Frequently Asked Questions about the Float A Boat Fab

1. What is a Floataboatfab?
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 need it.

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 is black.

9. When I run aground I usually just wait for the tide to rise. Why do I need the fab?
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 assistance.

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 sailingfab@aol.com 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 get grounded.

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.

Additional questions?
Contact:
Leslie Mark Levitan at 623-444-2125 or
Floataboatfab@aol.com
Poweringfab@aol.com
Sailingfab@aol.com

 

 

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