The “Why” of Ranger Tugs

We just returned from a week-long boat trip in the Puget Sound and Canadian Gulf Islands. It was a stupendous trip, not only because of the weather and itinerary, but having spent it on a 29-foot Ranger Tug called Tug Time! Tug Time, Ranger Tug, San Juan Sailing

It’s the second time we’ve chartered this boat, and even though there are other boats we can charter, including more sturdy, and larger Nordic and American tugs, we’re so delightedwith Tug Time that we immediately put down a deposit to charter it again, a year from now.

We’re not alone in our adoration for Ranger Tugs. Throughout our trip, at every marina, we were approached by other boaters, wanting to learn about Tug Time, and take a peek inside. We met only one person — a man who accesses the value of boats for Lloyds of London — who didn’t think Ranger Tugs were remarkable.

After several days of fielding questions from boaters, I sent an email to Ranger Tugs. Their VP of sales and marketing wrote back, “It is hard to just hang out on the dock without someone hitting you up about the boat. I suggest they carry a stack of brochures with them!”


I’ve pondered for the past few days why Ranger Tugs makes boaters’ hearts pitter-patter. Perhaps it comes down to “why,” as defined by Simon Sinek, the author of “Start with Why.” Sinek contends organizations, which think from the inside-out create products that not only inspire their employees, but engender enthusiastic buyers.

According to Sinek’s “Golden Circle,” most companies try to sell “what,” the features and benefits of products and services. However, starting with the “why” appeals to buyers’ emotions, the limbic part of their brains, which controls their emotions.

Interestingly, when you visit the Ranger Tug website, and click on the “About Us” tab, you’re presented with the title “Where Our Passion Began.”


It’s a strong word to describe the essence of a boat-manufacturer. This passion, however, is probably what’s responsible for turning “just another tugboat” into a highly desirable, in-demand Ranger Tug.

Ranger Tugs President, John Livingston, elaborates, “We have incorporated the ideas and experiences of insatiableusers into the structure, design, and quality that we want in a boat.”

I can only conjecture, but instead of starting with a fiberglass shell and deciding what to put inside, Livingston and his team of designers and engineers may have sat down with a blank piece of paper and jotted down the amenities and space utilization that would delight boaters. Perhaps they contemplated:

  • Why not have a walk-around bed so you don’t have to climb over your spouse or sleep in an awkward v-shaped bed?
  • Why not have a second cabin beneath the galley (brilliant out-of-the box design)?
  • Why not have a beautiful, but functional bathroom with an electric flush toilet (unheard of in a 29-foot boat)?
  • Why not have a double sink, easy-to-access refrigerator/freezer, wine cooler, and microwave so it’s enjoyable to cook?
  • Why not add bow and stern thrusters so it’s less stressful to dock and maneuver?
  • Why not make it light-enough so it can be placed on a trailer and driven across the country to a waterway you only dreamed of cruising?

The list goes on. And as a result, a Ranger Tug is nothing less than extraordinary.

On the last day of our trip, my husband and I tied up at a large marina, where a dealer sells a competitive brand of tugboats. We peeked in the windows of several of these boats, and asked to go on two of them. Both were an additional three feet in length. We expected these boats to have far more amenities, and be more commodious than Tug Time. We were sadly disappointed.

Prior to touring the boats, I felt like I was betraying Tug Time. Ridiculous! How can you betray a boat? But, betray was the correct word because I felt an emotional attachment to Tug Time, and relieved when I found the other boats sadly insufficient.

Sinek uses Apple as an example of a company that “starts with why,” by challenging conventional thinking and creating products that inspire. Many years Macintosh-Color-classic-computers-300x273 (2)ago, I used an Apple computer at work like the one on the right. I was so attached to it that I would bring it home on weekends so it won’t get lonely.

My husband and I have three of these original Apples, two of which were purchased at Goodwill. We can’t imagine parting with them even though it’s doubtful they even work! We’re emotionally attached to them and the aura of Apple. This adoration now extends to Tug Time. Happily, we get to charter her again in another twelve months!



  1. Wonderful post. We own an R29 (after owning an R25) and it has allowed us to live our boating dream. The Livingston family, Dave and his son John, are second generation boat builders. Dave has been designing boats for the Salish sea for over 50 years.

    Dave, John, Jeff, and the rest of the factory team are really focused on what we can do with the boat. It shows. So many refinements are the result of boater feedback. The tugs are built to cruise. This summer 50 Ranger Tugs cruised together to, and dispersed throughout, Desolation Sound, with full factory support. That is, truly, quality cruising.

    Your post has been share with Ranger Tugs facebook friends. Thanks for sharing. We’ll hope to cross wakes with you next season.

    1. Bruce,

      Thanks for your comment. My husband and I are both sailors and NEVER thought we’d be happy in a powerboat. No exaggeration, Ranger Tugs make our hearts’ pitter-patter! They’re truly astonishing boats… and with the tempermental Pacific Northwest weather, it’s nice to be able to drive from inside the boat. What I like best — verses a sailboat — is not having to go down into a dark, often cold galley.

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