Back To Basics – Retromarine 21′ Cape Island Trawler

When I was a boy, and full of adventure, I remember sneaking down to the covered boat docks at my favorite Colorado River vacation spot (Winterhaven, AZ) and perusing the variety of boats that made that place their home. Among the obligatory houseboats, fishing boats and ski-boats, there was one that stood out as not belonging there … and I was drawn to the beautiful green boat with the strange name.

I was only in Winterhaven once (maybe twice) per year, but I managed to get to know the owner (I thought he was old then, but he was likely younger than I am now) of the boat with the high bow and the graceful lines. I’d show up and he’d be working on some project and, despite the fact that I hadn’t been there in 10 months or so, he’d smile, say something that made me realize that he recognized me, and throw me a rag, or a rope, or something else that said, “Come on aboard and make yourself useful”.

I’m not sure what interested me more … the boat or its owner, but I came to regard my visits to see Mr. Jameson onboard the O’Rourke as an important and treasured beginning and end to my trips to the river, and I spent more time than I was supposed to in the marina at the forbidden berth (the covered berths were supposed to be kept locked and no one younger than 18 was to be down there unless accompanied by an adult). I was 12.

The O’Rourke was, I was to learn many years later, a Cape Island style trawler. It was most certainly a salty, sea going vessel that was very out-of-place in a land-locked marina on the Colorado River. Mr. Jameson had bought it on the Maine coast (third hand) when he lived out there, and when he met a lady he couldn’t live without (from Yuma, AZ), he purchased an old trailer and towed the boat the 3000+ miles to it’s new home in Arizona.

The Jamesons, who got married shortly after Mr. Jameson’s move to Arizona, had lived in or owned 11 homes, had 4 children and several grandchildren, kept several jobs over the years but always kept just the one boat. I learned that the O’Rourke (named after Mr. Jameson’s mother’s Dad) was between 20 and 25 years old then, but Mr. Jameson (and I, when I was there) kept the wood polished and every aspect of the vessel in show condition. It even had bottom paint, which was a rarity in fresh water and even more so in 1972.

I’ve since become a fan (read: enthusiastic supporter; student) of trawlers, and in the research I’ve done, I’ve learned that the Cape Island Trawlers, first built (of wood) at Cape Sable Island, Nova Scotia, Canada in 1907 with Fiberglass models debuting in 1961, have been one of the most revered boats of all time, and they’re still being built for commercial boats and pleasure yachts (My Rosborough is a trawler in every sense, though it cannot lay claim to being part of the Cape Island line).

I was happy to find a boat that took me back to my childhood days with Mr. J. and O’Rourke when I recently came across the 21’ Cape Island Trawler by Retromarine. Who knew I’d come across this vessel some 40 years after I last visited the Winterhaven docks! Much about this boat is similar to that one I ‘worked’ (played) on – even the jog in the boat’s forward gunwhales (they’re raised gunwhales) – and I enjoyed getting to know the unique qualities and the stout history of the Retromarine 21’ Cape Island Trawler.

In an age where many boats seem to have been built more for the amenities you can build into them than for the quality and functionality of the vessel itself, the Retromarine 21’ Cape Island Trawler is a welcome ‘throwback’ to an age where a boat was a boat, and it was judged on how it was built and what it could do.

The Retromarine 21 is built in five variations: the Cape Island Trawler, the Standard pilothouse, the K-Model pilothouse, the Day Boat and the Center Console model. Though each has its purpose and strength, the Cape Island Trawler, pictured in this article, is most attractive to me and, if it was painted Irish green, would be a dead ringer for O’Rourke. It’s notable that Retromarine, formed in 2002, imports the boats from the same Nova Scotia builder that has fabricated them for decades.

Their Cape Island Trawler is, compared to most vessels sold on today’s market, ‘sparse’. That is, though you can add them to the boat, it doesn’t ‘come’ with all of today’s gadgetry, and in fact it doesn’t ‘need’ it. The boat itself is very well built, and it’s features are those you’d most value on a voyage in waters like those off Nova Scotia. It has a stable keel, fine bow entry and is very sea kindly (and a 9” draft for you gunkholers). It’s lightweight and is therefore easily served by a 50hp outboard engine. And, it can be had, brand new, for an unprecedented $35,000!

For that sum, you get a stout little boat (a real trawler!), with a long list of standard features built in, a forward 6’ V-berth, seating for at least four (6 with outdoor chairs), etc. The  boat features a ‘built-in’ porta-potty, but lacks a galley. The owner can specify one of several popular modular galleys (optional) that can be built-in/on, but many opt for a BBQ and ice box, and, adhering to the mentality of “back to basics” design that spawned this boat, forego the additional ‘hassle’ of the storage batteries, hot-cold water plumbing, onboard fresh water storage, hot water heater, space for the sink, electrical wiring, etc.

The Retromarine 21’ Cape Island Trawler features a custom-built helm station, with room for simple instrumentation or expanded electronics. The Garelick seats at the helm and navigator’s station are comfortable and high quality, and there is excellent 360-degree line of site in the tall house for both the skipper and navigator.

The exterior is decidedly low maintenance, with diamond pattern non-skid everywhere, and a rinse off hull and house. The deck is self-bailing non-skid, and there are two fiberglass scuppers aft. Seating is very comfortable with your choice of quality chairs mounted on stainless pedestals on fiberglass risers (which also feature handy storage). The cockpit features storage space and seating too, and additional passengers can sit comfortably on the gunwhales or in portable chairs.

