The airmen used
an ultra-light folding Porta-Bote dinghy manufactured by Porta-Bote
International of Mountain View, California USA, to set an altitude record
for boating. The boat which folds to 4 inches (11cm) flat, was able
to be transported up Mount Everest strapped, in the folded configuration,
on the back of a yak!
craft could have been used, the airmen preferred something that did
not need inflating at high altitudes. They were concerned with the
obvious danger of an inflatable exploding and
suffering from punctures. An ordinary aluminum or fiberglass
boat would be too heavy to transport 20,000 feet up the side of a mountain.
They required a very lightweight boat that was virtually puncture proof.
The men from the
RAF Mountain Rescue Service took the folding Porta-Bote as a precaution
against being stranded by melting glaciers. They expected to find the
lake frozen. But it had thawed slightly and they were able to break
the ice and "set sail".
leader Flight Lt Ted Atkins, 42, said his 13-man crew used snow shovels
as paddles to cross a glacier lake high above the Himalayas. He joked:
"I've flown in an RAF Nimrod at 20,000ft before, but I've never paddled
a boat at that altitude."
Flight Lt Atkins
added: "The water was grey and seemed bottomless. It was a strange feeling
paddling in a boat way above the cloud layer."
spokesperson of Porta-Bote International, stated that his company has
submitted an application for their folding Porta-Bote to appear in the
Guinness Book Of World Records
as the first and only boat in the world to be "sailed" on a lake 20,000ft
above the earth and clouds, a new historic altitude boating record.