Tender Considerations2015

Inluded in the purchase of Rua Fiola was a inflatable hung or more crudely lashed on the AFT davits. It was a Zodiac Zoom with an inflatable V hull helow the deck boards, no seat and no outboard. Nothing much worth saving. We took it off, deflated it, rolled it up and took it home. So what to do? The sailboat also has a 6 person Plastimo liferaft circa 2010, in a hard cannister which is secured in front of the cockpit. We tried to lift it while in the dock and could barely manage to move it 6". What would happen in a severe storm when its use became imperative is hard to imagine.

Seriously we said "When Rua Fiola is sinking to the level of the Plastimo we might be able to release it and clamber aboard". This is a real and important drawback to a liferaft and made us decide that unless we tried to use it under some test condition it was worthless. To test means putting on a beach somewhere, opening the cannister and presumably pulling the ripcoard". Once done it has to be sent back to Canada for a refit. This type of liferaft maight be OK for some sailors but not for us.

The 1st mate / Admiral made a decision, we should acquire a Portland Pudgy. The plus side is that it is a hard shell type of row boat, but by being dual hull construction the air space between the 2 hulls make it unsinkable, even if it is full of water. You can by a lifeboat enclosure, use with a sail or an outboard, all very promising. The negatives are that it is twice as heavy as an inflatable (but not a RIB), and does not have the stability of an inflatable to climb aboard for those wishing to tender it to a good dive location. At our advanced ages this is not a deal breaker.

Portland Pudgy Lifting Bar & Rods ~ Complete December 2015

Puchase was easy and as these are made to order, it took about 15 days before an 18-Wheeler arrived and the Pudgy could be unloaded. Looking at the comprehensive manual and some picture on-line it is strongly recommended that for slinging it on davits a "brassiere" arangement of some type be used. Portland Pudgy will sell you one but looking at the stern of a Vagabond, fitting it prior to lifting looked difficult. There are eyelets inside but if you use these for lifting in Florida heat, they will deform and potentially pull out. The solution we chose you can see in the image. A 1" x 2" stainless steel lift bar is used with 6 : 1 pulley blocks. Two 1/2" diameter stainless steel rods slide into the tube mounts used for the lifeboat enclosure. We took a swivel ladder that was part of the boats origonal equipment, cut it down , bent it and welded tabs to secure it to the gunwale at the stern with stand-offs just above the water line. The launching operation is:

There is a school of thought that says "going to sea with a boat lashed on davits is foolhardy, put it on deck". This is fine for young people or those who have a crane aboard, we do not. Secondly as Rua Fiola has a self-tacking Jib there is not the space below the sail or away from the Jib sheet to allow this. As an option we built a little bracket that uses the inboard rowlock and a stern stanchion to secure the Pudgy while under way. It is OK in waves and swell up to 5 feet but worse than that we had to lash it more securely in place. We are thinking how to make sturdier bracketry and suppose we will invent something better soon.

Powering the Portland Pudgy ~ Complete January 2016

The manufacturer says the Pudgy has been use with Oars, Sails, Gas Outboard and Electric Outboard. Our first inclination was to use a small LPG Lehr Outboard. We were attracted to it because it will run for about an hour on a single 2# tank of propane, and removed the need to have any gasoline on board. The failure rate of the Lehr's is too high so we passed. We next looked at the Torqueedo electric outboards which are very well reviewed, but at over $3,000 by the time you get one installed and its required charger - too much. So with idle time on our hands we decided to use a Newport 62# thrust electric trolling motor, which is built for salt water use. This motor is equivalent to a 4 HP Honda Outboard and drives the Pudgy comfortably forward at 3/5 throttle. We decided that a battery pack could be mounted under the front seat of the Pudgy away from everyone's feet. The job was finished by adding two 10 Watt solar panels to the mid ship seat for battery charging. This seat flips 180 degrees so when in use by people they are underneath the seat, but when not being used the seat flips over to allow the solar panel to generate a charge. All very quaint, but the weight of the Lead Acid batteries is a lot, to the point that we may by some Lithium - Ion batteries an try these next.

We have not yet invested in the Lifeboat enclosure but may at some time in the future. Total price to date for pudgy and parts is less than $4,000. All in all the electric Pudgy is a delight to use, it is silent, powerfull and takes chop very easily.