  • Overall length…………………………21 feet
  • Beam………………………………………8 feet 6 inches
  • Draft………………………………………..9 inches
  • Weight…………………………………….2200 lbs (no engine)
  • Five year hull warranty
  • 70 HP recommended power

As would be the case in a boat of this quality, all hardware and fasteners are stainless steel, as is the oversized bow eye, the bow rail, the transom “U” bolts, the deluxe footrest and hand-holds, the destroyer wheel and the cleats, bollard and chocks.  There is a ‘no maintenance’ trim made of Starboard(TM) material throughout the vessel, which means that much less trim maintenance.

The boat features one opening window forward (at the helm), and two sliding windows (one on either side). Considering that you may operate it open to the elements much of the time, this seems like more than enough ventilation. The V-berth features an overhead 16.5” adjustable hatch for ventilation and emergency egress.

The boat is quite light and weighs about 2200lbs. plus engine and gear. It uses a lightweight and efficient trailer that can be towed by a ½ ton pick-up and a variety of other vehicles, and launches & retrieves like a ski-boat (easily!). The cabin can be enclosed with an Eisenglass-style shade (factory built), and the V-berth has a separate, solid door to insure privacy and warm sleeping quarters when desired.

It isn’t O’Rourke, but the classic lines and work boat character of the 21’ Cape Island Trawler take me back to that simpler ‘happy-go-lucky’ time in my life. It’s nice that someone can build (or import) a quality trawler, with the characteristics of Cape Island Trawlers from the past combined with the modern conveniences of today, for such an attractive price.

Mr. Jameson would smile and say, “Now, that’s a boat!”.

Photos courtesy of mftr’s website at
Posted in Boats | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Get To Know The Extraordinary Caledon 27

Caledon Boatworks has been building quality yachts – and acquiring a reputation for these vessels – for 30 years in Caledon, Ontario, Canada. Caledon is a family company that shows fierce pride in their work, and an equal affinity for and loyalty to those who own their boats. If you’ve cruised aboard a Caledon boat, you’re not likely to forget it … the rich wood finishes, the tough over-built hull, the quiet hum of the engine(s) … it seems the British Columbian trawler is reborn with the molding of each new hull.
Rich in it’s wooden coverings and comfortable throughout, the Caledon 27 won’t betray its B.C. commercial boat heritage until you need it to, but with countless owner stories of adventures in 8’ and larger seas, the yacht’s sea worthiness is nothing short of legendary.

The exterior of the Caledon 27 is low-maintenace and tough. There are four ports (that seem like they are imported directly from a 50’ tug) in the forecastle, and about a dozen large windows in the salon that make for about a 340-degree view from the helm (the area to port that is enclosed for the head and shower being the only blind spot). Stainless steel rails are positioned high for protection at the bow, and stainless grab rails adorn both sides of the roof. A pair of heavy-duty, no-nonsense windshield wipers are positioned on the port and starboard windshields. Port and starboard walk space is ample (11” wide) for transiting forward and aft, and the vessels large cockpit is adorned in a non-skid finish for both safety and low maintenance. A centered settee sits at the transom in the rear, and makes an excellent perch from which you can take in the view.Aft of the transom, a two-foot bolted and fiberglassed hull-extension (faired to/with the hull and painted to match) features a swim ladder and provides generous mounting space for single or dual outboard engines, as well as easy boarding access from a dinghy. The cleats on the boat are substantial, fabricated of stainless steel, and are positioned where they’ll be handy when they’re needed.
Caledon incorporates PVC coring in the boat’s topsides and deck for insulation, floatation and for weight consideration. The bottom, cleat areas and foredeck feature a brawny, solid half inch of fiberglass. The hull to deck joint is fiberglassed together from inside the boat, which creates a solid, one piece assembly. One gets an idea of the yacht’s low center of gravity when one first looks at her, and this results in a sense of stability and comfort, as well as added safety, especially in turbulent seas.
Enter through the one, cockpit sliding door, and you find yourself immediately awash in the luxurious wood finishes and other comforts for which the Caledon is known. The (6’5”) interior takes one back to when most boats were built this way, and the Caledon’s builders excell at the joinery of the woodwork.
Immediately upon entering, the galley (which features a stove, oven, fridge, stainless steel sink, a 15-gallon water tank, an automatic water pump and storage cabinets) is to starboard and the head/shower is enclosed to port. There’s plenty of counter space, and a propane solenoid switch adds convenience that is not usually found on this size of boat.The head facility is much more spacious than the one in the Caledon 25 (where it is forward of the helm in the V-berth area) and features a Jabsco manual marine toilet, a fiberglass sink, and a hot/cold shower. In keeping with the motif of the boat, Caledon has lined the interior of the head with aromatic teak. There’s ample lighting for the shower and head compartment as well.
Just forward of the head compartment is the dinette with a convertible table that quickly makes into a small double bed or a generous single. The forward-most seat for the dinette does double-duty as the navigator’s seat when it is reversed. Across from the two position seat is the helm, designed by someone who knows about boating. The helm has a quality destroyer wheel positioned comfortably, and controls and gauges are in easy proximity. There are options for every type of electronics, including a (top) mount for a MFD (Multi-Function Display) at near eye level, but below the helmsman’s line of site. A high-quality DC switch panel is located near the pilot’s feet on the outer wall of the helm area, and a combination stainless steel red/white lamp is located directly above, with an accompanying (white only) lamp positioned further aft.
Step forward and the V-berth (6’6” long) and a cedar lined hanging locker are close at hand. These are tastefully wrapped in wood, including the access hatch to the forward chain and rope storage compartment for the ship’s ground tackle. There are two stainless steel Halogen reading lamps located at convenient reading angles, an overhead hatch for ventilation or emergency escape, and overhead and underneath storage facilities. The V-berth separates from the main cabin/salon via a wooden folding door. Two of the four portals open and feature bug screens (three way ventilation with the overhead hatch).


