Small Sailboat FAQ

Portland Pudgy in 25 knot winds. (Note reefed sail.)

The original sail kit (circa 2006) featured a loose-footed gaff rig. It was designed with emergency lifeboat use in mind…stable and easy to stow inside the double hull. As more and more Portland Pudgy owners discovered that the Pudgy is fun to sail, we decided to make changes to improve the Pudgy as a small sailboat for recreational use.

So, in 2010 we  made substantial changes to the sailboat rig. We added a telescoping boom of rigid aluminum. The sail kit is just as easy to stow inside the double hull. The sail is bigger and has a window. The rudder post is stronger and more rugged. We offer longer, performance leeboards as well as the standard leeboards. All of this makes this small sailboat go faster, come into the wind better, and it’s even more fun to sail!

Here’s a blog post about the improved “repowered” rig by a Pudgy owner who has owned both the original and the 2010 sail rig.

2006 old loose footed gaff rig
2006 old loose footed gaff rig
2010 (current) gaff rig
2010 (current) gaff rig
2015 square head rig
2015 square head rig






We wanted to make a faster rig, so in 2014 we developed a new square head sail, which we now offer in addition to the original gaff rig.  See below for photo and more info about the square head rig.


Either rig can now be easily converted to a leg-o-mutton type rig, so that the boom is higher, but the sail area is not diminished.  This is a safety feature, especially for kids (less likely to get hit on the head by the boom). In the photo below, the red line indicates the leg-o-mutton boom placement.

Square head sail set up with leg-o-mutton configuration.

We now offer both a square head rig and a gaff rig.

The square head sail has at least two advantages. It’s good in light breezes, allowing the top of the sail to get more wind. It allows for more roach (i.e. more material extending from the top of the mast to the aft of the boom). It points well. The new square head sail kit uses all the same spars as the original gaff rig, except the mast is straight, with no gaff tube at the top of the mast.  The photo above (taken at night at the completion of a test of the new rig) shows the shape of the square head sail. 

The original gaff rig is also excellent, and is even more stable than the square head. This is because the gaff will spill out the wind when broached. We’ve sailed it in 20-25 knot winds and even when broached, it didn’t capsize. Pretty good for a small sailboat!

The sail includes:

  • Telescoping (aluminum) 8-foot mast, two position with push-button release
  • Gaff, 4′ 10″ (aluminum) (gaff rig only)
  • mast extension, 5′ (aluminum) (square head rig only)
  • Telescoping boom with yoke and out-haul jamb cleat
  • Sail, 4.5 oz Dacron, high performance. Gaff rig sail: 41 sq. ft.  Square head sail: 44 sq. ft.Window for visibility. Reefs up when used w/ exposure canopy, creating unique proactive life boat.  Reefs down if sailing in strong winds. White or safety orange
  • Straps for leg-o-mutton boom placement
  • Kick-up rudder (three-position), rudder post (stores under rear seat), and aluminum tiller with stainless steel rudder/tiller connector and soft foam hand grip
  • Gudgeons with pintle-lock mounted on transom
  • Rigging lines, Harken carbon blocks, and traveler line with jamb cleat (mounted on Pudgy)
  • Two leeboards (standard or performance, same price).  Standard store under rear seat, recommended for survival system. Performance lee-boards (35” long) store under middle seat.
  • Storage bag for sail, mast, gaff, and boom
  • Installation of sailing rig hardware when purchased with boat.

All of the Portland Pudgy sailboat’s accessories (sail kit, survival system gear, sea anchor, and more) are designed to stow within the boat.

The mast, gaff, boom, sail, and tiller stow inside the hull storage compartment. You slide the bundle in through the transom hatch. The rudder and standard leeboards stow neatly under the rear seat. The performance leeboards can be strapped under the middle seat.

The sailboat rig is designed so that you can set it up while on the water.

Removing the sail kit (mast, gaff, boom, sail, and tiller) from hull storage.
Removing the sail kit (mast, gaff, boom, sail, and tiller) from hull storage.

The mast fits through an opening in the front window of the exposure canopy. The sail is reefed up, to fit above the exposure canopy. The photo on the far right shows the full sail (unreefed) The center photo shows the saiboat rig in place with the canopy. Note that the middle canopy section must be zipped open when sailing. Obviously, the sail kit should not be used until conditions have calmed.

For detailed information about using the sail kit with the lifeboat system, see the Owner’s Manual.

Proactive lifeboat can be sailed to safety
Proactive lifeboat can be sailed to safety