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Old 02-14-2015, 01:22 PM   #1
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Nordic Tug vs. American Tug

So, been considering moving up in boat size from the 26 Nordic I have now. I love my 26 but it is one of the original Nordics not a new Nordic, so wondering if anyone else has compared Nordic's current build quality with American Tug?

I have toured the Nordic Factory and was not terribly impressed - the layout wasn't all that efficient which may contribute to the high cost on new boats. I also have talked to new Nordic owners and they say the build quality is just not there anymore. I can't get a Cummins or Cat diesel only Volvo on the Nordic which I don't want due to cost and service issues. Not sure why Cummins won't do business with Nordic but the Cummins reps tell me they don't sell to Nordic any longer. Finally, have not had good experiences with the local Nordic Tug dealership as of late so won't buy thru them - puts me buying out of area.

All that is to say, American is back in the running. I like the look of the American Tug but heard from a good source that stabilizers are a problem area for American. Also, curious about build quality compared to Nordic.

Any comments?
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Old 02-14-2015, 03:38 PM   #2
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I know nothing about those boats. However, I did take a tour of a Nordic 42 about two years ago. I was impressed with the build and floor plan quality.

My thoughts, after reading your introduction, was to suggest that you look for a larger Nordic, 36 foot or 42 foot, from a similar year as your current boat. The quality that you're seeking will be there and the cost should be substantially lower than a new boat.
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Old 02-14-2015, 07:04 PM   #3
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I believe the Nordic 37 is a great boat. Not a new one, a 2004 or so. They have Cummins. The American Tug 37 only has 1 cabin and some of them have 2 engines. I have been looking for about a year, and if I had to plunk down $220 - $250K on a used boat, it would be a Nordic 37. But that's just me. The American tug is a great boat.
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Old 02-14-2015, 08:17 PM   #4
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I had a 42' Nordic for 5 years and loved it. If I wanted to downsize I would get an American 34. It is a good compromise.
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Old 02-22-2015, 01:47 PM   #5
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I am researching this topic as a part of my retirement boat purchase. Prior to retirement, I am chartering various boats to verify exactly what we need and what we want.

Over the past year my wife and I have chartered a NT 37 and NT 42 out of Anacortes, WA. We cruised the San Juan's for a week in the 37 and a week cruising the Gulf Islands in the 42. Both highly recommended trips and both vessels were extremely well built and capable. Definitely the 42 is on our short list. While the 37 is a great boat we loved the extra space in the 42 and once you get used to it, close quarter maneuvering in the 42 is not much harder than the 37 provided you have both bow and stern thrusters, (which is definitely on my "need" list). Our two grown daughters joined us on both trips and the value of extra room on the 42 was very evident and appreciated.

Of note: 2002 and prior the NT 42 has a split cabin design. We chartered a 2001 with the split design. Mt wife loved this setup and she says if we go NT we have to get a 2002 and update if needed. With the split design, the master stateroom and head are forward off the pilothouse down a set of curved stairs on the starboard side. The guest cabin and head are off the saloon. This gave a noticeable separation of the cabins and provided a greater sense of privacy. In the mornings you can get up early and access the pilothouse, saloon and galley without disturbing guests. In late 2002 and/or before 2003, NT moved the access to both staterooms from the saloon along a common hallway and removed the forward stairs. This change provided more room to increase the size of the master head. While that feature is nice, my wife insists she likes the old design better, so you know what we will get if we go NT! Ideally a 2002 fly-bridge...

I also have heard that NT quality has gone down in late model boats and AT quality seems better. AT's personal presence at Trawler Fest tells me a lot. A couple of years ago while attending Trawler Fest, Anacortes, I did take the tour of AT's factory. While I was not super impressed with the facility as it seemed not to be neat and organized, the passion that came from the employees I spoke with was highly evident.

During the same Trawler Fest I will have to say the overall quality of the AT vs NT is better based on tours of similar boats on display. The fit and finish is better and the thought that went into their build is better. I do like the extra space the added beam provides as well.

So I am very interested in an AT 41 or 435, (newer models include the swim platform to make the overall boat sound bigger), as a very viable contender. I have an AT 41 reserved for a 10 day Gulf Island charter out of Bellingham, WA mid-May this year. I can report back as to the actual experience after this trip.
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Old 02-22-2015, 05:29 PM   #6
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If in fact, the quality of the newer NT's have gone down, I'm sorry to hear that.

