It might be one of the most easily recognized boats on the water. The Nordic Tug 26’s stand-out profile, with its big hull, upright wheelhouse and distinctive “smoke stack,” came on the scene 40 years ago, creating a new boating market–the trailerable, “pocket” trawler–that still inspires boating enthusiasts today.
The concept began with Lynn Senour of Seattle and the fuel crisis of the 1970s. The former wooden boat designer, armed with an education from the Westlawn School of Yacht Design, sat down to create a fuel-efficient, cruising powerboat suitable for a small family or a retired couple. It also had to look good going slow.
Inspired by the rugged commercial fishing boats of the Pacific Northwest, Senour drew a tugboat with a semi-displacement hull with hard chines for stability at speed and at anchor. A full keel helped with tracking and protected the prop and rudder. The wheelhouse had large, triple-pane windows and a sliding door next to the helm. And, just for fun, Senour gave it that smoke stack.
The main cabin layout included a galley with a two-burner stove, refrigerator, sink and a dinette that converted to an extra berth. The private master cabin and berths were “down” forward.
Power came from a single 110-hp diesel engine delivering trawler performance and economy. The Nordic Tug 26 burned less than 2 gph at a 7-knot cruising speed. Options included a bowthruster, inverter and genset.
Senour, working with his business partner Jerry Husted, founded Nordic Tugs, Inc. and introduced two versions of the 26-foot prototype at the 1980 Seattle Boat Show: the open-deck Cricket and the cruising-style Red Apple, priced at around $29,000. The tug was an immediate success. The original Nordic Tug 26 went out of production in 1997 after 174 hulls were sold. Reintroduced in 2009, you can still order a 26 today.
This article originally appeared in the July 2020 issue.