It is exciting to hear that Seattle Yachts International now represents Nordic Tugs, which builds a popular fleet of tug yachts ranging in size from 26 to 54 feet. It is great news, as Seattle Yachts has multiple offices around the country, with several in the Pacific Northwest, California, and Florida. No matter where you want to cruise, there may be a Seattle Yachts dealer not far away. And being a part of the Seattle Yachts family may be advantageous in terms of service and assistance when you are cruising.
Nordic Tugs is highly regarded as the builder of solid and ruggedly built boats in Burlington, Washington. Besides its great reputation, Nordic Tugs is somewhat unique in that it is also the only trawler builder currently building a model for everyone. Let me explain.
I used to host three-hour seminars with up to 350 people in hotel ballrooms during our TrawlerPort lectures at boat shows in Florida, Annapolis, Newport, and Seattle. The high interest level of the audience was intense, everyone hungry to get answers and honest guidance before walking the boat show docks, in search of the best cruising boat. They wanted to know what they should look for and why. (Brokers told me they always knew when couples had just come from one of these seminars. They asked very informed questions as they explored the boat, looking beyond the fluff of boat show staging.)
When discussing the subject of finding the ideal trawler, often with a panel discussion of brokers, dealers, and industry professionals, the dialogue always included four essential questions. Honestly answer these questions and one better understands their needs, with a general path to follow. Boat shopping is more productive this way, and more relevant, than simply walking around boat shows docks lined with pretty trawlers all dressed up.
These four questions are as appropriate today as ever and explain my excitement about the Nordic Tugs line of tug yachts.
1. How many people?
2. Where are you going?
3. For how long?
4. What is the budget?
The honest answers to the questions will save time, money, and anxiety in one’s search. Let us expand each question in a bit more detail.
(Seen below: The Nordic Tugs 40 cruising with mountains in the background.)
How many people?
If it is just going to be the two of you, or even solo at the start, then there is no need for extra staterooms and heads. It is quite common for couples to think they will have family and friends join them on a regular basis, enough to justify extra accommodations. Trust me, from the experiences shared by literally hundreds of couples over the years, that just doesn’t happen. I can assure you that you will cruise with friends, but you will meet them cruising and they are already on their own boats. Cruising in company is part of the lifestyle. Ask anyone who has done the Great Loop or wintered exploring the islands. The people and friends you meet are the best part of the adventure.
Here is another point about having people join you. Travel timing never seems be in sync for either party, and the logistics of meeting people who fly in to join you create headaches that are counter to the relaxed, cruising lifestyle. Changing your plans to accommodate other people’s arrival and departure schedules is not a good idea. It does not take into account weather windows and less-than-perfect conditions. The experienced cruiser knows it to be a dangerous practice, as it can put you and your boat at unnecessary risk.
Pushing ahead in nasty weather or sea conditions because friends are arriving or need to catch a flight is something to avoid. If friends and family do come to visit you at some exotic island or destination, it is far better to have them stay in a hotel. When you get there it can be a big reunion.
So, if it is the two of you, do not expressly look for boats with two or three staterooms and heads, or at least don’t include them on your wish list when you talk with your broker. If the boat you eventually buy has them, that’s fine.
Where are you going?
If the Great Circle or other coastal cruise is in your short-term plans, refrain from talking yourself into “needing” a bluewater passagemaker, a full displacement dreadnought that likely has too much draft, is too tall, carries way more fuel and water than you will ever need, and may also stretch your financial reach.
This has been a recurring discussion over the years. Coastal and inland cruising is every bit as rewarding as crossing oceans and does not require as much boat. If you can accept that realization early on and focus on plans for the foreseeable future, it will pay countless dividends. There are many examples of people doing some incredible cruises on boats most would discount, such as a multi-year cruise from Alaska to Maine, and then the Great Loop, on a classic woodie Grand Banks 36 with a single engine.
If the South Pacific does beckon you in five years, you can always upgrade to a new boat better suited for such an adventure, and you can swap route planning from Paducah to Papeete.
And for those who think they might like to cruise Europe and the Mediterranean down the road, consider shipping your coastal cruiser over there. The yacht transport industry has come a long way in the past 20 years. It is a well-oiled industry now, with ships carrying yachts around the world. Ultimately it costs a lot less, is more comfortable, and then you have a boat well suited for exploring Europe’s canals.
For how long?
Are you planning to do seasonal cruising, or are you selling everything and moving aboard the boat full time? Are you interested in completing the Great Loop and then selling the boat to move on to other things? Do you think you might like to experience life as a snowbird and travel with the seasons for three or four years?
These questions impact the kind of boat you should consider. And, of course, many people start out thinking they want to do one thing, only to find that the dream evolves once you begin viewing the world through a cruiser’s eyes. “For how long” moves from a predetermined end date to a schedule that is more fluid.
