The Pudgy lifeboat

lifeboat builder

Portland Pudgy - Information/Models

The Pudgy lifeboat - Portland Pudgy

One of the most versatile and stable dinghy designs ever

You have to love the design. You will be happy with your kids use it as their own dink and it's nice to have a backup. The Pudgy safety dinghy is made with great attention to safety built out by hand.

It actually appears to be a pretty darn well thought out little craft and we find the "proactive life boat" aspect of it especially appealing. Won't set your pants on fire with the sailing rig but it will get you from point A to point B under sail. Pricey is relative, it's a lot tougher than say a Walker Bay. And a LOT more stable, to get the same stability out of the Walker Bay you need to add the RID tube kit. With the tubes and sailing rig they are comparable in price. Also to get the same rated capacity you have to get the larger Walker Bay, not the smaller cheaper one.

Takes a small outboard as well if you want. It's too bad it can't handle a larger outboard motor. Capacity: 557 lb for outboard gear and persons (max 4), 2HP Outboard. Double hull Designed of rotation-molded, rugged polyethylene and closed cell foam under boat floor.

Portland Pudgy design by David Hulbert

An industrial designer as well as an experienced cruiser, David Hulbert developed the boat specifically to meet the need for an easily propelled tender that could quickly be converted into a fully outfitted life raft with self-rescuing capability.

The Pudgy life rafts is much roomier than you might think though. It's beamy and the pram shape means there's no wasted space in the bow. So it's got as much cockpit area as many 10 foot dinghies, plus 12 cubic feet of storage in the interior walls.

Building details

The 128 lb.,double-hulled dinghy boat is made of buoyant, rotationally molded
polyethylene, and the lower portion of the boat is filled with closed-cell flotation foam.

According to designer , the U.S. Coast Guard has tested the Pudgy at 1,855 lbs. of buoyancy and has rated its capacity at four people. Floor space of the Portland Pudgy also meets the U.S.C.G. minimum of 16 sq.ft.for a four-person life-raft.

The Pudgy Sailing Dink

The "Portland Pudgy" added a new square head sail. Both the gaff and the square head can be set up as leg-o-mutton rigs, see sailing dinghy page of Other than that we're not planning any new rigs in the the near future.
You would probably be interested in an article by Larry B., in Small Craft Advisor Magazine. The article is called "The Great Rig Experiment." Larry B. tested a standing lug rig, a square-headed sprit rig, a lateen rig, an old Opti rig, and a pointy-headed sprit boom rig. Link to magazine:

Gear and features

Consisting of 3 zippered fabric panels also 3 windows, 1 forward and 2 sides, the entire canopy can be stowed in the space between the dinghy's two hulls, whichis accessed via any one of five 6/"-diameter watertight hatches.

Measuring 7 8" long by 4' 5" wide by 2' 1M deep from gunwale to keel , the Portland Pudgy life raft features an extensive list of survival related gear and features, some of them built into the boat, others sold as options. The exposure canopy is the most obvious and.arguably.the most important. Its shape is defined by tubes that are inflated either by the attached C02 cartridges or manually.

The equippment of life raft include approved ' SOLAS' reflective strips along the topsides of the raft to enhance the boat's visibility at night; a large sea anchor that stows in the watertight compartment.

For quick deployment the Portland Pudgy can stay attached to the gunwale, while the host vessel is cruising offshore.

the beautiful craftsmanship of Portland Pudgy

There's a Doarding ladder designed from heavy webbing that rolls up and stows on a foam cylinder which then serves as a bumper.

Elsewhere, the equippment of life raft include: a towing bridle, a built-in compass, handholds on the keel, the optional 8' aluminum mast telescopes and along with its reefable sail is stowed fore and aft between the hulls by inserting the rig through the access hatch located in the transom.

Note: You need to stash a bright LED flashlight in the Pudgy for the next trip in.

The Pudgy's two 6' 6" knock down oars stow there, too, but when in use, they fit into stainless-steel oarlocks than can be moved to either of two rowing positions. The deep, kick-up rudder stows under the stern seat.

It is the Pudgy, and one of the best dinks you can buy. A bit pricey though.

The motor size

The USCG regulates motor size based on hull length; the Pudgy is only 7'8" although it has higher capacity than many ten foot dinghies.

Generaly you can use an inexpensive 55 lb thrust electric trolling motor on your Pudgy, which has plenty of zip.

Keep the battery strapped on to the bow seat, which nicely balances the slight weight of the motor. The Portland Pudgy is absolutely superb in design, manufacture and handling. The Torqeedo motor is the good bet for life raft use and it worked fine. see photo below:

Below are some photos by Gregory P. of the Portland Pudgy setup. Installed to lift the Portland Pudgy up from the water.

the beautiful Portland Pudgy  setup

For Installation setup

"From Weaver Industries I ordered a Weaver Winch with Quick Kit Bracket (Part #450-WINCH/QK), and a Quick Kit Backing Plate (Part #700). I installed them as high as I could on my Ranger Tug's bulkhead, with the Backing Plate installed on the inside of the bulkhead for support. I hook the winch line to the Portland Pudgy's Lifting Eye, which is inside the Pudgy life raft. The winch is a ratcheting type, both in forward and in reverse. It makes lifting my Portland Pudgy a breeze." see photos below:

Having it on a cradle, lashed down on the foredeck with a canvas cover. In an emergency, throw off the cover, trigger the CO2 cylinders, get in and release the lashings. Let it float off the deck. If it doesn't float off, your boat isn't sinking. The only additional hazard is getting clear of the rigging.

From Portland Pudgy recommend having pelican clips on the lifeline to ease sliding it off deck.

The boat's buoyancy

Approved for four people

The Portland Pudgy life boat weighs 128 pounds. The USCG found its buoyancy to be 1855 lbs , loading it with iron ingots to submerge it to the gunwales. The USCG rated its carrying capacity at 557 lbs (motor, persons, and gear), which is 117 lbs more than a ten foot Walker Bay. (And it's unsinkable.) It's USCG-approved for four people.

Portland Pudgy're thinking about

It's a great resource for live-aboard parents, but also inspiring for any parents who are open to the suggestion " Do you want to raise a child who isn't scared to step out of her comfort zone? Then step out of yours.

To learn more about Portland Pudgy and Basic Standard Components or Optional Accessories, visit:

Portland Pudgy Inc.
200 Anderson Street, Unit 6
Portland, Maine, 04101

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