Caledon 27 Specifications:

Length – 27’3″

Beam – 8’6″

Draft – 24″

Displacement – 6,000 lbs.

Sliding windows in the salon contribute ventilation to the interior, and there’s chart storage in the opening dinette table. Caledon has attended to many of the items one might add to the vessel, including a convenient storage shelf on the starboard side.

Caledon 27 – Standard Equipment

Exterior Mechanical
• 5 year hull warranty • Blower motor
• One piece hand laid hull with PVC foam core from chine up • 40 amp starter battery
• Solid 1/2” fibreglass bottom, cleat areas & foredeck • 100 amp house battery
• Solid 5/8” keel • 2 Blue Seas battery select switches
• One piece hand laid deck with PVC foam core • Automatic battery charger
• Hull and deck glassed together from inside, hence making solid waterproof 1 piece unit •Automatic electric bilge pump with 3 way switch
• S.S. anchor roller on mahogany or fibreglass bowsprit • Manual bilge pump
• S.S. self opening hinged hawse pipe • Blue Seas AC panel with volt meter
• 6” S.S. chocks & 10” S.S. bow cleat • Blue Seas DC panel with volt meter & amp consumption meter
• 4 – 8” S.S. cleats, 2 mid ship & 2 astern • 12 volt output receptacle
• Easy 11” wide walk around decks • Fire retardant interior gelcoats
• S.S. handrails on cabin top Helm
• S.S. handles on exterior cabin corners • No feed-back steering system
• S.S. bow tow eye • Aqua meter compass
• Regulation lights with anchor light • Heavy duty port & starboard windshield wipers
• Courtesy lights in cockpit • 12 volt horn
• Access hatches in cockpit • Digital speed log with temperature
• Day & Night S.S. Nicro 2000 Vents • Tilt & tank gauges
• Mahogany or fibreglass fore hatch • RPM gauge
• Mahogany or fibreglass door • Sliding helm seat with foot rest
• Non-skid on decks & toe rails • Helm step
• INTERLUX PROTECT 2000 system below water line & anti-fouling paint V-berth
• High density rub rails • 6’6” in length
• 2 – 24 gal fuel tanks with filter/water separator • 2 S.S. halogen reading lights
• 110 volt 30 amp shore power inlet • Folding privacy door
Galley • Overhead & under v-berth storage
• 12 volt 2.4cu ft fridge with ice cube compartment • Access to anchor locker
• 15 gallon water tank • 2 fixed port holes
• Automatic electric water pump • 2 opening port holes with mosquito screens
• Two burner propane stove Salon
• S.S. sink with cold water tap • 6’5” head room
• Propane solenoid switch • 2 seat dinette with telescopic table, convertible to forward looking mate seat with footrest or berth
• CFCI receptacle with indicator light • Chart storage under dinette table
• Utensil drawer • Storage shelf along starboard side
• Under counter storage • Main cabin sliding windows
• 15 gallon holding tank • Aromatic cedar lined hanging locker
• JABSCO manual household sized toilet • 2 S.S. cabin lights, one with red light illumination
• Aromatic cedar lined head • Dual 110 volt receptacle
• Head compartment light  


Caledon 27 Options

Air conditioner and heat pump
Canvas awning with mosquito screens/windows
Hot and cold pressurized water with deck shower, includes 30 gal tank
Teak rub rail with stainless steel rub strake
Mahogany rub rail with stainless steel rub strake
Anchor windlass with helm control
Propane/kerosene cabin heater with pressure tank
Remote control searchlight
12 volt macerator w/bronze thru hull and sea cock
12 volt wash down pump
Teak and holly cabin floors
Mahogany cabin floors
Cockpit seat
Two additional corner seats
Larger custom aluminum fuel tanks (80 gallons)
Larger stainless steel water tanks (30 gallons)
Additional stern bulkhead sliding window
Three step swim ladder
Fishing rod holder (each)
Divided hanging locker
Mahogany fish rod rack
Mahogany bookshelf
Additional 12 volt outlet
Power Options
Four stroke Yamaha motors
Twin 50 HP or T50 (high thrust motors)
Twin 60 HP or T60
Twin 75 HP
Single 90 HP
Single 115 HP
Single 150 HP
The Caledon 27 seems like a lot of boat for the money (use the link that follows to contact the mftr. for the current price) and an ideal boat for the skipper who desires a downright rugged, well-built, go anywhere yacht with the signature Caledon wood-lined interior. Take a look at her before you buy your next boat.  You’ll find a sort of magic in the combination of luxury and strength in the Caledon 27.
Photos and tables courtesy of mftrs. website: www.caledonboatworks
Posted in Boats, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Head & Shower Questions …


I’ve been researching RF-246s again and had a question for you. How has having the “head in the bed” been over time? Does it ever get a little “gamey” in the berth with that arrangement? Also am I correct in that the only shower available is the one in the cockpit? How does one maintain any privacy with that set up? … (Read the answer in “Letters”)

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Yachting Icons Bob & Jeni Peterson Join Kadey-Krogen Yachts

Bob Peterson

STUART, FL: Kadey-Krogen Yachts announces the appointment of industry legend Bob Peterson as sales executive, along with wife Jeni Peterson, based out of the company’s corporate office in Stuart, Florida. Kadey-Krogen President John Gear stated, “What can you say about a husband and wife team who’ve done it all-the lifestyle, the cruises, the seamanship, the nitty-gritty detail, a man and woman who have an unsurpassed love of cruising vessels, an incredibly personable team who brings an unmatchable level of honesty, experience and depth of knowledge to the joy of buying your own dreamboat?”