What is your budget?
Obviously, this is a big factor when considering the right boat, whether it is old or new, big or small. One’s budget may force compromises and tough choices. This is the primary reason why couples should work with an experienced broker to help wade through this maze of factors and choices.
Let’s look at the Nordic Tug line and size them up.
This little beauty has been stealing hearts since 1980 and is a remarkably competent cruising boat for one or two people. It has all you need and nothing more. It is the tiny home concept built for the sea. It would not be a liveaboard boat or work for extended cruising, but it is perfect for shorter cruises, is minimal in creature comforts and systems, and won’t break the bank.
One interesting thing about this boat that sets it apart is its versatility. The 26-footer can be loaded onto a trailer and taken by pickup truck around North America, which owners have done. One Southern California couple used their Nordic Tug as an RV, as they made their way up to British Columbia to cruise the pristine waters of the Pacific Northwest. They then loaded the boat back onto the trailer and did the RV thing again down to Baja for several winter trips in Mexico. I can easily envision cruising the San Juan Islands, then taking the boat down to the Florida Keys for the winter...all in the same year. There are not many boats that can do that.
Nordic Tug 34
The Nordic Tug 34 is a fine cruiser for a couple who want a little more space and want to cruise efficiently at trawler speed while also being able to get up and go at 13+ knots.
This tug is a fine seasonal cruiser, although a bit small as a full time liveaboard or for lengthy cruising. However, for a minimalist person or couple who do not want a lot of stuff aboard, it can work. I have written about this boat as a liveaboard, but it involves more compromises than most people would accept today.
But it does have everything a couple needs to go cruising and the dry head is a nice feature.
Nordic Tug 40
This Nordic Tug is the sweet spot for most couples, in my opinion. It is large enough for prolonged cruising or living aboard. The boat passes a threshold in size so that one can include a washer/dryer, central vacuum, fuel polishing system, and a flybridge. I have been on several of these boats (initially called the Nordic Tug 37), and it is amazingly comfortable.
The second stateroom is good for storage or the very occasional guest or family member, but everyone will need to share a single head and shower. Again, not ideal for guests or family, but it does provide the opportunity for additional accommodations. And it is always nice to have another place to go for some “alone” time, curled up with a book on a rainy day.
Extended living on a boat usually requires more stuff, and the Nordic Tug 40 has room for most everything in a boat that is the right size for a couple. Would be nice on the French canals, too.
This tug is where the model lineup begins to have side decks, two staterooms with separate heads, and space for a family and guests who come along as crew. It is perhaps more boat than a single couple needs, but the layout adds flexibility if plans do include additional people. And it’s a nice reward when one reaches a stage in life where they can splurge a little for a bigger boat. And there is always the possibility to give back by sharing the wonders of the cruising life with people who have yet to wake up at dawn in a quiet anchorage.
This boat has plenty of space for optional systems, watermaker, powered shorepower cable reel, and other large gear helpful on a trawler yacht.
Its optional flybridge adds even more living space, and it is not difficult to imagine a small family spending summers aboard, or home schooling the kids while on the Great Loop as a family, before they grow up and leave the nest.
Nordic Tug 49
The Nordic Tug 49 is a big boat, well suited for living aboard and cruising for months, although still easily handled by a couple with its bow and stern thrusters. The two staterooms are both full size with ensuite heads, just forward of a huge engine room with enough volume to install all equipment and systems with great access.
For those looking for a big boat capable of serious coastal cruising, in a rugged, well-built boat made in the U.S., this should make the short list. It is not hard to come up with answers to the four questions that point directly to this boat. More boat than two people need much of the time but able to go wherever they want and for as long as they want.
Nordic Tug 54
What can I say? Take a Nordic Tug 49 and add a utility room, which removes appliances out of living accommodations, and you have the flagship of the Nordic Tugs fleet. This boat can do everything. If you are interested in a large, comfortable, and roomy cruising yacht, where a tight budget is not as important as having all the water toys to winter in the islands or Mexico.
It is more than one couple needs, for sure, but if you have a family, or regularly have friends aboard while summering in Maine or Alaska, this is worth a serious look. And from the Nordic Tug 54’s flybridge helm, the view towers over most other cruising boats in an anchorage.
A Tug for All
I think you will agree that the Nordic Tugs lineup pretty much fills the choices across the cruising powerboat spectrum. The salty and rugged profile stands out in any anchorage, regardless of size. Which one works best for you? You decide.
Whichever tug hits all your buttons, be assured that Nordic Tugs continues to refine each model from year to year. They are exceptional boats.
And now they are represented by an equally exceptional company, Seattle Yachts International.