Ben Wilde of Wilde Yacht Sales, the Nordic Tug dealer based in Essex, CT., is enthusiastic about the Nordic Tug 37. 'The 37 has been very, very popular,' he explains. 'One reason is, even though we call them a 37, they're actually 39 feet on the waterline, and that extended length is everything when you come into rough seas. Our customers don't just use their boats in Long Island Sound; they cruise up to Maine, out to the Martha's Vineyard, and sometimes pretty far offshore. New England weather is unpredictable. You can be caught in a northeaster without a lot of warning, but the 37 is a great offshore boat so you don't have to worry about the weather.'
The 37 we took out for a ride on a balmy March day was the 500th hull Nordic has built since the company started making cruising tugs in 1981. I was the guest of Nordic's new Annapolis dealer, Jay LeBow, of Annapolis Sailyard. We came running out of the harbor and into a two-foot chop in the mouth of the Severn, with about a 16-knot breeze blowing spring from the south. The keel kept the hull tracking straight and true, and the relatively low profile kept windage to a minimum. There was a bit of spray blowing up over that high, bluff bow, but the windshield wipers did a good job of keeping the three big panes of the windshield clear and dry.
The big teak steering wheel takes just over five revolutions from stop to stop, and the large rudder provides excellent maneuverability - nice, tight circles with very little banking. My first glimpse of the boat was when it was still on the trailer, just trucked in from Washington state. That gave a good few of the semi-displacement hull, with its hard chines and the skeg that ran all the way back to protect the prop and rudder. That configuration accounts for its stability and tracking power.
The single 330 HP Cummins diesel gave lots of power; theacceleration just seemed to keep coming way beyond what you'd expect , until we were doing just under 17 knots. Factory sea trials on this very hull indicate that the cruising speed at 2000 RPM was 11.2 knots, with a top speed at 2800 RPM of 17.9 knots. Fuel consumption is a miserly gallon-and-a-quarter per hour at the eight knots that most trawlers call cruising speed, and only about five gallons per hour at top speed.
We cruised down Annapolis' infamous 'Ego Alley,' that narrow channel you'll see identified as the 'Market Slip' on the charts, and drifted down toward the tight turning basin, making the turn by backing and filling with the wheel turned hard to the left. Just a little touch of reverse kicks the stern to starboard, so that maneuver went quite smoothly, without any anxiety about touching the yachts tied up to the bulkhead, the inflatables tied to the dinghy dock, or the yawl boat hanging off the stern of the skipjack Stanley Norman. And just for comparison, I spun around again just using the standard bow thruster, much to the amusement of the tourists and their kids feeding the ducks. Frankly, I found the boat works just as well backing and filling.
Then there's the living space. The owner's stateroom in the bow has a full island berth with cavernous storage underneath. The guest room to port has a Pullman-car set up, so the top bunk hinges down to serve as a back rest for the lower bunk. A desk unit has been built into the bulkhead at one end of the bunk, so you can sit quietly and comfortable and get some work done, as I'm doing at this very minute, making this spare room a splendid little office space.
The head, directly across the companionway, features a good-sized vanity with a nice, big sink, a roomy shower stall with a molded-in seat for anyone needing more than its generous 6'2' of head room. A large cabinet door on the bulkhead behind the toilet gives access behind the helm console above.
But the really nice feature shared by all Nordic Tugs is the pilothouse, which features two roomy bench settees, allowing both the helmsman and mate to sit high and comfortable and enjoy the view out the big square windows on the front and sides. There's no bulkhead behind these seats, so the pilothouse opens up on to the saloon just a few steps down.
The saloon is open and airy, thanks to the big, square windows all around, most of which slide open. There's an L-shaped settee to port that pulls out to form a double berth. Along the starboard side, there's a long counter with a deep double sink and a flush three-burner cooktop and a convection/microwave oven underneath. There's plenty of storage in drawers and cabinets under the counter. An over/under refrigerator freezer completes the cooking amenities. A large hatch in the sole gives access to the bilge and the stainless-steel water and fuel tanks.
A heavy duty, gasketed door leads aft to the aft deck. A large hatch in the non-slip sole opens up to a large lazarette. A transom door leads out onto the swim platform, built as an integral extension of the hull, adding two extra feet of waterline. There are adequate side decks and plenty of stainless-steel rails to hang onto while making your way to the bow.
A ladder leads up through a hatch in the overhang to the deck above the saloon, which is protected by an optional stainless-steel railing. There's plenty of room up there for sunning or entertaining, and you can easily stow a dinghy or inflatable on the pilothouse cabin top.
"Boaters like these boats because they're so seaworthy," Ben Wilde explains. "They're a very, very stable boat, and they've got great performance. You can get the 37 going to 16 or 17 knots. If you try that with traditional trawlers, you can approach those speeds, but you're doing it with brute force."