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Old 02-25-2022, 07:58 PM   #1
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Ranger Tugs to Helmsman 38E

Thanks to all of you who are contributing to this forum. I have learned a ton from you. This is going out to those who moved up from a Ranger Tug to a Helmsman 38E. Since there is nothing intermediate between our RT29CB and the RT43, we are looking at the Helmsman 38E. Every question we have had so far has been answered--including Scott Helker's great support (he is probably bored with my emails by now)--but I am curious about two things brought up by my wife.

Former Ranger and current 38E owners, do you miss all the magnificent light and the spacious cockpit of the Ranger? We enjoy both on our 29CB (the boat is in the PNW so we hardly drive from the command bridge ever, but we use the cockpit all the time at the dock and at anchor).

Second, I have to admit, there are plenty of times crossing from Port Townsend to Victoria or heading out over Georgia Strait where I am happy to burn some fuel and get across at 16 kts before it gets rough. Do you all miss that ability to go fast?

Thanks. this is an amazing forum.

Jeff
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Old 02-25-2022, 08:25 PM   #2
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If you are fans of the tug style, have you considered the offerings from Nordic Tug or American Tug ?
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Old 02-25-2022, 08:30 PM   #3
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Yep. I love them all. My first tug was a classic 2011 RT27. And I have spent a lot of time on the American Tugs and Nordic Tugs. Great boats. Just been checking out the Helmsman 38E that a number of Ranger Tugs folks have moved up to.
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Old 02-25-2022, 08:58 PM   #4
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I have a 38E on order. I have not owned a RT29 so I can't comment from that perspective. I did look hard at them several years ago, and the 31.

There simply isn't much comparison between the RT29 and H38. I guess the simple way to say it is, the H38 is SO much more boat. And frankly so much more boat than the RT43 and for a ton less money.

You are specifically looking for comment on the cockpit. As you ponder that I'd suggest you twist it just a bit. The key outdoor living space on the RT is the cockpit, but it has a marginal flybridge. The key outdoor living space on the H38 is the flybridge, and much more accessible than the RT29 flybridge. The question becomes can you be happy swapping life in the RT cockpit for life on the H38 flybridge. I think that's an easy trade up, but everyone will have their own answer.

In the meantime, you are moving from a lightweight trailerable boat to a 30,000 lb dry weight boat that is solid. With a massive upgrade in living space, and more living space than in the RT43. A serious bed, better head and shower, and a galley that is miles ahead of the RT29. Deck access from the pilothouse doors. An engine room and access to mechanicals miles ahead of the RT's. Build quality just so much better.

I can go on, but you get the drift.

Just consider that maybe what you want is a good outdoor living space, and you have it but just relocated.

As for speed to outrun a storm, yeah you give that up. What you get is that instead of pounding and bobbing like a cork in the light weight RT, you have a heavy and substantially built boat under you to better handle weather. My order is for the 380 Cummins, but others have gone higher horsepower. I don't think 16 knots is to be had but with max engine option and add in the trim tabs I won't need and you might approach mid teens. Scott could tell you that answer.

If you conclude you really want a cockpit and speed, that sounds to me like a Swift Trawler. It has those features, but with a give-up in build quality, etc. Not my taste, but hey tastes differ and we all respect that. I have looked at them, and the look just convinced me of how much better the H38 is.
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Old 02-25-2022, 10:29 PM   #5
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I upgraded from a 2012 RT27 to a 2008 Nordic Tug 37 4 years ago. Mine is the pilothouse version so no fly bridge, but a HUGE upper deck with rails and very good access from the cockpit. The cockpit is also moderately roomy, can easily handle a couple of chairs. Very roomy inside and a real shower stall. It has a 380HP Cummins. I usually cruise at 8 knots burning 2.5 gph, but can cruise at 13k or so at about 13gph. Full throttle wii approach 16k at nearly 20gph. Very nice boat, I am very pleased with the upgrade.
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Old 02-26-2022, 09:40 AM   #6
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We went from a 2017 Ranger 27 Classic to the Helmsman 43.

We looked at the Ranger 41/43 which is a nice boat, just wasn’t the right boat for us.

As others have said, its really no comparison. You get so much more boat when moving up that its hard to take in.

