By far, the most complicated sailing dinghy we tried out was the Portland Pudgy, and according to the builder, that’s by design. The rugged little 7-foot-8-inch roto-molded rowboat is also meant to do duty as a sailboat, motorboat and even a lifeboat if you choose to purchase the optional exposure hood, sea anchor and other survival gear.
In rowboat mode, the Pudgy is fairly straightforward. Its center seat can be folded fore and aft to create two rowing stations; pick one, and you’re off.
The Pudgy’s sailing rig — a two-piece aluminum mast, the boom and the mainsail — is stored in a compartment that is accessed through a port in the stern. Rather than a halyard, the sail has a sleeve that fits over the mast, and it’s loose-footed on the boom. Plastic leeboards fit into channels on either side of the hull.
At 128 pounds, the tender would be heavy to lift and store on deck, though it would be possible on a long crossing. Instead, the Pudgy is well-set-up for towing, with eyes to either side of the bow and a drain plug that can be left out under way.
Under sail, I found the boat to be comfortable and easy to handle, but I’d say that reaching and running downwind are its strong points.
The boats are made in Maine, and the Portland Pudgy website includes detailed documentation about the tender and accessories.
Weight: 128 pounds
Price: $2,695 boat; $1,295 sail kit