Questions about the Float A Boat Fab
1. What is a
The Fabs are inflatable devices used to help you get afloat if (or
when) you run aground. They are designed to store on the boat, be
deployed by one person, and inflated using the included pumps and
the boats battery. All of this can be done in fifteen minutes or less,
depending on the boat and the amount of time you have practiced.
2. I have unlimited
towing insurance. Why would I need a fab? Most towing insurance only
covers you for a soft grounding. If you call the towing company, and
they show up immediately (not very likely), your insurance will probably
cover it with no out-of-pocket expense. This is not usually the case.
A much more common scenario is that you run aground gently during
a falling tide. You call your tow company who then arrives within
an hour to an hour and a half. By this time the tide has gone out
about a foot (or more) and your boat is now mostly out of the water
and leaning on its side. You are now hard aground, which your insurance
company does not cover, and you must pay hundreds of dollars to get
afloat or wait six hours for the tide to come back up. If you had
a fab on board you would probably be afloat in less than 15 minutes
with no out-of-pocket expense. I am in no way casting any aspersions
on boat towing companies. They take many risks and work very hard
for their money. The problem is that they can't be everywhere at once.
On the other hand, your fab will be right there with you when you
3. How many types
of FABS are there? There are two types of FAB. There is the sailingfab
(hereafter known as the sfab) for sailboats and the poweringfab (hereafter
known as the pfab) for powerboats. Both provide over 1200 pounds of
buoyant lift for boats that become subject to a soft grounding. This
lift provided by the appropriate fab should enable the captain to
get the boat ungrounded without calling for any outside assistance,
such as a towing service or another boat.
4. What is the
difference between the pfab and the sfab?
The sfab consists of a rectangular heat welded vinyl that is 5 feet
long, 3 feet wide and 15 inches deep. This provides a total of 18.75
ft.³ of airspace. Freshwater weighs 64 pounds per cubic foot.
Multiply the two and you get 1200 pounds of buoyant lift.
The pfab consists of two cylindrical tubes that are each 10 feet long
and one foot in diameter. The two tubes combined provide 20 ft.³
of airspace which adds up to 1280 pounds of buoyant lift in freshwater.
Saltwater is somewhat denser than freshwater so your actual available
lift will be greater than those calculated here.
5. Where would
the fab be most useful?
Skinny waters are the types of places that the fab was invented for.
These would include, but are not limited to, the Gulf Coast from Brownsville
Texas to the Florida Keys, up the Atlantic seaboard to some place
just south of the Maine. Also included would be much of the California
coast all the way up to Alaska. The shorelines of the islands in the
Great Lakes region could probably also use a fab on occasion. My readings
of sailing magazines would seem to indicate that running aground in
the Pacific is not at all uncommon except that you can't call a towing
company to help you. In this region a fab should almost be considered
a vital piece of equipment as help in repairing a boat in this region
can be quite problematic. From my limited experience sailing in the
Mediterranean I have found that it too has an abundance of skinny
water. So the answer to the question would be pretty much anywhere
the water meets the land you need a fab.
6. How much of
my boat will actually be lifted out of the water by the fab? The obvious
answer is it depends on the weight of your boat and the amount of
your draft. If your powerboat weighs 12,000 pounds and your draft
is 24 inches the pfab will lift your boat 2.4 inches (intro physics
101). This should be enough to get the boat floating especially if
you place the movable ballast (people) towards the front of the boat.
This is in theory. When actually deployed on a 28 foot, 10,000 Bayliner
the pfab lifted the back of the boat over 6 inches.
Calculating the actual lift of the boat for the sfab is a little trickier.
A sailboat consists of two separate weights, the weight of the keel
and the weight of the boat itself. If a sailboat weighs 11,000 pounds
and 5000 of those pounds consists of keel the actual weight that we
would be concerned with is 6000 pounds. Although the draft of the
sailboat might be 5 feet most likely three feet of that draft also
consists of the keel. Therefore the 1200 pounds of lift only needs
to be applied to the 6000 pounds and would result in 5 inches (or
more) of the boat had being lifted out of the water.
7. What if my
boat is a too big for the fab to handle?
The sfab should work well on sailboats up to 35 feet. For sailboats
larger than that I would recommend getting two sfabs for double the
lift and that that should help you for boats up to 45 feet (the cost
of that of course would be less than paying for two sfabs individually).
