Boating Above The “Clouds”- Folding Porta-Bote Makes History!
The British RAF mountain climbing team commissioned by Prince Charles had somthing extra
to boast about after conquering Mt. Everest – they also made history by BOATING at 20,000ft.
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!
Although inflatable 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“.
And expedition 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.”
A 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.