Nordic Tug 26 – A Tug For The Compact Yachtsman

Nordic Tug 26 exterior

One of the most captivating dreams I had when I was imagining owning a boat was centered around the Nordic Tug. There was a nicely-cared-for Nordic Tug (NT-37 I think) kept at the covered dock about a half-hour from my home, and (more often than I’d admit) I’d head out after work to respectfully peer into and on it and imagine having a Nordic Tug of my own. There was something about the way it was made, the quality of the vessel (before I was able to “gauge” such things), and the sense of the tough ‘little ship’ I could imagine it being. It even had the signature ‘smoke stack’!

When I could afford to get serious, I started looking at brokerage boats for sale, and learned more about (became obsessed about) trawlers. I was sure I’d like a trawler hull, and pretty sure I wanted a Nordic Tug. At one time or another, I was aboard a Nordic Tug NT-32, the NT-37, and the grandaddy of them all (before the NT-52 was introduced) the NT-42. One spring, I thought I was even going to be a Nordic Tug owner, but the engine had some survey problems and it turned out the owners hadn’t maintained it and the oil hadn’t been changed, or even kept up to level, for 7 years! What a shame.

My life took some ‘turns’ shortly thereafter, and there was some time where I was again dreaming about owning a boat instead of having one. I then became a fan of Nordhavn, Fleming, Selene, Defever and others, and by  the time I’d begun to refocus on acquiring a trawler, I’d given up my dreams of a Nordic Tug in favor or one day owning the Nordhavn N-55.

Nordic Tug 26 Salon

It was during this time when Lee Ann and I decided to celebrate our anniversary in Victoria, BC. It took us a day and two plane rides to get there, we got a room in the Empress Hotel, and we hurried down to the wharf on the beautiful Victoria waterfront to catch the sunset. There, with the orb settling into the western fog, and amid yachts of every type, was my first in-person look at the Nordic Tug NT-26, the smallest of the NT’s.

The ‘little red tug’ was in perfect condition, though probably 20+ years old and had been out of production for a long time. I thought I was headed toward a larger vessel at the time, but I remember several visits to that idyllic Nordic Tug, and one to meet it’s owners. The third morning I came down to the harborfront to find the Nordic Tug had slipped off into the morning mists and that there was a nice new Nordhavn N-47 in its berth, fresh from a coastal voyage north from Dana Point, California.

Fast forward to 2012, I’m in my second year of yacht ownership (and in love!) with my Rosborough RF-246, and the Nordic Tug 26 has become one of the most trumpeted compact yachts since it’s re-introduction by Nordic Tugs n 2009. It’s no wonder the NT-26 is so popular in this age of soaring gas prices, out-of-control trawler costs (Nordhavn wants $1,900,000 for the N-55 were were looking at; and that’s shy of commissioning!) and berth fees. A new NT-26 raised- pilot house trawler can be had for just under $200,000 and, for that, comes equipped for almost everything you’ll need to go cruising.

The first thing I noticed when walking around the NT-26 were the pilothouse doors. They are located directly to the starboard and port of the helm station, and are largely glass and thus transparent. Being a Rosborough RF-246 owner, I have become accustomed to the ventilation and easy deck access (and emergency egress) these doors represent, and I was glad to see another boat with this much-heralded and seldom seen (in vessels under 30’) feature.

Nordic Tug 26 cabin image

It soon became clear that each area of the boat was the product of much planning and forethought. Enter the NT-26 through the cockpit via the large swim platform and the centerline walk-through, and you find the galley to port complete with stainless steel sink and a matching range. A fridge and microwave oven are in the face of the galley counter, along with cabinets and drawers. To starboard is the dinette that converts to a berth if needed.

Forward and up a couple steps is the pilothouse on this “raised pilothouse trawler”, with helm seating built for two, is a nice helm and two doors for ventilation and deck access (mentioned above). Visibility is good all around with the use of the two aft windows, but not so great looking aft if a dinghy is stored above the salon area. The forward windows and the side doors (largely glass) provide excellent sight lines. I’d recommend the upgrade to opening/screened windows forward of each sliding door for ventilation. An overhead console for mounting VHF radios and a stereo is standard.

