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Used boat

Nordic Tugs 26

Nordic Tugs 26


Mike and Kelly Lange weren’t in the market for another boat. The Maryland residents, both 41 and software engineers, enjoyed making overnighters in their 21-foot outboard cuddy.

But boats have a way of attaching themselves to people, and before the two quite realized what was happening, they were hopelessly in love with a red tugboat they saw docked at their Eastport, Md., condominium. It was a 1984 Nordic Tugs 26 — a recreational tugboat considered a classic in its genre today, prized for its cruising comforts and salty good looks.

“We were touring the marina as we were considering buying the condo, and the tug caught our attention,” recalls Mike Lange. “It was love at first sight.”

They moved into the condo and kept their eye on the boat, thinking, “Maybe someday we’ll have a boat like that,” says Lange.

In early 2003 the couple found out that the Nordic Tug 26 was on the market. “I

remember my first thought being, Oh no, I won’t be able to see her anymore,” says Lange. So the couple bought the boat for just under $60,000 that April.

“This was a chance to own what we considered to be a very well-built, practical, pilothouse trawler — perfect for the kind of cruising we had been doing in [our outboard boat],” says Lange. “We knew this boat was used frequently and was well cared for. In the end, we decided we would regret it if we did not buy the boat.”

It turned out to be a perfect move. “During the time we owned the [outboard], we discovered that we were cruisers at heart,” says Lange. “We put about 1,000 hours on her in five years, staying on her for weeks at a time.” In 2001 they took the 21-footer from Annapolis, Md., to Little Harbor in the Abacos, spending almost every night on board.

Cruising in Lil’ LeRoy (named after Mike’s father) is a whole new experience, with less speed but more comfort. “We now feel like we are traveling in style,” says Lange. “And though it takes longer to get ‘there,’ frankly, as soon as you get on board you are ‘there.’ ”

The interior is comfortable and practical, says Lange. The master cabin has a

V-berth and hanging locker, and the Lectra-San equipped head has a hand-held

shower. The pilothouse has great visibility, good ventilation and comfortable seating for the captain and mate. The roomy galley features a two-burner propane stove, refrigerator, sink and microwave, with an L-shaped settee for dining. “She has a great deal of teak, which helps to provide a warm cozy feeling,” says Lange.

Lil’ LeRoy is powered by the original four-cylinder 85-hp Perkins diesel, and while she cruises at a stately 8 knots, she’ll top out near 10 knots, says Lange. The electronics have been upgraded; the Langes recently adding a Garmin GPS/chart plotter and a Robertson autopilot. Amenities include air conditioning and XM satellite radio.

The tug is perfect for cruising the rivers and creeks of Chesapeake Bay, says Lange. However, more distant ports are calling, suddenly accessible with their Nordic Tugs 26. “We would like to cruise the Northeast, which we have never done, and we would also like to plan another cruise to the Bahamas,” says Lange.

And Lil’ LeRoy is just the boat to do it in. “It is a practical, very well-built, full-keeled, diesel-powered, pilothouse trawler that is only 26 feet long,” Lange says.“I look at it as the smallest real-quality trawler ever built.”


The original Nordic Tugs 26 — with its tall bow and rounded stern, upright pilothouse forward of amidships, and distinctive free-standing smoke stack — borrows heavily from the working vessels of the Pacific Northwest in appearance. Designed by Lynn Senour, known for his coastal cruisers and big trawlers, her rugged looks and diminutive size helped make the 26-footer an instant hit and launched the recreational tugboat market almost single-handedly.

Stout bulwarks with hawse holes surround wide side, fore and aft decks, adding a measure of safety to handling lines. Another Senour “tugboat touch” is the handy starboard wing door leading to the raised pilothouse. Inside, the helm station (with wheel, instrument panel and chart table) is placed to starboard, and sightlines are provided through a trawler-inspired, triple-pane windshield and tall side windows. Abaft the pilothouse and down two steps, the main cabin serves as both the saloon and the galley. The layout features an L-shaped lounge and a dining area to starboard (with seating for up to six), and a fully equipped galley runs lengthwise on the port side. In 1995 the lounge was replaced by a dinette, with a table between two bench seats.

The master cabin is forward, down two steps from the pilothouse, and there are two common layouts. One has an offset double berth, the other a standard V-berth with an insert. Both have the head (with wand-style shower) placed adjacent and to starboard, with hanging lockers across the way. The semidisplacement hull has hard chines and a full keel, and standard power was a single 55-hp diesel, producing 8 to 9 mph cruising speeds. Power plants as large as 140 hp were used in later years, pushing single-digit cruising speeds to 15 to 17 mph.


Because of the intense loyalty this boat often inspires in its owners, the Nordic Tugs 26 is a rare find in the used-boat market. “They are very hard to come by,” says Scott Heckard, sales manager for Nordic Tugs dealer Annapolis Sailyard.

A Web search — including — yielded just one boat: a 1983 model in Texas for around $78,000, with a 65-hp Perkins diesel. It’s equipped with radar, autopilot, VHF and depth sounder; a two-burner stove and fridge in the galley; and such amenities as a generator, AC/heat and a hot water heater.

Heckard says he recently sold a 1995 model with a Yanmar diesel, generator, AC and all the cruising comforts for around $125,000. Similar models from the early to mid-’90s go for around $100,000, he says. Boats from the ’80s start at around $60,000 and up, depending on age and condition.

“If you find one, you’d better snap it up,” he says.

Connie Connor of Wilde Yacht Sales, an Essex, Conn., Nordic Tugs dealer, agrees. “They’re a hot item,” she says.


LOA: 26 feet, 4 inches

BEAM: 9 feet, 6 inches

DRAFT: 2 feet, 2 inches

WEIGHT: 7,500 pounds

HULL TYPE: semidisplacement

TANKAGE: 50 gallons water,

75 gallons fuel

PROPULSION: single diesel

BUILDER: Nordic Tugs, Burlington, Wash. Phone: (800) 388-4517.


The Nordic Tugs story goes back to 1979, when boaters Jim and Jerry Husted and Gail Davis started up a sailboat company in Washington called Blue Waters Boats. The firm started by building a Colin Archer-designed double-ender inspired by Norwegian fishing vessels.

However, the fuel crisis of the 1980s brought a change.

Seeing big, expensive-to-run powerboats sitting idle, the three wondered if they could develop an economical answer to the fuel-guzzling cabin boat. They got together with designer Senour and developed a capable, good-looking, comfortable cruising powerboat that wouldn’t be so costly to run. The result was the Blue Water Nordic Tug 26, which debuted at the 1980 Seattle Interna-tional Boat Show. More than 50 orders were taken, and sailboat production was halted the following year.

Noted first for its salty, workboat appearance — inspired both by harbor tugs and the Archer-designed sailboat — the full-keel vessel came to be appreciated for its handling at sea and its spacious cruising interior. The design was modified in 1995, when the 2-26 model was introduced. Retired in 1997, the Nordic Tugs 26 stands as one of the more successful boats in the recreational tug/trawler fleet, selling some 175 units in its 17-year production run. Today, Nordic Tugs builds four models from 32 to 52 feet.