Samson 28 – A Rugged Cape Island Style Yacht

Samson 28 - Cape Island Style

Samson Enterprises builds two handsome Cape Island style boats that live up to the Nova Scotia boat-building tradition. They are the Samson 28 and the Samson 30, and they are virtually the same except that the 30-footer has two feet additional cockpit space to offer. Samson is the largest boat manufacturer in eastern Nova Scotia, builds commercial and pleasure vessels to 65-feet, and has been in the boat building business since 1986. The company and its line of tough, Canadian Atlantic sea-going boats celebrates its 25 th anniversary in 2011.

The Samson 28 sports the profile of the vessels that have fished and cruised the beautiful, temperamental waters off the Canadian maritimes for more than 100 years. Her hull is one of the most respected in the business, and Samson makes them one at a time in their Pondville, Nova Scotia facility. The boat’s high, plumb bow and square, plumb stern are indicative of the time-proven Cape Island style. The Samson 28 is proven in the seas off the Nova Scotia coast after all, and therefore provides a safe, stable ride in all seas. The hull is solid UV resistant fiberglass and features a coating of high ISO gelcoat.

The boat looks all business, and the builder suggests it may not be the right yacht for you if you’re looking for “flash”. Remember, Samson Enterprises builds lots of commercial craft too, and the utilitarian principles of a strong ocean boat are found in their pleasure craft, including the 28. The house features ten PVC framed windows and two hatches, and is a two-piece molded superstructure with the roof (including visor) laminated to the wheelhouse. The deck, wheelhouse bulkhead and roof are cored for weight management. The assembly is tough, and seems capable of withstanding most anything the sea serves up.

The all-business look softens a bit when you enter. I immediately noticed the wider interior (11’ 3” at the widest point midships) and the space the extra three feet creates. The floors can be covered with beautiful wood soles (see photo), or a more utilitarian non-slip fiberglass surface. To starboard is the galley which comes standard with the cupboard and counter top, but can be outfitted with your choice of fixtures and appliances, including oven, range, fridge and a selection of sink and faucet combinations.

Opposite the galley is the port side dinette which consists of a table and two bench seats. I suspect that some boat buyers will want to choose a custom dining arrangement, and this basic set-up lets them do so easily. The space provided by the 11’ 3” beam in this part of the hull leaves lots of possibilities open, including the option for a larger table with 4 chairs and tuck-under pedestals or dual-purpose ottomans that would seat 6 total.

The helm, forward of the galley to starboard, features a two-seater bench helm chair, and a door that opens out onto the side deck and the sea. A molded helm offers many mounting options for instrumentation and command and control devices, as well as a nice diagonal mount for the wheel, which offers ideal wheel positioning for taller helms people. There is ample space on top for your MFD and other items, such as a compass. The yacht’s AC and DC electrical panels are on the port side of the helm console, and there is lots of room perpendicular to this panel for additional gauges, control heads, monitors, etc. Overhead space is available for your VHF and other thinner devices, and quality windshield wipers service each of the front windows. The helm area features a nice raised platform (elevated floor) rather than a footrest forward, so standing at the helm may be a bit of a challenge if you’re tall. I’m sure the folks at Sampson will work with each owner to accommodate them.

Across from the helm, you have a choice of furnishings. You can choose a cabinet and chart table, navigator’s seat with chart drawers or perhaps you’d like to discuss some sort of custom arrangement with the builders. There are PVC grab rails on the roof of the wheelhouse and the cabin cuddy.

Step forward into the sleeper cabin and find a comfortable (wide) V-berth forward with a hanging locker and the head with an electric marine toilet. Both spaces were larger than I’d expected due to the Samson 28’s beam.

The builder makes room for a variety of engine options, utilizes Kobelt (another fine Canadian company) controls and cables, and offers 4 wet through-stern ports for engine exhaust. A 2 X 1.5″ thru-hull sea cock with bronze fittings, hoses, heavy-duty clamps and strainer are included. Engine offerings from Volvo Penta, Yanmar, Cummins, and several others are a possibility here, and the Samson people are experts at installation and alignment. They have a solid fiberglass engine bed to work with, and they’ll happily work with you to find and bolt-in the engine of your choice.

The Samson 28 doesn’t mention trailering in any of its literature or promotional material. I imagine with the right custom trailer and permitting it’d be possible for a very bold driver. For me, the additional beam of almost three feet rules this yacht out of the trailering class – even where legal – and into the ranks of very high quality, (mostly) utilitarian, ready-in-your-berth, go anywhere, pass-it-on-for-generations, motor yachts in the compact yacht class.

Samson 28 Specifications:
Overall Length – 28′
Beam: Midship – 11’3″
Beam: Stern – 10’4″
Draft: 3′
Fuel: 150 U.S. gallons

* Photos courtesy of mftr. website:

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

Ranger Tugs R-29 – Luxury On A Trailer

Ranger Tugs introduced the 29-foot model of their popular tug boat-style pleasure craft in January of 2009, and the company that’s known for offering a safe, stable vessel with generous creature comforts has remained true to its tradition of offering more than you’d expect. The 29, of which there are 90-some sold to date, is trailerable (with a permit & wide load signs) on a 15,000lb EZ-Loader trailer and therefore can be driven to any launch facility in North, Central or South America to begin its adventure.

In its Ranger Tugs series (the line’s parent company, Fluid Motion, also builds the new Cutwater line of boats), current models include the 21’, 25’ and 27’ models in addition to this one. We thought we’d review the R-29 since we’ve been aboard that model, and it’s been available long enough for it to achieve a positive track record now.

