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Old 10-08-2009, 11:18 AM   #1
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Has anyone have first hand experience with this dingy? Preferably while cruising on extended trips, perhaps a circumnavigation.

I have heard lots of pros and cons being bandied about, but other than the favorable excerpts from the manufacturers sites, I have not seen anyone posting on any forums who has actual first hand experience using this dingy for cruising.
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Old 10-08-2009, 12:13 PM   #2
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I have not had any experience with this dinghy, but I would like to offer my concerns with it.

First, I do not believe that you should be carrying anything on deck for a blue water crossing. No dinghy, no extra water or fuel jugs, nothing.

Except perhaps a properly mounted and secured life raft in an out-of-the-way spot that will not offer resistance to green water boarding the boat in rough seas. But properly mounted it should not obstruct passage from the cockpit of the boat to the bow. It should not obstruct a jackline running from the cockpit to the bow, enabling someone to clip their tether onto it before leaving the cockpit and have it remain clipped on all the way to the bow.

A good book to read about sailing in bad weather is Adlard Coles' "Heavy Weather Sailing" I just looked at the table of contents and it's been extensively revised. I swore by the earlier edition. The new additions look to be very good.

My next concern is the idea that it can be used as a life raft. Perhaps for coastal cruising, but I cannot imagine that anyone might think that it could be used for an ocean life raft. It does not seem to have a drogue, it does not show any ballast, and its footprint is too small and narrow to keep the boat from rolling in breaking seas. To me, this looks more dangerous than an inflatable dinghy being used as a liferaft, and most certainly would be much more uncomfortable for more than a few hours' stay.

If you can't use it as a liferaft, this is an exceedingly expensive dinghy.

But I return to the fact that this dinghy cannot be deflated, rolled up, and stowed safely belowdecks.

Other opinions?

J
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Old 10-08-2009, 01:08 PM   #3
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The issue of rolling is a concern. We happen to have a Tinker Traveler which is an inflatable that can be sailed and has a life-raft conversion similar to the Pudgy. Narrow boat and it does roll when configured as a life raft. Though not the Portland Pudgy, you can read about the liferaft testing of a Tinker done in 1994 by US Sailing here and maybe get an idea. In the case of the Tinker, the upside down position was no worse than the right side up--it was like being in an inflated hamster cage. That would not be true of the Pudgy--different canopy design entirely.

I agree with Jeanne that keeping everything off the deck during passage making is best. A hard dingy of any kind will be a problem. Further, it can be swept off the deck and you might end up without your dingy and without a lifeboat either one.

Fair winds,
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Old 10-08-2009, 03:25 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by redbopeep View Post
A hard dingy of any kind will be a problem. Further, it can be swept off the deck and you might end up without your dingy and without a lifeboat either one.
Something like that happened to Warren Brown on one of his boats when they were overtaken by a hurricane. The episode was related in an earlier edition of Coles' Heavy Weather Sailing. The dingy broke loose from its lashings on the foredeck. when we met Warren, on a newer, larger sailboat called Warbaby, he no longer carried a hard dinghy on deck. I guess he learned his lesson.
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Old 10-13-2009, 03:10 AM   #5
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I really like a hard sailing dinghy. Don't like to have to rely on an outboard and gasoline for longer exploration and just enjoy sailing and rowing a hard dink. Unless you can afford a truly huge boat, you'll have to store a hard dinghy on deck. You can mitigate the possibility of losing it by designing proper chocks and heavy tie down straps. In a major storm, it would be subject to being lost. The key is to stay away from bad weather which can be done by sailing in the proper season and to safe places. You might get unlucky but that would be it, bad luck. If you notice, most of the bad weather in Adlard Coles' book was from sailing late in the season and before reasonably accurate weather forecasting was available. Yeah, I know the Fastnet is in the middle of the summer but it's a race that goes on despite the forecast. Don't sail the southern ocean at any time and stay away from the Capes, the Carribean, Gulf and Florida in the summer and fall. The North Atlantic and Pacific in the winter, etc. and your chances of hitting dinghy threatening weather are limited. I wouldn't want to sail those waters at those times whether I had a hard dinghy strapped on deck or not.

Did you ask Warren Brown whether he'd given up on a hard dinghy because he'd lost that one?? I'd bet he'd just succumbed to the lure of horspower and a planing inflatable dinghy so he could terrorize the anchorage like so many of that type do. Said with tongue in cheek as I'm sure Warren wouldn't succumb to the terrorizing behavior, unfortunately, a lot of others do.

