By: Andy Adams
A special boat that defies being categorized
At the boat shows, the Ranger Tugs’ classic tugboat lines always grab the crowds, with the wives and children most likely to want to stop and have a better look. Well, they should, because the Ranger Tugs R-23 deserves a second look…a long look in fact.
Yes, it’s really a “personality” boat that looks great out on the water, and it will turn heads and start conversations at the gas docks, the locks, or just about anywhere boaters congregate, but the Ranger Tugs R-23 is far more than just cute.
Specifically, it’s a 23 footer (27’8” including the swim platform),on an 8’6” beam that has three separate sleeping areas; a head; a galley where you really can make a meal; side decks you can walk around; ground tackle for mooring out; several roof and deck hatches for light and ventilation; at the stern, a good sized cockpit for fishing or relaxing; a transom door leading to a swim platform; and finally, our test boat actually had two engines: AYamaha F200 as the main engine and a Yamaha F9.9 as a trolling motor that can get you home if the main were to fail.
Plus…the whole thing is trailerable. With a regular pickup truck and the optional factory aluminum trailer, you can take this pretty well anywhere. Keep it at LefroyHarbour Resorts on Lake Simcoe, drive it to the Rideau in a day and cruise that, cruise the Thousand Islands, go to Montreal…go just about anywhere.
Ranger Tugs has a selection of models up to 31’, and the R-23 happens to be one of the smallest, but all are trailerable, fuel efficient, and capable of cruising for days or even longer. Many have been bought by people who wanted to do the Great Loop – down the Mississippi from the Great Lakes, through the Gulf of Mexico, Florida, up the Intracoastal Waterway, up the New York Canal, back into the Great Lakes at Lake Ontario, to Trenton and up the Trent Severn Waterway, back out to Georgian Bay and the Great Lakes again.
This boat can do that.
The cockpit has a canvas shade and there is amazing space given the length of the R23.
Starting at the bow, the R-23has a sturdy and high bow rail surrounding a reasonably large forward deck that includes an anchor locker, a Lewmar electric windless, and an anchor in a chute. A classic stainless-steel cutwater adorns the bow, but also protects the fiberglass from the anchor as you are hauling it in. Handholds on the cabin roof help you to get safely back to the cockpit. The flat side decks have a raised edge to give secure footing. The cabin roof is useful for many things, including mounting the radar, antennae, and the optional solar panel. People often carry canoes and kayaks up there as well. There is even a little mock smokestack – a nod to real tugboats.
Most people will step on board at the swim platform or into the cockpit. There is a reasonable amount of space to stand there while swimming or fishing, and you enter the cockpit through a starboard side gate in the transom. The swim platform also has a boarding ladder under a cover and the test boat had the optional stern rails to protect people from falling close to the outboard engines.
The cockpit is a prime living area on board and it has rails around the perimeter and padded inwales so you can lean on the sides. A comfortable transom bench seat folds out or hides away depending on what you want. The non-slip finished floor is fiberglass in three sections, each opening for access to storage and the centre section can manage really large items like folding bikes. A canvas sunshade makes the area more comfortable and wards off rain.
It also includes stereo speakers, footlights, and the test boat had the LED underwater lighting on the tabs. A great idea.
The galley is very functional and well-equipped for real meal preparation. I’d also add a BBQ on the cockpit rail if it were my boat.
The cabin is accessed through a centre door and on the port side in the cabin is the dinette. Here’s where Ranger’s designers start to really step out with ‘Swiss Army Knife’ features. The aft bulkhead is glass on the port side and it can swing up to open. Then, the aft dinette seat back can hinge forward and with the bulkhead open, you have another aft-facing cockpit seat! This even has a comfortable footrest.
Just inside the cabin door, under the dinette seat, are the battery switches and the electrical panel. Very handy and out of the way unless needed. This is also the entrance to a single berth under the dinette seats. My kids would love this and I can get in too, if I want to.
For sleeping accommodations, the dinette table drops and you can make that into a berth as well. The boat comes with curtains for the side glass to give you privacy at night and there were several cabin lights. I counted eight cabin roof hatches or glass panels, so it’s bright and open, and you can get in lots of fresh air, too.
