Originally Posted by manyboats
Look at the wasted space on Willy.
Eric--- That space is not wasted when you need to be on deck. And a fact everyone seems to overlook is that below the deck level, the cabins go clear out to the hull. In the case of our tri-cabin GB, this means the berths, cabinets, drawers, heads, etc. in both the fore and aft cabins all "enjoy" the full width of the boat. The only cabin that doesn't is the main cabin as it's pretty much at deck level. But we have never found ourselves wishing the main cabin was a bit wider. And we value the nice width of our side decks WAY more than the few inches in width the main cabin might gain if we didn't have them.
Regarding the tug-style boats the original poster was asking about, we have not done the Great Loop and have zero interest in ever doing it. So we don't know what sort of special requirements it might place on a boat's configuration other than there are locks and low bridges to deal with.
There are a few Ranger Tug 29s in our marina, and a good friend has spent part of the last few summers running one around up in the Desolation Sound area. He loves the boat. We've examined an RT29 fairly closely. Our impression is that it's a pretty clever use of space with a lot of cool doo-dads as a previous poster noted, but in terms of size and user volume, it is WAY overpriced.
Nordic Tugs are aesthetically the best of the lot in our opinions. How important aesthetics are to a boat purchase will, of course, vary with every buyer. People actually went out and voluntarily bought Pontiac Aztecs, and no better proof than that is needed to show that aesthetics are solely in the eye of the individual beholder. (That car was perfect "casting" in Breaking Bad, by the way.)
Aesthetically, the American Tug seems quite off-balance to me. However, I've been on a couple of the 34s when they first started appearing on the market, and I have to say that the use of space on that boat is among the best and smartest I've ever seen on any size boat.
I also think the earlier post by David on the Yanmar engine situation is well worth heeding. If the three tugs mentioned by OP were the only choices, we might well be inclined to put the engine selection above aesthetics in making our purchase choice. Unless the boats were very new and we only planned on keeping whichever one we chose long enough to do the Loop.
I suspect one could do the Great Loop in a 17' Grumman canoe and could also do it in a Flemming 55 if it would clear the bridges, and all the other boats in between. But for the OP's three choices, the AT is probably the smartest choice. However, I suspect that, were we facing the same situation, in the end we would select the NT because we place a very high value on the aesthetics of a boat. We'd just keep our fingers crossed on the engine question.