By Matt Gurnsey
Nordic Tug 37: Sea Trial
Nordic Tug 37: A right-size, right-crafted cruiser.
It was a dismal day for a boat test.
My car’s windshield wipers beat a staccato rhythm as the rain came down in sheets. I was driving from Port Orchard to Anacortes, Washington to test the Nordic Tug 37 — and as I drove along, I tried to avoid the grooves in the pavement, so the car wouldn’t hydroplane.
When I got out at Anacortes, I wished I had worn a heavier jacket, as the rain quickly soaked through, and a biting 20-knot wind chilled me to the bone. I walked down to the boat.
While early models of the 37 featured a bolt-on swim step, Nordic Tug has retooled the molds, lengthening the waterline by incorporating the swim step as part of the hull. The non-slip deck here — and all around the boat’s exterior — gives a sense of confidence, even in the wind and rain. Taking full advantage of the abundant and sturdy rails to grab, I stepped aboard with confidence.
Since the introduction of the popular Nordic Tug 26 in 1980, these vessels have been earning their reputation as tough boats — easy to operate and full of character. Any time a Nordic enters the marina, heads turn. Boaters and non-boaters alike recognize the distinctive “Tug Boat” profile, and comments about the “cute” boat are common.
While cute seems an unfortunate adjective for a boat so capable, it is rather fitting. While working tugs can be rather beastly, Nordic Tug has domesticated the design, retaining the workboat solidity while adding a level of civilization that may surprise many who first step aboard.
The Beauty and the Brawn
Although beauty may be skin deep, the Nordic Tug 37 has more than just good looks. It has brawn to back it up.
Not content with the brawn of solid fiberglass construction, Nordic Tug ups the testosterone level by using multidirectional stitch mat fiberglass cloth for strength and durability. Cheaper fiberglass cloth is available, but it isn’t as strong.
Nordic Tugs then lays in the cloth by hand, using vinylester resins as the skin coat. More expensive than traditional polyester resin, vinylester is not water permeable, and it prevents blistering of the fiberglass hull.
The hull is started with its finish coat in the mold, using a “buff back” gelcoat. The standard off-white color presents a clean and attractive boat, and optional colored hulls are available in popular solids of red, green and more.
Stepping inside from the weather, we found the standard Espar diesel heater humming along and providing plenty of warmth on this gray day.
Standing in the saloon, we were impressed by the interior volume of the boat. Large windows surround you, letting in plenty of natural light.
The absence of a bulkhead between the pilothouse and saloon adds to the spaciousness, and allows opportunities for socializing for everyone aboard, even while under way. Warm teak and a vinyl headliner accent the interior. Two grab handles run along the overhead, allowing secure passage fore and aft while under way in a sea.
The large galley, to starboard, has more storage and counter space than many apartments. Its wood drawers operate on metal guides with bearings for smooth operation, even when loaded with utensils and provisions. The double-door Tundra refrigerator is installed along the forward partial bulkhead, under the helm seat, and it does not disrupt the cabin space.
A long Corian counter runs along the starboard side, with inset double sinks and a single lever faucet. Corian sink covers were in place on our test boat, and there was plenty of room for a gourmet to work, or lay out an impressive buffet spread.
The galley has an “L” along the aft bulkhead, with a three-burner Force 10 propane stove and oven. The oven door has a unique movement that, when opened, allows it to swing into the lower part of the unit and out of the way.
The pilothouse on our test boat had an optional teak and holly floor. While attractive, it does allow a little more engine noise into the pilothouse. Even when under way, the “noisier” option still allowed conversation in a normal tone, and the standard Onan 5 kw auxiliary generator was barely audible at dockside.
Nordic Tug wraps not only the hatches with carpet, but also the hatch framing, as well as the opening framing. This gives a better seal for hatches, allowing less noise to come into the boat.