I have a 2004 32' NT and I have to say, the build quality is unbelievable.
In fact, its what sold me on them.
I'm constantly amazed at the attention to detail. From the teak finish work, the wiring, and the quality of materials.
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Old 02-22-2015, 09:55 PM   #7
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The quality has dropped significantly if you compare an older Nordic to what is rolling out of the loft now. I think the problem is that the current management is killing brand because they don't understand the difference between a Brunswick boat and a Nordic Tug. The current el Hefe (Supreme Leader i.e. CEO) came from Brunswick and just doesn't get it.

I looked at Nordic 49-001 last week. It was a really nicely built boat and represents all that Nordic used to be years ago. If a buyer is dead set on a Nordic Tug, go with a older used boat. Forget the new boats especially with Volvo engines.
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Old 02-23-2015, 01:03 AM   #8
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well, there you go.

If the the CEO is from Brunswick, 'nuff said.
Look what Brunswick did to Cabo.
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Old 02-23-2015, 08:59 AM   #9
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well, there you go.

If the the CEO is from Brunswick, 'nuff said.
Look what Brunswick did to Cabo.
Well, they moved Cabo's production which was stupid, but then Versa closed the line down.

Back to the OP. Didn't you say enough in your original post? You saw by your own lines and have talked to current owners. Now I know nothing but what I'm reading here about the comparative quality, but it would concern me that they weren't at Trawlerfest. When you decide not to attend major industry events it's not positive and typically a financial issue. I don't care if you don't sell boats at shows, you go as a defensive measure.

Now, if you're looking at used boats, many of these issues don't matter much. Today's quality and finances don't. What matters is the quality of the one boat and how well it surveys. You don't care about the next one off the line or how good their warranty service. If looking at a new build then that and more become important.

Nordic Tug did consolidate some operations in early 2014 (translation=downsize) and had a couple of key positions turn over last year. Last time the information was published they only had 28 employees. The switch to Volvo only would disappoint me as in 2014 Volvo was their standard but every boat I can find a test on was either Yanmar or Cummins.

Meanwhile American had a 2014 Rendezvous and has a 2015 Spring Fling planned. They also introduced a new model last year. As a note, several of the key American employees moved from Nordic. That could have left a void at that time in Nordic. American had a big factory tour day this month. If looking at new, I'd certainly go look at their factory.
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Old 02-23-2015, 11:14 AM   #10
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Minor correction to the Anacortes TrawlerFest comment. Nordic Yachts Northwest, the hometown dealer for Nordic Tugs was at TrawlerFest but the factory was not represented. I think it is a financial issue that the Nordic factory guys don't attend much if any shows. Nordic operates on a cash only basis because they don't have (can't get) an operating line of credit so things are done on a shoe string.
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Old 02-23-2015, 11:25 AM   #11
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Nordic operates on a cash only basis because they don't have (can't get) an operating line of credit so things are done on a shoe string.
If that is true, that's then a very risky situation for one to order a new boat from. That would also explain a very disorganized production facility. Things get held up in such situations waiting for specific equipment.
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Old 02-23-2015, 12:16 PM   #12
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Take a look at the North Pacific line. Not many on the used market at this time though. I have one, for better than a year, and am happy with it.
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Old 02-23-2015, 01:24 PM   #13
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Factory representatives from Nordic Tugs were at the Annapolis Show in October last year and were at the Seattle Show last month. From what I understand they are running a plant in partnership with Aspen who is producing single engine catamarans.

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Old 02-23-2015, 01:35 PM   #14
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As a current owner of a Nordic Tug 39 and as a former 32 owner who is still in contact with the factory, I have to say that I think the facts are not being well represented in this thread.

In my opinion, Nordic Tugs are the top quality tug boat on the market - period. They are second to none in stability, efficiency, and in build quality. And the factory is second to none as well - I have been through both factories in question, as well as several others, and there is no comparison in the way the boats are assembled. I think it's well worth anyone's time to check out the factories to see exactly how they're made, would not make a purchase decision without doing so.

Regarding engines, Nordic Tugs has stated to me that they absolutely will install any engine that is legal and will fit. In fact, they just installed a new Cummins motor in a custom build where the customer requested that motor - I was in the factory just last week. The problem with CAT and some of the other manufacturers is that they have not yet made motors throughout the size range that are Tier III emissions compliant. I have a Cummins in my 39, had a Volvo in the 32.

While the older Nordics were very well built, the new ones are vastly improved in almost every way, and they are continuing to improve them. They are coming out with a brand new Nordic Tug 40 that is replacing the 39 - there is a lot of quality innovation occurring there, and they continue to work hard on quality issues like noise and vibration. Again, you won't know the quality differences until and unless you do a direct comparison for yourself.

