Hi Mark, I have owned both of these makers’ boats: a Ranger 29, Ranger 31 (sedan model), and now Nordic Tug 42 (pilothouse model). I can recommend all three boats, but it depends on your needs. I bought the two Rangers as new boats, with new boat prices but also reliability and manufacturer support. Those new, electronically-controlled diesels are really nice! No smoke, good data outputs. I took the 31 to Alaska, and was really happy with its performance. Very comfortable stateroom, good nav System. The cockpit on the 31 is large and well thought out. There is full all-around access to the engine via a large cockpit hatch on the 31.
With the grandchild count increasing, I wanted a larger boat and bought the 2003 42 Nordic. It has great accommodations and layout in general, can carry an extra dinghy (grandkids!), and burns a similar amount of fuel, although much larger tanks give me a much larger range.
The cabin in the Rangers (10 ft beam) has little interior space that isn’t taken up by the dinette, Galley, and helm. You may feel cramped if cruising with more than
2 adults or with small children.
The 29, with its very small cockpit, puts the engine partially under the Cabin sole.
Access from the dock to the Nordic wasn’t great - it’s a long step from the dock to the swim step and then a pretty high step into the cockpit. I solved that by having the boatyard install a side door into the cockpit.
If I hadn’t wanted space for guests, I would have stayed with the Ranger 31, but I am very happy with the 42 Nordic (would be even happier if the engine didn’t smoke!)
42 Nordic Tug Spinner