Portland Pudgys have arrived!

new pudgys in shop 5-1-15Finally, after a grueling winter, we have Portland Pudgys in the shop again! The boats look really good.

It was wicked cold this winter, and this seems to have interfered with the molding process. But spring is finally here and so are the Portland Pudgys!

You can see they’re fresh from the factory…untrimmed and a little raggedy at some of the edges.


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Portland Pudgy Sailing Dink, Junk of the Month

A new Pudgy owner in Perth, Australia just called this to our attention.Pugwash600 (2)
Photo above shows the Portland Pudgy sailing dink with a junk rig. Note the bamboo mast!

The Junk Rig Association listed the Portland Pudgy sailing dink as Boat of the Month in June 2014.  “Each month we select a boat which caught our eye and make her our Boat of the Month. She doesn’t need to have cool new sails or to be a new build; she just needs to be of real interest and to be special in some way. “

Here’s an excerpt from the Junk Rig Association write-up:

“The featured “Boat of the Month” has tended to focus on the larger boats, not because we do not care about smaller boats but it’s what our members have been sending. This month I’m glad to say, we feature a small boat. However he is small only in size, for the Portland Pudgy has a big heart and is a wonderful little voyaging boat……And what a joy to sail he turned out to be!  I named him Pugwash because the wee dink looked like a toy caricature of an 18th century ship; and that bluff bow and board stern gave him a deep waist, very roomy for 8 ft overall.”

Click here for the whole article: http://www.junkrigassociation.org/boats_of_the_month (Scroll down halfway, till you get to the June 2014 boat of the month.)

Portland Pudgy sailing dink with a junk rig, under way:



Posted in sailing dinghy, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Portland Pudgy dinghy owners’ blogs

Mitch Zeissler's Portland Pudgy safety dinghy.

Mitch Zeissler’s Portland Pudgy safety dinghy.

Cruising, living aboard, exploring the world from the water and on land. There are some wonderful blogs written by Portland Pudgy owners.

Yesterday one of these bloggers, Mitch Zeissler, sent us an email linking us to his blog, Exploratorius. He’s an amazing photographer with pages of images of the American West,  the Chesapeake Bay, people living their lives, and much more. Beautiful photographs, and some good information on using the Pudgy as a sailing dinghy and as a rowboat.

Portland Pudgy: "family car" for s/v delViento

Portland Pudgy: “family car” for s/v delViento

Another great blog, funny and full of boating information is Michael Robertson’s blog of SV Del Viento. Great stories about a live-aboard family…Mom, Dad, and two little girls, as they cruise the Pacific coast. Really fun and well-written.

If you have a blog you’d like us to link to, or if you can recommend one, please let us know.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

Vieques, Puerto Rico

We just found out that a photo we identified in a post from two years ago, as a view of Vieques, Puerto Rico, is actually a view of St. John’s Trunk Bay (USVI), not Vieques.

So here’s a photo that really is of a beach in Vieques. That might be the famous Bioluminescent Bay behind the beach. Not sure.  Anyway, it’s a pretty nice place with a complicated history. (The 2012 post tells a little about it.)

Here’s an updated photo of the amazing little sato (Puerto Rican slang for “mutt”) we got in Vieques 8 years ago. She’s still beautiful at 15!


There are lots of little dogs there that need homes and great organization, Save a Sato, that places them.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Portland Pudgy Dinghy at Maine Boatbuilders Show

Maine Boatbuilders show photo copy
Portland Pudgy will be at the Maine Boatbuilders Show March 14th – 16th, right here in Portland, Maine, only about a quarter mile from the Portland Pudgy shop. The Maine Boatbuilders’ show is authentic, gritty, beautiful, and lots of fun. Master builders and craftsmen from Maine, New England, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick are there to share their knowledge and their passion for boats and boating.