The Ranger Tug 29 is not only the largest vessel in the line, but it is also the best equipped. Yacht buyers who are looking for a boat that won’t require much in the commissioning process will be attracted to the fact that the R29 comes with a complete navigation package, bow and stern thrusters (overkill, some may say; but not the pampered skipper who has them at his fingertips in a beam wind), a hinged mast (critical to achieve bridge clearance in most areas of the country; both on water and on land), comfortable helm/navigator seating and more. Options include enhanced navigation packages, a diesel generator, auto helm, air conditioning and a Kyocera solar panel to provide 12V power to certain onboard plug-in devices and to charge/assist in charging the house batteries.

Boarding via the comfortable transom gate in the R-29’s cockpit, one immediately notices the boat’s fit and finish. There seem to be molded in steps, storage units and hatch doors everywhere they should (and can) be. There is a fiberglass cabinet with sink and a large basin at midships facing astern, and two sets of stairs (port and starboard) that make ascending to the upper deck and side decks easy. The cockpit floor is tastefully covered in teak, and the tops of some major fixtures are upholstered in a UV-resistant fabric. The swim platform is large and has excellent stainless rail works; it’s larger and more plush than I’ve experienced on much larger boats. there is a bimini-style top that completely covers the cockpit area in the event you want shelter from the weather.  Even before entering the house, you have the impression that Ranger Tugs didn’t skimp in seeing to the owner’s luxuries.

A huge lazzarette/engine compartment door is in the cockpit floor (the hatch is larger than some 40-footers), and can be effortlessly raised and lowered via an electric ram from the electric control center just inside the house. Access to the sea cock and other vital equipment is located here. Beneath the lazzarette door, and to forward, sits the Yanmar 260hp 6BY2 engine, the propulsion system that gives the R-29 a top speed of about 15 knots. Serving the regular maintenance needs of the 6BY2 and doing pre-start engine checks is simple and straight forward. This power plant, made in Sweden, has a top-notch and well-earned reputation for reliability and long life. The main fuel tank holds 120 gallons of fuel, and there’s a 30 gallon auxillary tank available. All of the boat’s systems are installed by professionals, as if they and their families would be relying on the systems themselves. I couldn’t spot a single wire, circuit breaker or other such item that was left unsecured or not labled.


Enter the salon through the all-glass cockpit door, and the luxury appointments of the Ranger Tugs R-29 are apparent. Immediately inside, you have the well-equipped galley to starboard and the entrance to a guest stateroom (that’s right, there are two sleeping quarters aboard) to port and down two steps. This creative space is located beneath the dinette, and offers a double bed, reading lamps, and privacy for guests (complete with a door!). On the bulkhead you must pass to reach the guest cabin, you’ll find electronic circuit boards and control panels, the lazzarrette electric ram switch, as well a monitor panels for the boat’s tankage. Though it’d be nice to have these nearer the helm, the area designers chose for their electronic control center is central to all areas of the boat and easy to access.

One characteristic of the R-29 that I appreciated, was that nothing aboard was “boxy”. The designers went to the trouble to contour and angle edges that might have been left straight, and the result has been a true ‘designer’ yacht. The dinette and galley areas are good examples of this, with the settees and table (and deck below, which has three different levels) presented in an aesthetically pleasing crescent design, and the asymmetrical galley set up with everything at easy reach, but little of the squared-off look found in other boats. Whether enjoying this boat yourself or entertaining guests, you’ll have a sense of being surrounded by carefully planned elegance.

The galley has two sinks (a luxury one cannot measure until comparing a single sink with the functionality of two), an oven beneath the range, a fridge located conveniently just behind the helm (and across from the navigator’s seat), a microwave in the port side aft dinette seat pedestal, a wine storage fridge (!) in the forward seat pedestal and ample teak-faced cabinetry down below for storage. Ranger Tugs has made use of the above counter space too, and while avoiding blocking your view out the large, abundant windows, has designed in several levels of storage here … including a long elevated rack with it’s own stainless rail that’s perfect for jars and cans, etc. The same wooden flooring warms the interior while the walls of the salon are done a rich teak veneer. Overhead, the ceiling is covered in a nice fabric throughout, quality LED lighting is spaced generously and opening overhead hatches and Ranger Tugs’ signature portholes add to the light and ventilation of the space.

The spaciousness of the salon at mealtime is accomplished by folding the helm chair forward (thereby rendering it not useable) and reversing the navigator’s seat to become one of the dinette settees. Assuming you aren’t underway while your mate prepares a meal, this works well, and if you are, some of the counter space in the galley can be forfeited with the helm seat in place.

Moving forward, the helm is a well-thought-out space as well, obviously planned out by a yachtsman. The helm seat (which folds up to make room for a more spacious galley) is comfortably cushioned and positioned ideally for piloting the boat. Visibility is excellent. A stainless steel foot rest (with a rubber pad) serves the skipper (and another is at the adjacent door), and everything he/she needs is close at hand. The wheel is a destroyer type affair with a burl wood (like) treatment to its grip surface … nice to handle, especially with the hydraulic steering. On the lower dash in front of you is the VHF radio and switch panel, and on the upper dash are the control heads for the auto-helm and other devices you choose to install. To the left is your MFD (multi-function display) and, mounted next to your seat (to the right) is your engine throttle control and joysticks for the R29’s bow and stern thrusters. The starboard side, all glass door is at the helm, and it makes for good ventilation and communion with the sea and salt air.


