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Old 17-10-2009, 14:22   #1
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Portland Pudgy Dinghy

There has been some comments made about the Portland Pudgy dingy on this and several other forums I visit, but no one was posting with any extensive cruising experience and use of one so I chased down one such owner. If you want more information about the boat itself, google Portland Pudgy. It is promoted to be a hard shell, small deck stowable dingy that sails and rows well and can be used as a liferaft/boat. It will also carry a small outboard.

Here is a basic recap of their comments after about two years of liveaboard cruising and several offshore passages. The opinions in ( ) are mine, but the following is what I think is a fair recap of their statements.

They love the dingy, have no engine but row and sail it regularly.

When rowing, it is possible to seat three on seats confortably, but a fourth person is cozy as the second person sits on the rowers seat. The seating when sailing is best done on dingy floor and it is really only good for two. Sitting on the sides like one does on inflatables is really not an option. With three or four people on board rowing, there is room for small day packs, maybe a bag of groceries and such but leg room gets a bit cramped. With only two people, plenty of room for grocieries and just about anything you wish to carry. The adjustable middle seat is a big plus as is the second set of row locks.

In typical moderate trade winds, the boat does take a bit of spray over the bow, and is a bit difficult to row if the waves pick up over a meter or so. The spray is more of an annoyance than safety issue. It gets markedly harder to row in over 25 knots of wind.

A 200 lb person can stand on the rails without shipping water, and standing on the bow is not a problem for lighter folks. (Sounds pretty darn stable to me)

Breakage/malfunctions The collapsable oars have broken a couple of times at the joint, the company is willing to replace components, but you have to pay shipping. The rudder for the sailing rig broke and was replaced with a reinforced unit, again by the company. No other reported breakages but the clip that holds the extended tube in place is a potential weak link. The quality of the other hardware is high.

The sailing rig is easy to assemble in the water, The owners said it was much easier to rig than the Tinker sailing version

The life raft canopy is easy to install while the boat is in the water, after the first couple of practice runs which took 30 minutes or so, they can install the canopy in under 10 minutes. The dingy is reported to be self righting with the canopy in place but they have not tested that feature. They have no factual informtion to share on the dingy potential as a actual liferaft other than it would be crowded and probably uncomfortable. (Just like any small life raft)

Rigging the dingy davit harness to the dingy after it is hauled up is a bit awkward, primarily because you need to hang over the outside of the dingy to pass the harness underneath. It takes about about 5 minutes to rig.

Self draining is said to work well when towing or carrying in the davits but the plug is normally kept in place when the dingy is in use. There are grooves which contain any spray or other water that gets in and the Thirsty mate hand pump they have is just the right size so the discharge pipe pumps the water over the side. As a side note, they use the dingy to catch rain water.

The wheels work fine on hard surfaces, but are of little use on softer surfaces. Moving the dingy on shore is really a two person task, but a husky person can move it a bit by them selves on the shore. It takes that kind of abuse without batting an eye.

The dingy is not a great dive platform as it is hard and bruising to climb back into; (but stable apparently, does not ship water)

That is a summary of the two emails I recieved from these cruisers.

My opinion is that it is more than an adequate dingy for a small cruising boat, if you do not need more floor space for carrying four folks, and if you do not feel the need to have a planing hull. The only serious drawback is that is is hard and bruising to get into as a dive platform, but then you have an adequately performing sailboat and a liferaft/boat alternative on the other side of the equations. Price is also an issue, this is not a an inexpensive dink.

Regards

Tom
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Old 17-10-2009, 14:32   #2
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Tom,

If you (or anyone) are considering this dingy, I HIGHLY recommend you invest in a good all-around fender (like a cloth covered pool noodle). Of course this is a good idea on any hard dingy, most folks take this for granted... look carefully at this.

We met a person we knew from the net while passing through the Abacos. He had the Portland Pudgy. He say along side and chatted for a while one afternoon, and then again the next day (invited onboard each time). I noticed 20-30 gouges in the topsides on each side the evening of the second day.

Apparently there is some kind of hardware that projects off of either side of the hull of the dingy.... I am reminded of this every time I look at my topsides.
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Old 17-10-2009, 14:40   #3
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Hi Faith

I heard there were a cople of the Pudgies in the vicinity of the Abacoes.

That is an excellent recommendation, if I decide to buy one I will keep it in mind. I know that one of the options the compny offers is a fender for the bow, but I do not believe it is a wrap around.

Did this guy make any comments regarding his Pudgy? How it sailed, rowed, etc? Happy he bought it? Wished he had another dingy?

Just as an after thought, I was always taught that it was in poor taste to lay your dingy alongside and let it pound in the first place, but I guess not everyone went to the same school!

Tom
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Old 17-10-2009, 15:03   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Hildebrandt View Post
Did this guy make any comments regarding his Pudgy? How it sailed, rowed, etc? Happy he bought it? Wished he had another dingy?
No, he had a small outboard and I did not see him row or sail it. He said it towed well, and liked the fact he could tow it with the plug out. It seemed a little tippy when he got in and out, but his boat had a lot of free board so he seemed to step on the seats first.

Quote:
Just as an after thought, I was always taught that it was in poor taste to lay your dingy alongside and let it pound in the first place, but I guess not everyone went to the same school!

Tom
Same school here Tom.

Good luck with your new dingy.
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Old 12-11-2009, 04:12   #5
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Just a quick note after several discussions with the company.

There have been several cases of the older oars breaking, but they have redisigned the connection to make it more rugged. All new Pudgys come with the new oars.

The company reported that the rudder broke after heavy use sculling, they reddesigned the rudder to make it more robust. All new Pudgies sailing kits come with the upgraded rudder. The sails now have a see through window and some other modifications that are intended to help the windward performance. Again, all new Pudgies come with these upgrades.

Tom
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Old 12-11-2009, 04:53   #6
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That looks like a very good, fun boat. If they ever build a 12 foot plus boat I' certainly give it deck space.

Paige
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Old 12-11-2009, 06:19   #7
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We have one in the shop which we are storing while we work on the customers mothership,we had to pull the thing from the water at a low dock,it took two people busting a nut to get it out of the water,we were able to wheel it on the blacktop but thats about all with that stupid little wheel.I cannot even imagine cruising with one,im guessing its nearly twice the weight i would find acceptable for a boat this size,it seems to me that it tries to be the swiss army knife of the dinghy world.For a dinghy this size if i cant flip it over and portage it up the beach like a canoe its useless to me.
Steve.
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Old 12-11-2009, 06:35   #8
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Hi Tom! Marisa and I met with the builder up in Maine and took the Pudgy out for a row. She's a tough little boat. She rowed fine on the nice day we had, but found her just too damn small, and she weighs too much for her size. My overall impression was that we would buy one if they made a larger, lighter model. We MUST have the ability to carry four, while I'm sure you could do with three...
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