“We are pleased to have the Petersons aboard, and look forward to this team serving our owners with the great passion and love of passagemaking that sets them apart and sets Kadey-Krogen apart from any others in the new and brokerage yacht business,” Gear continued. “We are confident that Bob and Jeni will be a welcome resource for many happy new owners of Kadey-Krogen trawler yachts.”
“Want an experienced hand to assist you with everything you need to know about the bluewater cruising life?” asks Larry Polster, vice president of sales and marketing for Kadey-Krogen. “Just ask Bob and Jeni.”
Bob Peterson began cruising in the Pacific Northwest from his home state of Oregon to Canada and the Inside Passage. After moving to California, Bob and Jeni took their two young children on a year’s trip to Mexico on a motoryacht.
In 1974 the couple built a 94′ brigantine and with ten teenagers aboard sailed from San Diego to Acapulco, Mexico, across the Pacific to the Marquesas and Society islands and back to San Diego, where they continued their yacht brokerage business. In 1978 the Peterson family and crew passaged aboard their U.S. Army-built 148′ cargo vessel around the coasts of Mexico and Central America to the Caribbean through the Panama Canal.
By 1996 Bob and Jeni headed up the Micronesian Maritime and Fisheries Academy. They taught 40 students two full semesters a year. Curricula included diesel engine maintenance and repair, boat handling, navigation, welding, electrical, fishing and more. Asks Tom Button, vice president of operations at Kadey-Krogen, “Are maintenance, engineering, navigation or boat handling concerns keeping you from embracing the cruising lifestyle? Rely on Bob or Jeni for a wealth of knowledge and assurance.”
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Zincs from

If your vessel has zinc anodes that are wearing (white, or losing shape, flaking) or worse, missing (like one of mine), they should be replaced. I found a quality supplier of ‘zincs’, and they don’t charge a shipping charge for orders of over $100 (a common gripe when buying relatively heavy items through the mail).

Try next time you need anodes. Chances are, you’ll find the experience to be the well-charted, efficient service I did. And, if you have a question, Angela will dispatch it quickly and cheerfully when you dial the toll-free number to the office!

Posted in Services | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Cutwater Boats Debuts the Cutwater 30

– A Press Release from Cutwater Boats –

Cutwater Boats has announced the introduction of its newest and largest cruiser, the Cutwater 30. The new boat makes its inaugural appearance on Jan. 25, 2013, at the Seattle International Boat Show, and its East Coast debut at the Miami International Boat Show opening Feb. 14, 2013.

Based on the Cutwater Keel Stepped hull design, this new design expands on the brand’s original concept of comfortable family cruising, efficient performance and exceptional value. With its 30’ 3” molded length and 10-foot beam, the Cutwater 30 delivers an additional measure of interior and on-deck space compared to its 26- and 28-foot predecessors, a lengthier roster of standard features, and more than a few design innovations of its own. “With the new Cutwater 30,” said Sales and Marketing Vice president Jeff Messmer, “we’re able to offer the same smooth ride and efficient performance in a roomier hull. The innovative arrangement ensures complete comfort for long-range cruising, with a number of unexpected design refinements for even greater enjoyment.”

Among the most visible of its many design advancements is the cockpit deck layout. By itself measuring some 80 square feet, its dimensions feel yet roomier thanks to port-and-starboard bench seats that hinge outboard to either side to seat four adults without encroaching on the main cockpit space. A reversible transom seat, moreover, may be adjusted to face forward or aft to serve either as additional aft-deck seating or to face the view astern, and a panel in the cabin aft bulkhead swings up to allow the aft dinette seat to be reversed as a fourth cockpit seat.

The entire arrangement accommodates up to eight adults in an agreeably social setting that leaves the entire aft deck open and uncluttered. A molded cabinet houses an electric refrigerator for convenient refreshment service, and a flush hatch opens on gas-assist lifts for easy engine access. Port-and-starboard side decks (with grab rails) lead forward to a large foredeck; here, two flush hatches open to become cushioned observer seats, each with a generous footwell that serves as fender storage when closed. A removable contoured lounge may be secured on centerline. The surrounding stainless steel rail opens to the bow pulpit, from which a five-step ladder may be extended for immediate access to and from the beach.

With its 6’ 6” of headroom, the salon is similarly spacious. The starboard-side four-place dinette features a custom-crafted maple table that folds inward to reveal a pair of drink holders integrated into a polished stainless steel handrail. This unit may be converted to a double berth. To port, a continuous countertop offers plenty of room for serving snacks or a complete buffet; this hinged surface conceals a stainless sink, refrigerator and electric range with oven; a propane range with oven is available as an option. Just forward is a contoured aft-facing lounge seat with armrest. Forward on the starboard side, a double-wide helm seat faces a fully-instrumented control console of finely stitched anti-glare ultraleather. A companionway behind the four-place dinette leads down to a private sleeping space with a 6’ 8” double berth. A broad expanse of windows all around combine with four skylight hatches in the overhead to illuminate and ventilate the entire salon. Other salon features include a flat-screen TV, wine cooler and a microwave oven. With the engine located completely aft of the salon, sound levels inside allow for muted conversation, even while underway.

