Now that there’s a mooring, and a place to live by the water, the next question has been how to get back and forth in a reasonably stable way, good for those who are not necessarily water rats, like some of us. Quite a bit of pondering has gone on, and then recently the sale of the old place in Holyoke went through. That did it – now we have the new tiny rowing/sailboat.


The Portland Pudgy came along as an idea a number of years ago, when I first read about it in one of the boat magazines, though at that time you still couldn’t get one. It’s been on my mind ever since, and then last year in Belfast a couple of folks were rowing by in one and stopped to talk, on the way back out to their sailboat. The Pudgy looked even better in person than it had in all the literature and articles, and the occupants were very happy with it.

This boat is specially designed as a rowing and sailing dinghy at the same time as being able to be converted into a lifeboat, out at sea. A tremendous amount of thoughtful detail has gone into all of its various aspects – it is sturdy, and surprisingly stable; it rows well, is self bailing when unloaded, and it has a sailing rig. Made of roto-molded polyethylene, the same stuff used for plastic kayaks, it’s tough enough to be bumped around and not care. Self-bailing counts for a lot – left at the float in the rain, the boat will not be half sunk when you come back three days later. Bailing after every rain is a task I have been particularly opposed to adding to our boat fun. If you were to tow it, there would also be no worries about filling with water in the waves.

It’s not actually in my plan to tow this dinghy in back of AUKLET. The inflatable packraft is good enough, and stows easily, deflated and rolled up. I find it much too nerve-wracking to have a dinghy in back of the sailboat when the weather gets interesting, and AUKLET is much too small to carry one on board. But this new little boat is going to be great for going back and forth between the mooring and the shore. Even better, it’s perfectly lovely to sail by itself, for the pure fun of tooling around the Bay, when most other sensible boats are still snug in a boat shed, or under a tarp. The Pudgy can come out to play for the odd warm day, with very little fuss at all, and is secure enough to make one feel that the idea is not utterly ludicrous from a safety perspective.

This boat is also double hulled, with flotation between the sole and the outer hull. When I read about this, thoughts of the insulating value of that arrangement came to mind, as I contemplated sailing on a warm day on otherwise very cold winter water – and it’s true! When we launched the boat this morning, actually taking it sailing wasn’t first in mind. But it became so easy that shortly after the boat was floating, the sailing rig was on, and off we went. More of a jacket would have been nice, but the warm spot was down in the boat, even though the water temperature is something like 40° F at the moment. You can see the gray closed cell foam that we also put in, to keep from getting wet with water in the channels – I’m sure that helped too, but regardless of where I touched the plastic, there was never that “bare feet touching freezing cold surface” feeling that is so familiar from other boats on cold water. I’m a happy camper.


The sailing rig that comes with the boat is nice in many ways, including that it can be stowed in a compartment within the hull, accessible through the transom. The only tricky thing is that the sail is held up by a sleeve that goes over the top of the mast and gaff. Having no halyard, the sail cannot be lowered in a pinch. Reefing is done by either raising the bottom of the sail or shortening the mast with a telescoping adjustment, and gathering the lower part of the sail. The rig moves the boat quite nicely, and I might very well get the hang of furling the sail up against the mast without standing (which is a pretty unstable thing to do, right up there in the bow), but it’s not simple.

Regular readers of this blog will already have an idea where this is headed… And somebody has already done it! Junk rig on a Portland Pudgy! Here’s a link to a blog post by Annie Hill that includes discussion of PUGWASH, a junk rigged Portland Pudgy that is regularly found sailing together with the bigger junk rig boats in New Zealand. This could happen here…

So that’s the latest. AUKLET and SERENITY (the Peep Hen) are snug in the boat shed, with thoughts percolating for sometime soon. In the meantime, hooray for sailing!


[As always, I am not receiving anything for talking about particular companies’ stuff – including the Portland Pudgy – on this blog. For anybody who’d like to see more about this boat, the website for it can be found here: ]

Many thanks to Suzanne Jean for all of the photos in this post, except for the one of PUGWASH, which I have taken the liberty of lifting from the Internet.