cruisers and liveaboards, neither of which
is likely to be in any hurry.
Ranger Tugs has, to some extent,
redefined the tug/trawler market and
has become hugely popular for the
Kent, Washington, builder (which also
builds the more contemporary-designed
Cutwater brand of cruising boats).
Outwardly, Rangers have a passing nod
to the workboats of the Puget Sound
waterfront. An eyebrow over the forward
pilothouse windows and faux vertical
wood paneling molded into the cabin
trunk are just some of the features that
give these boats a workmanlike air.
The Ranger line ranges from its trailerable 21-foot pocket tug to the largest
boat in their lineup, the new 31-footer.
The latter features two doubles in separate cabins, two heads, full galley, a
dinette, and spacious cockpit aft with
an innovative fold-down seat on the
gunwales to further open up the cockpit
when the boat is at anchor or tied to the
dock. The 31 starts at about $320,000.
Under the cockpit sole is a single
300-hp Volvo diesel that will propel the
boat to a brisk cruising speed of 16 knots.
Like the American Tugs, the Ranger 31
comes essentially in two versions: The
Northwest version has forced diesel heat,
while the East Coast version adds a generator and air conditioning.
Despite weighing 11,000 pounds, it is
possible to tow this boat behind a large
truck, and Ranger will sell you a three-
axle trailer to go with the boat, thus
opening up cruising areas not normally
available to larger vessels.
“A good proportion of our owners
are retired or planning to retire and go
cruising, and they are looking for boats
they can spend a good amount of time
on,” says Jeff Messmer, vice president
of Ranger. “Our boats are ideal for the
waters of the Northwest. We equip them
with large tanks so folks can stay away
from the dock for an extended period,”
he adds. New owners can take delivery
in Puget Sound, cruise the Northwest
waters, some as far as Alaska, then return
the boat to the factory where it’s shrink-wrapped and delivered it to the owner’s
local dealer for recommissioning.
The rugged boats from the likes of
Hewescraft and the plethora of other
aluminum boatbuilders are built for one
thing, and that’s fishing. Largely devoid
of unnecessary bells and whistles, they’re
practical, utilitarian, and tough, and
therein lies their beauty.
According to sales data, Washington
has seen a significant increase in new
aluminum boat sales in the last five years
– and aluminum boat sales are now equal
to fiberglass boat sales.
Famed for their ruggedness and
longevity, aluminum recreational boats
emerged following World War II. After
years of mass-producing aircraft from
aluminum for the war effort (Boeing
is headquartered here), workers transferred their skills to producing boats
during peacetime. Early boats were riveted construction, but builders such as
Hewescraft, Duckworth, Weldcraft, and
Raider have transitioned to all-welded
construction for a stiffer, lighter boat with
less chance of leaking.
Hewescraft manufactures boats from
16 to 26 feet, and almost all come with
or can be specified with some sort of
pilothouse or cuddy cabin. The 19-foot
Searunner can be had for around $48,000,
which includes a trailer. Powered by a
150-hp Yamaha outboard, there’s room
for four to sit on shock-absorbing seats
in the cabin on the way to and from the
fishing grounds. Like the hull, the cabin
is made from aluminum and features
glass windows with wipers to swish away
the rain. With a dry weight of 2,300
pounds, this is light boat, so the 60-gallon
fuel tank should carry you some distance
TOUGH, AND THEREIN
LIES THEIR BEAUTY
off the British
is among the most
popular destinations for boaters,
who often cruise
in company and
raft up amid the
like these Ranger