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Boats

American Tug 34

American Tug 34 — By Tim Clark April 2001

Tough Love
The American Tug 34 weds the northwest’s passion for pleasureboating to its workboat heritage.
 

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• Part 1: American Tug 34
• Part 2: American Tug 34 continued
• American Tug 34 Specs
• American Tug 34 Deck Plan
• American Tug 34 Acceleration Curve

 

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Go to the children’s books section at barnesandnoble.com, type in “tugboat,” and about 60 titles will pop up—everything from My Grandpa is a Tugboat Captain by PMY’s own Capt. Ken Kreisler to Roger Burrow’s The Little Tugboat That Sneezed. From a tender age we learn that while tugboats may sneeze, they are nothing to sneeze at. Cute, capable, and confident, these craft are among the most charismatic boats afloat. Small wonder, then, that this small-wonder concept is making inroads in pleasureboating. And little surprise that the tugboat trend is headquartered in the Pacific Northwest, where workboats and motoryachts often share the same marinas.

Tomco Marine overlooks one such harbor in LaConner, Washington, about 75 miles north of Seattle. At one end of the marina I found a half-dozen salmon seiners from Southeast Alaska wintered in a proud rank. The other end sheltered recreational boats of all kinds. In between rested Tomco’s American Tug 34, a hybrid of the two extremes inclined decidedly toward pleasure.

Only from a great distance could she be mistaken for an actual workboat. Nearer at hand, her tugboat profile is stylized into smart, eager lines set off by the jaunty angle of a faux smokestack amidships at the centerline. Still, the contrast between her frank exterior and the fine comforts of her interior is striking.

In the saloon, cabinets and valances are made from carefully finished teak. The L-shape UltraLeather settee to port (which converts to a double berth) wraps around a sleek, finely rubbed teak and ash table. To starboard, the galley’s custom-molded, one-piece countertop provides 10 square feet of work space between a double sink and a three-burner propane stove and oven (a 110-volt unit is available). A microwave rests at head level atop a 6.8-cubic-foot Nova Kool refrigerator-freezer. The entire space is bathed in light—even on the rainy winter morning of my visit—streaming from large windows port, starboard, and aft.

Three steps up a centerline companionway just below the molded stack, the pilothouse is paneled and trimmed in teak and is obviously designed for the sort of boaters who enjoy the run as much as the destination. Large windows all around—including directly aft—provide exceptional visibility from the skipper’s adjustable UltraLeather benchseat to starboard and allow great sightseeing from identical port-side seating. Below and to port of the helm console, which is designed to accommodate an array of flush-mounted navigational electronics, a backlit breaker panel is within easy reach. In keeping with its hands-on heritage, the 34 has a port-side chart table large enough for a full-size NOAA chart. This proof that the designers at Tomco are mindful of boaters who still value good, old paper-chart navigation pleased me. PWhile most tugs we remember from childhood reading were coal-fired, this one was powered by a gleaming optional 355-hp Cummins 370B diesel inboard engine accessed through a pair of 2'x2' hatches in the pilothouse sole. Although you have to crouch to get around in the engine compartment (which also shelters a standard 5.5-kW Northern Lights genset), it is organized and uncluttered, and you can work on any part of the engine from a comfortable seated position.

The 34’s interior is generously proportioned throughout, but nowhere more than in the forward stateroom and head, where it becomes difficult to remember that this boat is just 34'5" long. A queen-size walkaround berth below a 20"x20" screened Bowmar hatch is the centerpiece in a room that takes full advantage of the tug’s broad-shouldered bow. The head, which has a direct entrance plus a second one for guests, is equipped with a standard VacuFlush MSD, a sink next to generous counter space, and a shower that, at 3'x3', is by far the largest I’ve ever seen on a boat this size. Five opening ports are divided between the port and starboard sides of this forward area. As in the rest of the boat’s interior, headroom is 6'6".

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This article originally appeared in the January 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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