John martino, annapolis school of seamanship and annapolis yacht         management
The following review was written by John Martino and prepared by the marketing department of Chesapeake Bay Magazine. Mr. Martino is the founder and president of Annapolis Yacht Management and Annapolis School of Seamanship. He develops and teaches hands-on training courses for recreational boaters and professional mariners, and offers yacht delivery and onboard training services for powerboaters as well as sailors.
American Tug 34 Flybridge
Length overall  38' 5"

Beam  13' 3"
LWL  32' 9"

Displacement  20,000 lb
Fuel Capacity  400 gals
Water Capacity  150 gals
Base Price  $374,000  

The view from the fuel dock at Annapolis City Marina was one of bustling activity. Just across Spa Creek, in downtown Annapolis, crews were busy setting up for the powerboat show. I was waiting for the new American Tug 34 Flybridge to pick me up and take me for a test ride before her scheduled load-in time later that day. Built by Tomco Marine Group in LaConnor, Washington, American Tugs are the brainchild of Tom Nelson, formerly of Nordic Tugs, who began building these trawler yachts in 2000.

My test boat glided into view with Greg Clark at the wheel. Clark is founder and president of Traditional Yachts (the East Coast dealer for American Tugs). On this unseasonably warm fall day, Clark executed a picture perfect touch-and-go as I stepped from the dock directly into the pilothouse. Such smooth handling comes from plenty of experience. Not only has Clark been involved with American Tugs since the company began, he and his wife Monica delivered a 34 from Alaska to Florida by way of the Panama Canal.

The basic 34-foot design has been around since the company's beginning, with more than 120 boats delivered. Recently Tomco added a flybridge for those seeking a little sunshine or perhaps a bird's-eye view from the captain's seat. I found the pilothouse to be fairly open, making it feel much larger than it actually is. The false smokestack provides not only a salty exterior look but also creates what could be called a cathedral ceiling with a skylight at the top. Visibility is also surprisingly good for a raised pilothouse trawler. From the helm seat I could easily see aft without having to poke my head out of the door. There are two double pilot seats port and starboard making the helm a companionable place to be under way.

Two engine room hatches in the pilothouse sole make engine access simple and easy. The engine room is well laid out and spacious enough to make service relatively painless. Dual Racor primary fuel filters are standard for the main engine, and a remote vacuum gauge is mounted in the pilothouse for convenient monitoring of filter status.

The back end of the pilothouse is open. No bulkeading blocks the way between it and the combination saloon/galley which is aft and down a few steps. That allows conversation and snacks to flow freely between the two spaces, enhancing the boat's social appeal. The galley is to starboard. An L-shaped settee to port pulls out to make a double bunk for guests. The saloon cabin sole has an access hatch to the tankage and battery area. All fuel and water tanks are equipped with sight gauges.

Forward of the pilothouse and down a few steps is the master stateroom, furnished with a center-line queen bed. The adjacent head is spacious and has an ample stall shower.

Underway, the American Tug performed well. The single QSB 380-hp Cummins pushed the semi-displacement hull along at 8 knots burning 2.7 gallons per hour at 1500 rpm. Picking up the pace a little, 2600 rpm got us 13 knots at 13 gph. Wide open, she made 17.5 knots while burning just shy of 20 gph.

Back at the dock, close quarters maneuvering was no problem. The 34 Flybridge is equipped with an articulated rudder arrangement that significantly tightens the slow speed turning radius. Loads of diesel torque combined with a five-blade prop provided ample prop walk to whip her around. For those really tight spots, the standard bow thruster offers even more maneuverability. This is a full-bodied trawler; sidedecks are narrow and require holding onto a hand rail. But given its maneuverability and the tight range of control from the helm, the crew can easily handle lines from the fore and after decks. All in all, the American Tug 34 Flybridge would make a great choice for couples looking to cruise in comfort in wide variety of weather conditions.