The navigator’s seat, a comfortable double-wide affair that looks an awful lot like one of the dining settees (it IS the forward settee, in reversed form) sits “up” to port. There’s a navigator’s chart/cocktail table attached to the forward bulkhead that folds down into a convenient position. Both helm and navigator positions have access to their respective sides of the chart tables above the forward bulkhead and the overhead cabinetry, as well as the flat screen television that folds up into the helm’s overhead cabinetry and is ideally positioned for viewing from the dinette and galley areas. Once again, there are molded, fiberglass (and gel-coated) foot rests at both the helm and navigator’s seats.

Step forward, down two steps and through the folding wooden doors, and you’re in the main sleeping quarters. or should I say “the master’s cabin”.  Immediately to port is a well-appointed head that features a midsized toilet, a sink in a granite counter material, an outlet, a medicine cabinet, and a nice wall-mounted stainless shower system, with detachable nozzle if desired. Masters at space usage, the designers at Ranger Tugs put one of those narrow shelves, made from the same granite as the counter and with the stainless rail, along the wall above the sink. Another convenient, stainless-railed counter space sits behind the toilet. With the upper above-sink wall mirrored, the space feels like one you’d find on a much larger yacht. The head is ventilated through it’s roof with a hatch that opens onto a corner of the cabin riser.



The sleeper is roomy and well lit, with finished storage beneath the bed (remove cushions) and a hanging locker abaft the bed. Another small locker, done in the same rich teak seen throughout the boat, sits on the port side. An overhead escape hatch/vent/sunroof compliments the room. A stereo system, separate from the salon’s, is mounted near the flat screen TV on the panel in front of the bed. Speakers for the sound system and two reading lights are mounted in a wooden panel above the bed.

Ranger Tugs compares the space and livability of this 29’ yacht to that of a 40-footer. I sure agree that the boat feels bigger than it is, especially in certain areas. I think the Ranger Tugs designers have found a place for all the creature comforts one could hope for in a boat this size, or larger, and that was no easy task without the boat looking and feeling “too busy”.

R-29 – Specifications

Length Overall 29′ 0″ 8.9 m
Length w/swim step 33′ 0″ 10.06 m
Beam 10′ 0″ 3.05 m
Draft 28″ .71 m
Weight, Dry 9,250 lbs 4196 kg
Water Capacity 70 gals. 265 ltrs
Holding Tank Capacity 40 gals. 151 ltrs
Fuel Capacity (Main tank) 120 gals. 454 ltrs
Fuel Capacity (Auxiliary tank) 30 gals 114 ltrs
Height on Trailer 13′ 2″ 4.03 m

Topside, the thoughtful planning continues, with a nice flush deck forward that includes an attractive (stainless) windlass with foot pedal controls and a switch at the helm. Those visiting the forward deck are protected by high stainless railings and there’s adequate room for sitting (especially on the starboard side) on the cabin riser for the sleeper. The roof features a rack system for water toys, kayaks or bicycles.

Ranger Tugs has built a superior boat in the R-29. Initial demand from the compact yacht community has been strong, and we think it will just get stronger. The yacht is a stunner folks, so you may wish to be prepared with a purchase deposit (the R29 is currently priced at $230,000 + options) if you make an appointment to see it.

Photos courtesy of mftrs. website:

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

“A Horrid Engine Noise, A Gorgeous Chris Craft, and A Lesson Learned …”

Read the story in the article on our OP-ED page … and take steps to maintain the belt pulleys on your inboards! Jump to the OP-ED page here.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

Ellis 28 Flybridge Cruiser – 55+ years of boat building excellence …

Ellis 28 Flybridge CruiserIn 1945, the boating industry was very different than it is today. Boats were mostly wood, and joinery and finishwork in and on them was a badge of honor (or a ‘beware’ sign) for the builder. There were many fewer boats to choose from, and the savvy yachting enthusiast took in the totality of the craft when considering whether or not to invest. Most of the vessel owners were men who’d lived through the depression era, who had fought in WWI and/or WWII, and they were not likely to pour they’re hard-earned dollars into a yacht that wasn’t built right.

It was in that year (1945) that the Ellis Boat Company was founded by Ralph Ellis and Raymond Bunker, the product of a discussion over a pool game at Jim’s Place, a favorite spot in Southwest Harbor, ME. The modernized shop remains in Southwest Harbor today, and Don Ellis, the son of Ralph Ellis, oversees the production of the quality boats his father and Ray Bunker built all those years ago.

Pride of boat building is a big part of the Ellis tradition. They are said to have built the first “Lobster Boats” (named them, in fact) and to have been the originators of several often-copied hallmarks in the mEllis 28 Cabin Layoutanufacturing and finishing process. When stepping board an Ellis it doesn’t take one long to find themselves stepping back to a time when boat building was a reflection of the craftsmen who did the woodwork and fitting. An Ellis boat is made one-at-a-time, with attention to each detail, a masterpiece that the owner can fall in love with quickly and rely on for his or her safety and comfort for a very long time.

The semi-custom Ellis 28 Flybridge Cruiser is one of eight fiberglass models built at Ellis and one of 5 28’ hulls available, including the Extended Top Cruiser 28, the 28’ Picnic Boat, the classic 28’ Lobster Yacht and the 28’ Express Cruiser. The boat incorporates/can incorporate some of the company’s patented innovations, including the Evolution Marine Shaft System and the Ellis Sidekick combination bow thruster and get home engine. But the signature Ellis woodwork, seen throughout the boat, and the timeless Lobster Boat lines are what distinguish it.

