The New Ranger R-27

 ranger tug photos

ranger tug photos

A 300-hp version of the complete traveler.

By John Page Williams

The outboard-powered R-27 from Ranger Tugs is a new breed. Its inboard predecessor, thoroughly beloved in its own right, rides a semi-displacement hull with a Volvo diesel. Its high cruise speed is  in the mid-teens. The new version comes with a modern deep-V running surface, lifting strakes, and a 300-hp Yamaha four-stroke. Like its predecessor, she loves running at 7-knot trawler speeds with a range of over 400 miles, but on plane (according to Yamaha’s performance profile), it reaches peak efficiency in the high 20s with a 230 mile or so range and tops out close to 40 knots. 

Ranger R-27

  • LOA: 31'4"
  • Beam: 8' 6"
  • Draft: 33"
  • Weight: 7,000 Lbs (Dry)
  • Transom Height: 25"
  • Fuel Capacity: 150 Gal.
  • Bridge Clearance: 8' 1"
  • rangertugs.com

A tug that wants to run with a wave-cleaving hull to keep her comfortable in any reasonable seas? We ran our test boat down Eastern Bay to Kent Point at 25 knots in 2- to 3-foot head seas with the engine trimmed in and the tabs down a touch, then turned and let her air out with trim up on the way back to Kent Narrows. The speed was a surprise, but the solid seaworthiness was not. Rangers come from Kent, Washington on Puget Sound where owners regularly cruise them up into British Columbia and even Alaska's Inside Passage. They fish them, and even water-ski behind them (a concealed pylon is standard). 

In fact, the R-27 comes in a special Northwest Edition with a forced-air diesel heater and downrigger pads for trolling, but no air conditioning. Not to worry here on the Chesapeake, though. The Luxury Edition comes standard with air conditioning and reverse cycle heat, a gas generator, an inverter, AGM batteries, and a 140-watt solar panel on the deckhouse to keep everything topped up. Standard integrated navigation equipment comes from Garmin with a 4-kW radar dome, GPS, autopilot, fishfinder, VHF radio, and AIS connected to a 12-inch electronic display at the helm. The standard safety kit includes fenders, lines, flares, fire extinguisher, first aid kit, life jackets, and boat hook. The bow-roller mounts a 16.5-lb. anchor, backed by 50 feet of chain and 200 feet of line. Those amenities point to a long, comfortable cruising season on our home waters.  

Accommodations? Oh, yes, and very well thought out. Two generations of the Livingston family have owned and run Fluid Motion, LLC, which designs and builds the boats, since 1958. Patriarch Dave Livingston is the designer, with broad experience on other brands in addition to Ranger and sister brand Cutwater. Son John is president, overseeing all production, while sales manager Jeff Messmer attends to customer service. These folks, the rest of their team, and their families live with their boats. In addition, they go out of their way to treat their customers as extended family, with multiple rendezvous events and a very active owners’ forum— tugnuts.com. No model or feature escapes scrutiny there, for praise when deserved or suggestions and solutions when necessary.

 ranger tug photos

ranger tug photos

 ranger tug photos

ranger tug photos

The result is that the R-27 Outboard is a livable boat, especially for a couple. The salon is bright, with six skylights (two opening) and multiple touches that are clearly based on deep understanding of the ways people use such a vessel. The double helm seat is comfortable with excellent sightlines over the wheel and the dash through the two-panel, rounded windshield, which comes with Pacific Northwest-grade wipers. A large sliding side window just over the bow thruster control makes it easy for the skipper to reach out and drop a fender when docking with a spring-line cleat close at hand for taking a line. The helm seat base holds a microwave oven, and the seat back flips forward to form the forward half of a dinette with teak table that can seat four or sleep two when lowered. The after seat-back for the dinette can also flip forward, and the window in the starboard aft bulkhead lifts on gas shocks, so the seat also serves the cockpit. That’s ingenious use of space, with storage beneath.

To port, in the salon opposite the helm, is a companion seat that flips forward to provide extra work surface for the galley just behind. Beneath it is a 12-volt refrigerator/freezer. The port counter includes a sink and storage drawers, plus a two-burner, stainless-steel, propane stove with oven and two propane tanks immediately outside under the port gunwale. The stove-top fiddles (rails, actually) clearly mark it as ready to hold pots and pans underway.

The companionway and salon walkway are slightly off-center to port, with a glass door opening to the cockpit, which seats up to six. To starboard lies the seat, converted from the aft end of the dinette; under-gunwale space for boathook and swab; and a transom door to the broad stern platform/outboard bracket with swim ladder and rails. An optional Yamaha 9.9 kicker ($5,260) can mount to the port side. Across the transom is a fold-down seat for two beneath an electric grill, sink, and storage compartment. To port lies another fold-down seat for two and a compartment that can hold an optional second refrigerator. A cockpit sunshade is a desirable $1,500 option. 

There are handholds going forward along either gunwale, a mark of designers who cruise their boats. A double-rack on the cabin top holds the solar panel in the center with room on either side for a pair of kayaks or bicycles. The foredeck offers a comfortable sunset-watching seat with backrest for two over the forward cabin. It folds down
for running.  

The forward cabin offers a large double berth, which converts to a dinette with an up/down table whose top also folds. There’s storage beneath, plus a small hanging locker to port and an overhead 19-inch television/DVD player on a swinging bracket. To starboard is an enclosed head with shower. 

Two more Ranger Tug options deserve mention. First, $13,670 buys an aluminum, tandem-axle trailer with electric/hydraulic brakes and a spare tire and bracket. With an 8-foot, 6-inch beam, the R-27 is readily trailerable behind a properly equipped 150-class pickup, opening up a vast range of cruising grounds. 

The second is the Factory Delivery Experience, for $2,500. With it, new owners travel to the factory near Seattle for a tour. Then a Ranger crew launches the boat with full fuel and propane tanks at a local marina. There follows a two-day orientation course with factory personnel on the boat’s systems and operations. Then, Ranger encourages the owners to cruise the San Juan Islands complete with a full set of charts, tide books, cruising guides, and advice and support as needed before and while underway. After the cruise, a Ranger crew picks up the boat at the marina, shrinkwraps it, and ships it home, unless the owners elect to tow it themselves. 

Ranger encourages hearty exploration with its tugs. Base price for the well-equipped R-27 Luxury Edition is $199,937—rangertugs.com


CBM Editor at Large and author John Page Williams is a licensed captain and Maryland fishing guide. He has been on staff at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation as an educator, writer and senior naturalist, saving the Bay since 1973. In 2013, the State of Maryland proclaimed him an official Admiral of the Bay, something we knew all along.