Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: Marina del Rey, CA
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Re: Newbe with no experience buys big boat
The Pudgy is "unsinkable" (foam-filled) but that doesn't mean it can't swamp or capsize if overloaded for a particular sea state.
So much depends on the type of cruising you do, number of crew, and the time until rescue. Inflatable liferafts, especially if filled to rated capacity, are for QUICK rescue: hours. Depending on your location and scenario, there is no guarantee of a quick rescue. A hard dink is considered a "proactive" lifeboat: you can use a handheld GPS to sail or even row it to civilization. Don't put all your faith in EPIRBS. If you are in a remote part of the world, all that may happen is that one commercial vessel re-routes 175 nm to your area, makes a couple of circles, doesn't see you, and continues to port. Captains have schedules to keep.
Note that inflatable liferafts have VERY POOR reputations when inflated at sea and occupied for more than a few days. See Steve Calahan, Dougal Robertson, etc.
As for a tender, people want QUICK gratification and for that nothing can replace a Zodiac and an outboard. It's like the family minivan - will zip you in and out fast and easy. But for long term cruising a Zodiac can mean expensive repairs and replacement, plus the outboard, plus gasoline storage, plus repairs for the outboard . . . a hard dink can be rowed. Slow, but sure. The Pudgy can be sailed (I would rather make the rig than buy their overpriced gear).
Yes, the Pudgy stowed on deck means windage, and maybe even visibility sacrificed. The degree of seriousness of course depends on the size of your main boat. Keeping a Pudgy on the cabin top of a 24-foot sloop would be absurd.