Friday, January 23, 2015

Kapten Boat Collar

So we have opted not to have an inflatable life raft onboard Aquabat and there are many reasons for this (but that my friends, is a WHOLE other post). We did not make this decision lightly and knew with Dingbat being our back-up boat, essentially our liferaft, we would need to add some reinforcements to her to make her extra safe should her use as a liferaft become necessary. 
The Kapten Boat Collar is essentially a lifering that is attached to Dingbat, giving her lots of extra buoyancy and therefore making her very difficult to sink. The collar is made from multiple layers of different density foam that are attached by aluminium plates and screws. We had a little brainstorm of situations that we thought could possibly compromise Dingbat’s buoyancy and the ones we came up with were pretty extreme, but not impossible. For example, a crocodile tearing off all of the foam and then biting a hole in the boat!  In this case, I guess it's better that the croc gets the foam and not us! 

We have not tested her in a situation like this (thankfully) and I hope we never have to but we have attempted to sink her (pulled out the bung and filled her up) and she stayed afloat with both Bryce and I onboard.

Bung is out... here we go! 

And we are still floating!!!

We have not tested her in a situation like this (thankfully) and I hope we never have to but we have attempted to sink her (pulled out the bung and filled her up) and she stayed afloat with both Bryce and I onboard. In the event that we did need to abandon ship and were caught in rough weather, we would use this same technique (filling her with water) to lower her center of gravity and make it less likely that air could get caught underneath her and flip us.

Dingbat in the background... pre-makeover!
After install
From the beginning of this experience, the team at Kapten were friendly, knowledgable and helpful. As we were trying to get away and running out of time to do everything ourselves, we opted to have them do the install which was done in a few days at their workshop in Nambour, Queensland. My uncle got roped into hauling Dingbat from Mooloolaba to Nambour on top of his car.
& After!

Aside from it's possible lifesaving capabilities, the boat collar has also improved our day to day life. A number of things have been made easier, or made possible by the addition of the boat collar. For example, standing up, boarding, moving around, climbing into the dinghy from the water without flipping it, carrying the boat, the list goes on. 

It also keeps us dryer as the collar deflects much of the water spray from coming up and hitting us. It acts as an awesome fender between Dingbat & Aquabat, jetties, other boats or whatever else she may come into contact with. We are also that much closer to being able to get up on a plane with two of us on board. Our outboard is only 5 hp so once we upgrade (if we upgrade!) we should be cruising around no problems.

There are a couple of downsides for us in using the collar but they are not faults in the collar but more so in our application of it.

Firstly because of the shape of Aquabat's hull at the stern we found that despite our hope that the collar would act as a fender, Dingbat and Aquabat could still come into contact with each other metal to metal... not good! We remedied this by adding a ring of tiger rope around Dingbat above the collar. This extra rope does make Dingbat a bit heavier but its a tradeoff. 
The other downside is that the collar needs to be protected in everyday use but this may be because its relatively new so we notice every little ding. This is especially true of the exposed soft foam on the top and bottom sides. The outside has a layer of hard foam. We are slowly figuring out all potential chafe points and sharp things that the collar can catch on and trying to fix it that way. 
A few small dings
Kapten now offer painted collars as an option for an additional price. This was not yet available at the time we had our collar installed. The paint has multiple selling points: 1) it changes the color of the collar, 2) gives a thicker skin over the softer layers for added protection against dings and 3) can be easily touched up, if necessary. Kapten recommend a specific type of paint for this application so please contact them for instructions prior to attempting this. We have added it to our to-do list!

Overall we have been really pleased with our Boat Collar and would highly recommend it. Feel free to contact us with any questions you may have regarding its use and if you happen to visit the Kapten team, tell them Hi for us! 


  1. Looks great! I really like the tiger rope too. Makes it look very nautical :)

  2. In normal use, is there a bubble of air between the collar and the hull?