LOA: 36 feet, 11 inches BEAM: 13 feet, 2 inches DRAFT: 3 feet, 6 inches WEIGHT: 20,500 pounds HULL TYPE: displacement PROPULSION: 150-hp Cummins diesel TANKAGE: 250 gallons fuel, 40 gallons water DESIGNER: James Backus
So many boats, so many ways to get out on the water. For Allan and Sally Seymour, it was trailer-boating with a 19-foot Boston Whaler, covering the East Coast from New England to Norfolk, Virginia. “It was a Nantucket model, one of my favorite boats,” says Allan Seymour, 78, from Putney, Vermont. “I had a Honda 150, and we trailered it everywhere, staying at waterfront hotels. We’ve been to Lake Champlain, up the Maine coast, around Connecticut and in New York Harbor. And Isles of Shoals [off New Hampshire]. That’s one of my favorites.”
Seymour and a friend even made a run up Chesapeake Bay, through the C&D Canal and out to the coast, ending up in New Jersey. “I like to go places, see things, get in and explore,” Seymour says. “That’s part of boating, to me.”
Still, there came a time when a 19-foot open boat just didn’t serve anymore. “We decided we wanted a cruising boat with a head, a galley and accommodations,” Seymour says. “We’d just sold our business and retired, and wanted to live on it in the summertime.” Twin diesels “with a lot of power” were also on the must-have list. “I was going to thrash through everything,” he says.
The couple started their search in Maine. “We saw a Lord Nelson Victory Tug tied up at a dock and another one nearby,” Seymour recalls. “The owner invited us on board. After a while I said, ‘Sally, this is the boat I want.’ ”
Soon after, in 2009, they found a 37-foot Lord Nelson Victory Tug in Annapolis, Maryland, vintage 1985, built by Ocean Eagle Yachts in Taiwan. The couple traded in their Whaler (to the tug’s owner) and settled on a deal for the 24-year-old boat. The price was $180,000.
“I had no idea of them,” Seymour says. “I had seen one once and thought it was a cute boat. I had sailed on a Lord Nelson sailboat, too, and they were built at the same yard, so the tug felt at least a little familiar. We both liked the layout, with the saloon and the galley together, where you can see out the windows to the water.”
Seymour quickly came around to the tug idea. “I was converted almost overnight from the big, fast, twin-diesel boat to something that’s slow, that doesn’t have a big engine,” he says. “But this is me. It’s varnish. It’s beautiful-looking wood. It’s classic.”
The Seymours are on their 10th year with the tug, their summer home. “The layout of this boat is very commodious,” Seymour says. “It’s very practical, and we can cook and live in comfort.”
Owners are supported by a strong LNVT association, Seymour says. “The people are marvelous. We get together every year and talk tugs all weekend.”
People do tend to call the Victory Tug “cute,” but Seymour says it’s a good boat, too. “Designer Jim Backus came up with a good hull; it slips very easily through the water,” he says. “The pilothouse is high up, and you can see the stern from the wheel. There’s also a side door. And with the bow thruster, I can walk it away from the dock.”
Boating out of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Seymour is used to a lot of sea conditions. “Every boat is a compromise,” he says. “The tug is beamy with a shallow draft, and it handles well in confined waters. Still, I can run from Cape Ann on up to New Hampshire and go straight across. I don’t mind being [offshore] in good weather. Coming out of the Cape Cod Canal in choppy waters, it handled it well. You learn about what a boat can do and can’t do.”
Power is a 150-hp Cummins 4BT diesel, an engine used for commercial trucks. “It’s common, and you can get parts anywhere,” Seymour says. Cruising speed is around 7 knots, burning about 1.5 gph. “With more than 200 gallons of fuel, you can go a long way,” he says. “It’s a nice power plant for it.”
Last season, the Seymours took the tug up the Hudson River and into the Erie Canal, voyaging through historic upstate New York with another LNVT. On the return trip, they passed into Lake Champlain, a “gorgeous place to travel,” Seymour says. This year, they’re exploring Maine, heading farther Down East, past Bar Harbor to Roque Island. “It’s a circular harbor, quite a nice destination,” Seymour says. “There are no real marinas up there, just some small boatyards, so it will be kind of fun to be getting a little further into the boonies.”
Has the Lord Nelson Victory Tug fulfilled the summer cruising vision the couple had 10 years ago? “Absolutely,” Seymour says. “It’s a lot of fun, having this boat.”
PowerBoat Guide calls the Lord Nelson Victory Tug a “popular coastal cruiser with a bold workboat profile.” The tall bow and rounded wheelhouse are her two most distinctive tugboat design features, followed by the smokestack and signal mast.
The layout has a single stateroom down and forward, set up with an offset berth, hanging lockers and stowage. An adjacent head compartment has a shower. The saloon is aft, well-lighted and ventilated with side windows. It has room for a settee and additional seating. The U-shaped galley-up is to port.
The raised pilothouse offers good views around the boat, and there’s a Dutch-style side door next to the helm. Victory Tugs have a teak interior, and varnished rails and trim on deck.
More than 70 of the 37-foot Lord Nelson Victory Tugs were built during its 1980s production run. The boat was conceived by Seattle-based couple Loren and Lani Hart and designed by Jim Backus, whose other boats include the Cherubini 45 and the Bulldog 26 aluminum tug. Victory Tugs were built in Taiwan, first by the Hai O yard (through hull No. 18) and then by Ocean Eagle Yachts. The company is no longer in business.
This article originally appeared in the June 2018 issue.