altWe call them “pleasurecraft” because they're a pleasure to own and to cruise; they are not commercial vessels or work boats. But “pleasure” means different things to different people. This is not a one-size-fits-all world.

For some people, it would be a pleasure to own a boat with a salty traditional look and a carbon footprint that respects nature. A Ranger Tug might just be the perfect expression of that pleasure.

We went on board our first Ranger Tugs, an R-29, at the Miami International Boat Show.

Even though we wound up with six full-sized adults onboard, the boat didn't feel cramped and the weight did nothing to slow down the performance. Ranger promotes their R-29 model as having sleeping accommodations for six – a surprise considering the overall size and weight of the boat.

With a length of 29 feet [33' including the swim platform] on a 10-foot beam, you just would not expect full standing headroom, two cabins, each with a double berth, an impressively large galley or a full head with standing headroom, but you get all this and more in the Ranger Tugs R-29.

You may need special permits, but with a 10-foot beam and a weight of 10,000 pounds, a heavy duty pickup can pull your Ranger Tug R-29 on a trailer to easily transport this boat to wherever you want to cruise!

The compact size of the Ranger Tug R-29 opens up some great cruising possibilities, even within the scope of a short vacation. Load one of these on a trailer and in four hours from Toronto, you could be heading south on the Erie Barge Canal. Or, consider a leisurely one-way cruise from Lake Simcoe down the Trent Severn. Then, get your friendly marina crew to pick the boat up in Trenton and bring it home to Lefroy.

The size and shallow draft is a decided advantage when making your way down the ICW to Florida and once there, it’s a lot easier to find a slip for a 29 footer than something larger!

We emphasize all the things you can do with this boat because the small-scale tugboat styling, while attractive and full of personality, might leave you thinking that this isn't really a serious cruising boat. But, it is.

The exterior styling is traditional and eye-catching, yet the high bows will manage rough weather and high waves, the side decks are impressively wide considering the overall beam and a multitude of carefully placed handholds make it easy to get around the topsides when setting the anchor, or docking.

Staying on exterior features, the cabin roof has a 50” mast arrangement for your radar, communications equipment; the roof is also a place to stow “toys” that often don't fit very well, even on much larger yachts. You can put a dinghy or a kayak up on the roof and somehow it looks just right to throw bicycles up there too!

Across the stern is a swim platform equipped with handrails for added safety. There is a proper transom door to keep the sea out and the people in. Across the transom top is what Ranger calls a cockpit convenience centre with sink cooler.

Our test boat had the optional full canvas over the cockpit. You can get Strato-glass side enclosures too. The cockpit has floor hatches allowing you to conveniently check the batteries and electrical systems, reach the steering gear, or the back of the engine. Ranger’s designers have found a remarkable amount of storage space there as well.

You can enter the cabin either through the aft bulkhead door or the starboard side door by the helm. The captain can easily communicate with the crew when docking and having that door open as you cruise along brings a welcome flow of fresh air.

Entering the cabin, you find an impressive expense of galley counter up the starboard side with a pair of polished stainless steel sinks and a Princess stove, complete with an oven. Ranger expects you to really live on board this boat. Teak and holly flooring unites the cabin visually and accents the handsome louvered teak doors in the galley. Countertops have fiddles and there is a side shelf for small items. You get a refrigerator and a 6-bottle wine cooler!

The cabin is pleasantly bright and airy. The side and aft bulkhead windows all open and have screens plus there are opening roof hatches over the galley, dinette, companion area and again over the helm.

The cabin is not confining at all and you really have to give your head a shake when you realize it's a 29-foot boat with a 10-foot beam! The portside convertible dinette seats four people, converts to a double berth and Ranger has cleverly made the forward seat back convertible to become the double-wide companion seat when you're underway.

Of course there's a DVD and flat screen TV! It swings down from the ceiling just ahead of the dinette.

The helm provides excellent vision all around and dashboard space for the optional navigation package that includes a big Garmin multifunction display with remote control. A wooden ship’s wheel is a must of course, and the captain enjoys an adjustable helm seat with foot rest for long-distance comfort. When docking, the standard bow and stern thruster controls are right there by your right hand. The boat is quite maneuverable around the docks and even a novice owner will find it easy to run and handle.

You might be surprised that the Ranger Tugs R-29 has performance to match the abundance of personality. A Yanmar 6BY 2 diesel with 260 hp is standard and it's a gem. The block of from the engineering whiz kids at BMW and it’s a high-efficiency, electronically-controlled diesel with common rail fuel injection. Skillfully installed in the Ranger, the Yanmar is quiet and silky smooth, reaching a top speed of 20.6 kn (23.7 mph) at 4000 rpm and yet happily moving along at 6 kn (6.9 mph) doing only 1500 while achieving roughly 5 miles per gallon!

The test conditions didn't really challenge the Ranger Tugs sea-keeping abilities, but the boat rode smoothly, handled in a predictable fashion and inspired confidence in every maneuver.

When it comes time to call it quits for the day, the forward stateroom provides the comfort of a double island bed, overhead screened hatch, standing headroom and a door for privacy.

Another couple, or the kids could grab the mid-cabin which is tucked away below the dinette. It's "cozy" yet still offers adult-size space.

Everyone will appreciate the fully enclosed head with standing height, opening side window, sink in a vanity, louvered teak door, shower and toilet.

You can also use the handheld shower on the aft deck as long as the weather is suitable, and the real truth is, this 29-foot boat provides usable space and accommodations that will make most families quite comfortable, even for an extended vacation onboard.

Ranger has used every nook and cranny for something, but a lot of people will take pleasure in that too. Our sense was that the boat is solidly built with good quality evident everywhere we looked and for those who appreciate its traditional salty look, this will be a treasured possession as well as a conversation piece.

To see if this boat is available, go to www.boatcan.com to check listings!

 

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