You will be astounded by the expertise and enthusiasm you’ll encounter at every exhibit–from beautifully crafted sailing and motor yachts, to smaller vessels like the Portland Pudgy, to antique tools, to composting toilets. Many of the exhibits are staffed by the owners of the business, not just hired salesmen, so you can have a real conversation with the actual builder of that yacht (or with David Hulbert, of Portland Pudgy, for that matter). We think the experts are there because it’s such a unique, fascinating, special show–a meet-up of the boating clan–and once you’ve experienced it, you’ll want to be there every year.

Here’s a video about Maine Boatbuilders Show.

This boat show has a real Maine feel to it. Even the cavernous old building it’s housed in–an old locomotive factory from the 1800s–exudes the gritty charm of our favorite city. Portland, by the way, has become famous for its sophisticated food and microbrewery scene. There’s a wide range of hotels and B&B’s. If you come to the show, be sure to look us up. We’re at 200 Anderson Street, right near the show. You can try us at the shop at 207.761.2428 or call us at 207.712.4027 or 207.712.1553 (mobile #s, because we’ll be at the show).

Maine Boatbuilders Show, The Portland Company, 58 Fore Street, Portland, ME 04101 (207) 774-1067
Friday March 14, 2014: 10 – 6pm
Saturday March 15, 2013: 10 – 6pm
Sunday March 16, 2013: 10 – 4pm

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Sailing Dinghy Review|Small Craft Advisor

Sailing dinghy experiment

The Portland Pudgy sailing dinghy is featured in another piece by author and Pudgy owner Larry Brown in the January/February 2014 issue of Small Craft Advisor Magazine. It describes Brown’s experiments sailing the Portland Pudgy dinghy with a standing lug rig, a square-headed sprit rig, a lateen rig, an old Opti rig, and a pointy-headed sprit boom rig.

Larry Brown is a very knowledgeable sailor who takes small boats seriously. He understands how to get the best out of the Portland Pudgy sailing dinghy even with this assortment of rigs that  weren’t designed for it. (He’s never used the Pudgy’s own gaff rig.)

The Five Sailing Dinghy Rigs Tested

Here are some of his findings about the Portland Pudgy sailing dinghy’s performance with five different sailing rigs:

  • Standing lug rig: “a trifle small, but even in light air, the Pudgy moves right along.”
  • Square-headed sprit rig: “A light hull like the Pudgy is easy to move–and easy to stop.” (He gives some good advice on avoiding winding up “in irons.”)
  • Lateen rig: “So far, the Pudgy seems exceptionally stable, even in strong winds. It’s drier than such a tiny boat has any right to be–but in Nantucket Sound, in a chop, I have gotten wet…Still, for pure sailing, the lateen is best so far.”
  • Opti boom and sprit rig: “The Optimist sail is closest to the standard rig offered by the Pudgy people, and it did well…In some ways [its vang] is as good as a reef…but there’s nothing like the ability to shorten sail–something the standard Pudgy rig is designed to do.”
  • Pointy-headed sprit boom rig (a la Bolger): “The rig has one deficit in a stubby hull: Running down in a strong wind, the tall lever of the mast  tends to depress the bow…Even cat[boat]s with shorter rigs can experience this problem. In a finer, longer hull, the mast can be stepped farther back from the bow…an option not available in an 8-foot boat.”

The article is very informative and a pleasure to read.  It was interesting to us, because we also are beginning to experiment with an alternative sail kit, geared a bit more to performance and fun than to safety.

Posted in sailing dinghy | Tagged | Leave a comment

“Tremendous, Beautiful, Magnificent Failure!”|Jonathan Trappe’s (and Portland Pudgy lifeboat’s) excellent adventure!

trappe Portland Pudgy balloons telegraph“Tremendous, Beautiful, Magnificent Failure!” That’s what Jonathan Trappe said about his amazing journey. We agree with all of that except the “failure” part. He was aiming for Europe and wound up in Newfoundland 12 hours after take off, but what a trip…all two years of it (including preparation)!