Ellis also makes it a priority to produce yachts with superior soundproofing, and the craft are known to be a boat that is quiet and smooth. Sound Reduction TechnologyThis is achieved through several engineering processes, during the build (Ellis uses a suspended floor/deck, unlike any other I’ve seen) and the use of a 5-blade propeller. The result is an operating volume of around 75db, which is ten times (!) quieter than 85db, and a comfortable volume at which to have relaxed conversation. It’s notable that many boats “boast” an engine volume of 90db, fifteen times louder than the Ellis.

Boarding the Ellis 28 Flybridge Cruiser is accomplished via the (8 foot long, almost 9′ wide) cockpit. Enter through the centerline hinged door and you find the helm to starboard and galley to port, surrounded by the wood for which Ellis is famous. Headroom is 6”1’ in the helm compartment (the ‘cabin’) but take a step down into the next compartment (the ‘shelter’) and you’ll enjoy 6’6” headroom and space to relax in two settees on both sides of the boat. The clever settees have a seat-back that lifts easily to provide a berth, and they serve as comfortable dining seating. They face the double drop leaf table on the centerline, which serv

Ellis 28 Flybridge Cruiser Layoutes as the main dining or cocktail venue. The settees comprise the sleeping quarters, and it’s a roomy and innovative arrangement. It’s notable that dining, lounging and sleeping are done here in this mid-ships location. Another few steps forward into the head and you’ll find a marine toilet, sink, hanging locker and several additional storage lockers, as well as access to the rope/chain locker for the anchor.


Length overall 28′ 4″
Maximum beam 9′ 4″
Draft (keel) 3′ 0″
Headroom (cabin) 6′ 1″
Headroom (shelter) 6′ 2″ – 6′ 6″
Displacement 8-10,000 lbs.
Diesel fuel 2 x 50-gallon
Potable water 2 x 35-gallon
Waste water 1 x 25-gallon
Standard engine 315-hp Yanmar

As the yacht’s name implies, it features a flybridge, a rare offering for vessels in this size class. Accessed via ladder from the rear of the house at the cockpit, the amazingly roomy flybridge gives passengers a sunny place to sit and the skipper a second control station. If there’s too much sun, an optional bimini-style cover is available for both the flybridge and the cockpit. This additional outdoor venue (which adds 50% to the square footage of usable space on the boat), for sunning or entertaining or both, in a yacht this size, is a real luxury.

Ellis has stayed with the classic Downeast hull design that has served them and generations of sea goers well throughout Maine’s rich nautical history. The boat features a fine entry per its high-bow hull, with a deep keel (3.0’ draft) that protects the prop, shaft and rudder, and a flat section of the hull aft. The classic Downeast hull has provided safety and comfort to Maine’s fishermen for more than a century and remains a safe, smooth cruising, stable, dependable semi-displacement hull for today’s yachtsmen.

For some years now Ellis has chosen Sweden’s Yanmar diesel engines to power their boats. The four-stroke, water-cooled, turbo-charged Yanmar 315hp diesel is fitted into the 28’s engine room as if it were made for it. Access to all routine maintenance areas is excellent, and the oil-lubricated Evolution Marine Shaft System (EMSS) provides long-term reliability and sound dampening.

Today, the Ellis 28 Flybridge Cruiser is a modern take on the classic Lobster yacht. For all of its up-to-date amenities and latest spec machinery (and the comfort and safety that provides), you’ll enjoy the rare pleasure of cruising aboard a yacht that is truly a piece of Maine history. And there’s no substitute for having the Ellis hull between you and the water.

Photos courtesy of mftr. website:
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Mayday, Mayday, Mayday …” Transmit your ID info and exact position at the push of a button in an emergency with DSC …

Your delightful weekend cruise from Pt. Townsend, WA – Friday

Harbor, WA in the San Jaun Islands has turned to a nightmare. One minute you’re laughing at one of Hal’s out-of-date jokes – a fine example of Audrey’s famous Bloody Mary’s in one hand and the other draped across the helm – and the next you’re scrambling because the boat has hit something,  something big, and you’re not sure what damage it has done. It seems like a lot of time has passed before you have the presence of mind to look below and, upon opening the aft bilge hatch, you see that the ocean is pouring in. You can’t see them, but there are two long creases in the hull, about half its length, culminating in two jagged holes, about 4” wide each, forward of the prop.

Upon getting to your feet, you shade your eyes and take look in your wake trail and see only pieces of gel coat and fiberglass floating in the disturbed water … no sign of the rocks. You’ll find them marked on your charts later. Only three minutes have passed since the jarring experience, but Audrey is already handing life vests to Hal and Linda, and hers is on. She has a fourth in her hand, and with a look of concern in her eyes, she holds it out for you and waits for your next instructions. The engine stalled following the collision, and there is now an eerie silence, with only the lapping of the waves against the windward hull.

Your mind turns briefly to the hours, weeks really, you have invested in this boat. The hundreds of thousands of dollars you’ve spent, and the piece of yourself you’ve let it become. But your thoughts turn quickly to emergency procedures as the bilge pump activates and starts pumping water overboard. The machinery weight of the engine and generator, along with four storage compartments full of boating supplies, are contributing to the added intake of water and, in only 5 minutes since the underwater collision, the boat is developing an aft and slightly portward list.

