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Nordic Tug owners meet in the middle

Crews of 24 tugs in the Northeast gather at centrally-located Essex, Conn., in July

The Nordic Tug Northeast Owners’ Association held its fourth annual rendezvous in late July at Essex Island Marina in Essex, Conn. In all, the crews of 24 tugs and a handful of future tuggers attended the four-day event on the Connecticut River.

The get-together is evolving from its original three-day format, says Connie Connor of NTNOA affiliate Wilde Yacht Sales, the Northeast dealer for Nordic Tugs, located in Essex. This year’s rendezvous ran July 21 to 24.

Nordic Tug owners traveled from all directions to attend the rendezvous, including Easton, Md., Marblehead, Mass., and Albany, N.Y., says NTNOA president Jim McCrea. One owner rode up from Florida on his motorcycle and stayed at the Griswold Inn in Essex.

“Essex is sort of the midpoint and works well for us,” says McCrea.

The activities kicked off Wednesday evening with cocktails, a potluck supper and cruising presentations, according to the event’s schedule.

2004 marks the 25th anniversary of Nordic Tugs. Representatives from the Burlington, Wash., company, including founder Jerry Husted, attended the Northeast rendezvous.

Husted delivered a welcome speech, which was followed by “boat hopping” and a series of roundtable discussions. Topics included radar techniques, rope splicing, electrical systems, planning cruises, and equipping the galley and cooking aboard.

In addition, there were discussion sessions with Nordic Tugs and Cummins representatives. The day’s activities also included demonstrations of wireless e-mail, firefighting techniques and laptop computer navigation.

Seventy-two people attended a lobster and steak dinner, says Ben Wilde of Wilde Yacht Sales.

An annual parade of Nordic Tugs made its way up the Connecticut River to Hamburg Cove, where 14 tugs rafted up. Connor says threatening weather played a part in some of the attendees’ decision to leave the rendezvous early.

Nordic Tugs founder Husted rode to Hamburg Cove aboard Annie B, a 32-footer owned by Ruth Jansson and Bette Conner of Norwalk, Conn., who gave their second Nordic Tug a glowing review.

“Oh, we just love this boat,” says Bette Conner. “[We’ve] had it four years this week.” The pair had moved up from a 26-foot model.

McCrea cited several reasons for the popularity of Nordic Tugs and the loyalty of their owners.

“I think people like the style of it,” says McCrea. “It’s a particularly comfortable boat, and it’s a great sea boat.”

He says the pilothouse makes boating in any weather comfortable, as long as the boat is equipped with a heater. He has traveled to the Connecticut River Eagle Festival in February in his Nordic Tug, he says.

“It increases your ability to boat, with a boat like this,” says McCrea.

Ed O’Brien, owner of the newest boat at the rendezvous — a 37-footer named O’Tug — says he followed his boat’s construction on Nordic Tugs’ Web site. O’Brien says he was a sailor for 28 years. “And now very happily a tugger.”

Several of the tugs stayed in Hamburg Cove overnight, Connor says, and went on to spend a week cruising Long Island Sound.