Boat Test #1443
The Ranger Tugs R-23 is a trailerable tug that’s an ideal long-distance cruiser
It’s hard to not like trawlers. And if you’re a cruising boater who appreciates thoughtful design, easy maintenance, plenty of storage space and good looks, then you probably love them. But in a country with more water than land, it’s hard to resist the attraction of being able to easily trailer your boat to new lakes, rivers and shores. That’s where tugs shine – combining the practical utility of a trawler with the trailerability of a runabout in a single, versatile package. Talk about having the best of both worlds.
When it comes to trailerable tugs, none stand out quite like the Ranger Tugs R-23. Measuring 22 feet eight inches in overall length, the compact R-23 packs a whole lot of boat into its deceptively compact frame. Step aboard via the extended rear swim platform and more often than not you’ll be looking at a Yamaha F200 bolted to the transom, although a Volvo Penta 170 hp diesel stern drive is also available. With its stately stainless steel rails and retractable, four-step stainless boarding ladder, the R-23’s penchant for enjoying the water is already becoming clear.
Beam: 8’6″/2.55 m
Dry Weight: 5,000 lbs / 2,272 kg
Fuel Capacity: 80 gal/ 302.8 L
Water Capacity: 22 Gal/ 83.3 L
25802 Pacific Highway South.
Kent, WA. 98032
The open cockpit provides all sorts of room for fishing or simply enjoying the day. Three substantial in-floor storage lockers provide the outboard-powered R-23 with a ton of storage space (the I/O version gives up one space to accommodate the engine) while overhead, an extendable Bimini top offers refreshing shade from the sun.
But the real magic starts when you open up the cockpit glass and step inside. That’s where a port-side dinette offers the first glimpse of the ingenuity in this design. The seat back at the forward end of the dinette flips to offer either aft-facing seating while dining or forward-facing seating while underway. But the other seat back cushion to aft also flips the same way. The huge glass window forming the aft wall of the salon opens right up, allowing you to flip the seat cushion forward and sit in the frame for the best perch in the house.
To starboard in the salon, a fully-featured galley allows one to prepare meals without having to go below and miss out on the fun. With its enormous wrap-around, opening windows, four opening hatches overhead and additional ceiling perimeter windows, the salon is exceptionally bright and extremely well ventilated, making this boat a joy for extended cruises.
The neatly designed helm comes with a standard Garmin 7610 GPS/sonar, and is available with optional HDX radar. The helm seat includes a flip-up bolster for comfort, while opening side windows and a bow thruster greatly facilitate docking.
Step below and a bow dinette converts to a spacious V-berth, with the head – complete with a marine toilet with holding tank, shower, sink, and mirror – is adjacent. It’s tighter than your house, but still perfectly comfortable for even a longer cruise. Opening port lights allow for a nice cross breeze in the cabin.
A surprising mid-berth (remember, this is still only a 22-foot boat) is great for kids or storage, while the main salon dinette converts to a sleeper as the third berth, letting the R-23 sleep six.
Performance with the Yamaha F200 is delightful, with smooth acceleration and easy planing. Top speed at wide open throttle was 36 mph on our GPS, while the boat cruises beautifully at about 25 mph while delivering excellent fuel economy.
By Craig Ritchie