You are the captain, and the good folks on board are counting on you to have a plan; to have prepared for this. You have, and the procedures come into focus as you get your wits about you. You tell Hal to go up top and release the tender from its mounts and tie downs, double check the lashing line and put it overboard. Everything goes into the tender except passengers, for now. The Abandon Ship, or “Ditch” bag, has all the emergency supplies in it, and it is lashed into a pre-determined position in the tender – which has become a lifeboat. You transfer the ship’s First Aid Kit and flares into the boat, and ask Audrey to gather water and packaged food.

The list is getting more critical now, and Hal, Linda and Audrey are on the aft deck, trying to remain calm. The tender is ready and you’ve seen to it that everyone is warmly dressed and is wearing their coats and hats in addition to life jackets. It’s 11 minutes post-event now, and you’d best not wait any longer to radio for help.

The boat came with a VHF radio, an older one, and other than using it to radio for slips in harbors you visited, you haven’t used it much. Now you check that it’s on channel 16, the emergency channel, and press the PTT on the microphone. The gravity of your situation hits home as you hear yourself saying the words. over the din of the bilge alarm, “May Day, May Day, May Day … this is the motor trawler AUDREY C off the south corner of San Juan Island declaring an emergency … we’ve evidently hit a submerged rock and the boat is taking on water faster than we can pump it out.”

Less than 13 minutes into a boating emergency, your whole life has changed. You have no idea how far away help is … and you look out the window to see there’s a wind whipping up the sea that didn’t affect the comfort of your passengers in the heated cabin of the boat, but might be a real factor in an open tender at sea. Then a crackle and a response on the radio.

“Motor vessel AUDREY C, this is Coast Guard station Anacortes, please respond.” You do and shortly after you tell your story on the radio, you learn that no fewer than 7 vessels (5 pleasure boats, 1 fishing boat and a Coast Guard cutter that was cruising Thatcher Pass) have altered course in your general direction. You hadn’t been able to give precise latitude/longitude info to the coast guard because the battery was discharged on your hand-held GPS and you didn’t know where you were – or how to read latitude/longitude on the chart that was stuffed somewhere up near the helm. Looking outside, you gave landmark desciptions and rough distances – it was amazing how difficult it was to be accurate when you needed to – from each. The Coast Guard had asked you if your radio featured DSC, but not only did none of the buttons on your VHF say that, you didn’t know anything about it. “No, I don’t know what that is”, was your only answer.

With the aftward and portward list getting more severe, you explain what it’ll mean to abandon ship to the three frightened people gathered round the lashing line to the tender, reassure them that help is coming, and decide to take another look below. Though you can’t visualize where the water is coming in, you can reach into the depths of the bilge and feel along the hull for a hole. It only takes a minute to find the breaches, two holes of roughly the same size, with edges protruding inward. You call Audrey, who is nearby, and ask her for towels. She’s back in a moment, and you roll the towels as tightly as possible into roughly the size of the holes. Then, getting an angle on the hull breach, you force the rolled towels into the holes, stemming the gushing water and leaving only towel seepage. The pump rapidly expels the remaining water and, within another 10 minutes, you start to breathe more easily as your situation seems considerably better than it did 15 minutes before.

You look up from your position on the deck, and see two of the rescue boats on the horizon, and you realize that the emergency is over, and your passengers and yourself are going to be alright. As you keep an eye on the rolled towels as the fishing trawler tows you to his home port where his brother has a sling to take you out of the water and affect repairs, you find yourself thinking about latitude and longitude, and realizing that, in open water far from land (and landmarks) you wouldn’t have been able to tell anyone where you were.

The above story ended well, thankfully, but could just as easily have turned into a real disaster. What if there was a way that you could transmit a distress call with the push of a button that let all nearby vessels, and (most-importantly) the Coast Guard know you were in trouble? And what if that distress signal related your GPS position, critical ID information, vessel statistics, name, etc.? Well, there has been such a system for years and, although the Coast Guard has taken awhile to achieve a monitoring system that can reliably zero in on a boat in distress, that system is ready and operational, and the service is free and ready to use now. It’s called DSC, and it should be employed aboard every seagoing vessel in existence today.

All VHF radios sold in the U.S. are now required to have DSC (Digital Selective Calling), which transmits a distress call with your boat’s ID and, if equipped, GPS coordinates (latitude & longitude) to the Coast Guard and other vessels with similar transceivers immediately. There’s a DSC button on VHF’s that allows you to declare an emergency with a single touch, an incredibly valuable feature in an emergency situation. This service is available on some hand-held and all permanent mounted VHF radios from all manufacturers.

To use DSC, you must have a MMSI (Marine Mobile Service Identity) number, and they are free and easy to get in the U.S., and only little more involved if you’re planning to travel internationally by boat. To get yours in the U.S., log onto the Boat U.S. site at After completing the form, you’ll be issued a permanent MMSI number. That I.D. should be programmed into all the ship’s VHF’s (NOTE: Follow your instruction manual’s instructions carefully; most VHFs give you only one chance to input MMSI data), whether permanent or handheld. If you need to apply for a station license (planning to cruise internationally), the forms for that process are available at the Boat U.S. site listed above as well. If you (1) have a station license, or (2) plan to apply for a station license, you do not want to apply for the free Boat U.S. MMSI number.

