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July 16th 2012. By Tom Tripp.

Ranger Tugs R-31: More Pocket Trawler for your Trailer

Could Ranger Tugs have developed the perfect pocket trawler in the trailerable R-31?

Could the ultimate pocket trawler be found in the new Ranger Tugs R-31? This model is just a little more than two feet longer than the former queen of the fleet, the R-29, but those extra feet just might make it ideal. Most prominent among the added capabilities is the retractable flybridge, a feature that will add significant appeal to boaters in warmer climes.

Ranger tugs r-31 pocket trawler

Small enough to fit on a trailer but large enough for comfortable cruising, the R-31 is the new flagship for Ranger Tugs.

The Ranger Tugs product line now spans the range from the tiny tug that could, the R-21EC, to the R-27 with an extended sport cockpit, to this new R-31. All are trailerable, although the largest two models, the R-29 and R-31, with 10’ beams, will require special towing permits in many states.

While all the models in the Ranger Tugs line carry a distinctive tug-like appearance, they also have modern hull designs that comfortably transition from single-digit trawlering to planing speeds in the teens. Even the larger models, with their electronic engine controls, have no problems operating smoothly and cleanly at either end of the speed spectrum.

The R-31 also carries on the brand’s tradition of delivering a boat that typically needs only navigational electronics to head out on its first expedition. This model even includes both bow and stern thrusters, a Garmin radio with two control stations, and a six-bottle wine cooler. About the only things you really need to add besides electronics is the desired climate-control system – air conditioning with reverse-cycle heat, or a diesel forced-air furnace, for trips in higher latitudes or longer seasons.

The Ranger Tugs design team has developed some clever features for the R-31, including cool bench seats in the cockpit that fold out of the gunwales and hang over the water, preserving room in the cockpit whether deployed or stowed. There is also a nice stairway from the cockpit up to the flybridge, rather than a ladder, which you might expect on this size boat. On the foredeck, there’s another stowable seat with a table for dining and relaxing.

Ranger Tugs R-31 cockpit

This slick folding seat extends over the water instead of into the cockpit, expanding the available deck space.

The swim platform on the R-31 is substantial and it’s bolted on, which is a plus if your marina charges by LOA (which doesn’t commonly include non-molded elements). There’s a standard bench seat in the transom with a table and the cockpit includes a standard fridge, sink and stowage pod. In the cockpit deck are stowage compartments and the main hatch to the engine compartment, which is raised hydraulically (with a manual backup). Under the transom bench seat is access to another compartment which can also house the optional Onan 5kW generator.

As you step into the salon, there’s access immediately to port to the lower amidships stateroom, which has a double berth and the day head. Forward on the port side there’s a convertible dinette with an electrically operated hi-lo table. The forward seat flips over to become the navigator’s seat while cruising. The galley runs the length of the starboard side of the salon and is nicely furnished with electric appliances, including a stove and oven, a refrigerator, and a microwave. Forward of the galley, the captain’s chair can flip up for more counter space during meal prep.

The helm has room for a 12” multifunction display in the panel, below the captain’s line-of-sight. There is a 19” overhead TV/DVD mounted between the helm and navigator stations that can be tied into the navigation system as a secondary display. The captain can step out of the sliding door to starboard onto the deck.

ranger tugs R-31 interior

Don’t let the “Tugs” moniker fool you – inside, the R-31 features plenty of room and an exceptional finish.

The forward stateroom features an island berth, with ensuite head and shower. It also has its own 22” TV. There’s a locker that provides access to the helm electronics and below that, a hanging locker.

The R-31 looks to be a great coastal cruising boat for a couple, with room for occasional overnight guests and plenty of room for the whole family on daytrips. You can take your time and watch the coastline go by at a leisurely seven knots, or hit the throttles and cruise in the mid-teens when reaching your destination quickly is the key.

Ranger Tugs R 31 specifications

Ranger Tugs has the R-31 available now at an introductory price of just under $280,000, not including freight, tax and whatever options you choose. When you order your Ranger Tug, consider taking advantage of the “factory delivery” option, which gives you two days with factory reps on the water near the Seattle-area factory. Then you take the boat on a Puget Sound vacation, bring it back to the dock, and Ranger Tugs takes it back to the factory. There, they wrap it and prepare the boat for shipping to your homeport. Then again, since this is a pocket trawler you can trailer, you could always drive it home yourself, too.

For more information about pocket trawlers, read Pocket Trawlers: Five for Value and Versatility

You can also visit Ranger Tugs, or visit the Ranger Tugs Owner Group, Tugnuts.

Tom Tripp

Tom is the publisher of www.OceanLines.biz, a website about passagemaking boats and information. He is also a contributor to Chesapeake Bay Magazine who has been at sea aboard everything from a 17-foot homemade wooden fishing boat to a 1,000-foot-long, 96,000-ton, nuclear-powered aircraft carrier.