The Portland Pudgy is a chubby, blunt-nosed dinghy manufactured in Portland, Maine, by David Hulbert.
This summer, the utilitarian, unsinkable little vessel will serve a purpose its designer could have never imagined.
Jonathan Trappe, a North Carolina man who plans to fly across the Atlantic using cluster balloons, said he spent months searching for the right gondola for his journey. He needed a capsule light enough to be suspended in flight but buoyant enough to double as a boat if he had to ditch at sea.
A Web search led him to the Portland Pudgy. He bought one last summer and spent 53 hours living aboard it in Casco Bay. He took the Pudgy on a test flight a couple months later in Leon, Mexico, where his balloons carried the Pudgy thousands of feet into the air before he successfully landed the whole thing on a lake.
Hulbert's initial reaction to Trappe's plans: "It's insane. It's really nuts. This is not exactly what the boat is designed to do."