Aloha

Peter O.

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Something like that happened to Warren Brown on one of his boats when they were overtaken by a hurricane. The episode was related in an earlier edition of Coles' Heavy Weather Sailing. The dingy broke loose from its lashings on the foredeck. when we met Warren, on a newer, larger sailboat called Warbaby, he no longer carried a hard dinghy on deck. I guess he learned his lesson.
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Old 10-17-2009, 07:57 PM   #6
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I have recieved a response from one of the Pudgy owners I contacted. They have had two years liveaboard cruising and several major offshore passages with their Pudgy. The following is what I believe to be a fair summary their comments provided in two seperate emails. The comments in ( ) are my opinions, not the owners)

They love the dingy, have no engine but row and sail it regularly.

When rowing, it is possible to seat three on seats confortably, but a fourth person is awkwardly cozy as the second person sits on the rowers seat. The seating when sailing is best done on dingy floor and it is really only good for two. Sitting on the sides like one does on inflatables is really not an option. With three or four people on board rowing, there is room for small day packs, maybe a bag of groceries and such but leg room gets a bit cramped. With only two people, plenty of room for grocieries and just about anything you wish to carry. The adjustable middle seat is a big plus as is the second set of row locks.

In typical moderate trade winds, the boat does take a bit of spray over the bow, and is a bit difficult to row if the waves pick up over a meter or so. The spray is more of an annoyance than safety issue. It gets markedly harder to row in over 25 knots of wind.

A 200 lb person can stand on the rails without shipping water, and standing on the bow is not a problem for lighter folks. (Sounds pretty darn stable to me)

Breakage/malfunctions The collapsable oars have broken a couple of times at the joint, the company is willing to replace components, but you have to pay shipping. The rudder for the sailing rig broke and was replaced with a reinforced unit, again by the company. No other reported breakages but the clip that holds the extended tube in place is a potential weak link. The quality of the other hardware is high.

The sailing rig is easy to assemble in the water, The owners said it was much easier to rig than the Tinker sailing version

The life raft canopy is easy to install while the boat is in the water, after the first couple of practice runs which took 30 minutes or so, they can install the canopy in under 10 minutes. The dingy is reported to be self righting with the canopy in place but they have not tested that feature. They have no factual informtion to share on the dingy potential as a actual liferaft other than it would be crowded and probably uncomfortable. (Just like any small life raft)

Rigging the dingy harness to the dingy after it is hauled up is a bit awkward, and takes about 5 minutes. The hardest part is leaning outboard of the dingy to pass the harness underneath.

Self draining is said to work well when towing or carrying in the davits but the plug is normally kept in place when the dingy is in use. There are grooves which contain any spray or other water that gets in and the Thirsty mate hand pump they have is just the right size so the discharge pipe pumps the water over the side. As a side note, they use the dingy to catch rain water.

The wheels work fine on hard surfaces, but are of little use on softer surfaces. Moving the dingy on shore is really a two person task, but a husky person can move it a bit by them selves on the shore. It takes that kind of abuse without batting an eye.

The dingy is not a great dive platform as it is hard and bruising to climb back into; (but stable apparently, does not ship water)

That is a summary of the two emails I recieved.

After reading the comments here, and two other forums, I would say that the dingy appears to be a more than adequate tender, if you can live with the space limitations and the lack of a planing hull. The only other draw back seems to be the hard to board while snorkeling/diving thing, but then you also have a adequately performing sailboat and a liferaft/boat alternative.

Regards

Tom Hildebrandt
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Old 10-18-2009, 03:08 AM   #7
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Hi, Tom

Thank you so much for sharing! Great information. I wanted to share with you that another sailor here in San Diego just purchased a Portland Pudgy and is now testing it out to see how much he really likes it. So far, so good, he thinks it is great. He is contemplating becoming a dealer and thus actually purchased two of them--one for himself and one to sell to a potential customer.

He and my husband, David, have agreed to race our Tinker Traveller against the Portland Pudgy very soon--in the next few weeks. They'll probably both sail both boats to see how they like them and for comparison. That should be fun!

Again, thanks so much for the information shared with all of us here.
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Old 04-25-2011, 12:14 PM   #8
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He and my husband, David, have agreed to race our Tinker Traveller against the Portland Pudgy very soon--in the next few weeks. They'll probably both sail both boats to see how they like them and for comparison. That should be fun!