The forward stateroom features an island double berth more than 7’ in length. A large hanging locker and storage compartments accept clothing and gear for extended voyages, and a desk/vanity includes a 110-12-volt charger for computers and electronics. The adjacent head includes an electric-flush toilet, vanity cabinet with vessel-type sink and large countertop, and a separate enclosed shower with curved sliding door. Opening hullside portlignts admit daylight and fresh air throughout below-deck living spaces.

The new Cutwater 30 rides on the revolutionary Stepped Keel hull design, an advanced configuration that distributes lifting forces and a contact layer of air to deliver exceptionally efficient performance for extended range and a lower fuel bill. A skeg keel aids directional stability for straight tracking, and rounded shoulders where the keel meets the hull allow low engine placement for optimum shaft angle, a lower, more stable center of gravity, and lower deck height allowing superior cabin headroom. Standard bow and stern thrusters permit precise maneuvering and easy docking.

About Cutwater Boats

A division of Fluid Motion LLC, Cutwater boats since 2010 has offered fully equipped, trailerable family cruisers at 26 and 28 feet in length. With their standard diesel inboard power, Cutwater boats are designed to offer efficient performance, smooth ride and agile handling, and are delivered ready to cruise, with a long list of standard features plus a selection of optional equipment to meet virtually any cruising lifestyle. Fluid Motion also builds its line of Ranger Tugs from 21 to 31 feet in length. Both brands have earned industry-wide recognition and acclaim for innovation in design and equipment aimed at delivering a carefree, enjoyable cruising experience.


LOA: 30′ 3″

Length rigged w/ swim deck and pulpit: 34′ – 10″

Bridge clearance* (mast and command bridge folded): 9′ – 9″

Height on trailer: 10′ – 0″

Draft: 2′ – 5″

Fuel capacity: 180 US Gallons

Water capacity: 80 US Gallons

Holding tank capacity: 40 U.S. gallons

180 U.S. gallons

80 U.S. gallons

Weight dry: 10,200 ilbs.

Single Volvo D6, 330 hp. Std.; 370 h.p. optional

Posted in Boats | Tagged , | Leave a comment

The Nimble Nomad Revisited

Nimble Boat Works, formerly of Clearwater, FL and presently located near Tampa, FL builds one of the most unique and quality-proven small yachts for inland water cruising. The Nimble Nomad 25 has changed very little since the first one came out of the mold in 1990, and the boat has what could be called a cult following, which is an indication that the signature profile and cozy intimacy of the Nomad may be with us for some years to come.

I first became familiar with the Nimble Nomad 25 when I was searching for boat, a small yacht, for Lee Ann and me. I drove three hours to Glen Cove Marina and met with the owners of an impeccably-kept vessel that fairly exuded personality and character. I was immediately impressed with different facets of the yacht which could be personalized with the owner’s touch, the abundance of quality features that comprised the boat, and the safety and stability of the vessel. If you know the Nimble Nomad 25, you recognized it immediately upon seeing its photo here. And if you didn’t know it, you may have been drawn to it in the way I was when I first saw it; in a sort of “now this is interesting … and different” way.

The Nomad, designed by yachting master designer Ted Brewer, is available in two versions, both of which are identical on the outside, in hull and deck construction and materials, and in exterior layout. The versions are called the “Tropical” and the “Special”. The “Tropical” outsells the “Special” by a large margin – and was the boat I visited – so I’ll concentrate on this version as I review the Nimble Nomad 25.

The owner can select varnished teak or lighter birch (with teak trim) when buying the boat new. The floors of the cabin incorporate quality joiner work in teak and holly, and the interior cabinets feature doors of woven cane and teak framing. The combination of these woods creates a warm, inviting ambiance and the wooden doors at either end of the boat are pleasantly offset by the woods in the boat.

Six windows (2 of which open) give light in the cabin, and 6’3” headroom (ample for most boat owners but my first indication I wasn’t going to own a Nimble Nomad; I’m 6’4” tall) give the cabin and airy feeling. The interior is carefully finished with gel coat and features teak accents throughout. The sole is thoughtfully textured, so as to provide a non-skid environment for safety, and the aft cabin windows are aluminum framed and open for ventilation.

I mentioned two doors earlier, and one of the signature marks of the Nomad is that it doesn’t have an opening window on the dash … it has a door. The door provides forward ventilation and also access to the fore deck, which is sunken (that’s right: no V-berth or anything under the fore deck) and allows one to sit (on molded-in seats which also serve as steps when entering or exiting the boat), stand, handle ground tackle, or pass lines ashore. The “twin cockpits” fore and aft on this boat grow on you fast, especially when considering what many of us go through to attach a line to a forward cleat when we dock our boats. The operator or crew mate of a Nomad 25 can simply walk through the door and, safely and securely, attach the line. At first I mourned the loss of the V-berth, but very quickly grew to respect Brewer’s “a la canal boat” design feature.

The fiberglass composite work on the Nomad is simple and done with precision. All hull glass is vacuum bagged to ensure adhesion of the foam core and even distribution of the fiberglass resin throughout the laminate. The joint between deck and hull is secured by stainless hardware and 3M 5200 sealant along a 4” flange on the hull/deck joint. It’s a solid arrangement, especially for the duty this boat is likely to see.

