Portland Pudgy Dinghy Dinghy

What is the Portland Pudgy dinghy?


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With an electric motor. Takes standard motors as well.

What is the Portland Pudgy dinghy?

Your yacht tender is your link to shore. It’s worth putting some careful thought into what you need before you purchase a dinghy. In choosing the best dinghy for you, the main factors you should probably consider are roominess and buoyancy, stability and unsinkability, ruggedness, motoring and rowing, sailing, and transporting, In addition, especially if you’re a blue water sailor, you should think about your dinghy’s functionality in an emergency.

Roominess and buoyancy. Your dinghy’s carrying capacity, cockpit size, and storage space are big factors to consider. Your dinghy is your “family car” that you load up with groceries, kids, pets, crew, and friends. You don’t want one that’s so big it’s unwieldy and difficult to transport, and you don’t want one so small that you have to go back and forth repeatedly to do all the hauling of people and provisions you need to do. Your tender should be “just right.” The Portland Pudgy is compact and pram-shaped, but it has more space and is rated by the USCG with a higher carrying capacity than many ten foot dinghies. This is because of its amazing buoyancy (closed-cell foam under the floor), and its ingenious design: if you followed the curves of its rounded bow to their logical point, the dinghy would be just under ten feet, but the Pudgy has no wasted space in the bow. In addition, there’s 12 square feet of storage space in the interior side walls.

Stability and unsinkability. You want a dinghy that’s unsinkable and that’s difficult to capsize. Dinghies often have to put up with heavy loads and unforgiving seas. Even if the cockpit and the interior chambers of the Portland Pudgy dinghy are deliberately flooded with water, the boat floats with several inches of freeboard. The Pudgy is unsinkable and it’s easy to bail it out, so you need never be stuck in a swamped boat (this can be lifesaving). It’s very difficult to capsize the Portland Pudgy, but if you manage to do it, it’s very easy to right it, and the boat comes up empty of water because of the thick side walls. Its stability makes it a great boat to use as a platform for fishing, hunting, and photography.

Easy and fun to row and motor. You need a tender that’s easy to maneuver to shore and back, and you may want to use it for fun. The Portland Pudgy is a joy to row (unlike inflatables, which are basically impossible). Many Pudgy owners use it for recreational rowing. The Pudgy has adjustable rowing positions allowing you to balance the load and give yourself legroom. It’s also a good little motorboat, moving along nicely with a two HP (or 3.5 HP with a simple modification).

Sailing. Once you’re in an anchorage or mooring field, it’s nice to be able to sail to where you want to go. The Portland Pudgy is a fun, safe sailboat that lets you sail to shore from your mooring or explore islands and coves that your big boat can’t get to. And it’s a fun little recreational sailing dinghy in its own right. Amazingly, all of the sailing gear (including the mast, gaff, boom, and sail) stow neatly in a bag that fits inside the interior wall space, via the transom hatch)!

Ruggedness. If you’re ever in out of the way places without docks, you need a rugged yacht tender that you can beach on rocky shores. For that matter you may need to consider the wear and tear of transporting the family dog(s)…claws can wreak havoc on inflatable boats. (One way or another, you don’t want a dinghy with hole in it.) The Portland Pudgy is molded with the same tough polyethylene that rugged ocean kayaks are made of.

Ease of transport. You need a dinghy that’s easy to transport, either on deck, on davits, or towed. You don’t want it to be too heavy, and you don’t want a flimsy eggshell. Inflatables are surprisingly heavy and are notoriously difficult to tow. Thin walled plastic dinghies likewise tend to skitter about when towed and flip easily. The Pudgy tows like an arrow and there’s very little drag because of its buoyancy. It’s light enough to easily carry on deck or on arm davits or swim platform davits. The Pudgy was designed with a pram shape to make it compact enough to fit on the deck of a moderate sized yacht.

