Source: Matt Gurnsey, Sea Magazine
Bigger, better and more powerful than ever before
It’s been almost 25 years since the first Nordic Tug — a 26-footer — was built. This summer, Nordic Tug introduced its brand-new 52 Fast Trawler, and we were fortunate enough to test Hull #1 — at Nordic Tug’s annual owners’ rendezvous in Anacortes, Washington.
More than 60 Nordic Tugs of various sizes and colors were moored in Anacortes that day, including the very first 26 and the first 52. Twice as long, with nearly twice the beam of the original Nordic Tug, the new 52 has the charm of a tug with the interior luxury and capabilities of a long-range motoryacht.
We weren’t alone in touring the new Nordic Tug, as a regular progression of owners of smaller models came through — one after another. Nordic Tug president Jim Cress was our tour guide, and he and his wife were greeting their guests by name. Nordic Tug owners are made to feel like part of one large family, and the various owners seemed as excited about the new 52 as Jim was himself.
This Boat Means Business
It may be new, but the 52 is unmistakably a Nordic Tug, in both profile and design. The construction is workboat tough, with only the best materials and construction techniques used.
The 52’s solid fiberglass hull is laid with vinylester skin coat, applied to prevent blistering and mat print through. Unusual (for Nordic Tug) is the balsa coring above the waterline, used to add strength while still keeping the boat’s weight at a reasonable level. Although, at just under 68,000 pounds displacement, the 52 is definitely no lightweight — and that’s something long-range cruisers will surely be thankful for.
Also unusual for Nordic Tug is the 52’s use of twin engines. Each engine is installed as if it were on a separate boat, with its own electrical system and fuel system.
Hull #1 has twin 480 hp Cummins diesels, chosen over the standard 450s due to their partial electronic controls. These engines drive the boat through Aquadrive couplers, for smooth operation.
With 5 feet, 7 inches of headroom in the engine room, the compartment is easy to work in. Filters and service points are inboard on both engines. Large lights illuminate the area.
A separate Reverso oil system is provided for each engine and transmission. Even the two auxiliary generators — a 7.5 kw and a 9 kw unit — are completely isolated from each other, each sharing the Reverso pump on its side of the boat. The gensets provided ample power for our test boat’s electric galley and four optional reverse-cycle air-conditioning and heating units.
At each end of the engine room is a watertight door, with a porthole for viewing into the space. Our test boat was being equipped with an optional camera in the engine room, for convenient monitoring from the pilothouse while the boat is under way.
Forward of the engine room is a utility cabin with a washer and dryer, as well as a freezer and room for a small workbench or table.
With the aft door, it is possible to gain service access to the engines through the lazarette hatch. In this area, there are two water tanks, each with its own separate pressure system and water heater. While each system is independent, there is a crossover to connect the entire system.
When we were aboard, Hull #1 was still waiting for some finishing touches, including installation of the two hydraulic pumps that will run the windlass and bow thruster. There is more than enough room for the mechanics to get these pumps into place, even with the boat fully assembled.
Before heading back topside, we should point out the unique keel arrangement of the 52’s hull: While a full-length keel will protect single powered vessels, Nordic Tug has added two short “keelets” for the shafts to run through. This, with the twin rudders and shoes, should keep the running gear safe.
Inside the 52, the typical practical trimmings you’ll find on other Nordic Tugs have been upgraded with a designer touch. Along with finely crafted teak joinery, our test boat offered deep chocolate-colored carpeting by Karastan that is both beautiful and durable. Corian countertops abounded and the décor was done in soft, inviting neutral tones.
While the designer influence is unmistakable, the choices for upholstery and other materials are durable and up to the demands of life aboard. While the popular Ultrasuede and Ultraleather are present, the expected teak and holly sole is not. Instead, a cork flooring product is used. Durable, yet resilient underfoot, cork flooring is used in the pilothouse and galley, as well as in the heads and at the entry into the saloon.
A day head is located just inside the aft door, to starboard, so guests don’t have to go belowdecks to the staterooms.
The saloon has an L-shaped settee to port, and twin barrel chairs are to starboard. The Nordic Tug 52 has wide sidedecks, but you’d never know it from the roomy saloon.
On the port aft bulkhead of our test boat, we had a flat-panel television, an entertainment system (our test boat had a KVH satellite television system) and breaker panels for both the 220v and 24v systems.
The galley offers more storage space than many apartments, along with a dishwasher and dual appliance garages. An ice-maker is in the bar opposite the galley, with additional storage space.
Stepping up to the pilothouse, there is an oversized teak handrail. The pilothouse features ample dash space for gauges and electronics, a Recaro helm seat and a comfortable L-shaped settee.
Both the pilothouse settee table and the saloon table on our test boat were custom crafted (and signed) by Scott Boyce. The pilothouse table featured inlaid checkerboard and backgammon designs for whiling away the time on long voyages.
Visibility is good from the pilothouse — through five windows with wipers and washers.
Stairs lead up to the bridge, which is also nicely arranged. A fiberglass panel covers the helm console for protection from the elements when not in use.
Abaft the bridge, a mast supports the boat’s radar antenna and satellite dome. Down three steps, the bridge deck on our boat offered an optional Nick Jackson davit and a large Avon rigid hull inflatable dinghy.
Forward and belowdecks are two staterooms. The large guest stateroom is reached from the pilothouse. Its walk-around queen-size berth and abundant storage may make it a little too comfortable for guests (if you ever want them to go home).
The master stateroom is reached from stairs near the galley. You’ll find three hanging lockers, a desk or vanity and convenient drawers under the queen-size berth (a king-size berth is optional).
Both staterooms have large en suite heads with stall showers.
Passing the Test
Our actual sea trial of the Nordic Tug 52 was relatively uneventful. The boat, quite simply, did everything that was expected of it.
Handling is characteristic of the other Nordic Tugs, with a slight lean outward in a turn, the ability to pound through rough water and enough speed to get yourself out of trouble when you have to. Turn the wheel hard over and the boat responds, making a relatively tight circle — and riding level.
Our top speed was 19 knots, burning 50 gallons of fuel per hour. At 1,800 rpm, we enjoyed a comfortable 11.5-knot cruising speed and fuel consumption of 14 gph.
Need extra range? At 6 knots, you get maximum fuel economy and almost 3,000 miles of more leisurely cruising range.
Docking was our only concern, as we worried that the extra keels would complicate the boat’s handling. However, we had nothing to fear — even though the ultra-handy bow thruster was not yet up and running on our just-built test boat.
We made our usual approach, for a twin-screw boat. Using the electronic controls to shift into and out of gear, the Nordic Tug 52 swung into its side-tie slip comfortably, and as easily as any other twin-screw boat.
The new 52 is truly a Nordic Tug — and more. We expect to see a lot more of these solid, dependable cruisers at future rendezvous.
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When it came time for my family and I to move up the a larger yacht, Scott made the transition and process as easy as possible. Although at times it was extremely difficult with certain parties involved, he kept the goal of our complete satisfaction first and foremost.
- Brett Bashaw