Though we’ve seen Nomads with both forward and aft bimini-syle covers, the vast majority of owners tend to leave the forward cockpit uncovered and put the bimini-style cover in the rear. Since the boat has two distinct cockpits, the rear bimini is often replaced by a permanent structure, often of varnished teak or wood of another sort, which is covered with Sunbrella or another color-matched fabric (to the hull color), and therefore changes the profile of that particular boat.

From a couple slips away, I took in the profile of the Nomad, and decided it was not “like” any other craft out there. The profile reminded me of a small tug, of smaller canal boats I’d seen in Europe, and even of toy boats I’d played with as a child. When trying to define a class for this vessel, I think I felt best when I arrived at the idea that the Nimble Nomad 25 is in a very exclusive class; one of its very own.

Entering the cabin from the aft cockpit (remember, there are two) the interior is laid out per a practical design. A dinette, which converts to a small double bed, is located to port; a settee, which converts to a single berth, is directly to starboard across from the dinette. Just forward of the settee is an enclosed head – well appointed – and forward of this is a quality chart table. Forward of the chart table, which is bordered by drawers and chart storage, is the helm, and the galley is to port of the chart table. Pilot and navigator seats are at the helm and on the opposing side, and there is ample visibility from both. The interior layout can be customized to some degree, and there are few Nomads that are identical inside. The “Puffin” that I visited in Vallejo had a Force 10 propane heater mounted on the bulkhead above the galley counter, and tasteful, nautical art throughout.

The hull is another study in deviation from the norm. Largely flat bottomed, it features a keel that both trues the course of, and slows the boat down. The Nomad will do about 7-8 knots, and is powered by the owner’s choice of outboard engines. The most popular choice is the Honda 50hp engine, a dependable power plant which moves the boat along well and quietly. It’s notable that newer boats feature only four-stroke outboards.

The Nomad’s hull, hull speed, forward cockpit, and non-capacity for stabilizers make it impractical for rough water use. The owners of “Puffin” indicated that they watch the weather closely as even a mild chop on the water and opposing wind can, combined with a maximum 8 knot speed, make getting home an uncomfortable chore. I noted that the current through Carquinez Straight (where Glen Cove Marina is located) is often close to the Puffin’s maximum speed. When I asked if they’d take their Nomad “out the gate” (referring to the Golden Gate Bridge) they calmly replied that (1) they’d never do that as doing so would imperil the boat they’d come to love, and (2) they’d probably never venture that far (about 24 miles) because weather might change and make getting home a challenge. It pays after all, to know the limitations of your boat and operate it within them.

So, if you’re looking for an inland water boat (the Nomad can be trailered anywhere) this is one boat you’ll want to consider. Imagine a fuel burn of 1 gallon per hour or less and lots of leisurely cruising. The lakes, rivers and bay waters await, and the Nomad is sure to turn heads wherever she puts into port.

Nimble Nomad 25 Specs.:

LOA: 24’ 7″

LWL: 22’ 4

Beam: 8’6″

Draft: 16″

Hull: Fiberglass

Displacement: 2450 lbs.

Berths: 3

Auxiliary: Outboard

Designer: Ted Brewer

Builder: Nimble Boat Works, Odessa, Florida

* Photos courtesy of mftr. website:

We received this letter after the publication of our articles which broadens the scope of what some Nimble Nomad owners may be able and willing to do with their sturdy Nomads:

Hi Steve,

I am the owner of a Nimble Nomad (also named Puffin) that I keep just off Jamaica Bay in Brooklyn, NY. You’ve written a very detailed and accurate review of this unique boat.

I would just like to add that the Nomads are quite capable coastal cruisers, as well. We have had ours in significant chop and 2-4-foot waves in lower New York Harbor and the waters off Coney Island. It was uncomfortable, but we didn’t feel unsafe. And I know of one Nomad owner in Alaska who regularly boats and fishes on Sitka Sound.

Please visit my blog if you’re interested in reading about some of our adventures in Puffin. In the future we hope to cruise the Erie Canal, do a circumnavigation of Long Island, and take a trip to Chesapeake Bay.


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment


Awarded around Thanksgiving every year, the 2012 choices for the Golden Prop Award are our top yachts in the sub-30-foot marine market. We’ve thoughtfully trained the floodlight on (just) ten of the finest vessels in our rating class. The yachts we choose may be current or past models, and each of them must have an length of 30’ or less.

We don’t think there are any ‘bad’ boats among those we’ve endeavored to review on this site, but these are the vessels that offer their owners more for their investment and whose builders have gone above and beyond to create one of the world’s finest yachts. We’ve worked hard to bring the best of the best to you … in alphabetical order (one yacht isn’t meant to be better than any other on this distinguished list).

EXCITECAT 810 (Catamaran)
GLACIER BAY 26 (Catamaran)
TOMCAT 255 (Catamaran)

Nominations for the 2013 Golden Prop Awards will be accepted starting 01.01.13 by e-mail (which must include your full name and address) at Enter a yacht’s name in the search box (top right) to read articles about it and see photos of it.

Posted in Award winners | Leave a comment

Do you have a Ditch Bag? Is it ready for anything?

A yachtsman from Florida wrote us recently and asked: “Would you reprint the excellent article on emergency bags that I read here some months ago … I’d appreciate it!” – Irv Johnson, Stuart, FL

Revere 80 Ditch/Abandon Ship Bag

If you’ve been boating for any time at all, you’ve heard the warning “Don’t forget to have an up-to-date ditch bag onboard!” over and over … and now let me say it again: before fancy toys and other expensive onboard luxuries, a ditch bag (also called an “Abandon Ship Bag”) is critical.