When it’s time to cast off, the forward dinette seat back hinges to make a forward-facing companion seat. Everything aboard the Ranger R-23 has at least two functions, sometimes more!
The head compartment is a usable size and can be curtained off for privacy.
On the starboard side of the cabin is the galley. There is a rack with fiddles for bottles, a cutlery drawer, lockers below the counter, and a stainless-steel sink with a cutting board cover. A Kenyon alcohol / electric single burner stove is included and there was a Mauve microwave as well. The Nova Kool refridge is under the helm seat.
Continuing on accommodations, the head is on the starboard side under the helm and has a magnetic latch. It’s a Jabscopumpout MSD and there’s an opening port hole. You can close it off for privacy. A curtain pulls out and can make up a shower stall while the sink is on the port side built into cabinetry with storage.
Throughout the interior, Ranger has included plenty of attractive teak trim for a warm, nautical feel. Light coloured materials and lots of lighting make it a really cozy interior. Also, the bow area includes a spacious double berth with two overhead screened deck hatches and storage under the cushions. The centre section can raise up to make a big interior dining table!
The test boat had the solar panel on the cabin roof to keep the batteries.
With so much accommodation and so much utility packed into such a compact space, you wouldn’t expect much in the way of performance, but again, Ranger surprises you.
This is really a deep vee planning hull, and with the Yamaha F200 four-stroke engine, we accelerated to planning speeds in eight to ten seconds, cruised quietly and effortlessly at 18 to 20 mph doing 3,900 rpm, and we understand the boat can achieve 2.4 mpg at cruising speeds.
The R-23 can easily tow tubes or skiers and if you’re in a rush, top speed is 38.7 mph! Even at that speed, the boat was easy to manage and the ride was very pleasant. You can carve into a fast turn easily and around the docks; it’s easy to handle but the test boat also had a bow thruster to make docking even more simple.
In fact, the test boat was loaded with all the options including a Garmin autopilot system with a remote. You can set the R23 to cruise a course at modest speeds and you can use the remote to steer if needed while you move around the interior.
The test boat also had the optional Yamaha F9.9 trolling motor. This is a sweet little engine that can fish for hours on little fuel and the remote system steers it, too. It’s there in case of an emergency or a breakdown to add a measure of comfort when cruising. The cockpit is well set up for fishing and there are deck areas to mount equipment like downriggers if you want.
At the Helm
Other equipment on the test boat included the Garmin GPS Map XSV and 7612 HD Broadband Radar. You can travel just about anywhere with this. The stereo included Blue Tooth and satellite, plus there was a Standard Horizon VHF radio. The helm seat allows standing or seated operation, there’s a footrest, and the huge curved windshield gives great outward vision. You even get big windshield wipers, a handsome wooden steering wheel, and the Yamaha digital engine instruments.
With reverse cycle heat and air conditioning, a generator, and even the option of a heater for cold weather cruising, the Ranger R-23 is ready to go anywhere and do just about anything. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea but check out the Ranger website and the Tug Nuts area where understandably fanatical owners plan cruising rendezvous events. Ourheavily optioned test boat was supplied by the LefroyHarbour Resorts in Ontario, whoalso run events and activities for their owners.
ENGINES: Yamaha F200, 200 hp 4-stroke outboard, in-line 4 cylinder, EFI dual overhead cam design, 2,785 cc / 170 ci. Yamaha F9.9, 9.9 hp, 2 cylinder 4-stroke outboard, 212 cc / 12.9 ci.
ENGINE RPM MPH
MAX 6,050 38.7
Length: 22′ 8″ / 6.9 m
Length Overall (w/swim step): 27’ 8” / 8.4 m
Beam: 8’ 6”/ 2.6 m
Weight, Dry: 5,000 lbs. / 2,268 kg
Fuel Capacity: 75 gal / 283.9 L
Water Capacity: 22 gal / 83.3 L
Holding Tank Capacity: 11 gal / 41.6 L
Bridge Clearance (mast down): 8′ 6″ / 2.6 m
Price (as tested): $140,000 USD
Base Price: $109,937 USD
Test boat and pricing supplied by: Lefroy Harbour Resorts Inc. www.rangertugs.com