Nordic Tug 39By Capt. Bill Pike Photos by Neil Rabinowitz
Wind in the Willows
If ever there were a perfect boat to go messing about in, the Nordic Tug 39 is it.
I was immediately captivated when I arrived at Wayne Carroll’s Brewerton Boatyard that morning. For starters, the place itself was pure poetry. Hunkered alongside the riverine waters of the Erie Canal, at the west end of New York State’s Oneida Lake, with grassy banks, tall green reeds, and antique motoryachts sprinkled around, it seemed to literally embody what Ratty was talking about when he solemnly advised his young friend the Mole, “There is nothing-absolutely nothing-half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.”
And there was something else that was especially groovy: the Nordic Tug 39, a newly launched, highly efficient, midrange cruiser of the sort that’s twanged my heartstrings since childhood. Sporting a classy off-white hull and dark-blue accent stripes, she dozed alongside one of the boatyard’s docks, her lines invitingly slack, her spiffy 375-bhp Cummins QSB5.9 diesel inboard seemingly asleep, her perky bow pointed toward the sparkling blue surface of the lake, promising a fine, free, summer’s day on the water. “Hey,” yelled a large fellow in Bermuda shorts, throwing open the Diamond Seaglaze door on the starboard side of the pilothouse, “You’re Bill Pike, aren’t ya?”
I hit it off with Nordic’s president and CEO Andy Lund right away. A career military man who’s owned a raft of boats over the years—including one he skippered across the Atlantic—as well as a one-time operator of a West Coast boat dealership, Lund is both unmistakably knowledgeable and thoroughly enthusiastic about all things marine. And besides, messing about in any boat, Nordic Tug or otherwise, is way more enjoyable when it’s done with a kindred spirit.
We departed the boatyard in a hush. In spite of the fact that our single Cummins was just inches beneath the wheelhouse sole, I felt no vibration as we eased away from the dock and heard only a faint murmur. Indeed, during the testing we’d do later on Oneida Lake, throttle settings of 1500 rpm or higher were required to push the 39’s sound readings beyond the level of normal conversation. And what’s more, with both port and starboard pilothouse doors swung back to catch the cool morning breeze, we were able to comfortably douse both the air-conditioning and the genset. The resulting quiet as we swept along was delightful.
I broke out the radar gun just a mile or so west of Frenchman Island, and as Lund and I began recording test data, I soon noticed that two data points stood above the rest. First, our 39’s Lynn Senour-designed semidisplacement hull was producing a virtually wakeless cruise speed of 9.6 mph while burning just 2.6 gph and posting an operating efficiency of 3.69 miles per gallon. Second, the boat’s efficiency could be dang near doubled—believe it or not—by simply cutting the speed back to 7.3 mph or 6.3 knots.
“Wanna drive?” asked Lund, once we’d finished with the test numbers. In half a heartbeat, I was behind the wheel, carving turns and buzz-bombing islands on water that was nearly as flat as a sheet of glass, noticing in the process that our screw was a left-hander, thanks to a slight but discernable tendency to roll to starboard at top speed. Subsequently using this tidbit to my advantage at slower, maneuvering-type speeds, I found that I could easily turn the 39 within her own length sans Side-Power bow thruster—the back-and-fill technique I employed worked best when swinging ‘round to port, due to the prop’s left-hand-turning orientation.
Docking alongside revealed a small but unexpected quirk. Because the 39 has a modern single-lever electronic engine control, I found myself dealing with detents while shifting and throttling with the same stick, a development I hadn’t anticipated or even thought about. Is such an arrangement workable? Heck yes, but in my opinion it’s also rather slow and clumsy compared to the old-fashioned split, cable-type Morse engine control I have onboard my single-engine trawler. The latter has a separate, detentless throttle lever that I can independently and instantaneously goose, a feature that greatly facilitates single-screw maneuvering. Sidling the 39 alongside the fuel dock was a no-stress deal nevertheless, although I hit the oomphy thruster a couple of times just to gauge its effectiveness.
After tying up, I checked out the engine room, a spacious area that evinced top-shelf ancillaries, superb engine access, and lots of solid craftsmanship. Once I was finished, Lund and I discussed the 39’s developmental history at the dinette table in the galley over a couple of cups of joe. As Lund explained it, this boat is essentially a Nordic Tug 37—a model that’s been around for years—with the swim platform factored into the LOA and a bunch of nifty add-ons, including LED interior and nav lighting from Imtra, a NMEA 2000 bus system, a DSM250 Systems Monitor from Maretron, an adjustable Llebroc pedestal helm chair instead of the 37’s benchseat, Diamond Seaglaze windows, Dutch-type doors, and windshield (with exceptionally narrow mullions), updated galley appliances (see the standard equipment list in this story), a household-size, low-water-flow Tecma MSD, a 70-amp Mastervolt battery charger, a slew of Lifeline maintenance-free batteries, and finally, a Fireboy CG2-500 automatic fire-extinguishing system in the ER, as well as a couple of five-pound extinguishers and a single two-pounder in the accommodation spaces.
“Super stuff—all of it,” I commented, lifting my coffee cup, somehow inaugurating a long, amicable silence. Water lapped the hull and a fragrant breeze wafted in through the open doors and windows in the pilothouse, then swept through the galley/dinette area. The ambiance ultimately brought to mind what I now contend is the essence of the new Nordic Tug 39, which goes well beyond her comfy master forward, her ample guest cabin to starboard, her equally ample head to port (with separate stall shower), and all the other nifty features mentioned thus far.
“This boat reminds me of one of my favorite authors,” I said at length, as Lund got up and began ambling over to the coffeemaker to replenish our cups.
“Who’s that?” he asked.
“Kenneth Grahame,” I replied with a smile. “You know—,The Wind in the Willows, messing-about-in-boats guy. He’d have loved this baby!”
Nordic Tugs (360) 757-8847. www.powerandmotoryacht.com/nordic-tugs.
Keeping Tabs: Maretron DSM250
The Nordic Tug 39 comes standard with a DSM250 vessel-monitoring system from Maretron that is tied into a standard-issue Maretron NMEA 2000 bus system. Not only was this linkup push-button easy to use (thanks especially to the DSM250’s daylight-viewable screen), it also offered a slew of features. Wanna know your tank levels, speed, battery state, navigational position, or transmission status? The 250 makes all of this information and more available in either numerical, graph, or gauge format via single or multiple display boxes. But what I especially liked about the system is its sensor setup for reading exhaust-elbow temperature—a better way to keep tabs on engine-related temperature changes than mere dashboard gauges. Maretron (866) 550-9100. www.maretron.com. —B.P.
This article originally appeared in the September 2010 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.