If your VHF radio is an older one (that doesn’t feature DSC). you need to weigh having this free, potentially life-saving service vs. the expense of buying a new radio or handheld (note that handheld radios don’t have nearly the range of permanent mount units). For us, it’s a “no brainer” … having the reassurance of push button, instant notification of the Coast Guard and nearby boats in the critical minutes of an emergency, and not having to worry that you’ve related inaccurate GPS info, is too valuable to put a price on.

For more inofrmation regarding DSC and MMSI numbers, see the following sites:

… and read the article on Ditch Bags on our Gear & Electronics page

Posted in Equipment | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Aspen Cat C90 – A Single Engine Catamaran With New Hull Technology, a Diesel Powerplant & 3 gph at 16 Knots …

C90 Cruising

Aspen Cat C90

Once in awhile a small yacht is introduced that changes the way similar yacht designers and builders look at their vessels. Larry Graf – the guy who helped Glacier Bay Catamarans become the powerhouse designer/builder they have – founded Aspen Power Catamarans in 2007. He designed the Aspen Cat C90, a 28’ cruiser, to be what no other catamaran could be, and to be what owners really wanted. Graf put his 20 years experience (as President and CEO) with Glacier Bay Cats, along with his desire to build a new line of “smart adventure yachts” (28’-48’), to work on the 28-footer, and the result has been a spectacular new boat that is worth consideration by catamaran-lovers and mono-hull enthusiasts alike.

C90 Layout

C90 Upper Deck Layout

C90 Lower deck

C90 Sleeping Quarters & Head Layout

Now all you twin-engine fans are going screw up your faces and say, “what?”, when I tell you that the Aspen Cat C90, a catamaran, is a single-engine boat. Though Graf incorporated many innovations into the boat, his “single diesel power proa” drive design, a patent-pending  hull and engine arrangement, is perhaps the most revolutionary.  In short, the single Yanmar 110 or Cummins 380 diesel is positioned in the starboard hull, and to port is a hull that, while looking similar in profile to the other, is 35% thinner and 50% more efficient than the other hull …  and displaces 35% less water than does the powered hull. Also, the engine-less hull doesn’t have the drive gear (prop, shaft, skeg, etc.) to add to its drag, and therefore has a ‘smoother’ hydro-effect on the water. The net results of this asymmetrical hull design, what Aspen Power Catamarans calls the SeaGlider System, are that the boat runs straight, gets truly extraordinary fuel burn stats (3gph at 16nmh!), is lightweight relative to the competition (due, largely, to severe reduction in machinery weight) and is a decidedly earth-friendlier boat.

The Aspen Cat C90 is trailerable, but has a beam of 10’, which mC90 Dasheans that every tow requires a permit in most states. That same 10’ beam, however, gave the designers lots to work with in fashioning the vessel’s interior which proved important to a design team who wanted to “take the pocket out of pocket cruiser”. Entering off the cockpit, which has room for two folding chairs (and two lazarettes), the galley is to port and the dinette to starboard, with helm to port and the navigator’s seat alongside the sunken, enclosed head to starboard. Forward you find one of the more prominent reminders that you’re aboard a catamaran, a king bed in the forward sleeping accommodations, complimented by a good deal of storage space. There is also a ¼ berth to port, under the galley, which serves one child (grandchild?) or provides extra storage. The dinette, which seats four, can also be converted intC90 Trailero a double bed. The boat is warmed by Burmese Teak throughout.

The C90’s helm and navigation seats are well-thought-through. Seating is per comfortable Bentley seats (and an extra large model is available as an option). The helm is laid out practically and efficiently by people who obviously have experienC90 galleyce piloting this type of boat. Larry Graf has some pretty incredible catamaran trips in his Glacier Bay history, including a run to Bermuda (728 miles), Siberia (256 miles), Midway Island (1364 miles) and Alaska (2700 miles) so he knew what he wanted at the helm and how to arrange it.

There is no compromise in the equipment chosen by Aspen Power Catamarans, and it can include a Garmin plot charter and radar, Side Thruster bow and stern thrusters, ICOM VHF radio, SmartCraft vessel monitoring, Sensatank tankage level monitors, BlueSea battery switches, fuse panels, in-line fuses, electrical panels and circuit breakers, and Lenco trim tabs. The ship’s tilt wheel is metal and is positioned like a car wheel for comfort underway, and includes a turning knob for close quarters maneuvering. Many of these items are options, and so aren’t included with the boat at the basic price.

Other name brands that are/can be used in the C90 include a Twin Disc transmission, Wallace 30D diesel heater, Simpson-Lawrence windless, Promariner Chargers, Mase generators and Bentley seats.  A 10k pound capacity trailer is available C90 Dinettefrom Float-On Trailers, and a dinghy package from Zodiac Boats is recommended. A dinghy launch and storage system which utilizes the boat’s swim platform is offered from Weaver Davits. Aspen Cats has chosen top-cabin brands for a quality yacht.

One of the ways the C90 is “earth friendly” is that it comes with two solar panels and a solar charger monitor that assists in keeping the batteries charged. The operator-independent system, using the Blue Sky Solar Boost 2000E charge controller, inputs up to 11 amps of charge amperage to the batteries. As the vessel’s batteries become charged, the automatic controller ramps down to avoid overcharging, and it shuts down completely if it senses one of the other charge generators (engine, A/C battery chargers, generator, shore power, etc.). The solar controller features a convenient slide switch and LCD display that enables the boat owner to monitor the charge level in each battery or bank.

