Lee and Dee Anderson spent most of their boating lives as sailors, enjoying the feel of the boat moving through the water, powered by the wind. “When we sailed, we loved the peace and quiet,” Lee Anderson says. “We were connected to the boat and to the water. So it was always about the journey and never about the destination.”
Now they’ve made the change to power, with a boat that gives them that same feel. It’s a 1984 Lord Nelson Victory Tug, which they bought in May 2014.
SPECIFICATIONS LOA: 36 feet, 11 inches BEAM: 13 feet, 2 inches DRAFT: 3 feet, 6 inches WEIGHT: 20,500 pounds HULL TYPE: displacement POWER: 150-hp diesel TANKAGE: 250 gallons fuel, 40 gallons water BUILDER: Lord Nelson Yachts, Seattle.
With three boating seasons under their belt, the Andersons say the salty 37-footer was the right choice. “With a boat that does trawler speed, the feeling is similar in that we both feel connected to the boat and to the water,” says Anderson, 66, a self-employed engineer from Owatonna, Minnesota.
After doing their due diligence, they bought the boat through Tower Marine Boat Sales in Douglas, Michigan. “We had been looking at several brands of boats,” says Anderson. “A friend of ours, Trevor Croteau, had just bought an LNVT, and he gave me a chance to drive his little tug. I immediately fell in love with it — and Dee, too, was impressed. This started us looking more closely at the LNVT.”
The 30-year-old tug was in excellent shape, cared for by a meticulous owner, Anderson says. The power plant was a BMW D150 turbocharged diesel. The 6-cylinder engine delivered 136 horses for a 7-knot cruise. Electronics included a radio, radar, depth sounder and fuel-flow meter.
During their search, the Andersons got involved with the LNVT owners’ association, which proved a big help. They went to the Midwest LNVT Rendezvous and found the boat they eventually bought. The price was $134,000. “The owners’ association really sealed it for me,” Anderson says. “I found out that everyone was willing to provide help.”
The LNVT’s look was the first thing that drew the couple in. “It has beautiful lines; it was simply handsome and very shippy looking,” he says. “Beauty, strength, safety and value were all things we liked about the boat.”
She’s a tugboat and no frail beauty, they soon found out. “We brought the boat home on her bottom, going 986 miles in 14 days, all during the spring flood on the Illinois and Mississippi rivers,” Anderson recalls. “It was an incredible trip.”
The tug averaged about 5 mph, burning around 2 gph. “We ran from about 6 a.m. until 8 p.m. every day, and we had absolutely no problems mechanically with the boat,” he says. “She ran flawlessly the entire time.”
The Andersons now have a longer voyage in mind. In 2019, the couple expect to move aboard and fulfill a dream by doing the Great Loop. “We are in the beginning stages of finishing the house remodeling, and then we will sell everything and leave the land,” Anderson says.
Meanwhile, they’ve upgraded the tug’s electronics, refurbished the fuel tanks and added reverse-cycle A/C to the stateroom. Cruising has gotten them familiar with the boat. “We enjoy the voyage and try not to have schedules to get us to some place at a particular time,” Anderson says. “Since we don’t have to be moving around adjusting sails and such, we can take time to enjoy the boat, the cruise and each other in ways we couldn’t on a sailboat.”
Longer trips, they hope, are preparing them for the Great Loop. “We always can count on a trip up the Mississippi and then up the St. Croix to Hudson, [Wisconsin], where we have our annual LNVT Midwest Rendezvous,” Anderson says. “This is a 100-plus-mile trip through one lock and under three bridges. We cruise with one or more other tugs on this trip, and it is the highlight of the fall season.”
To date, the Andersons are on track with their plan for the Great Loop. “We know of other couples that are, were liveaboards on their tug, so we know it is possible. I believe she will fulfill her mission admirably,” Anderson says.
And he’s sure they have the right boat. “Everything is just better on a tug,” he says.
The PowerBoat Guide calls the Lord Nelson Victory Tug a “popular coastal cruiser” with a “bold, workboat profile … secure, built to last.” The interior revolves around a single-stateroom layout. Although deck plans changed during the production run, the stateroom was forward, with an offset berth for two and hanging closet space. The adjacent head compartment had a marine head, sink and vanity, and shower. The U-shaped galley had a stovetop, refrigerator and double sink with pressure water.
On some versions the galley was placed to port, to starboard on others. The helm station had room for electronics, with good sightlines behind the five-panel windshield. A side door accessed the deck. The saloon was an open area, well lighted by windows all around.
The profile was all tugboat: tall bow, curved wheelhouse, smokestack and steadying-sail mast to add to the look. The single diesel could be accessed by a walk-in galley door or pilothouse hatches. With its plentiful fuel supply, the LNVT had a range of 800 to 900 miles at trawler speeds.
The Lord Nelson Victory Tug went into production in 1982, capturing the growing wave of excitement about trawler-style boats. Around 75 were built during an eight-year production run. Although the company is no longer in business, the 37-foot LNVT remains popular with the tug/trawler crowd a quarter-century after the last one came off the production line.
This article originally appeared in the April 2017 issue.