Regarding financial stability, Nordic Tugs is debt free due to an industrialist owner who is both very conservative and very wealthy. They have been producing boats continually for 35 years, longer than almost all in the industry, and I would not hesitate to have them build another one for me.

While in the factory last week they mentioned that sales are gaining steam and they are back-logged through the end of the fall already (hiring workers as fast as they can get them right now). They still have a nationwide dealer network and they attend far more shows nationwide than AT - and yes, they were well represented at Trawler Fest, and because they have a dealer network their dealers are rightly the primary sponsors at the shows. Difficult for factory direct only to do it all, and you will notice the difference if you attend more than a couple shows.

Also, the Nordic Tugs owners association does have a very large annual Rendezvous (60+ boats), last year it was at Roche Harbor and this year it will be at Anacortes. Also, the dealers all have smaller rendezvous of their own, on both coasts. There is a lot more energy overall at Nordic.

I would encourage people to talk to and tour the factory(ies) to learn the facts first hand - good folks has been my experience.
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Old 02-23-2015, 01:46 PM   #15
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I have to say that I think the facts are not being well represented in this thread. .
Not uncommon. Thanks gunkhole for your input. Sorely needed.

Yes NT is alive and well and building good boats. But like most builders not on spec like the old days. Amazing to some, they are not built with 25 year old engines!

For a new build buyer, look at both the NT and AT factories and builds in progress - they are close together. Ignore as best you can internet pundits who revel in the Ford vs Chevy type hoopla.
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Old 02-23-2015, 01:56 PM   #16
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As a current owner of a Nordic Tug 39 and as a former 32 owner who is still in contact with the factory, I have to say that I think the facts are not being well represented in this thread.

In my opinion, Nordic Tugs are the top quality tug boat on the market - period. They are second to none in stability, efficiency, and in build quality. And the factory is second to none as well - I have been through both factories in question, as well as several others, and there is no comparison in the way the boats are assembled. I think it's well worth anyone's time to check out the factories to see exactly how they're made, would not make a purchase decision without doing so.

Regarding engines, Nordic Tugs has stated to me that they absolutely will install any engine that is legal and will fit. In fact, they just installed a new Cummins motor in a custom build where the customer requested that motor - I was in the factory just last week. The problem with CAT and some of the other manufacturers is that they have not yet made motors throughout the size range that are Tier III emissions compliant. I have a Cummins in my 39, had a Volvo in the 32.

While the older Nordics were very well built, the new ones are vastly improved in almost every way, and they are continuing to improve them. They are coming out with a brand new Nordic Tug 40 that is replacing the 39 - there is a lot of quality innovation occurring there, and they continue to work hard on quality issues like noise and vibration. Again, you won't know the quality differences until and unless you do a direct comparison for yourself.

Regarding financial stability, Nordic Tugs is debt free due to an industrialist owner who is both very conservative and very wealthy. They have been producing boats continually for 35 years, longer than almost all in the industry, and I would not hesitate to have them build another one for me.

While in the factory last week they mentioned that sales are gaining steam and they are back-logged through the end of the fall already (hiring workers as fast as they can get them right now). They still have a nationwide dealer network and they attend far more shows nationwide than AT - and yes, they were well represented at Trawler Fest, and because they have a dealer network their dealers are rightly the primary sponsors at the shows. Difficult for factory direct only to do it all, and you will notice the difference if you attend more than a couple shows.

Also, the Nordic Tugs owners association does have a very large annual Rendezvous (60+ boats), last year it was at Roche Harbor and this year it will be at Anacortes. Also, the dealers all have smaller rendezvous of their own, on both coasts. There is a lot more energy overall at Nordic.

I would encourage people to talk to and tour the factory(ies) to learn the facts first hand - good folks has been my experience.
Interesting that you just joined the forum this month and this is your first post. Could it be your are a factory plant? I stand by my original comments having tried to build a new boat recently with Nordic and wasted alot of time with them.

Wayne Basler, the "wealthy industrialist" owner you mentioned has stated that he will not personally guarantee or put any more money into Nordic at this point acdording to George A., the CEO. Also, they are not debt free, they still owe ~500K on the tooling for the 49'.

