Groton Pacific Carriers, Inc. bought their
first folding Porta-Bote for use on their oil tanker, the M/T
Hawaiian Sun, about two years ago. They needed a boat that could
be passed through small deck openings for easy access to internal
cargo tank areas. The boat was to be used inside the internal
water-filled cargo tanks for inspection and repair of the tank
walls. The 12' Porta-Bote, which folds to a neat package only
4" thick and can be passed through an opening only 24" in diameter,
proved to be a smart choice, indeed. Opening the foldable boat
takes only a couple of minutes and can be done on a platform
as small as four feet wide. Once opened, the boat has a beam
of five feet. This wide beam together with Porta-Bote's unique
hull design accounts for the boat's exceptional stability and
maneuverability. "Porta-Bote's advantages over inflatables were
immediately apparent," says Demetrius Panagopulos, technical
manager for Groton. "The boat was found impervious to damage
from rubbing against rough steel surfaces, and could not be
punctured. We are very pleased with the results".
This is a unique departure from the usual use of Porta-Botes.
Most are bought by fisherman and yachtsmen as an alternative
to heavy aluminum boats or "awkward" inflatables. Porta-Bote
also withstood the test during the application of tank coating.
Says Panagopulos: "The coating process
exposed Porta-Bote to solvents and epoxy resins and the boat
was found unaffected by them."
During difficult tank welding operations, all that was required
to protect the boat was a wetted sheet of canvass. This operation
could obviously never be attempted using an inflatable, because
of the risk of a hole burning through. In the confines of a
cargo tank, rapid air loss would equal disaster. "It offered
excellent stability," Panagopulos comments. "The
boat was often used by the crew to paint areas alongside the
hull that had been inaccessible earlier."
Although in production for over twenty years, Porta-Bote has
recently become popular with anglers due to the downsizing of
automobiles and the desire for a trailerless boat. In recent
years, thousands have been sold to people who have moved to
tight quartered condos and apartments and found it impossible
to store an ordinary boat. Porta-Bote's entire hull is made
from polypropylene, an engineered resin originally developed
for use in the aerospace field.
The manufacturer states that the material is unaffected by exposure
to salt, acid, gasoline - almost everything. Polypropylene is
obviously very tough and durable. The hull is virtually puncture
proof and bounces off rocks without damage. The manufacturer
is so confident of the durability of the hull material that
it is covered by a ten-year warranty. Folding to a mere four
inches thick, the boat is easily stored on board a ship or a
yacht. It can also be carried on a compact car or side of a
motorhome. Porta-Bote also is available in 8-foot,10-foot, 12-foot
and 14-foot versions. All are designed to be rowed, sailed,
or motor driven. Porta-Bote is available in white, aluminum
or duck-hunter green.