This is the BottlePort! A patent pending hydration solution for small watercraft that don't have a place to store a water bottle that is both secure AND easily accessible.
I designed the Bottleport after I got tired of having my water bottle lost over the side of my Laser, banging around the cockpit or stashed away somewhere that I couldn't get to it easily.
The Bottleport has an MSRP of US$29.95, which I think is a pretty good deal when the plain nylon gear bag sells for 23 or so. The first production run is now complete and I will be shipping units shortly.
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BottlePort screws directly into a 5" Viking inspection port--the kind found on most Vanguard boats and easily available from any store that stocks dinghy parts. If you have a port on your boat, it's probably a Viking. If not, I think the Bottleport makes it worthwhile to switch! The Bottleport seals against the Viking port O-ring in the same watertight way that the original port lid does.
This is the prototype version. I have used it on my Laser for a year and it has become indispensable. Production models are made of UV resistant polypropylene, the same material that the ports are made of. They are an exact color match with the grey Viking ports.
BottlePort is designed to hold a great variety of drink containers securely in a dynamic environment. A shock cord with an adjustable keeper keeps the bottle from coming out in the rough stuff (or floating out when empty if water splashes into the BottlePort) but allows for easy, one-hand removal and replacement.
It is shown here with its bungie tightened (note plastic keeper secure in its cavity) and extra-tall (28oz) water bottle in the semi-down position. Note the water channels that are on both sides of the BottlePort. When you push the bottle down all the way from the semi-down position, or replace it after drinking, any water that has splashed into the DrinkLid can pass out.
The BottlePort, screwed down into place. Here it holds the 28oz bottle in the fully down position with the bungie tightened. This is how I generally use it unless I'm racing, when I go for the 24oz bottle that sits completely below deck level.
I designed the BottlePort to hold a great variety of containers available at any 7-11. The only one on this chart that won't fit is the 1.5 liter Trader Joe's bottle on the right. Other than that, all of these will work although you'll have to reach down inside aways to grab that 12oz Budweiser. Even so, the oval, flared shape of the hole makes it easy to do. Wouldn't it be great to have that travel mug of hot coffee on your frostbiting days?
Here is the keeper fully loosened to allow easiest access on calmer days or in bigger boats where capsizing is less of a danger.
Of course, the bungie keeper can be completely removed and replaced simply by undoing the end knot. In the unlikely event that the bungie breaks, you can replace it with 1/8" shock cord available at any marine supply place (or even sporting goods stores). The keeper is sold in any camping gear store if you ever need to replace it. Just make sure that if it has a metal spring, it's made of stainless steel as this one is.
Bungie locked down tight for most secure hold. Note that the keeper sits down inside the finger stop to keep things tidy and have one less thing to scrape yourself on when you're scrambling. The bungie keeps an empty water bottle from rising out of the DrinkLid as water splashes inside. Even when the bungie is pulled tight, one can still remove and insert the bottle quite easily.
Here's an alternate installation for those who don't want a port in that spot next to the daggerboard trunk. Advantage with this placement is that it doesn't hold excess water. This could be important to racers, though note that with the bottle inserted, the most the Bottleport can retain is about 16oz. Still, this installation easily fits the Bottleport criteria: out of the way, easily accessible with one hand, totally secure. You have many other placement options...back deck, forward deck, etc. Just make sure you know where your boat's reinforced and stringer areas are so you don't cut into those. THIS IS A MORE RECENT PHOTO THAT SHOWS THE FINAL COLOR-MATCHED VERSION. CLICK PHOTO TO SEE UP CLOSE. Someone suggested that you may want to use bolts and washers instead of screws for this application since there will be some force pushing the port away from the deck.
I designed the BottlePort to work just as well with the gearbag installed. That's how I use it myself. All this fits in, along with my Garmin GPS76 and other odds and ends, and still leaves plenty of room for the Bottleport.
Here's the Bottleport screwed into the port. You can see the oval shape of the opening clearly in this shot, along with the water channel on one side. The top is flush with the ring of the port and with the color-matched production version it looks very slick!
Another shot of the 28oz bottle at the halfway position.
Here's a 20oz bottle sitting down inside the port. All bicycle bottles have the indentation in the middle allowing for easy use in the halfway position.
So there you have it...the Bottleport! If you sail a Laser or any kind of similar boat where there's no great place to put stuff, I think you'll like this as much as I do.
By the way, if you are ever thinking of designing a product, you won't find better partners than Mike Strasser and Will Tammen at http://www.think2build.com
Though the final design isn't that far off from the original sketch I did on a piece of notebook paper, Mike and Will really made it work and made it elegant.