06 June 2019


So we still haven't got to Block Island. Helena was running out of time before her next trip to Brazil (aging parents!), so we opted to spend the week visiting with old friends at the Ketewomoke Yacht Club in Huntington, NY.

The Memorial Day party was even more fun than usual, and when it was over (as usual, Helena and I were among the last to leave), the water off the club dock was glassy smooth. Perfect for trying out a new low-light camera app on my iPhone. The app is called ProCamera, and boy does it take great low-light photos. A vast improvement over the free Apple Camera app, I think.

KYC at midnight

Petronella in a ghostly calm

The Huntington waterfront
Once I got Helena off to Brazil, it was time to stop partying (well, for the most part) and get back to my to-do list.

One thing I've really been meaning to do is to build a lifting sling for our PortaBote dingy. I have been experimenting with various ad-hoc variations and have finally settled on a system that works reasonably well. The balance point of the empty dingy is just aft of the middle seat. Using a three-legged sling - one leg to the bow seat, and two to the stern seat - seemed to work best. It was time to build a proper sling -- one that would easily snap on and off the boat without a lot of knot tying. 

Here is the sling in progress, with its center ring and three legs. The three legs are long enough to wrap around their respective seats and clip on to themselves. For lifting, I will clip the mainsail topping lift to the center ring and haul away. 

Building a lifting sling for the dingy
And here it is, test-fitted to the dingy. All that remained was to finish the last splice on the forward line. That is now done, and the sling is ready to go. I will take pics the next time I hoist the dingy aboard.

Test fitting the sling

Another dingy project that needed doing was figuring out a better way to tow the PortaBote. This popular folding dingy is ideal for cruising, in many ways, but lacks one essential feature: a towing eye. I think this is because they don't recommend towing the dingy, but sometimes you just need to drag it from one anchorage to the next. That's just real life. And even in the ideal, non-towing world, you still need to tie it up to a dock. The lack of any place to tie even a dock line is a real problem.

Luckily, the PortaBote comes equipped with a sort of bow covering that is practically useless. It attaches to the boat using two grommets in the bow. Practically everyone uses these grommets to attach a painter, and I'm no exception. 

I have tried several different ways to attach a painter to these grommets, none successful. Last summer, I saw another PortaBote with a kind of bridle, like the one below. I've been meaning to install one since that day, and I have finally done so. I will be towing the boat for a few hours later this week. I will be very interested to see if this bridle chafes severely, as all previous ones have. We shall see.

Towing bridle
Tomorrow I am off somewhere. KYC has been great to let us stay on their washdown dock for two weekends. I don't want to abuse the privilege, so I want to be off the dock by Friday so the members can enjoy their dock again. 

Thanks to everyone at the amazing Ketewomoke Yacht Club for your friendship and hospitality. I do miss you guys.

Next Up: First Big Steel Job


  1. Hi,
    Just bought a used portabote and have been looking for people who have raised/lowered and towed it. How have your two ideas worked out?
    ps: how long are the legs on your sling?

  2. Hi,

    How have your 2 portabote handling ideas worked out? Just bought a used 8' 6" model in November and was wondering how other owners have raised/lowered & towed.
    THx, Rob
    ps: how long are the legs on your bridle?

  3. Perfectly. Both solutions still in every day use. When towing long distances, we attach two lines to the bow bridle, and tie one to either quarter, keeping the dinghy fairly close to the stern, so there is no possibility of getting one of the towlines in the prop. Using this setup, we have towed the dinghy without problem on inland waters.

  4. If you mean how long are the legs on the lifting sling, I don’t know. I discovered the balance point by trial and error, then spliced the three legs so they were snug when attached, with the lifting ring in the correct location. This is with the dingy empty. Adding weight changed the balance point, of course.


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