For some reason, owners of smaller boats often think they don’t need this vital item (I’d say it should be mandatory, if that didn’t require another law) but the end result of an emergency can be either manageable or disasterous based on whether it’s available. If you don’t have one, the following may be helpful to you in assembling this key item in your emergency gear (which I recommend you do BEFORE you take your boat out again). If you do have a ditch bag, this list may help you update it.

Use a bag that is designed for marine use. I’ve seen dry bags of all sorts used successfully for this. The bottom line is that your Abandon Ship, or ditch bag should (1) have ample positive flotation (dedicated ditch bags have flotation material sewn in, but sealed air-filled gear bags inside can achieve the same thing), (2) be waterproof (not simply water resistant, which means “splash proof”), (3) be large enough to carry all of your emergency gear, (4) be labeled and stowable, (5) have the right sort of reinforced grab handles, and (5) be light, bright-colored or feature reflective material that can be easily seen at night, presumably with a flashlight. A number of ditch bags are made by marine gear manufacturers, and they’re reasonable in price and ideal for careful, safe stowage of your emergency gear.

The contents of your ditch bag will have a lot to do with where and what climate you’re cruising in, but there are some critical items that are universal in their place in your emergency stores. They are divided into two categories: “Rescue” and “Survival” items. We recommend you carry some version of all of these in your bag.

ACR 2273 Ditch/Abandon Ship Bag

Rescue items should include (1) a registered, functioning E.P.I.R.B. (Electronic Position Indicating Radio Beacon) or P.L.B. (Personal Locator Beacon) with a current battery certification and N.O.A.A. registration. I wrote an article 10+ years ago about preparing your ditch bag, and didn’t feel right about including this expensive item in it, but prices have come down (you can buy the McMurdo 210 for $249, the SPOT II for about $100, or less) and we’re living in an ever-more-electronic world that has more and more capacity for locating you via a device like this, whether hiking in the mountains, snow skiing or at sea, (2) a hand-held VHF radio that is either waterproof or in a waterproof enclosure, (3) a variety of flares and smoke signals (both hand held and aerial – with parachutes – flares) (4) strobe light, (5) whistles (I recommend a loud one, like the storm whistles sold in marine stores; don’t rely on the one that came with your PFD), (6) a signal mirror, (7) two waterproof flashlights with spare batteries and (8) a handheld GPS with current, applicable charts (and spare batteries).

Survival items should include (1) water in individual packets (available through your marine store) or in sturdy jugs; take at least twice what you think you’d use in a worst case scenario, (2) a water making device, like a solar still or, if you can afford it, a hand-pump desalinating water maker, (3) food; packaged or canned (see the survival section at your marine store) (4) a sturdy can opener, (4) a well-equipped first aid kit and splinting material, (5) a quality all-purpose tool with a knife, (6) a patch kit and pump for your dinghy or life raft, (7) critical prescriptions/medications and spare prescription glasses (suggest you have second set in the ditch bag), (8) lightweight blankets, or solar blankets, for warmth, (9) basic fishing gear (line, hooks, cleaning gear, etc.), (10) sunscreen, (11) a sturdy bailer, (12) binoculars, (13) sunglasses, and (14) a broad brimmed hat.

Columbia Compact Ditch Bag

With this level of preparation, you and your passengers will only need life jackets and outerwear if you need to abandon ship quickly. If you have time (remember, the safest place for you is on your boat, even if it is filling with water; deploy the well-lashed life boat/dinghy and tie your ditch bag into it; wait until you can’t wait anymore to abandon ship) and dependent upon the safety of doing so, I suggest you gather additional water jugs, the ship’s flares, documentation (including passports) that may be need when you reach shore, additional food, etc.

Remember, the preparation of the ship’s ditch bag “is critical when it becomes critical” … you won’t have that “sinking” feeling that you’ve left some important piece of emergency gear behind if you attend to it now and inspect it annually and before each long voyage.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

ALBIN 28TE – At last, a trailerable Albin Yacht!

I’ve always been a fan of Albin boats. They are very well-built, and the designers seem to have thought a lot about the owner when they designed seating, compartmentation and passageways, among other things. The Albin 30 Family Cruiser was one I’d considered when shopping for a compact yacht, but the 30 was a little to large to trailer, and therefore didn’t satisfy my need for portability. The new Albin 28TE might have changed my mind if it had been available in the hard cabin design, and it’s certainly worth a visit now if you’re in the market for a vessel that isn’t afraid of rough seas, has all the comforts of a fine yacht, and can be a fishing boat too!

Albin made it’s name in tough, versatile fishing boats, and they’ve kept the theme of a great fishing craft alive in the 28TE. The boat CAN fish! But now the Albin 28TE offers much more than fishing capability, and non-fishing passengers can enjoy the many lounging areas and the yacht-like amenities as well.

Don’t be put off by the “TE” designation if you’re like me, and shopping for a sea worthy and trailerable yacht that might get fished off of once in awhile. The “TE” or Tournament Express part of the vessel’s nomenclature refers to what it’s capable of, not the purpose of the boat. That said, this boat (the cockpit in particular) is equipped with multiple rod holders and tackle gear storage that’ll make anglers think of their favorite fishing spots.