So? Who won the race?
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Old 04-26-2011, 10:34 PM   #9
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They never did the race!

Rather, the owner of the Pudgy had a great opportunity to take a jobs as crew on the replica of the Bounty (http://www.tallshipbounty.org/) and left town. We also left town. So...no race.
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Old 05-26-2011, 12:04 AM   #10
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If you can't use it as a liferaft, this is an exceedingly expensive dinghy.
I have little confidence in liferafts at all. In serious wind and waves, I truly doubt that any of them will do more than skittle away from you at high speed while you wish you had a good hold on it. Tying them to a sinking boat seems like a bad idea. Jumping into the water to board seems problematic. I can't imagine how anyone without almost perfect athleticism and lots of training could ever get into one in a severe storm.

In calm conditions, they would be more usable.

I would rather put my effort and faith into thinking about how the boat might sink and work on strategies to prevent that happening.

Nothing is 100% of course.

I have long been interested in a list of stories about people who survived an abandon ship and how many of them would have been better off staying put. I feel that information about liferaft use is anecdotal rather than scientific and that conventional wisdom is mostly theory untested by reality. I would love to get better information.
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Old 05-26-2011, 01:57 AM   #11
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I feel that information about liferaft use is anecdotal rather than scientific and that conventional wisdom is mostly theory untested by reality. I would love to get better information.
Well, there are at least three books about people surviving more than a couple weeks in a liferaft. I listed them in a previous life raft discussion on cruiser log HERE There are others, but not having read them, I leave it for others to recommend them.

Of course the best strategy is to have a boat that doesn't sink under you, but that's not always possible. Every so often in one of the sailing rags or on a forum you'll find a posting from somebody who has found parts of a boat washed up on some remote atoll and they're asking if anybody can guess where it came from. I wonder how many boats sink out of sight, all hands lost, and it's a mystery to those on shore waiting for them to make landfall.

A life raft is another piece of gear, and one we hope we never have to use. I don't think of it as giving one a false sense of security but rather a possible solution to an untenable situation. But life rafts have saved people, and some of them have written about their experiences.
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Old 05-26-2011, 01:59 AM   #12
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"I feel that information about liferaft use is anecdotal rather than scientific and that conventional wisdom is mostly theory untested by reality. I would love to get better information. "

"Anecdotal" usually means real life story told once-removed. Some guy goes out there, uses his life raft and we all hear about it via the popular sailing press, a book "How I survived XYZ," a blog post, or a story told by friend/relative or someone else.

Scientific would mean testing, right? There are tests out there, published, about liferaft use and even lifeboat use (e.g. things like Portland Pudgy or Tinker). For example, there's a 1994 test including the Tinker as a life boat that was done by US Sailing, BoatUS/West Marine and the Cruising Club of America (among others) and a report written. Link is http://offshore.ussailing.org/SAS/Ge...ty_Studies.htm to all the safety studies they've done. Look at the 1994 life raft one for the Tinker.

These days, in the EU, no company can sell a "life boat" unless that company is in the manufacture of "life rafts" and thus--the Tinker could not offer that option after (maybe 2009?); Henshaw inflatables stopped making the entire line of Tinker boats last year and I can surmise that the inability to offer the life boat kit probably helped in the demise of the brand. It was a little too expensive a boat (for what it was) unless a life boat kit could be added to it, IMHO.

What is "conventional wisdom" these days anyway? It was once to stay with the boat until you had to step "up" into the life boat. And, once your boat was sinking--to set out in a lifeboat (with sail kit if you had it). It does seem that now we've got everyone aboard with the idea of having life raft, EPIRB, and so forth (wait for others to come get you--don't plan on sailing yourself in a tiny life boat anywhere...) and no real "wisdom" about when to actually abandon ship.

I suggest that the numerous stories written by survivors of sinking sailboats are worth reading and paying attention to.

Fair winds,

P.S. I'm not very athletic, but I can get into the Tinker via the front boarding "scoop" that it has for that reason. I can imagine that I could do so in adverse conditions. However, I cannot imagine getting into a conventional life raft without assistance of some sort.
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Old 05-26-2011, 03:47 AM   #13
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I am kinda thinking about use cases.