The only downside is you will be moving a bit slower than you would be in the R29 if you ever used the higher end speeds
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Old 02-26-2022, 02:19 PM   #7
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We went from a diesel-powered Bounty 26-footer (much like a Sea Sport) to a 2002 Nordic Tug 37 in 2016. On rare occasions it would be nice to do 18 knots as we could in the 26-footer, but there are so many advantages to the larger boat that this is a relative nit.

We can cruise at 12 knots, but almost never choose to do so. Efficient slow cruising in the NT is about a knot faster, yet with the same nmpg as the 26-footer. It's far more comfortable - seating choices are varied, generous, and comfortable. The NT pushes through bumpier conditions with far less motion. So when we want to crank out a longer day, like 13 hours from Prince Rupert to Ketchikan, it's much less of a strain.

Fuel range is three times that of the smaller boat. Even without firing up the watermaker we can go 10-12 days on our FW tank. All the various aspects of more space and more storage make the NT so much more livable.

The NT's cockpit is actually bigger, but shaped differently - much wider, but not as long. It's great for hanging out at anchor or dock. Except that the cockpit is less convenient for fishing, we don't miss the smaller boat at all.
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Old 02-26-2022, 09:13 PM   #8
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Richard, thanks for your input. I, like many early Ranger Tug owners, have your "Cruising in a Big Way". It is an honor to have you chime in.



To be clear, we are looking at all the mid-30's boats: NT, American Tug, and Helmsman. We are just taken at this point by the quality of craftsmanship of the Helmsman--particularly on the interior--and the simple and accessible systems (appropriate for my aging brain and body), and their more seaworthy nature. And like many on this forum, we are recovering sailors who are used to planning ahead and going slow. That and living with my wife's pronouncement that "nothing in life is worth being cold for and that includes you, dear". It is just that we've grown used to the incredibly light cabins, large cockpits, and clever design features of the RTs, and their ability to get up and go when needed. We will adjust if we pull the trigger and move up.



Jeff
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Old 02-26-2022, 10:05 PM   #9
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Light:

Notice there is better than 180 degrees of glass surrounding you in the pilothouse, with an opening hatch above you.

The salon is surrounded by glass.

The only thing that isn't glass is the bulkhead separating the salon from the pilothouse, and half of that is wide open via the stairway and opening above the fridge.
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Old 02-27-2022, 12:25 PM   #10
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I went with the 480 hp Cummins on the 38E I am having built. It would give me around 15 knots, maybe 16. I won’t be heading anywhere nearly that fast, but was a requirement with my wife. Scott recommended trim tabs with that size engine, so we got those too.

Your comments on the amount of light in the boat piqued my interest. Have you been able to get on a 38E yet? The windows in both the PH and Salon are large and allows a tremendous amount of light in. I was at the Annapolis boat show and toured the Ranger Tugs there. I don’t remember any reaction to the windows on them that would evoke a negative comparison for the 38e.
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Old 02-27-2022, 02:36 PM   #11
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If you are a recovering sailor, want simple systems and lots of deck space, another option might be the Seapiper.

just for reference:
https://dicksimonyachts.com/just-sol...-for-sale.html
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Old 03-07-2022, 08:26 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hydraulicjump View Post

Former Ranger and current 38E owners, do you miss all the magnificent light and the spacious cockpit of the Ranger? We enjoy both on our 29CB (the boat is in the PNW so we hardly drive from the command bridge ever, but we use the cockpit all the time at the dock and at anchor).

Second, I have to admit, there are
Jeff
We are in the same "boat" quite literally. Have a RT29S and heading out west this month to look at the Helmsman 38, Nordic Tug and American Tug 362 and 365. We really really like our large RT 29S cockpit. But we are really looking forward to having some inside living space as well. Oh well, every choice is a trade off.........
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Old 03-11-2022, 08:29 PM   #13
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We own an American Tug, can't find a better built boat in my book. Love the room, visibility and support from the factory is unmatched.
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Old 03-11-2022, 09:48 PM   #14
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Thanks all. Not quite sure the Seapiper is what I am looking for since my goal is to remain married. Not interested in entering the lottery of love again.

To Hygge, you get it. There is a trade off between an incredible--seriously--interior on the Helmsman and the spacious, sunny cockpit of the Ranger line. On the Helmsman, however, as you can see from this thread, it is a lot of boat in comparison.

