s size – lugging it around on the foredeck was a chore (I dropped it on my foot at least twice) and getting it on and off the boat into the water involved rigging it a harness and then winching it up on a halyard. Quite the pain…
So the dinghy went on long term loan to Frawg (now owned by Emma and one of her friends), and I got a new dinghy.
Long term readers won’t be surprised by what I got – yes, I got another porta-bote.
This is now the fourth one I’ve owned, and we are back to the one I had originally – a 10 footer. The second and third one I had were both 8 footers and I was pretty happy with them (well… the third one anyway. The second one was the narrow transom version and was a tippy deathtrap). This one has the plastic seats like my third one but a wooden transom like the first (which is great as the plastic transom was a weak point). Not sure of the exact year but it seems in pretty good nick.
So why moving back to the 10? Well, Sooner has a ton more deck space than Gudge so it should be a lot easier to assemble the 10. My friends Jo and Barry on Boomerang had the 10 and in the no-holds-barred-drag-races to shore they seemed to row a lot faster – the rowing position for a single person is a lot better in the 10, being more central as in the 8 you are pretty far in the bow. Plus, it’s more stable than the 8 and can carry more people/stuff (which is very important to my 24/7 party lifestyle, obviously)
But the most important reason is that the 10 has a sail kit
Ok, it looks exactly like a childrens toy in a puddle but it’s not like porta-botes are winning any awards for looks in the first place and sail kits are the most fun thing ever – in Mexico I remember rowing like a chump, filled with envy as the couple of people with them sailed merrily past me.
The porta-bote fits really nicely snugged up on the cabin side as well – so I think that even on passages, I’ll leave it outside unlike on Gudge, where on a long passage I’d put it in the VBerth. We’ll see if a better solution comes to be but for now, it works pretty well. You can see below it fit’s really nicely and doesn’t even clutter the side decks or spoil the lines.
Oh, I also got an outboard for it as well, a 3.5 HP Johnson from I’m guessing the early 90s.
Apparently these are upgradable to 4HP by switching out the carb so I will probably try to do that at some point!
10 ft portabote can be set up to row well, as long as the aft end stays unloaded. I replaced oarlocks with concept 2 rowing oarlocks and got some carbon fiber sculling oars (about 10 ft long) on craigslist . Works great
That’s what I plan to do! The oars it comes with are pretty bad
One day someone will take the portabote design into the 20th century and make a lot of money. I am hoping the origami kayak guys will take on a dinghy design.
Yeah, the company is it’s own worse enemy at this point