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Nordic Tug 26 Makes A Comeback

The baby is back. And, yes, she's almost small enough to carry away in your arms. After being absent from the boating market since 1997, there's a "new" 26-foot Nordic Tug ready for boaters seeking quality, efficiency, and a price that doesn't take your breath away

The baby is back. And, yes, she's almost small enough to carry away in your arms.

After being absent from the boating market since 1997, there's a "new" 26-foot Nordic Tug ready for boaters seeking quality, efficiency, and a price that doesn't take your breath away.

The first two off the production line are bound for boat shows. Hull No. 173 (the company continued the numbering program that began in 1980 when the 26 was introduced) is scheduled to make her first public appearance at the Seattle Boat Show in late January. Hull No. 174 will head for shows on the East Coast, and Hull No. 175 is going to a dealer in Japan.

Nordic Tugs built 172 of the 26 tug/yacht, but discontinued production and put the molds in storage after it became obvious it cost nearly as much to build her as it did the popular 32-foot Nordic. The molds almost were scrapped a few years ago when the company cleaned up a storage area for construction of a large lamination building. Although other molds were crunched and hauled away, the decision was to keep tooling for the smallest of the line.

David Goehring, president of Nordic Tugs, said the persistence of Nordic owners and would-be owners who kept pressure on for reintroduction of the small yacht prompted the company to keep the aging molds and to resume production.

I visited the NT factory near Burlington, Washington, for a quick look at the first two 26-foot models. I had a friendly and well-informed tour guide - Paul Johnson, production manager. David joined us later and joined Paul in briefing me on the changes.

There aren't many. And the few changes made make good sense.

All the 26s built until production halted in '97 had teak doors-sliders in the pilothouse and hinged doors in the saloon. They looked great-for a time. But after years of service the finish faded and frequently was not renewed. They weren't always air and watertight, either.

The new 26 has sliding glass doors in the pilothouse. The glass is almost full length in an aluminum frame that has a white powder coating. The hinged door opening onto the aft deck is similar. All doors and windows are from Diamond SeaGlaze, a British Columbia manufacturer. They close tightly with little effort.

Glass pilothouse doors provide a good view for the skipper as he/she steers the boat toward a marina berth and also flood the boat with light.
Under foot, the deck is better, too. Paul said the nonskid finish in the old molds was in poor condition. So the decks are new. Dave noted that the improved pilothouse roof has no penetrations for screws or bolts. "It won't leak . . . unless someone else cuts holes in it," he said.

Forward, there's a new anchor package. An electric windlass is an extra-cost option, as is a bow thruster.

With the image of the new boat fresh in mind, I walked across the shop floor to a 1996-vintage 26 that was in for installation of a generator and other system improvements. Aside from differing colors, the boats looked pretty much the same.

Both have an aft deck that is a tick more than 5 feet in length. The new version has a fiberglass storage cabinet to port. Two steps lead down into the saloon, where the galley is to port and a dinette/settee is to starboard.

New boats have a carpeted sole, plastic laminate for countertops, a gleaming stainless steel sink, and the boat-show model has a Wallas diesel-fired cook top that can double as a space heater. (That's an extra-cost option; propane is standard.) Standard heating will be a three-outlet Heatercraft system, which draws heat from the engine cooling system.

The first 26s off the production line often had small wood-burning stoves mounted on the port side of the pilothouse. Paul said they were good stoves and still are in demand today, but they're not on Nordic Tugs' options list for the new 26.

Paul pulled drawers and opened cabinets to show off an amazing amount of storage space in the saloon. Some of the storage areas were large and deep and I thought shelving would be helpful. Without shelves all that stuff we tuck into those storage spaces will wind up in a confused heap.
A 2.4-cubic-foot Nova Kool refrigerator (with space for an ice tray) is beneath the galley counter. The boat had a finely crafted table of African mahogany fronting a settee that converts to a berth for two.

David said the cost of the early 26s was driven up partly by the time spent crafting teak interiors. Some have elaborate NT logos carved in teak. So, to cut costs, there's less interior wood trim on the new 26s and it is a less expensive plantation wood. The craftsmanship is first rate.

Three steps lead up to the pilothouse. Seats are on either side of the steps and David said they were redesigned to provide more comfort for crew and visitors.
The helm is to starboard and opens on hinges to provide access to a tidy network of electrical wiring. Even better, every cable carries identifying labels.
Decorative trim around the helm area and in the overhead removes easily to reveal space for running electrical wiring. Those channels will be invaluable when a future owner installs electronic systems.

The boat I toured has a four cylinder, 115-horsepower Cummins QSD2.0 diesel. The standard engine is a 110-horsepower Volvo Penta D3 diesel.
Sea trials showed the Cummins burns slightly less than a gallon an hour while pushing the 6,800-pound (dry weight) boat at 8 knots, Paul reported.
Three hatches in the pilothouse open to the petite engine room. I climbed in, proving there's space there for performing routine maintenance and repairs. Another hatch farther aft provides access to the rear of the engine and gearbox.

This boat-show model had an inverter on the forward bulkhead of the engine room. It also is an option. A 12-volt group 31 battery cranks the engine and a pair of 6-volt deep cycle batteries power house systems.

A forward cabin, down a couple steps from the pilothouse, contains a head with a manual toilet, a molded fiberglass sink and a shower, and V-berths that will accommodate a 6-footer. A filler panel closes the open end of the V, making a larger and more comfortable berth. There's also more space for storing stuff.

The boat was on a trailer in the shop for final tweaking before she would head to Seattle for her 2009 debut. With heaps of snow from a recent storm outside, my sea trial would come later.

The 26 carries a certificate from the National Marine Manufacturers' Association affirming that Nordic Tugs complied with a significant list of safety standards in building the boat. The 26 also carries a certificate declaring the boat meets Canadian yacht-construction standards.

The Nordic Tug was created when Jerry Husted went to a friend and associate, Seattle marine designer Lynn Senour, and talked about building a small, efficient, seaworthy boat he thought would be popular at a time when the nation was in the grips of a petroleum crisis that cut production and sent prices soaring.
Husted gave up molding hulls for Ingrid sailboats and began building the 26 Nordic Tug. He took the first to the 1980 Seattle Boat Show hoping to sell a few at an introductory price of $30,000. He sold something like 50 of the small boats. Fortunately, not every buyer followed through but Husted's small, new firm still struggled to build and deliver boats to a long list of eager buyers.

I checked Yacht World, the internet site listing boats for sale around the world, and found only four NT 26s for sale. One was the interesting little sport tug NT built on the 26 hull. Obviously, owners are hanging on to their pocket cruisers.

The introductory price for the "new" 26 is $187,500. Company officials don't expect a repeat of her 1980 debut, but wouldn't that be nice?


  • DESIGNER: Lynn Senour
  • BUILDER: Nordic Tugs
  • LOA: 26' 4"
  • LWL: 25' 2"
  • BEAM: 9' 6"
  • DRAFT: 32"
  • DRY WEIGHT: 6,800 pounds
  • FUEL: 75 gallons
  • WATER: 40 gallons
  • WASTE: 20 gallons
  • CRUISE SPEED: 8 knots
  • TOP SPEED: 14 knots

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