By Shawn and Corinne Severn
“Cut her in half and add five feet!” That is how the idea for Salish Lady was born. The “her” was our American Tug 435, Ocean Mistress. The discussion was with Kurt Dilworth (Chief Engineer) and Mike Schoppert (President) of Tomco Marine, the manufacturers of American Tugs. To be clear, we loved Ocean Mistress. She had taken us to Alaska, the west coast of Vancouver Island, the Broughton Archipelago, and pretty much anywhere we wanted to go on the West Coast. She was rugged, reliable, fuel efficient, attractive and very comfortable. However, we wanted a little more room in the salon, but didn’t want a boat larger than 50 feet. We figured five feet would be just about perfect.
About 18 months later Salish Lady (AT485) emerged from the factory. She looked remarkably like Ocean Mistress, just a little longer. However, a lot had changed on the inside. We had decided to install a smaller engine, adding a Cummins QSL9-405 hp continuous duty engine. We are generally slow cruisers, often poking along at 7.5 to 8.5 knots. However, we are comfortable with doing long 8 to 12 hour cruises. So, the smaller, continuous duty engine was better suited to our cruising style. Even though Salish Lady is heavier and longer than Ocean Mistress, she is more fuel-efficient, averaging about 4 gallons/hour at 8 knots and she is extremely quiet while running.
We had also decided to replace the typical analogue tank gauges with a NEMA 2000 digital system. We added hydronic heating system, FCI watermaker and a larger 17 gallon hot water tank. We opted to upgrade the standard bow and stern thrusters to variable speed thrusters. The electronics for navigation are based around the Garmin 8000 display series. She is equipped with autopilot, digital radar, sonar, a B-type AIS, GPS, a dedicated navigation system WiFi, and engine room and mast mounted cameras.
We also added a 720 watt solar charging system that is sufficient to charge our house batteries during the summer while we spend time at anchor. Our generator is only needed for running the water, the washer/drier and the vacuum.
One of our favorite new features is the 1500 watt electric fireplace that replaced the standard small salon heater. The fireplace is a wonderful focal point on the boat and our dog Prince has decided that it is his favorite place on the boat when we are stationary.
The extra space in the salon is great for entertaining. The additional length also allowed us to add a dinette that is separate from the main salon area. Adding length in the middle of the boat also increased the size of the engine room, allowing us to place all the mechanical systems in one area, rather placing the generator and watermaker in cockpit lazarettes and below-floor compartments in the staterooms.
We are extremely pleased with the results of the new design. Salish Lady is a very stable, go anywhere, coastal cruiser. The boat was delivered in July of 2014, so we only had a couple of months to enjoy her last summer. We completed a short trip to the Broughtons before we had to return her back to the factory as the showboat for fall and winter of 2014/2015. She is extremely comfortable vessel under way; we can cruise all-day or do overnight travel without fatigue. She is pure joy on the water. The variable speed thrusters and engine/transmission setup also make her easy to dock in close quarters. In short, we got the vessel we wanted and are very excited about where she will take us!
About the Authors:
Shawn and Corinne Severn are scientists, writers and photographers and have been cruising in the Pacific Northwest for over 30 years. During the summer they have no fixed address as our travels take from from the southern part of Puget Sound to Alaska and
everywhere in between.