There is designed-in storage throughout the boat, including port and starboard lazarettes, a propane tank compartment with shore cable storage in the cockpit, a big transom storage compartment, and several storage lockers found in the interior of the vessel. The builder encourages carrying sea kayaks on the top of the boat and there is a rack system available to those who share that interest.

The only door to the boat is the cockpit door, which features a glass upper half that gives the C90’s skipper a good aft view. The laC90 Downriggerck of other doors does a lot for the designer’s goal of making the interior comfortable and “home like”. Quality windows and four overhead hatches provide light and ventilation. An emergency escape hatch affords ventilation and a “sunroof” over the spacious bed forward. The feel on board is one of spaciousness and convenience vs. confinement.

If I were looking for a boat right now, whether a single or twin hull, I think I’d take a long, hard look at the Aspen Cat C90. Her unique asymmetrical hull design, remarkable fuel burn stats, time-proven diesel power plant, comfortable interior, attractive price point (currently $186,500 or approximately $225,000 nicely commC90 Cruiseissioned) and “adventure craft” stance, would be interesting to consider. And Larry Graf is not a force to be taken lightly … he’s as serious about building quality adventure vessels as I am about sensible yachting.

* Photos & graphics courtesy of mftr. website:

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

The Rosborough RF-246 – The Boat That Ended Our 30-Year Search

"Kokomo" - Our 2007 Rosborough RF-246

I had spent most of my adult life hoping to own a trawler … a moderately large one of between 40 and 60 feet in length. I had familiarized myself with Nordhavn, Northern Marine, Kady-Krogen, Selene, Nordic Tug, Defever, MainShip and others (Fleming, American Tug, Cheoy Lee, etc.), learned about their propulsion systems, calculated their fuel burns, knew about their layouts, deposits, production time, and just about everything else a savvy yacht purchaser would have to know to make a good decision. I spent 30+ years deciding on which ones were economical and well-built enough to be candidates, what exactly we’d have to do to get one, and had set about the process in 2007 when the economy started to fail.

All of a sudden, my stock portfolio was worth much less than I’d predicted, the cost of fuel was rising, Cruise Club (my business of 25 years) was getting fewer calls (folks were ‘hunkering down’ due to the economic crisis) and the value of our home dropped by 35%. I realized that, even if the crisis didn’t last (it did!) it would not be wise to anchor myself to a big boat, whose value could dip with a number of eco-factors, and that required a full-time, in-water home that (including insurance and maintenance) would cost between $2500 & $4000 a month before the maintenance and operating expense of the vessel itself (I was imagining about 9 gallons per hour at 10kts, weather and current dependent … and doing the math based on that).

Discouraged and feeling a lifetime of dreams going away, I shelved all the boat plans, not knowing where to go from there. Meantime, our daughter had given us two wonderful grandsons, and our ‘off-time’ naturally turned to them. It became apparent that our idea of selling the house (if it were full value) and moving onto the trawler yacht, traveling part-time and living aboard full-time, wasn’t going to work for us, even if the stars had aligned.

Some months later I was paging through Passagemaker magazine, and saw an ad for the Rosbourough RF-246. Now I had looked at the C-Dorys, Ospreys, and Nimble Nomads and decided that either they were primarily fishing boats (not what we wanted) or, in the case of the Nomad, a fair weather/water dependent craft that traveled at displacement speeds (max. 8kts). I initially thought the Rosborough RF-246 was another C-Dory (a great boat, we recognized), perhaps along the lines of the Venture series, and that didn’t interest me.

But I did some online reasearch (wish there had been blog/website like this one then) and looked into the way Rosborough’s were being used, plugged into the owner’s website,  viewed some photo’s and videos of the boat, and read with great interest the owner’s tales of how the RF-246 handled the water and took care of its occupants. It gradually became apparent that this vessel had almost everything I’d been looking for, plus it could do several times the displacement speeds (something I couldn’t appreciate until later) the other boats could … and it had one thing that all the big boats I’d fallen in love with did not … it was trailerable.

The Rosborough RF-246 is built in Nova Scotia. It features a venerable Canadian hull with roots in the classic down eastern boats that frequent the ports in that part of the world. Most of these are commercial craft which, by necessity, put to sea in all types of weather and into waters that no pleasure boater would seek out. Dozens of Rosborough RF-246’s are part of Fisheries & Oceans Canada, and as such must be reliable in all types of weather and water. Not to mention that the Canadian government chose the RF-246 over a myriad of other fine boats.

I’d learned, through reading and research, that the Rosborough had a true trawler hull on it, and was very comfortable (both the boat and her passengers) at displacement speeds (6-8kts) and cruising speeds (12-15kts). There are accounts of the boat in (very) rough seas, and it (the hull, and other aspects of the Rosborough) was regarded as solid and reliable in every story. The boat is available with diesel and gasoline inboard engines and a variety of outboard engines, so the top speed varies with how it is powered.