I was just out on our RT29CB last weekend in a moderate chop, 10 kt north evening breeze on the nose and against a weak tide, coming back from Des Moines to Elliott Bay (I am having stuffing box issues and was getting help from CSR Marine). The earlier commenter was right. This lightweight RT gets knocked around much more than the 38E which is 2 1/2 to 3 times the displacement. The Helmsman would not have noticed it at all at its 8 kt displacement cruising speed.

Still, in that moderate chop, I was able to push it up onto plane at 15-16 kts, which settles it down in those conditions (it would have been brutal if rough) and gets you there in a hurry.

Boats, along with being the most exquisite exercise in rationalizing the irrational, are also a continuum of tradeoffs. Good luck Hygge. Talk to Scott Helker, who is the best at what he does, and a good man doing well by doing good for others.

And as for the American Tug. Mike, we love your boat. Same cockpit issue, but everything about it, including its lines, layout, systems and power, is fantastic. Our experience is that there is nothing that compares to the Helmsman interior. Not to mention that American Tugs is 2.5 years out on a new build and there is nothing on the market for a used boat!

We are lucky. We really like our boat and may have to ride out this boat bubble. But like many on this forum we have the itch to move up.

Isn't it great to have this problem?
Jeff
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Old 03-11-2022, 09:53 PM   #15
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Sorry. Not to insult the SeaPiper, but my wife and best friend for 45 years was not enthusiastic. That is a limiting factor in all decisions.
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Old 03-12-2022, 12:34 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by Hydraulicjump View Post

We are lucky. We really like our boat and may have to ride out this boat bubble. But like many on this forum we have the itch to move up.

Isn't it great to have this problem?
Jeff
Great problem? You bet. A boat you like vs a better one yet. Blessed.

Folks around me are tired of hearing: "Plan A never works." The straight line perfect plan usually sees a snag that requires Plans B, C, and D before its over. So what we have here and now is rampant inflation. Whatever boat you want is likely to cost a lot more when you wait to go under contract. And what we have here and now is a financial climate where investments possibly used in the trade up are worth a lot less by the day. Interest rates are climbing fast, if you plan to finance it. A true squeeze.

So once you do settle on what you want, really settle, there is likely a Plan B path. Imperfect as all Plan B's are. But a path.

The name of my H38 at the top of the consideration list is "Resilient". It seems to fit the boat, and for sure fits the essence of the perseverance needed for every worthy thing I've ever tried to do.
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Old 03-12-2022, 11:05 AM   #17
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Isn't it great to have this problem?
Jeff

Jeff: we are living parallel lives. There is a 2004 A/T 34 in Wisconsin, the guy wants $340k Mostly fresh water boat. A similar one came on last week from Michigan for $269k, but they wanted an offer (contingent on survey) and a closing timeline before they would even show it. I was at a conference with 7a to 9p meetings and couldn't get it all together and it went under contract before I even flew home.

I just can't see paying a significant premium above what these people paid originally for an 18 y/o boat vs. new. That said, I'd sure like to get more than I paid for my 2018 RT29S, which apparently I can. New ones are up to $378k.

I looked at the RT43 about two years ago. $850k now $200k more. who knew boats would beat the S&P 500 index has far as roi is concerned?

So, the trick is to sell my RT29S before the bubble bursts, and then buy the larger boat after the bubble bursts, which think it just has to. Got a crystal ball I can borrow?

good luck...

Dave
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Old 03-12-2022, 03:14 PM   #18
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Jeff: we are living parallel lives. There is a 2004 A/T 34 in Wisconsin, the guy wants $340k Mostly fresh water boat. A similar one came on last week from Michigan for $269k, but they wanted an offer (contingent on survey) and a closing timeline before they would even show it. I was at a conference with 7a to 9p meetings and couldn't get it all together and it went under contract before I even flew home.

I just can't see paying a significant premium above what these people paid originally for an 18 y/o boat vs. new. That said, I'd sure like to get more than I paid for my 2018 RT29S, which apparently I can. New ones are up to $378k.

I looked at the RT43 about two years ago. $850k now $200k more. who knew boats would beat the S&P 500 index has far as roi is concerned?

So, the trick is to sell my RT29S before the bubble bursts, and then buy the larger boat after the bubble bursts, which think it just has to. Got a crystal ball I can borrow?

good luck...