How incredibly lucky we are to have been connected with Jonathan Trappe’s glorious attempt at crossing the Atlantic under a cluster of helium balloons, and how honored that he chose the Portland Pudgy as his gondola. Some of the things we learned…

  • The importance of whimsy and beauty in this difficult world,
  • That that if one reaches out for help and fellowship as Jonathan Trappe did all along the way (most especially with the people of tiny Caribou, Maine, where he lifted off), help and fellowship will be there,
  • That if you wholeheartedly pursue your passion, you can’t fail, no matter the outcome.

Trappe waited months in Caribou for the perfect weather system. There were a few times it seemed that it might materialize, but then, no. Finally, things seemed right. We got the word, arranged for a pet sitter, closed down the shop, jumped in the car, and headed up to Caribou, five hours north.

Turned out there were wicked fierce storms that day, but the following evening, the community of Caribou converged on the town’s soccer field, and started inflating balloons, and continued all through the misty night. Together we created a magic forest, a Druid temple, a Dr. Seuss fairyland of gigantic balloons:

Portland Pudgy balloons at nightRemember, each of these balloons is eight feet high and this is just a corner of the field!

Trappe and his lovely partner, Nidia, as well as several fellow balloonists/pilots, including the legendary Joe Kittinger (who, among other amazing feats, crossed the Atlantic in a gas balloon, 29 years ago), taught us how to inflate and then “harvest” the balloons, and directed the incredibly meticulous process of fastening them to the gondola (i.e. the Portland Pudgy).

Here’s the moment of lift-off. Trappe has just dropped the first sandbag…Nidia and Joe Kittinger watching. Minutes later the huge cluster disappeared into the low-hanging clouds (well, actually fog): trappe takeoff3 copyIt was a very moving and wonder-filled experience for us. As for the trip up through the clouds, the 60 mph shot over the Gulf of St. Lawrence, the yo-yo-ing from 21,000 feet to sea level and then back up, and the brilliantly executed landing at dusk in a remote spot in Newfoundland…what that was like, we can only imagine.

Posted in lifeboat, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Portland Pudgy Lifeboat at the Maine Maritime Museum

Portland Pudgy safety dinghy at Maine Maritime Museum

Beyond the Breakers: Lighthouses, Life-Saving, and the U.S. Coast Guard|Portland Pudgy Lifeboat Recognized

Portland Pudgy is honored to have a lifeboat on display at the Maine Maritime Museum’s current exhibit: Beyond the Breakers: Lighthouses, Life-Saving, and the U.S. Coast Guard.

The show runs from June 7, 2013 — Oct. 15, 2013. It’s a fascinating show, beautifully put together, showing everything from an old breeches buoy, to traditional inflatable life rafts, to a hovering helicopter, to the Portland Pudgy safety dinghy. In addition to technical information, you’ll learn about US Coast Guard history, shipwrecks, and life on the coast.

The Maine Maritime Museum is in Bath, right near Bath Iron Works, where ships have been built since 1884 (and still are). The museum embodies Maine’s  rich, living, maritime heritage. A visit to the museum opened the door to how much there is to learn and made us want to go back. We were struck by the Yankee ingenuity it took to make the (working) mechanical warning bell on display, the awesome scale of clipper ships (evidenced by beautifully carved bowsprits and gorgeous old prints, models, and paintings), the complexities of trade between the northeastern US and the Far East, Maine shipbuilders’ role in the Civil War…all in one short visit.

We have to admit that our trip to take the Portland Pudgy lifeboat to the exhibit was our first visit to the museum. What a waste! We intend to make up for lost time and go there more often, and to tell our friends about it.

If you’re already in Maine, or if you’re planning a trip Downeast, make a stop in Bath at the Maine Maritime Museum. It’s well worth the trip.