I have been in the ocean in 40 knot winds. I have no measure of the wave size, but they looked "big" to me. I have also seen a few episodes of Deadliest Catch. I have read many accounts of boats sinking and the automatic deploying life rafts being found empty later. I have seen how light craft run away in wind. I've tried to get into a dinghy in relatively moderate conditions. I've tried to pull myself onto rafts. I've been in 9 foot breaking waves trying to hold on to a surfboard or kayak.

I find it hard to imagine that if the sea conditions were bad enough to founder a well-built boat that I would be able to deploy a life raft and to get into it, though I guess I would have the rest of my life to make the attempt. So I feel that abandoning ship in a severe storm is a long shot regardless of gear.

The other use cases I can think of are:

1) You hit something hard like a shipping container and it makes a big hole in your boat.

2) The rudder or propeller shaft fall out leaving a big hole in your boat.

3) A whale makes a big hole in your boat.

4) A through-hull fails leaving a huge hole in your boat.

5) You hit something hard like a reef or a rock and it makes a bit hole in your boat..

In those cases a life raft might be usable. I would think a strong bulkhead above waterline aft of the bow would be better in case 1. Perhaps something similar for case 2. Minimizing through-hull fittings, keeping them accessible, and having a plan for failure might be good for 4. Number 3? I might just say it is my turn to die. Again, I am just guessing here - making up things based on my own prejudice. As far as I know, nobody has taken boats out and rammed them into things at sea to see how they sink. Would we be safer with even more watertight bulkheads we could close if needed to give us time to make a patch? Maybe. You might have to wait a long time for the sea to calm to the point where you wanted to try patching your hull at sea. I've not heard of anyone succeeding at this.

Does anyone have hard numbers on why boats sink at sea? Insurance companies have pretty good information about more casual boat use.

What strikes me is how often those things that "everyone knows" turn out to be just wrong. We can guess and hypothesize and plan. And that is all good. But hard numbers are hard to come by in this field. Does anyone take 40 foot boats out in storms and do experiments with trying to get into a lifeboat? I doubt there is enough data there to draw a conclusion. As we say, you can draw any curve through a single data point.

So based on all this guessing, I would rather focus on having a boat that won't sink.

I love all the comments. Thanks.

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Old 05-28-2011, 12:45 AM   #14
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So I feel that abandoning ship in a severe storm is a long shot regardless of gear.
I agree with you there. But there are times when a boat sinks in calm seas. For example, Steve Callahan, who survived 76 days in a life raft, lost his boat when the stern came off - calm weather, dreadful loss of a boat. Another couple who survived in their life raft were in calm conditions, when a pod of killer whales attacked and sank their boat. We met a couple whose boat was sunk when it hit a whale, which then destroyed their boat - again, calm conditions in which they could get into their life raft.

A failed through-hull, if found before the boat sinks, should not be a disaster - it's why you're told to attach a soft wood plug next to each through-hull in case one fails. You're right, though, that they should be accessible. Most important might be

Our prop shaft fell out. A rag stopped the water until more permanent solution was effected (the shaft zinc stopped the prop and shaft from being lost forever - it caught on the strut). It was in really calm seas, but no matter - a 1-1/4 inch hole in the boat takes a while to sink it.

Does anyone have hard numbers on why boats sink at sea? Insurance companies have pretty good information about more casual boat use.

I think because there is no international data base and cooperative data gathering, there's no way to find this information. There's a lot of stories out there, though, aren't there? And lots of super-competitive ocean races with potential disasters avoided through superhuman effort.

Remember that guy from California who decided to sail around the world from California, he got into trouble in the Southern Ocean and a Chilean fishing boat came out to rescue him? I've read tons of stories about near-misses, lost boats, families taking to the life raft while their boat sinks, but most that I've read about have raised more questions than offered answers. Of course, who is going to admit that they lost their boat because they made stupid mistakes? Who wants to tell a family that their beloved husband/brother/father lost his life because of his own foolish mistake? I think that's the hardest part of putting together good information - the pain and resistance of the parties involved. But we do have the clues, wouldn't you say? Disasters - hitting whale or a container, well, that's just horrible bad luck, and maybe a life raft would be the only route to survival.

So based on all this guessing, I would rather focus on having a boat that won't sink.

Who wouldn't? Seems as if multihulls are the boats, then. Tony Bullimore's boat kept him alive, amazingly. http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/d...00/2518229.stm
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