Finally, having looked extensively at new Nordics, the quality is not there compared to the older Nordics.
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Old 02-23-2015, 01:56 PM   #17
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Gunkhole - thanks for sharing your observations. As the owner of a 2002 NT 32/34, I can say that at least as to our boat, I'm extremely impressed with the quality, as are many of our friends. I've also had excellent factory support whenever I've had questions about the boat, and this has been the case over the past 2.5 years that we have owned the boat. I have not been on a new NT, but I also haven't heard of any quality issues. I am on a very active member listserve, and haven't read anything to suggest that quality has diminished. I have heard from the factory that business is really picking up.

As for this, I'd be very interested to know your source. Seems ludicrus to suggest that a company with no debt, a 30+ year history, and many orders in the pipeline can't get a line of credit: "Nordic operates on a cash only basis because they don't have (can't get) an operating line of credit so things are done on a shoe string."

As for AT, I've never been on one but have heard that the quality is simialr to NT.

Not hear to spread rumors, just share what I know.
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Old 02-23-2015, 02:23 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by Gunkhole View Post
As a current owner of a Nordic Tug 39 and as a former 32 owner who is still in contact with the factory, I have to say that I think the facts are not being well represented in this thread.

In my opinion, Nordic Tugs are the top quality tug boat on the market - period. They are second to none in stability, efficiency, and in build quality. And the factory is second to none as well - I have been through both factories in question, as well as several others, and there is no comparison in the way the boats are assembled. I think it's well worth anyone's time to check out the factories to see exactly how they're made, would not make a purchase decision without doing so.

Regarding engines, Nordic Tugs has stated to me that they absolutely will install any engine that is legal and will fit. In fact, they just installed a new Cummins motor in a custom build where the customer requested that motor - I was in the factory just last week. The problem with CAT and some of the other manufacturers is that they have not yet made motors throughout the size range that are Tier III emissions compliant. I have a Cummins in my 39, had a Volvo in the 32.

While the older Nordics were very well built, the new ones are vastly improved in almost every way, and they are continuing to improve them. They are coming out with a brand new Nordic Tug 40 that is replacing the 39 - there is a lot of quality innovation occurring there, and they continue to work hard on quality issues like noise and vibration. Again, you won't know the quality differences until and unless you do a direct comparison for yourself.

Regarding financial stability, Nordic Tugs is debt free due to an industrialist owner who is both very conservative and very wealthy. They have been producing boats continually for 35 years, longer than almost all in the industry, and I would not hesitate to have them build another one for me.

While in the factory last week they mentioned that sales are gaining steam and they are back-logged through the end of the fall already (hiring workers as fast as they can get them right now). They still have a nationwide dealer network and they attend far more shows nationwide than AT - and yes, they were well represented at Trawler Fest, and because they have a dealer network their dealers are rightly the primary sponsors at the shows. Difficult for factory direct only to do it all, and you will notice the difference if you attend more than a couple shows.

Also, the Nordic Tugs owners association does have a very large annual Rendezvous (60+ boats), last year it was at Roche Harbor and this year it will be at Anacortes. Also, the dealers all have smaller rendezvous of their own, on both coasts. There is a lot more energy overall at Nordic.

I would encourage people to talk to and tour the factory(ies) to learn the facts first hand - good folks has been my experience.
If true, all that is very good to hear.
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Old 02-23-2015, 02:24 PM   #19
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Can you be more specific about the reduction in quality you’ve seen on the new Nordics?

I’ve owned NT 37-15 (built in 1999, 2000 model year) for 16 months and put about 750 hours on the engine. I’ve been impressed with nearly everything about the boat. It’s very efficient, has a layout that works well for me, it’s plenty seaworthy, systems are well designed and installed and were top-notch when they were installed.

I spent an hour or so on the new 39 they had at the Seattle Boat Show and thought it was well done. The owner of that boat made some different choices than I would have—I like the bench helm seat and all the resultant storage, I like the porthole in the shower—but these are owner selectable options. I was also told that Nordic will install power other than Volvo.

The finishes on the new boats are more contemporary than the older tugs, and they seem have been selected with durability in mind. The systems on the new boats seem to pretty much be “best of breed.” Compared to my 2000 NT, there are lots of small things on the new boats that are better—metal vs. plastic portholes, gas struts to hold hatches open, additional sound deadening, higher end light and plumbing fixtures, etc. And of course systems have come a long way since my boat was built. The new 40 looks to be a nice improvement over the 39 and 37.

American Tug builds a great boat. I don’t think I’ve spoken with an owner of either brand that has much bad to say about their boat.
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Old 02-23-2015, 03:47 PM   #20
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I'd also like the back story on this comment, "I stand by my original comments having tried to build a new boat recently with Nordic and wasted alot of time with them."
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