The Nordic Tug 26 was introduced during the 1980 recession at the Seattle Boat Show. The concept of an affordable, seaworthy boat for a cruising couple with a single diesel and low operating expenses captured the imagination West Coast boaters that winter. 37 boats were sold at the show – one every three hours! Times change, the company grew to build 6 models up to 54’ (16.47 m), and the 26 was discontinued; times changed again, and now the 26 is back -- and up-dated as a "cr" model. The "cr" stands for "Cruise Ready" and the folks at Nordic Tugs aren't kidding.
Nordic Tugs discontinued the 26 in 1997 in order to concentrate on larger models. Now, the 26 is back in production with the same good characteristics that made her popular in the 1980s.
The new the Nordic Tug 26cr is not identical to the old 26. The company has made some important changes, such as creating a fiberglass liner for the interior. That has made manufacturing the boat much more efficient, saving a tremendous amount of man-hours compared to the old method of installing the interior. "Instead of rolling the money into our pocket," the company says, "we are putting it back into the product by providing some additional amenities."
The result is that the boat is "cruise ready" right out of the box, and virtually the only thing a buyer needs to add is fuel. (It is even equipped with the new Raymarine E7 nav electronics.)
There are a number of color options available for the hull of the Nordic Tug 26. This is a picture of one of the old 26s, and we should point out that the side doors are now Diamond Star Glaze and the wood has been eliminated on the new 26cr.
Brief Back Story
The waterways of Pacific Northwest, the home base of the builder, are busy with all sizes and shapes of tug boats, many hauling cargo up to Alaska in the Inside Passage. Others are bringing log booms down from British Columbia to lumber mills in the US. There are so many tugs in this area of the world, and they have been there so long, that many have been converted into cruising powerboats and live aboards.
The 1970s were plagued by oil shortages and high gas prices. Both Jerry Husted, owner of Blue Water Boats, and Lynn Senour, a naval architect, felt there was a place for a fuel-efficient powerboat, but they had a hard time coming up with something original. Husted -- in a flash of inspiration -- hit on the tugboat concept: women would see it as cute and men would see it as rugged. Tugs are known for going slow but being seaworthy and reliable.
Nordic Tug 26 ply waters all over North America and has proved to be capable coastal cruiser.
In a nutshell the concept of the Nordic Tug 26 is to make cruising both comfortable and affordable for a couple on a budget. By limiting the boat to 26’ (7.92 m) and a single diesel engine, the materials and labor cost would be about as low as possible in a boat that could be seaworthy enough for coastal cruising.
By making the beam 9’6” (2.90 m) and keeping the dry weight to 8,500 lbs. (3,855 kgs.) the boat is trailerable with only a "Wide Load" permit (you will not need an escort or special state police permission). This opens up cruising grounds anywhere there is a serviceable road and a launch ramp, which includes British Columbia, Baja California, Nova Scotia, and the Florida Keys, for example, in North America.
This is a Nordic Tug 54, not a 26, nevertheless as you can see the 26 has many of the same attributes: a) Fine entry, b) Full length keel, c) Hard chine, d) Stainless steel shoe with zincs, e) Rounded reverse transom, f) Extended boarding platform, g) Flared bow, h) Molded mid-guard for hull sides.
The most obvious feature of the boat, of course, is its tug boat profile. In the last 30 years it has been much imitated. Most of the copy cats are out of business now, so it is good to remember that Nordic Tugs was the first into that niche and its founders had the “vision.” There are many people who want to go cruising, but who, frankly, don’t want to be seen in a sportboat on steroids. They want something more shippy.
The bottom. More important than the boat’s profile is its bottom shape – fine forward, with hard chines aft for form stability, and a long keel for straight tracking and protection of the prop which is behind the keel. There is a stainless steel shoe connecting the keel with the rudder which also protects the prop.
Power. Most boats in this size and mission niche are powered by a single sterndrive gas engine. The Nordic Tug 26 is propelled by a 110-hp Yanmar 4JH4-HTE diesel turning a large prop. Because the prop is protected by the keel and the shoe, the danger of damage is greatly diminished. Wrapping lines from lobster or crab pots is also less likely.
Beam. Most pocket cruisers have a beam of 8’6" (2.59 m), but the Nordic Tug’s beam is a full foot wider. That is an important consideration for several reasons. Obviously it allows the boat to have more interior room and side decks. It also adds to the boat’s form stability and displacement. Step on the side of boats in this class and you’ll see what we mean. More beam also means more room for storage.
Sea trials. Nordic Tugs also says that they take every boat it builds on a sea trial. This is a bit unusual for this size boat, but it certainly is desirable.
The beauty of the Nordic Tug 26 accommodations plan is its tried-and-true simplicity. The V-berth shown in the drawing is the option we prefer. Standard is a double berth on the starboard side.
By limiting the mission of this boat to a cruising couple a lot of normal compromises are immediately eliminated. Yes, in a pinch she can sleep four people, but that is not how we’d use the boat. For day trips the boat can easily handle six people for an outing.
The standard berth is a double on the starboard side in the forward cabin. The boat can be customized with a "V" berth.
