March 11th 2014. By Zuzana Prochazka.

Tommy Lee: A Thames Tug Goes Cruising

Planning to go cruising in the canals of England or France on your own boat? This converted tug is already in Europe and ready to go.

Tommy Lee is a river and dock tug built by J. Pollock, Son & Co. Ltd. at Faversham, England in 1938. She worked on the Thames, towing lighters (barges) laden with general cargo in the employ of General Lighterage Company. As lorries (trucks) became a more popular method of transporting goods, Pollock Shipyard suffered and eventually closed its doors. For the next several decades, Tommy Lee’s history got murky—but she then got a second life in 1986 when she was rescued from her muddy berth in an estuary and resuscitated as a pleasure cruiser.

tommy lee tug

The Tommy Lee has a history stretching back to 1938.

The 50-foot, 55,000 pound Tommy Lee has a riveted steel hull with a plumb bow, counter stern, keel-hung rudder and a large three-blade propeller. When converted, she also gained raised bulwarks and a wheelhouse along with a derrick for hoisting the dinghy.

Tommy Lee is powered by a single 127 hp six-cylinder Gardner diesel which is naturally aspirated and accessed via an aft deck hatch. Tommy Lee carries 86 gallons of fuel and 116 gallons of fresh water in stainless steel tanks, which means you can go long way in a river or canal and not worry about having to refuel or water up.

And there’s no reason to rough it while on vacation. Tommy Lee’s accommodations are comfortable for up to five with a double master cabin forward, a single berth cabin to port and two open bunks aft of the saloon. The single head has a manual marine toilet, a washbasin and a separate shower stall. A fixed table and bench seating in the saloon share the living quarters with a full galley including a four-burner cook-top, oven, grill, tiled countertops, a sink and a fridge. A genset on the aft deck keeps it all running.

Tommy Lee has cruised the eastern coast of the United Kingdom, Belgium, and Holland, and is ready to explore the canals and coastal areas of Europe. She is for sale in Ipswich, which is just a short hop to cruising grounds where you can spend every afternoon on the foredeck with wine, cheese and a baguette. Now doesn’t that sound easy?

For more information, view the Tommy Lee listing.

Zuzana Prochazka
Zuzana Prochazka is a writer and photographer who freelances for a dozen boating magazines and websites. A USCG 100 Ton Master, Zuzana has cruised, chartered and skippered flotillas in many parts of the world and serves as a presenter on charter destinations and topics. She is the Chair of the New Product Awards committee, judging innovative boats and gear at NMMA and NMEA shows, and currently serves as immediate past president of Boating Writers International. She contributes to and, and also blogs regularly on her boat review site,