The pfab will work well on powerboats up to 35 feet. For boats larger
than that I would recommend the custom made cruiser pfab which is
similar to the pfab but where each tube is 20 feet long rather than
10 feet. The cruiser pfab will provide over 2500 pounds of buoyant
lift. If this can't get you ungrounded it truly is time to call for
some outside assistance. The cost of the custom made cruiser pfab
is still less than the cost of two regular pfabs.
8. Can I get
the fab in a color of my choice? Yes, as long as your choice of color
9. When I run
aground I usually just wait for the tide to rise. Why do I need the
If the value of your time and the people on your boat is of no value
then you should be fine. If you want to get home in time for dinner,
or not spend the night on the boat, or worry about tipping over even
more as the tide goes out, then you probably do need the fab.
10. If I run
hard aground in such a way that half of the boat is out of the water
will the fab be able to pick me up?
No. Each fab can only displace WATER down to 3 feet. The pump that
fills the fab provides 50 ft.³ of air per minute at a pressure
of one psi. In order to actually lift the boat off the ground you
would need a pump that provides a lot more pressure than that. Once
again, if you run aground that hard you will need some additional
11. Are there
any special tricks to know in deploying the fab?
a) For the sfab and pfab remember D rings down b) Every sailboat is
different in that the keels are differently placed and shaped, the
center of gravity is different, and even the amount of movable ballast
can vary greatly. Therefore where you place the sfab will be something
that you have to think about. If you have any specific questions please
feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will be happy to
provide suggestions and any insights that I might have. c) Where ever
you have decided to place the sfab under the boat make sure that very
little or none of the blue and red body is visible from the boat.
When placed to your satisfaction make sure that the lead lines (described
in the instructions for deploying the sailingfab) are cleated off
snugly. You can use a cleat, a cam cleat or even a self tailing winch.
This is VERY important as once the sfab is being inflated it will
do its very best to escape from under the boat. It will almost seem
as if it has a mind of its own and it is a very stubborn mind. If
it does begin to pop out see if you have gotten enough lift to get
ungrounded. If not then deflate the sfab and try again. To repeat
what is in the instructions, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE practice before
you need it.
For the pfab the trick is to use the 10 feet of chine to hold the
pfab under the boat. Once again use D ring down and follow the tie
down instructions. The pfab will also do its very best to escape when
inflated and that is why the installation instructions are slightly
more complicated than the sfab. If you take a half hour of your time
and practice deploying the pfab four or five times you will become
quite expert and amaze yourself and your friends the next time you
12) I have been
asked, how did I come around to inventing the fabs?
I was taking a sailing class in Florida. I was sent up to the base
of the mast to get a sail ready when the boat bumped, stopped abruptly,
and I fell down. We were a mile from shore, well within the assigned
channel and we had run aground. Being the most nimble member of the
crew (it was not a young crew) I was told to hang onto the end of
the boom while they pushed me out over the water so the boat tilted
and we could continue sailing. This seemed to me very uncivilized,
somewhat akin to walking the plank and what would I have done if I
was sailing alone? From that experience I developed sfab. It then
occurred to me that powerboats also have the problem of running a
ground. After TWO years of looking at powerboats in the water and
on lifts, while walking to my boat in the Lake Pleasant Marina in
Arizona, it finally occurred to me that tubes along the chines could
provide the necessary lift. I never said things come to me quickly.
13. Are the fabs
a good value?
A) The average cost of a tow $600 for a soft grounding and you can't
use it again. The cost of a salvage, if the tow company doesn't get
there in a timely manner can be tens of thousands of dollars. B) The
cost of a large tow toy is about $600, will not save you any money
and will only be used a few times. C) The fab is proudly made in the
USA and comes with a TWO year warranty against faulty materials or
workmanship. If a problem arises with your fab just contact us and
we will pay shipping BOTH ways. D) The fab can save thousands of wasted
man hours (waiting for the tide), millions of dollars in repairs and/or
towing charges, and probably several lives. So the answer is YES,
the fab is a good value.
14. I have been
asked if the fabs can be utilized in other ways, such as raising a
boat that sank at the dock, floating a boat that has sunk in 60 feet
of water, or using it to gain time if the hull is somehow compromised.
Some people have also asked if the fab can be used as a float toy
or an air mattress. I am NOT selling or promoting the fab to do any
of these things. That being said, once you buy your fab, be it the
sailingfab or poweringfab, this is the United States of America and
you are free to use it in any way you see fit. If someone has a problem
with that just tell them to come and talk to me.
Leslie Mark Levitan at 623-444-2125 or