The bench helm seat is wide enough to hold two people and there is another companion seat facing forward on the port side. That means up to three sets of eyeballs can be participating in the navigation and piloting of this boat. This is a feature somewhat unusual on even much larger boats.
Looking aft: Large windows bring in plenty of light and allow passengers to see the horizon while underway.
Abaft the helm is a booth dinette that will be more comfortable for two than for four people, unless two of them are children. This is the lowest part of the accommodations, it is amidships, and should be the most comfortable place to sit in a seaway. Because the side windows are large, passengers will have a good view of the horizon while under way from here.
There is room on the aft deck for two foldable chairs.
Looking forward: Good visibility and ease of egress to either side deck make the 26 a joy to pilot.
Since hundreds of these boats have been built over a couple of decades the builder is well past the learning curve on this boat. Nordic Tugs knows what owners need and will want aboard.
Pilothouse. Noteworthy is the fact that there are port and starboard sliding doors (Diamond Star Glaze) on the pilothouse. This makes single-handing easier as the skipper can quickly pop out on either side to tie up. There are three pantograph windshield wipers and a 12 volt fan for defogging. Since the builders are from the Pacific Northwest they are concerned about heating, and there is a standard hot water system that uses engine heat to warm the boat.
Galley. The galley has a two-burner alcohol/electric stove as standard and there is a 2.6 cu. ft. (68 L) refer and a stainless steel sink. Tables are wood, doors and trim accents and molding in the boat ar sapele wood.
In the forward cabin,V-berths make for comfortable sleeping and maximize deck space. A filler cushion is available for those who want a large bed.
Below the waterline. The 4-blade bronze prop measures 21” x 19.50” and the rudder has a stainless steel shoe with zincs. Both the prop shaft and the rudder post have dripless seals. The engine has a raw water sea strainer. There is a starting battery (100 amps) and 2 house batteries (220 amps). The boat comes with bottom paint.
Bow thruster. Recently the builder added a bow thruster to its list of standard equipment. The company is now installing a Side Power SE40/125S unit that has 88 lbs. (40 kgs.) of thrust.
Windlass. Another new addition to the standard list is the electric windlass. It is a 1000W Lewmar Pro-Series H1000. Anchor rode is accessible in the locker below the deck through a hatch in the forward cabin to untangle any snarls.
The most economical way to cruise, of course, is down the highway. By trailering, exotic cruising grounds are within reach even during a two-week vacation.
We haven’t tested the 26 so we can only hazard a rough estimate of her speed. Our best guess is that she will cruise comfortably at from 7 to 8 knots and should get 4 nautical miles to the gallon or a bit better. Her hull speed at 1.2 times the square root of her water line length is about 6 knots and it is there that you will get the best fuel economy.
Powered by the Yanmar 4JH4-HTP 100-hp engine she should have a WOT speed of something around 14 knots, depending on her load and sea conditions.
For those readers who are concerned about docking a single-screw boat, please note that Nordic Tugs has made a bow thruster standard equipment. Even without the bow thruster, docking a single screw boat is just a matter of technique and practice. Remember, thousands of single screw boats are sold each year.
The MSRP at press time for the standard boat is $189,875.
The real thing. Tugs are the work horses of sea-going commerce all over the world. They operate in all weather conditions, most with just a single engine.
Some boaters have an aversion to “character boats” but in the case of the Nordic Tug 26cr, if you have that preconception we urge you to push past it and look closely at this boat. She has a lot going for her that is a solid, good design, in our opinion.
But before you go to a boat show to see her, let us remind you that she is only 26’ (7.92 m) long. Calibrate your expectations accordingly. There is a reason why Nordic Tugs builds five other models up to 54’ (16.45 m).
Having said that, most pocket cruisers on the market in North America are Euro-styled enlarged sportboats powered by a single large gas engine, with a large, open cockpit. The Nordic Tug 26cr offers an important alternative – a single diesel in a workboat-like design, with a small aft cockpit but more interior space. If you want to go fast and do a lot of sun bathing, this is not the boat for you.
On the other hand, if you want a boat that is economical to operate, has a lot of interior room under roof in 26', and is different than most of the boats you see in the marina, then you should definitely consider the Nordic Tug 26.
Standard and Optional Equipment
Nordic Tugs Nordic Tug 26 (2012-2013) Standard and Optional Equipment
Heating System Standard, A/C Optional
Dripless Shaft Seals
Outlet: 12-Volt Acc
Boats More Than 30 Feet
= Standard = Optional
Nordic Tugs Nordic Tug 26 (2012-2013) Warranty
Nordic Tugs Nordic Tug 26 (2012-2013) Warranty Information
Warranties change from time to time. While BoatTEST.com has tried to ensure the most up-to-date warranty offered by each builder, it does not guarantee the accuracies of the information presented below. Please check with the boat builder or your local dealer before you buy any boat.
Nordic Tugs Nordic Tug 26 (2012-2013) Price
Nordic Tugs Nordic Tug 26 (2012-2013) Price
Base Price (MSRP)
Price as Tested
Prices, features, designs, and equipment are subject to change. Please see your local dealer or visit the builder's website for the latest information available on this boat model.
Members must log in to view the test results section.