It happens to most experienced boaters eventually: they recognize it’s time to sell the big boat and hunker down at home. But give up boating? Never, some swear.
With this in mind for some reason I happened across a 26-foot Nordic Tug Cricket (above photo by C-Images) recently and instantly had a crazy idea: it would make a perfect long-weekend, puttering around kind of craft for someone giving up a large yacht and months at sea every cruising season.
The answer to your first question: The Cricket is a real Nordic Tug. But it has a huge and open after deck while all other 26 Nordics have a deck house containing a saloon and galley. Cricket sightings are rare because Nordic Tug built only about a dozen. The market for the standard 26 was hot after its introduction in January, 1980, while the demand for the work-boat styling sister ship was just so-so. Therefore, Jerry Husted, the founder of the Nordic Tug line, focused on building hundreds of the yachty sister ship he called the Apple.
I stood alongside the Cricket’s berth on a sales dock at Cap Sante Marina in Anacortes and envisioned her with some varnish, paint and a way of shading the aft deck to protect me from the Western Washington sun while relaxing in a deck chair with a glass in hand. In this eyes-open fantasy a freshly caught salmon had been filleted and stowed in an ice chest and a limit of Dungeness crab rustled in a bucket of seawater while awaiting their fate. It would be a good way to celebrate a weekend on the water only a few miles from home.
This Cricket was built in 1981, the second year of business for Husted and company in Woodinville, Washington - then a rural area and now a busy Seattle suburb. After all those years she still appears remarkably fit.
The most inspiring feature is an hour meter showing that the four cylinder, 80 horsepower Ford Lehman engine had accumulated only 2,650 hours over 33 years. A detailed maintenance log found near the helm seemed to affirm those low hours. Owners meticulously recorded and dated every oil change, every quart added, every squirt of grease and everything else done to keep her running smoothly and reliably. The old Ford should be good for many, many miles.
Because she was moored hip-to-hip with other Nordics I hung over the rail to check out the condition of the gel coat finish. Many older boats, especially those receiving only minimal care from owners, suffer from oxidation of the surface and the colors have a ghostly hue. That did not seem to be the case with this boat.
I stepped over the pilothouse coaming and past the heavy wood sliding door. The helm was ahead on the starboard side and a settee was under the portside windows. Oh, what windows.
Befitting its tug-like design the Cricket has 11 windows that offer a 360 view of the sea. No one at the helm should ever be surprised by another boat coming from any direction.
A tiny refrigerator is beneath the settee. The rest of the galley, including a sink with hot and cold running water, a microwave oven and a bunch of drawers for storage, is down two steps on the port side of the forward cabin. A toilet was behind a door to starboard and an oddly shaped berth was in the bow. Tight quarters, yes. But you’ll only be there for a couple of nights before heading home.
Husted and Lynn Senour, a Seattle naval architect, designed the fuel thrifty 26 in the late 1970s as oil prices rose sharply internationally. Husted, an Anacortes neighbor of mine and a fellow early a.m. fitness center attendee, recalls a debate over the width of the boat. Senour wanted 9 feet, Husted wanted about 10 feet for better stability– and prevailed.
The Cricket carries 70 gallons of fuel and 40 of water. The Ford Lehman probably burns diesel at the rate of quarts per hour; you likely can run a Cricket all summer and consume less fuel than that big old yacht uses in a couple or hours.
Because Husted did not give Cricket space for a shower someone cobbled one together on the aft deck. It’s pretty crude and needs to be redone. My only other gripe centers on the side decks. They are too narrow for safe passage and there are no grab rails. The only thing to be done is too stay off those decks while under way.
The interior needs some refurbishing – new carpeting in the pilothouse, repair of wood surfaces where stuff had been screwed down and then removed, new cushions for the settee and probably more not seen. Should give a guy something to do all winter.
The Cricket is for sale. As this was written the ask was $68,000. Sounds heady but a check of the market showed 26 Nordics of the same vintage priced similarly. (When new, these 26 Nordic Tugs were priced in the high 30s.) Interested? Call Steve at Nordic Yachts Northwest in Anacortes.
I think this is at least a three-star idea. Anchoring in Reid Harbor, bagging shrimp at the south end of Lopez, crabbing in Hunter Bay or watching a sunset from that big aft deck of a Cricket would be appealing. Her shallow draft would take into appealing inlets where bigger boats dare not go.
I mentioned the idea at a family dinner the day I toured the Cricket and heard cheers of approval.
However, I’m not ready. So, go for it. Or something similar.
PS – Just remembered that this Cricket has a forced air furnace. That makes it a year-around boat.