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Port-a-Bote; Our NEW Water SUV!

We intentionally set out early from Tucson to get to San Carlos during daylight.  Our last trip we arrived too late and it cost us $75 for a hotel room because we couldn’t get out to the boat that night.

We arrived with plenty of daylight but too late to hire the Panga from the marina to take us an our truck load of paraphernalia in one load.

Maria had graciously dropped Rock Hopper, our small 9′ fiberglass sailing dinghy to the dock earlier in the day and now the wind was howling.  I suggested to Hil that I take a light load out to the boat to see how the dink faired in this weather.  I attached our little 2.5 hp Nissan 2 stroke outboard and loaded in our cooler of food, a small boom box, and 2 speakers to replace to dry rotted speakers on the boat and shoved off.

The wind was howling straight into the marina entrance.  Even in the marina there was a light chop and the wind would shove the nose of the dinghy left and right with the gusts.  By the time I passed the breakwater the chop was breaking against the hull and I was soaked!

I tried a straight on approach to the waves that resulted in nearly swamping the boat and soaking the speakers and boom box in water on the bottom on the dinghy.  I tried a zig zag diagonal approach that worked better but the spray from the whitecaps still soaked me and I couldn’t see through the salt water in glasses and hat.

I finally made it to the boat (which was fine) and closely escaped falling into the drink myself to get aboard with the ice chest and I realized there was no way I was going to be able to get Hil and the girls to the boat in this kind of weather.

I came back and looked like a wet rat.  Another hotel stay.

The next day it calmed in the morning and I made FIVE trips to the boat to get the truck load of food, kiddie toys, tools, and clothes to the boat.  On the SIXTH trip with the girls we ran into Viking Maria and told her about our tragic ordeal.  Once again fate intervenes!  Maria had a 12′ port-a-bote and was selling her 10′ port-a-bote!  She offered to let us try it out for a couple of days to see if we liked it.

BOY DID WE LIKE IT!

Hil has been uncomfortable fitting the whole family unit into the tippy Rock Hopper even with the slightest chop on the water.  This ultimately means that Hil (and Charley) haven’t been getting off the boat very much and suffer from cabin fever.  Emma and I, on the other hand, have enjoyed trips to the rock beach for beach combing excursions, walks around the marina, and exploratory boat rides.  I really felt if Hil was going to get the most our of this life we needed to find a way to get her off the boat to explore more often.

The Port-a-bote is flexible and may appear unstable but it is really quite stable.  Over the entire 10′ length I can walk from transom to the bow section with nothing else in the boat and it is just fine.  We found the port-a-bote sits ON the water and has a pretty high freeboard that keeps up amazingly dry.  With the THREE seats (and cupholders) we are all comfortable in the boat and we can shove a massive amount of baggage in the boat and still make good speed with our 2.5hp 2 stroke outboard.

Over the ensuing weeks, the family unit was able to enjoy almost daily trips to the rock beach, the marina cafe, long hikes ashore, and even an exploratory boat ride around the bay.

There were days when the wind would pick up to 25 knots from the SW to NW and blow straight down the marina entrance.  The bay would whitecap and chop would pick up to about a foot in height making boat rides usually wet and unpleasant.  While our inflatable compadres hunkered down in their dinghies with foul weather gear getting soaked coming and going, I could remain surprisingly dry- even carrying a full load in the dinghy.

Even more generous, understanding our financial limitations, St. Maria has graciously allowed us to buy the boat when we return from our donut trip next month in May.

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4 comments to Port-a-Bote; Our NEW Water SUV!

  • james

    Jerry,
    I am enjoying your good travels. I just met myself a marine engineer. Hope to one day join you on the open ocean. Let me know if you ever plan to take the cat through the panama canal to the other pond.

  • big cheese

    Hi James-

    We actually had culture shock coming back to Tucson after three weeks on the boat. There’s just SO MANY PEOPLE! It’s nice and quiet out there on the water.

  • Dale

    Hey JC! I should have read your site earlier. Can I use your testimonial at my next Portabote show? Glad to hear it’s still working… got a love’m.

  • big cheese

    We really love ours! We brought it back to the states for the summer for my Dad to try out.

    See in the Fall.

    JC