The cockpit comes either fully enclosed or with a hardtop and weather curtains where the fiberglass aft bulkhead would be. Note that the “TE” also comes as an open top convertible, but though the hull is the same, it’s a very different boat than the one we’re talking about. For Rosborough owners (me!) it’s the difference between the RF-246 Sedan Cruiser and the RF-246 Wheelhouse, which is the fishing vs. of the RF-246.

Enter the Albin 28TE from the stern by stepping on the ample swim step and through the standard transom door to starboard. Albin has made a comfortable retreat of the cockpit by fashioning Sunbrella-covered, welcoming seating and a fold down social seat on the back of the bulkhead that can also be used for a “fighting chair”. I noticed the familiar signature compartments – everywhere they CAN be – immediately in the cockpit. The sole of the cockpit features one large and two small built-in coolers which also serve as storage compartments. Aft of these doors is additional storage that opens wide once the folding seating is stowed, and the transom features three flush doors to open-to-the-sky compartments that are stowed away and covered when not needed.

The “bay style” enclosure features the door (largely glass for the skipper’s ‘see behind’ convenience) to the starboard side (same side as the transom door) and you arrive in the spacious house. To your immediate left when you enter, at center, is a sliding window for ventilation and visibility. An additional window lies beside the slider, and gives the skipper really good site lines out the slightly curved portion of the “bay style” aft bulkhead.

This space (the ‘house’) is dedicated to comfortable seating and the yacht’s navigation helm. There is your choice of generous lounge seating or a “mate’s chair” to port. With the chair, you have a removable chair that can be a casual or fighting chair in the cockpit when you need it out of the way inside. For my taste, the idea of the “L” shaped lounge is preferable, because it features a long fold-down bed on the port side and gives me more living space.


L.O.A (w.pulpit) 29’11”

L.O.A. 28’4″L.W.L.24’0″

Beam 9‘9″

Draft 3’2″

Water 36 gals.

Fuel 162 gals.

Displacement (approx.)8,500 lbs.

Deadrise Transom 16º

Speed Range (depending on Eng.) 18-30knts

The helm is all business, and laid out very smartly. The newer editions (Albin has built more than 950 of this legendary hull) have the engine gauges (for the quiet and efficient Yanmar turbo-charged 315hp engine) in the overhead panel, leaving the helm panel for the buyer to outfit with his choice of electronics. The standard helm chair swivels on a stand -alone stainless steel stand, and allows the skipper easy access to instrumentation, the wheel, and his adjacent guests. There are very good 360 degree site lines from the skipper’s chair, and the windows on either side of the helm slide open for additional ventilation. The center windshield section is also an opening window, so ventilation is available in all four walls.

Ample compartments adorn the house, each one secured with the best stainless steel latches, as is Albin’s tradition. The base of the lounge (or ‘mate’s chair’) seating is polished gel coat and features large doors to massive storage or fishing tackle supplies.The seating along the port bulkhead features portlights for the quarter berth below.

Abundant lighting makes this space very comfortable after dark. The sole access to the engine spaces is located in the center of the floor.

Forward through the closing accordian doors and down a couple steps you find yourself in the very well thought-out cabin. The compact but functional galley is immediately on your left while leaving enough space to comfortably access the quarter berth (kids /grandkid’s berth or handy additional storage) which is located to port under the navigator space. A flip-up counter extension gives you more preparation space and the galley module features a fridge, a built-in microwave, a stainless-steel sink and stand-alone one-burner range. The wooden door to the ship’s head is to starboard, and a combination dining center with wrap-around seating and a large bed (the table folds down) are forward. Converted, the bed is a generous 6’5”X5’. Albin’s dedication to locating handy storage compartments is evident here too, with a trio of built-in compartments at the galley, locking compartments everywhere one would fit and lots of storage beneath the cushions of the bed. The hanging locker is just forward of the head, and there’s a spot for an optional T.V. at the center of the forward bulkhead, which also includes port and starboard cubbies for books, etc. The ship’s entertainment system can also be based here, mounted in the topmost face of the hanging locker with twin speakers forward.

The cabin features six quality opening port lights (eight overall in the boat), three on each side. There is also an overhead hatch that serves as ventilation and an emergency egress point. Abundant lighting can be found overhead, and there are good places for reading lights to be added if you so desire. The AC and DC electrical panels are located above the entrance to the quarter berth, facing out so the skipper can access them easily, and the floor is deluxe cherry throughout. You’ll quickly forget you’re on a hull that was originally built as a fishing boat … if you want to.

Outside, the cockpit provides (via compartments once again!) two steps to a large walkway (port or starboard) to the foredeck.  The vessel’s safety railing starts immediately (and continues around the bow to the other side) and there’s a quality stainless steel hand hold on each side of the house’s roof. The roof can be adorned with your choice of fixtures, but Albin offers its radar mast that can’t be beat. There are comfy sitting areas forward (on the roof of the cabin) and plenty of room for your choice of ground tackle selections. The 28TE features an anchor-ready bow sprit that is fiberglass.

The vessel is just trailerable with a permit, with a beam of 9′ 9″, and that extra width gives you a generous living space. The Albin 28TE has a great deal to offer the compact yacht lover, not the least of which is the reputation the company has earned for fashioning stout, seaworthy hulls and, yes, fishing boats. The TE is the first in the line, though, that can be called a yacht (and trailer capable) and features all of the amenities thereof. I found it top-notch and worthy of inclusion in your short-list of boats to see, and experience, before you buy.

Photos courtesy of mftr. website:


Posted in Boats | Tagged , | 1 Comment