Emergency/self-rescue functionality. In tales of survival at sea, many survivors recount the horrors of waiting passively in a leaky life raft. Steve Callahan, who survived 76 days adrift, says that if he had had a “dynamic” lifeboat (i.e. one he could have sailed to safety) he would have reached safety in six days from where his boat sank. The Portland Pudgy is unsinkable. It is designed to be used with an exposure canopy and other survival gear (including a sea anchor and sail kit) and you can sail it to safety. Even without the special gear, the Pudgy’s ruggedness, buoyancy, unsinkability, and stability will keep you safer than any other dinghy on the market.

boating writer says she'd feel safer in the Portland Pudgy lifeboat than in an inflatable life raft.





"The Pudgy seems to perform each of its various jobs well..[rowboat, motorboat, sailing dinghy, and self-rescue lifeboat]...The Pudgy's seaworthiness will make it a great boat for beginning sailors...This is a real boat, designed to do a real job...Given a choice on an offshore passage between the Pudgy and an inflatable life raft or the average dinghy, there's no doubt which I'd choose."

Gretchen Piston Ogden, March 2007, Maine Boats, Homes and Harbors. Boats of the Year edition. 

(Sail Magazine review, 2010, below.)

Maine Boats, Homes, and Harbors: Safer in the Portland Pudgy than in an inflatable life raft.

Sail Magazine: safer in the Portland Pudgy proactive lifeboat than in an inflatable life raft.



  "Its tough, functional, and practical, and if the choice came down to climbing into a traditional life raft or boarding the Pudgy, I know where Id rather be. For a cruising couple or a couple with small children, the Pudgy makes a lot of sense."

Portland Pudgy, a Tender That Can Save Your Life, by Peter Nielsen, Editor in Chief. (He tested it himself.) Sail Magazine, September 2010.  Top of page.

Yacht Tender / Rowboat / Motorboat:

The Portland Pudgy dinghy is the ideal yacht tender to row, motor, and tow. It tracks perfectly and moves along nicely with a small motor. The Pudgy is extremely buoyant and  has huge carrying capacity, both in the roomy cockpit and inside the storage compartments in the double hull. The Portland Pudgy (7' 8", 128 lb., USCG-approved as a rowboat and motorboat for 4 people) is designed and manufactured (in the USA) to be an exceptionally rugged, stable, unsinkable boat.

Safety Boat / recreational Boat: This small boat is so stable you can stand up and walk around in it. The Portland Pudgy safety dinghy has all the benefits of inflatable boats and RIBs (rigid inflatable boats), without the risk of deflation. There is no need for an unsightly, expensive, and deflation-prone RID kit ("dinghy dogs") with the Pudgy: it's an unsinkable boat, with built-in buoyancy.

Unlike inflatable boats, the Portland Pudgy dinghy is a joy to row. It can be rigged out as a fun sailing dinghy, and as a proactive lifeboat ( a life raft alternative).

Because the Portland Pudgy dinghy is so stable, rugged, and tracks so well when rowed or motored, it's also a great fishing boat  or duck hunting boat, and it's a great platform for nature photography. 

Proactive Lifeboat: The Portland Pudgy dinghy is a self-rescue boat, even without the optional inflatable exposure canopy, sea anchor and other survival gear. With the exposure canopy, the Portland Pudgy is an unsinkable, proactive lifeboat. Unlike inflatable life rafts, the Pudgy cannot deflate, and you can sail, row, or motor this rugged self-rescue boat to shipping lanes or land. The Portland Pudgy proactive lifeboat is a self-contained system: all of the survival equipment (inflatable exposure canopy, sea anchor, sailing rig...including telescoping mast and boom!) plus a ditch bag, fishing equipment, provisions, and more, stows within the sidewalls of the boat. Top of page.

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Portland Pudgy, Inc., 200 Anderson St., Portland, ME 04101    207.761.2428 or 207.712.4027  info@portlandpudgy.com

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