Posted in lifeboat, Safety at sea, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Transatlantic Balloon Crossing Drawing Nigh (Portland Pudgy dinghy to have a wild ride)

Jonathan Trappe and his Portland Pudgy dinghy/lifeboat

Portland Pudgy Dinghy Gondola for Transatlantic Balloon Crossing

We just received an update from the intrepid Jonathan Trappe, who will be setting out to be the third person to cross the Atlantic by helium balloon and the first person to cross using a cluster of helium balloons (and may we point out, the first to use the Portland Pudgy dinghy/lifeboat as a gondola for that matter).

Here’s an excerpt from his latest update:

Hello Balloonists, friends:

Greetings from Caribou, Maine!…We are ever-closer to the first trans-Atlantic cluster balloon flight.  I wanted to give our team the current status!

Aroostook County has been this historic jumping off point for successful trans-Atlantic gas balloon flights from the USA.  Well, there have been only two such balloons that made the crossing:

  • Double Eagle II – 1978 – Aroostook County, Presque Isle, Maine – Anderson/Abruzzo/(Newman)
  • Rosie O’Grady’s Balloon of Peace – 1984 – Aroostook County, Caribou, Maine – Col. Joe Kittinger

That’s it.  In the history of flight, there have been exactly two gas balloons that have made it across the Atlantic from the United States, and the last was a 29-years ago.  Both were launched out of Aroostook County. We are now here in Aroostook, in Caribou, getting closer and closer to launching a trans-Atlantic flight for a new generation!

It is an honor to put up our flight from Aroostook, and from the community of Caribou—the town that hosted the last straight gas trans-Atlantic flight from the USA.  Driving up Main street in Caribou, you pass Kittinger Avenue, and the launch site of that great flight.  To anybody that says there are no Caribou here, I point you to the attached photos; I saw one sticking his head through a wall;  he eyed me in this uncanny, unblinking fashion…

Jonathan Trappe and Caribou

Until soon!


If you’re hanging around near Caribou, Maine this summer (we realize that’s unlikely), Jonathan needs crew to help fill the helium balloons. We’re hoping we can be there to help Trappe and his rugged little Portland Pudgy dinghy take off.

See Jonathan Trappe’s website.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Portland Pudgy Dinghy Owners’ Blogs

Check Out the Blogs of Portland Pudgy Safety Dinghy Owners!

Cruisers, liveaboards, or folks who just like messing about in boats…we know you’re out there blogging. If you are the proud owner of a Portland Pudgy safety dinghy and have a boating blog, please let us know, so we can link to you.

Here are three of the blogs we follow. What they all have in common (besides the Portland Pudgy dinghy) is that they’re all about people following their bliss.

Portland Pudgy: “family car” for s/v delViento

Log of s/v delViento: A family of four trade the daily grind for seasickness, financial unrest, and togetherness. (See photo above.) We’re addicted to this one. Here’s a post that talks about trying out the new Portland Pudgy safety dinghy. And here’s a typically unpredictable, great story: Me And The Mayor. Totally unpretentious, funny, and real.

MatTagSailabout. Stories, photos, videos, and natural history updates from a family of three traveling from Alaska to Mexico on their sailboat with their Schipperke. This post seems to have been written by the dog (who loves the Portland Pudgy dinghy).  Most of it is by Beth Mathews, a scientist and a wonderful writer. Here’s a nice excerpt about visiting friendly gray whales off Baja (by Beth, not the dog):

“Before our panga driver turns us away from our last curious pair of whales to return to shore, I wonder what the calf’s mother sees as she floats in the water next to us? A shimmering white curve pressed into the upper skin of her water world, a china teacup brimming with tiny land mammals? Shadowy appendages reach out and down through the rippling mirror — beckoning with empty, open hands.”  Read whole post…

Captain Murph. He’ll teach you to sail, pilot your yacht, or take you for a cruise on his own boat. A very entertaining and informative blog. Here’s a post about his new Portland Pudgy dinghy/lifeboat.

We’ll post more links to Pudgy owners’ blogs as soon as we get the info.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment