Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder


By Jim Favors

It has been said that the two happiest days in a boat owner’s life are the day’s they buy and sell a boat. I can honestly say that has never been the case for me, I’ve loved each and every one when purchased or sold and wish I could have kept them all. But alas, it always boiled down to economics; we couldn’t afford to keep a 32-footer if we were getting a 42-footer, etc. If the truth were to be told, we’re actually quite saddened since the sale of our last boat. Saddened because we are now sitting boat-less, therefore we can’t get out on the water on a whim, we miss cruising and the cruising community. I guess we miss the whole ball of wax, in fact I think a few tears are coming to my eyes as I think about this.

Ranger Tugs R-27 in action.

Lisa and I have owned a boat of some kind for all of our married life. So to be without a boat after all these years is akin to going cold turkey. For being mariners at heart, it’s been somewhat painful. It’s only been six months since we said goodbye to our old Kismet, but now it’s been a full 12 months since we’ve actually been cruising full time. After being liveaboards for five years, we put the boat into storage 12 months ago, in Key West. We had every intention of returning to our cruising life, we just didn’t know when. The pull of home, family and a familiar community was overwhelming a year ago so we returned to our hometown, bought a house and sold our 40’ trawler. We also discovered this time period away from the boat has actually been good for us; we’ve reconnected with home life after being on the water for five years, making the pain at least bearable. However, now, just as the pull to return home hit us, the pull of the water has started to call us back. We especially feel this need to gravitate to our adventures on the water when we get emails or calls from friends updating us on their current adventures. So during this time away from cruising I guess the more appropriate thought would be how, “absence makes the heart grow stronger.”

R-27 interior shot taken from saloon door, a place for everything. The door to the head is just to the right.

Chet, a friend of ours has been boating for over 60 years. When he was between boats a few years ago someone said to him, “I heard you’ve gotten out of boating.” and his response was, “Did you hear that I died?” Now that’s what I’d call a hard-core boater! Chet changed boats every several years and when he was in between boats he referred to that period of time as being “in the hunt,” as in the hunt for another boat. Lisa and I can relate very closely with Chet’s feelings, as over the last six months we have really enjoyed “ being in the hunt” for our new Kismet. This time, a trailerable trawler for us!

We started our hunt last summer shortly after our decision to sell our Fathom 40 by making a list of our wants and desires for our perfect trailerable trawler. We wanted this boat to have everything our 40’ trawler had, which I think may have been a little ambitious. Ambitious or not, our quest had begun by studying the web sites of every possible candidate in the 25 to 29 foot range, so we could find the boat that most closely fit our wish list. Our search took us walking down more docks then we can count, hours spent on the Internet checking out used and new boat listings, comparing prices, standard and optional equipment, resale value, construction methods and so much more. I spent so much time on the computer researching boats that the wood chair I sit in to surf the web began to fall apart.

 The Ranger Tugs R-27 engine is located in the cockpit, making the ride quieter and the engine easier to service.

Above and beyond all the dock walking in northern Michigan last summer we physically boarded boats in Traverse City, Michigan and Ft. Lauderdale, Naples, Cape Coral and Tampa Bay in Florida. The more we looked the easier our choice became. I say this because our starting point began with that list. As we looked at a boat, we’d compare it to our list to evaluate how close it came to matching the vision we saw as our new dreamboat.

Our “list” included diesel propulsion, generator, large cockpit, pilothouse area, enclosed head/shower, stove, microwave, refrigerator and freezer, windlass, sliding windows with screens, trawler appearance with eye appeal, second stateroom, inverter/battery charger, ability to cruise up to 18 knots if desired, exceptional fit and finish for interior and exterior, no isinglass, strong industry name and reputation and, very important to us, American made. In addition, this perfect boat had to pass the desirability test for both Lisa and myself. We both had to be on board with the final choice. As my friend Mike says, “a happy wife is a happy life,” (and vice versa) and this phrase is so much more meaningful when applied to a couples boating lifestyle. The space is sometimes not large enough (and with this new boat it’s getting even smaller) not to try and maximize the compatibility quotient.

 R-27’s optional solar panel helps keep the batteries charged while on the hook or when being towed down the road.

As you’ve read, our boat’s wish list was rather specific; so, in the end it made our final decision much easier. As we’ve stated before and bear with us for stating it again – for many, our personal list may be over kill and therefore boats that we eventually ruled out would make the perfect boat for someone else. This doesn’t mean anyone is right or wrong or a boat is better or not, it simply means everyone gets the boat that fits closest to their own personal desires, wants, needs and budget.

In the end the boat that matched and actually exceeded our expectations for our trailerable trawler, the one that we saw ourselves exploring new cruising destinations and returning to favorite haunts is the Ranger Tugs R-27! For us the Ranger Tugs R-27 is the perfect boat to quench our longing to return to cruising.

 Ranger Tugs R-27 from the starboard side, note the large cockpit.

Why the Ranger Tugs R-27? Besides being the perfect match to our wish list the boat looks and feels like a trawler that’s much larger than her size. After overcoming the major list hurdle, there were four underlying reasons why the Ranger Tug won our heart. For us, (remember this is a joint venture) spatial comfort, fit and finish, customer testimonials and company reputation put us way over the top.

Seeing is believing, when we first boarded a Ranger 27 we knew right away that this was the boat for us. We got a good sense about the available spatial area by how we could move around within the boat. There seemed to be a natural flow, it felt roomy for a 27-foot boat. The Ranger is a wide body boat (the very narrow gunwale give more interior space), which is important when cruising for long periods of time. The large cockpit also adds to the spatial comfort, especially considering Lisa and I like to be outside. Our thought here was that with a smaller interior, we’d likely want to expand on our overall space by making the back deck a place we’d frequent, when the weather cooperated and the insides got too close.

 Ground tackle is serious business for Ranger, as you can see from their standard windlass.

We were also able to see how meticulous the Ranger Tug factory is with their boat’s fit and finish, something we value very much. I don’t know how it happened but I like things neat and tidy, in order, aligned, finished properly and constructed and assembled with quality. The Ranger Tugs R-27 really does this for me!

Lisa and I have met a few Ranger Tugs owners over the last six months who have provided us with unsolicited customer testimonials. Word of mouth is commonly referred to as the best form of advertising and the folks we met gave us their unvarnished opinions about their experience with their boats. The biggest thing I took away from our conversations, besides their fondness for the boat, was their praise of Ranger Tugs management. I was told about the ease of working with them, whether building a new boat, solving a problem after the sale or just returning a call to help with a technical issue. You just can’t beat that, “service with a smile!”

Lastly, it was Ranger Tugs reputation. While doing research we found most of the boat builders had a good name in the boating community and the boat owners, for the most part, had good things to say about them. Reputation is one of those things that’s ever fleeting as in “what have you done for me lately” attitude. Reputation is something, in my opinion, that has to be earned each and every day. No one company gets everything right but it’s how they go about things that can often make the difference. As an example, Ranger Tugs conducts owner-learning seminars, organizes cruising events in the Pacific Northwest area, and sponsors an annual Tug Fest, all for the benefit of fostering positive client relations and that’s how one maintains a good reputation.

We plan on taking delivery of our R-27 in August, when we’ll attend the Tug Fest in Bremerton, Washington and right after we’ll begin the kick off our trailerable trawler adventures. In the meantime, we’ve put together another list, this time for a truck, and have begun our search for the right truck to haul the boat with, so many decisions to make but oh what fun.