Two hatches in the pilothouse sole allow access to the engine room. Installed here are the starting and house batteries (the bow thruster gets its own battery under the sole, forward) as well as the genset in a sound shield. A single 330 hp Cummins diesel is set in the center of the engine room — a well-arranged area that would be a joy to spend time in.
Airsep filters will keep engine room surfaces from getting black and gritty. The boat’s standard Reverso oil change system (for the engine, genset and transmission) will prevent spills during maintenance. It allows a convenient check of all the systems and vital fluids.
The inside of the fiberglass hull is nicely finished with workmanship that deserves to be seen. Unfortunately, aside from the engine room, hatches in the lazarette and saloon and a small area inside the cabinet in the head are the only other places this craftsmanship is seen on the boat.
Also visible in these areas are glimpses of the wiring and other installed systems. The wire harness is a thing of beauty — and a textbook example of how to do it right.
The staterooms forward are typical in arrangement — with a walk-around queen-size berth forward, a stateroom with over/under bunks to port and a head with a stall shower to starboard. Nordic Tug’s exceptional craftsmanship in these areas results in spacious drawers at the foot of the berth that are capable of holding nearly a dozen sweatshirts each — and there’s a real innerspring mattress for the owner’s comfort. The two staterooms, in combination with the pullout settee in the saloon, will comfortably sleep six adults.
An optional 37 Convertible arrangement provides a larger head compartment, moves the passageway more to port and eliminates the second stateroom in favor of an extra freezer and washer/ dryer, as well as more storage. This would be ideal for a couple planning to make a long voyage — in comfort.
Good Performance on a Sloppy Day
We had no concerns taking the Nordic Tug 37 out that day. The 20-knot winds and 3-foot breaking seas were nothing for this boat. The ride was comfortable and predictable, with a steady motion that instills confidence in the boat.
If there were any surprises, it was the way the 37 turns without leaning in. Turn the wheel hard over and the boat responds, making a very tight circle — riding level the whole way. It took some getting used to after years of riding aboard boats with modified-V hulls that lean into turns — but after a few minutes, it felt natural and comfortable.
The other surprise came when throttling up the boat’s single Cummins diesel. With a top speed of 17 knots, I knew the 37 would be a peppy performer. What we didn’t expect was the way the boat rose out of the water.
The bow came up as speed increased, and then leveled back off as the boat rose out of the water. While this is no “go-fast” boat, the 37 was incredibly nimble at speed, gliding across the top of the water.
While water had been coming over the bow at slower speeds, the standard wipers kept the Diamond Sea Glaze windshield clear. At higher speeds, we took very little spray over the bow.
The Nordic Tug 37 offers comfortable cruising at any speed, from idle to wide-open throttle. Its sweet spots at about 9 knots, 12 knots and 14.5 knots give a wide choice of pacing for your cruise — and even the faster 14.5-knot cruise speed allows 1.5-mpg fuel economy (not bad for a 22,000-pound boat).
As we drove home, the rain faded away and the sun began peeking through the clouds. The weather earlier in the day had kept many boaters tied to the dock. However, we’d had such a good time aboard the Nordic Tug 37 on this soggy morning, we were almost sad to see the rain go away.
Nordic Tug 37 Specifications
|Fuel capacity||324 galloons|
|Water capacity||150 gallons|
|Propellers||23″ x 28″ four-blade|
|Base price with single 330-hp Cummins diesel engines||$374,233|
|Top speed||17 knots|
|Miles per gallon at 14.5-knot cruising speed||1.5|
|Estimated fuel cost for 100 at 14.5-knot cruising speed||125.33|
|Range at 14.5-knot cruising speed||450 miles|
(Estimated fuel cost based on a fuel price of $1.88 per gallon.)
Onan EQ Series 5 kw auxiliary generator; Espar heater; Lofrans windlass; VacuFlush head system; Ultrasuede interior.
Options on Test Boat
Teak and holly sole in pilothouse.
Hull features hand-laid fiberglass hull; multidirectional stitch mat fiberglass cloth is used for strength and durability; vinylester resins are used as the skin coat.
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