At 10 feet longer than the next biggest Ranger, this flagship is a big step up.
I jumped at the chance to conduct a review of and spend a night aboard the new Ranger Tugs 41 as part of an extended sea trial in the Canadian Gulf Islands. It was during one of the builder’s regular fleet gatherings, where on a sunny but windy day at the end of May, about 40 Rangers crowded into Ganges Marina on Salt Spring Island.
For anyone not familiar with Ranger Tugs, the parent company, Fluid Motion, was founded in 1958 in Kent, Wash., by David Livingston, who designed, built and marketed many different vessels (including the Livingston dinghy) and designed boats for a wide range of other manufacturers, including Regal, Bayliner and Wellcraft. In 1998, Fluid Motion acquired the design for the Ranger 21 and improved it. Due to its immediate success, the Ranger line grew and grew, and now it consists of fast trawlers from 23 to 41 feet. Today, David’s son, John Livingston, is at the helm of the company.
Familiar but New
The Ranger Tugs 41 represents a significant jump up from the builder’s next largest model, the 31. It is also the first Ranger to incorporate Volvo Penta IPS pod drives with twin counter-rotating, forward-facing propellers and individually steerable pods.
The 41 maintains the characteristic look of other Rangers but is slightly more contemporary and stylish in its design. Above the waterline of the semi-planing hull, its broad bow adds considerable volume to the bow master. The 41 was specifically designed to incorporate the IPS drives and that involved, in part, adding buoyancy aft to deal with the weight of the engines and pods, which are installed farther aft. Built using fairly standard fiberglass construction, the 41’s hull is solid, hand-laid and rolled fiberglass. The house is attached with screws and adhesive.
Boarding is through either of two transom gates from the 5-foot-long swim platform, with sturdy staple rails for added safety, or through a starboard bulwark door. The surprisingly large cockpit is mostly covered by the hardtop, while a removable sunshade can be tied in place to extend protection farther aft. From the innovative idea category come two side-by-side swiveling transom seats. A folding teak table is slotted into the front of each, and the settees can swivel 90 degrees, so they face each other, with the tables butting up between them. This setup is versatile and creates a nearly full-size dining table.
A large bulkhead window between the galley and cockpit hinges at the top and opens up the two spaces. Add a few high stools and you have a perfect bar counter. Other cockpit features include a built-in ice-maker, a joystick steering station and a gently sloping teak-covered stairway to the flybridge.
The rest of the cockpit is open and includes room for a number of folding deck chairs.
Steps lead up to the sidedecks, which I found a bit narrow for my liking — 7 inches to starboard and 9 inches to port — because there were no toe rails or outside safety handrails. Of course, the tradeoff is additional interior space. Fortunately, well placed cabin-side handrails help somewhat.
The flybridge, in addition to its helm station with duplicate controls, is highlighted by wraparound bench seating for eight and a summer galley with a refrigerator, an electric grill and a sink. An 11-foot, 6-inch Brig dinghy with a 25 hp outboard is launched via an electric davit. The flybridge is fitted with an optional folding Bimini top for added protection from the weather.
The interior of our test boat was finished with light walnut laminate cabinetry, textured Aquamat wall coverings and woven vinyl floor coverings glued into molded recesses in the sole. The solid-surface countertops blended well with the beige and beige-patterned upholstery. Huge opening windows, a massive round windshield and numerous overhead hatches provided excellent visibility and ventilation.
In general, immediately to starboard is a stairway down to the guest cabin, which is highlighted by a queen-size athwartship berth (or optional twin beds) with standing headroom at the entrance. It features an en suite head with a shower. This area, which is where I slept, is a step up in size from the typical under-salon “cabins” and is quite comfy. This aft stateroom is a creative way to separate the owners from their guests.
To port is a U-shaped galley with two deep sinks and a reasonable amount of counter space. A three-burner propane stove/oven is topped with a thick wood butcher block, and two stacked refrigerators and a microwave are angled into the corner. In fact, the Ranger Tugs 41 is absolutely loaded with refrigeration. Outside the galley, a larger refrigerator and a separate freezer are tucked under the dinette (more on this later), and three other refrigeration units — wine cooler, bar refrigerator, ice-maker — are located elsewhere. That’s a lot of room for perishables. Overall, the galley is nicely laid out and well equipped for extended cruising, with ample storage in drawers and lockers and under the galley sole.
Two separate raised entertaining areas comprise the main salon. The dinette and its teak table convert to a double berth. One unique feature of the Ranger Tugs 41 is an electrically activated hatch under the dinette seating area. The entire floor here hinges open to reveal a huge storage area with standing headroom. In addition to the second refrigerator and freezer mentioned above, this area houses a full-size washer and separate dryer. Additionally, there’s room for more gear in totes or in built-in cupboards.
Across from the dinette, a seating area is centered around an L-shaped settee with a small, triangular glass-top table. Sitting here reminded me of hanging out in a cozy lounge. Instead of extending the settee forward to the helm, the builder placed a comfortable recliner with a movable footrest on a heavy round base to take up the space between the two. (It looked a little out of place, but it was the most comfortable seat on the vessel.) A flat-screen, swiveling TV pops up between the salon and companion seating.
The helm area and double companion seat are traditional, though the helm features a giant 22-inch Garmin chartplotter as well as two matching 7-inch screens (one for a secondary Garmin display and one for the Volvo Penta engine display). The layout is very clean and functional. A sliding door adjacent to the helm offers both ventilation and easy access to the sidedeck, which can help with shorthanded docking. A wine/water cooler is tucked inboard of the helm seat.
Situated in the bow, the master features an island queen berth and an en suite head with a circular plexiglass shower. A small corner nook to starboard and a leather stool would work really well as an office, writing desk or vanity. As well as hullside windows, those bow windows offer the rare chance to actually look directly ahead from below.
Propulsion is provided by twin 300 hp D4 Volvo Penta IPS400s with joystick steering and optional dynamic positioning. Six house batteries and two start batteries provide 12v power and can be charged from two 145-watt solar panels, while a 3,000-watt inverter provides 110 volts. A 7.6 kw Westerbeke generator with a 50-amp charger provides auxiliary and charging power. Heating was via a Webasto forced-air system, though reverse-cycle air is standard. Stabilization can be provided by an optional Quick gyro system.
After an evening at nearby Moby’s Pub, we got underway the next morning. The joystick steering made it a snap to get away, despite the breeze pushing us against the dock. The Ranger Tugs 41 tracked well at all speeds, was stable in turns and exhibited no cavitation during acceleration or turns, thanks in part to the rotating pods. Coffee cups, water bottles and other items left on the countertops stayed in place despite sudden acceleration/deceleration and sharp turns.
The turning radius was five or six boat lengths, and time to plane was a reasonable seven or eight seconds. Top speed on test day was 24.8 knots, which is pretty good for a trawler. When it came to fuel consumption, most speeds on plane saw us traveling a little under 1 mpg. Noise in the cabin at 20 knots was a relatively quiet 75 decibels and made for easy conversation.
After putting the 41 through its paces, we had a bit of time before my scheduled flight home, so we pulled into a very quiet and picturesque Port Washington on North Pender Island. Arnie Hammerman (of Brand Builder Media, part of the Ranger Tugs PR team) dug up some sausages and eggs and prepared an excellent breakfast. Finally, during one of my boat reviews, I had time to enjoy the boat and the soak in the beautiful setting — and that’s what boating is all about, right?