As fuel prices surge again, so could the appeal of a single-diesel boat.
I took a demo ride on the new Ranger Tugs R-31 ― a semidisplacement trailerable trawler with a retractable flybridge — in February at the Miami International Boat Show. She was docked at Sea Isle Marina, where diesel was $4.67 a gallon and gasoline $4.99 a gallon.
I was anxious to find out the Ranger’s fuel economy. At a 7-knot displacement speed, the 300-hp Volvo Penta D4 diesel burns just 1.5 gallons an hour, for a 4.7-nmpg mileage rating. A comfortable cruise of about 15 knots yields about 2 nmpg.
Those are good numbers for a powerboat. And for a 31-footer the boat offers more of the features of a bigger coastal passagemaker than you might expect.
Click play for a look at the R-31.
“We can offer so much in a small package ― kind of a less-is-more idea,” said Jeff Messmer, Ranger Tugs vice president of sales and marketing, who hosted the sea trial. “So we have all the systems you would find in a 40- to 50-foot yacht in a package that is very workable.”
The R-31’s accommodations include a forward stateroom with an island berth and head and shower, and a midships stateroom with a berth and day head. The cockpit has a transom bench seat and two seats that fold out of the port and starboard gunwales and slide outboard, so you will be sitting over the water. Kind of cool. Access to the centerline engine is excellent, with adequate space all around.
We piloted the boat from the flybridge, but she also can be driven from helm stations in the pilothouse and cockpit. Standard bow and stern thrusters work with the D4 diesel, which pushed the R-31 up on plane with minimal bow rise — not surprising for such a light boat. At displacement speeds I could barely hear the power plant. There’s enough room between the wheel and helm seat to drive while standing, and that’s not always a given.
Standard equipment includes the thrusters, a windlass, trim tabs, a 2,500-watt inverter, a cockpit refrigerator and a fully equipped galley to starboard in the pilothouse with an electric oven, a refrigerator and a two-burner cooktop. An entertainment center in the saloon includes a TV/DVD player.
The R-31 has an introductory price of $279,937 with the Volvo Penta D4. Upgrades include air conditioning and heat ($7,650), a 5-kW genset ($13,300) and a navigation package ($13,997) that includes the Garmin GPSMAP5215 and GPSMAP5212, a 4-kW radar and GPS antennae.