Portland Pudgy’s Origin Story

David Hulbert was challenged by the dangers of sailing his catboat in the icy waters of Maine’s Casco Bay and further offshore, with a small child aboard. Always thinking of safety, he realized that in rough weather, his standard dinghy would be useless as a self-rescue boat, and though life jackets might keep everyone afloat, hypothermia would set in in minutes. He needed a yacht tender and he needed a lifeboat. Why not design a yacht tender that could save your life?

He lived and breathed the project for a few years, imagining every detail of life adrift in a dinghy…what would he need? What would optimize survival and quality of life in that situation? Working out of his garage, he built prototypes, even enlisting the help of his then six-year-old daughter, who crawled into the space under the floor and marked the line where the floor attached. (Hey, they use ferrets to clean cyclotrons!).

He got some beta versions made and tested in 2003, and the first Portland Pudgys went on the market in 2004. Since then, the Portland Pudgy safety dinghy has become known and respected among boating experts. There is nothing like the multifunctional Portland Pudgy safety dinghy/lifeboat on the market: a combined yacht-tender, sailing dinghy, and dynamic lifeboat!