Dave
Not a crystal ball, but I think the Fed will move more quickly with rates than they have telegraphed so far. The government has stopped printing money, and inflation is the highest in 40 years. The war in the Ukraine will drive fuel prices higher unless we start pumping again. Homes will probably start the slide. Watch for home starts. If they start dropping year over year, then rates are having an impact. Many, many folks have used the equity in their homes to finance other purchases. If they have a Heloc with a variable rate, which many younger home owners do, that will start driving their cash flow to service debt, and cut off discretionary spending elsewhere. If the building trade weakens, then it won’t take much to push us into a recession.

The impact may not drop prices for boats, but certainly will impact price increases. If inflation isn’t tamed as quickly as the FED thinks it will be, then rate hikes will happen, and if inflation stays high like the seventies, then the cost to produce will increase, and boat builders will get squeezed between a demand slump and higher costs. Look for more options that are provided for “free”.

We will see where it takes us, but I see elements of 2008, the seventies in where we are right now, without the same ability to deficit spend our way out of it.
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Old 03-12-2022, 03:56 PM   #19
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Not a crystal ball, but I think the Fed will move more quickly with rates than they have telegraphed so far. The government has stopped printing money, and inflation is the highest in 40 years. The war in the Ukraine will drive fuel prices higher unless we start pumping again. Homes will probably start the slide. Watch for home starts. If they start dropping year over year, then rates are having an impact. Many, many folks have used the equity in their homes to finance other purchases. If they have a Heloc with a variable rate, which many younger home owners do, that will start driving their cash flow to service debt, and cut off discretionary spending elsewhere. If the building trade weakens, then it won’t take much to push us into a recession.

The impact may not drop prices for boats, but certainly will impact price increases. If inflation isn’t tamed as quickly as the FED thinks it will be, then rate hikes will happen, and if inflation stays high like the seventies, then the cost to produce will increase, and boat builders will get squeezed between a demand slump and higher costs. Look for more options that are provided for “free”.

We will see where it takes us, but I see elements of 2008, the seventies in where we are right now, without the same ability to deficit spend our way out of it.
Methinks it is going to be hard to parse production of homes or other things by cause (demand, or parts supplies). Things like HVAC units and other elements have already had some impact. On another forum someone was quoting a contact in wire production who claimed we are about to get shortages there as well.

The Fed has few tools to work with. They have had 1) jawboning (just talking at us) and 2) changing short rates, with the expectation it impacts longer rates. In the last decade they added 3) QE. Few in finance respect their words anymore, so that takes away #1 to some degree.

Whatever the official velocity of money stats are, the fact is people are hoarding their money for the past 2 years. Bank deposits are skyrocketing. Believe it or not too much deposits are causing some problems at certain large banks, and I heard a credible report the other day one large well known one refusing to take a large deposit (but less than $100k) from a real estate settlement because they had a cap on the amount of deposits they would accept per customer per month. The point of this paragraph is that pumping the money supply using traditional tools is unlikely to have an impact if recession hits.

Interest rates don't cure inflation caused by supply shortages in products like food. Homes? Boats? Sure. But food and energy another story.

All forecasts are suspect, but people do put stock in them and perhaps that impacts behavior. An increasing number of pros are forecasting a recession ahead. The fact is we have been hovering on the edge of it for a while so that isn't a big stretch.

People making decisions have made this something of a mess. Its not like an event driven thing that gets cured by the end of the event. And its getting worse. Its hard to know where it goes, and for how long. Not forecastable.
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Old 06-05-2022, 10:41 PM   #20
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Hey folks. Reviving this discussion. We are now under contract with the owner of a 2020 Helmsman 38e with many of the features we like. It looks mostly like the one in my favorite Helmsman YouTube video:



https://youtu.be/_3oWn4HkBGA


The sale is contingent on us seeing this boat and having it surveyed when it returns from SE Alaska in early August (about 600 hours on the engine when it left this spring). My wife and best friend (same people) walked a new Helmsman 38e two weeks ago with Scott Helker and "got it", giving the green light. Because if she isn't all in we are not in at all.



Then, out of the blue, this boat falls into our laps two days after she says yes. Feeling undeservedly lucky. But I'll take it.



This will be our waterfront condo in Elliott Bay when visiting the PNW and it will be swarmed with grandkids and dogs. Our R 29CB is not cut out for that.


So I will be moving from the famous cult followers (Ranger Tugs) to Helmsman fanatics. Lots and lots of questions for all of you.



Jeff
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