I swear we were perfectly content with our 8′ Walker Bay hard dinghy with the flotation tubes (also known as dinghy number five). Purchased in the fall of 2019, we had easily dragged it onto rocky beaches, it went fast enough to keep us happy with our 2.3 hp outboard, and we had successfully and easily towed it to and from the Bahamas twice.
And that right there was the problem: we had to tow it. The Walker Bay took up most of the room on the foredeck, and we have set our sights on going farther afield (details to come in the future). We needed a dinghy we didn’t have to tow, and we still didn’t want an inflatable. That’s how we ended up with dinghy number six, the ugliest dinghy I have ever seen in my life: the Porta-bote.
Our friends Tom and Anita on S/V Lone Star have had a Porta-bote for many years so we were familiar with it, and other cruising friends of ours bought one in 2018 and were very happy with it. So we waited for a boat show special and pulled the trigger on a 10′ model.
At 10’4″ long and 5 feet wide unfolded, the Porta-bote collapses to a width of 2 feet and a thickness of 8″. With standup paddle board J-hooks that we purchased separately, we can store it against the hull on the outside of the boat. We can also store it on the side deck, but that limits us to going forward on the opposite side of the boat.
It’s a bit heavier than the Walker Bay, but substantially lighter than the Achilles inflatable (dinghy number four). It is every bit as tough as the Walker Bay, so we can drag it up onto sandy or rocky beaches without puncturing it like an inflatable. And its sheer unattractiveness makes it an unlikely target for thieves. It scoots us along very quickly with our 2.3 hp outboard, has much more room for groceries and supplies than the Walker Bay, and it’s a VERY dry ride.
We have yet to try setting it up on the boat, but we’ve been told by other people with 30′ sailboats that – with some practice – we can do it in a few minutes by lying it athwartship across the lifelines. I’m sure there will be much swearing involved the first few times, but by the time we get to Florida we should be old pros at it! In the meantime, after trying it out in our harbor, we can unequivocally say that it suits our needs perfectly. It looks like dinghy number six will be sticking around for a VERY long time.