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2008-09-18

Using the lake as a testing tank

Low-res Wikipic because I can't be bothered to run through my own photos.
I did some "tender testing" today by putting my 10-foot Portabote into the water and putting on the 2 HP 4-stroke Honda (the 12-kilo wonder). I went out into a 15 knot easterly producing both the typical Lake Ontario sloppy lumps and the less common 1 metre rollers due to the longer fetch down lake and the weird waves that curl around the eastern end of the Toronto Islands.

For those in the Toronto area, I went from the Western Gap to the little bay just west of the Humber Bridge, about 4 NM, and back.

I learned that the Portabote "takes the waves" unlike other boats and is pretty stable and surprisingly dry, but that I think it wants a bit more of a load to be more comfortable in a "sea". This is fine because it's the "cargo" tender: my F/G nesting sailing dinghy for rowing one or two people and little gear, while this is a sort of station wagon.

I also learned that the Honda will get me to six knots if I lean forward enough and the waves are assisting. I learned that it will struggle to make four knots into a stiff wind, but it seems torquey enough to plow through the greater than 1 metre waves I was encountering at the mouth of the Humber, as lake rollers met river current to create some fairly impressive wave action from a little 70 pound folding boat with a putt-putt motor.

I also learned that the integral 1-litre gas tank of the Honda will last about 45 minutes (with a 10 minute cushion I wouldn't like to test again) at full throttle. I bought a 10 litre jug of gas, and I refilled twice. The first time, I had just gone in behind the breakwall at the Humber River Bridge, because it was frankly getting a little hairy for me due to the "lake versus river" wave patterns.

Overall, my impressions of the combo were good. The Honda runs like a clock...a small clock, obviously...but it drives the Portabote steadily in conditions I would consider problematic in an anchorage if I had to go more than a NM. The Portabote was great, and tracked well, even if the flexing of the various panels feels odd and I have to get a cushion on the plastic benches. I shipped about a cup of water, and most of that was sluicing off my PFD when I got smacked by enthusiastic lake.