Nordic Tug 26 Exterior ship image

Beneath the pilothouse sole is the Cummins QSD 2.0 or the Yanmar 4 cyl. diesel engine that powers the NT-26. The engine, which is mated to Twin Disc reduction gear, is accessed by lifting the stairs from the salon to the pilothouse and through a removable panel in the pilothouse floor. Regarded as two of the finest engines on the market, the Cummins or Yanmar is good for years of dependable use at a scant 1 gallon per hour at economy speeds and 2 gallons per hour at cruise speeds of up to 9 knots.

Helm instrumentation includes the analog versions of the Cummins water temperature gauge, oil pressure gauge, voltmeter and tachometer with a digital gauge that reads fuel burn rates as well as oil pressure, water temperature and volts. There is a conveniently-positioned 12V fan on the helm opposite the chart table surface. The ergonomics of the helm, positioning of the wheel (in your choice of classic wood or stainless steel) and controls are pleasing, and there’s lots of room to place a plethora of aftermarket electronics.

Nordic Tug 26 forward cabin image

Stepping down two steps again and forward, the head is situated to starboard, hanging locker to port and the bedding accommodation forward. The double bed spans the forward-most cabin space at a diagonal angle from the head bulkhead to the left of the peak of the bow, leaving space for a comfortable, built-in, upholstered seat. There are two windows, one on either side of the sleeping cabin. I recommend the upgrade to opening/screened stainless steel port lights instead of the black plastic windows that come standard. An overhead hatch serves as an emergency egress point for the forward cabin as well as a moon roof and ventilation source. The head room is 6’0” in the sleeping cabin, while it is a more generous 6’ 4” in the salon and 6’ 2” in the NT-26’s pilothouse. For most people, this is more than adequate, but for we taller folks (I’m 6’4” tall) it is a consideration.

Overhead lighting throughout the interior is good, and the engine box even features an “engine room light”. I should mention that the ‘new’ NT-26 (vs. the old one made in the 80’s and 90’s) features an interior ‘liner’ designed to save money in the building process and therefore bring the finished price down to below $200k. The liner eliminates many man-hours from the building process and, with the inclusion of several inset plastic bins, the fiberglass, pre-fit liner doesn’t seem to have any drawback. The liner is bonded to both the hull and to the shoebox portion of the house by Nordic Tug. To get a look at the liner, just look beneath one of the dinette seats. You’ll find a storage bin set into a rectangular hole in the liner. There are holes and bins like this one under the other dining seat and the mattress in the vessel’s bed as well.

Nordic Tug 26 cabin image

Back outside, you can move forward from the amply outfitted cockpit (with two small tables mounted at angles on the aft, outboard corners) along either side of the house. The walkway is not and ‘even’ width here, as the salon is wider than the pilothouse. There are 1”, 316 stainless steel rails on the rooftops however, and the trip forward is brief. Here you’ll find a nice sitting area (the roof of the sleeping cabin) and adequate space to perform tasks with your ground tackle. Included with your boat is a 316 stainless steel Samson post and an anchor roller assembly. The boat does not include an anchor and rode however; they leave the choice of ground tackle up to you. The bow is protected by a hefty stainless 1” stainless steel railing, as is the cockpit. The signature “smoke stack” on the NT-26 is not used for exhaust (which is vented through the transom), but houses the boat’s radar reflector instead.

The NT-26 comes in Oyster (off white), but Nordic Tug offers it in several hull colors, including Flag Blue, Brick Red, Green, Black, Red, Blue and Storm Grey. Currently there are four custom interior color packages available as well. There is a long list of options on this boat that you’ll want to know well before placing an order. A Side Power bow thruster and the Lewmar windlass that Nordic Tug recommends come immediately to mind.

The NT-26 is trailerable, but requires a permit in most states because of it’s 9′ 11″ beam. Nordic Tug has succeeded in ‘bringing back’ the improved NT-26 at a price that will be hard to beat. The vessel is resplendent with all the characteristics, features and the looks that have made Nordic Tugs what they are: dependable, go-almost-anywhere, comfortable boats that have a great signature look and a long tradition of sea-going pride.


Photos courtesy of the mftrs. website:

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