I spent the better part of a year narrowing the yacht candidates down to three boats, then two (the North Pacific Yachts NP28 and the Rosborough RF-246). The deciding factors in my final decision were (1) the place of manufacture; the NP28 is built in China, and though it is a fine boat, the Nova Scotian heritage of the Rosborough was very attractive to me, (2) the fact that the NP28 (though an inboard diesel; something I’d always wanted) could make only displacement speeds and the RF-246, while we run her at 7-8kts about 90% of the time for ideal fuel burn, can be run up to 12-15kts if we want/need to get somewhere faster (and up to 30kts/35 mph on my boat), (3) the weight of the Rosborough, though a heavy boat, is considerably less than the NP28 and therefore I thought that launching and retrieving the boat single-handedly might be possible with the Rosborough, and not the NP28; and the difference of the weight on the trailer (and behind my truck) was a factor, and (4) the fact that the RF-246 has been around for awhile (and there are lots of them in service with Canadian Fisheries & Oceans; 48 at last count) and the NP28 has only a few years under its belt played a big part in my decision. I had trouble giving up on the pilothouse (the NP28 has a real one) and the inboard diesel (the NP28 has a Cummins!), but the trade offs were too compelling, and shortly after making the decision, I found myself searching for the right RF-246 to purchase, subject to space realities at the helm and in the berth (I am 6’4” tall and weigh in at around 285lbs.).

Lee Ann, who’d been my supportive companion through the yacht-quest since 2003 (and my wife and sweetheart for much longer!), liked the idea of the trailerable trawler, too. She appreciated the photos I had collected, but it was time to see the boat, handle her features and make a “pull the trigger” decision. We contacted a couple in Olympia, Washington, and they agreed to have us aboard “Iana” their 2008 RF-246. We set out on the 10-hour (one-way) trip, 80% certain that this was the boat for us. We met Steve and Eunice at Zittel’s Marina where they berth the boat (they don’t have a trailer) on Puget Sound, went aboard and fell in love.

The boat is perhaps the largest 25-footer built, and the ship’s systems (depending on who rigged your particular hull) are top-notch … overbuilt by many standards. The large aft cockpit is the boarding point on the RF-246, and (dependent on your engine configuration) there is a large engine mount that doubles as a swim platform/ladder mount for the swim ladder. The aft deck on “Iana” was open air; not covered by a hard roof extension (which comes from the factory and is one of most popular options on the Rosborough). I remember visiting with Eunice in the Washington sunshine, and drinking in the beauty. I hoped for this extended roof option because it not only provides shelter from the elements, but affords a lot of space for on-roof storage (often used for a dinghy, but sometimes used for bike racks, etc.). Because the boat featured the Honda 225hp four-stroke engine and the outboard extension (a floating extension that extends the boat 2 feet in length), it left room in the cockpit for another popular option, the transom seat that sits along the aft transom.

The fiberglass door slid to the side (a nice feature, and one of many thoughtful items we’d find aboard the boat), and the salon of the boat came into view. Along the port bulkhead was the full galley, and the convertible dinette (converts to a large single bed) is situated immediately to starboard as you walk in. The helm (complete with double bench seat) is directly forward of the dinette and the navigators seat is to port. The helm was plenty spacious enough for me, and with the pilot door open (there’s one on both sides) I was able to commune with the sea as it swept by. There is sense of space and light, created partly by the abundant windows and 360 degree visibility from the helm and partly because the 6’5” headroom cabin is, well, large.

Behind a closing, sliding door in the bulkhead that is just forward of the helm lies the hanging locker to port, the head to starboard and the V-berth and generous in-wall storage of the forward sleeping accommodations. The V-berth is slightly longer on the port side, and I quickly determined that it was comfortable for me, especially with the inserts provided. I had one more “space” check to do, and that was at the dinette table. Turns out the savvy Canadian designers had thought of that, too, and the table turned out to be adjustable to accommodate different body sizes on its respective sides.

The no-nonsense features of the Rosborough RF-246 (a 27-footer with the Armstrong bracket and without the engines; 28-28.6’ with a large outboard) weren’t lost on me. I took in the functional LED lights both overhead in the cabin and wall-mounted in the V-berth and head. I noticed that the main light (the one directly above the helm area) had both white and red LED’s, for night running. I noticed that Rosborough had installed a teak drawer or cabinet everywhere there was room for one, and engineered in clever storage spaces beneath the helm seat for charts, etc. I learned how the dinette berth was made up, and how an ingenious system of design was used to get the most length possible (6’ plus) there. The helm electronics are accessed through a hatch door in the head, making it unnecessary to detach a helm panel (there isn’t one) and deal with the problems associated with doing so. All seating except the navigator’s seat opens to sizable storage below, and there are convenient access panels for all below-decks spaces.

The three battery system (which is customizable) is accessed through aluminum, removable hatchways in the floor of the salon, and (along with the hatchways, which look like they’re off a freighter) is professionally installed with heavy cable, professional fittings and heavy-duty breakers. The Xantrex or ProSine (also Xantrex) inverter/charger system (2000W in mine) is installed with similar professionalism under the rear dinette seat, and a monitor panel is flush-mounted in the face of the galley counter. The ceiling-mounted, over-helm cabinetry was added by E.Q. Marine, the folks who rigged both “Iana” and “Kokomo” (my boat), is top-notch, and provides me with ample space for VHF, stereo, tidal clock, barometer and thermometer. It also provides covering for all the cables that support the extensive electronics, routing of radar, GPS, VHF antenna and Sirius satellite cabling through the ceiling to a custom aluminum radar tower, coverage of the wiper motors, cables and washer system lines, and a mounting surface for behind-the-scenes componentry including the auto-helm remote receiver, the Sirius satellite receiver, AIS gear, etc. The bottom line is that Rosborough, and the folks at E.Q. Marine, used the space available to them very wisely, and created more (with the overhead cabinets) functional and attractive space that serves the owner well.

"Kokomo's" Helm - Everything we need all within reach

One of the many things I appreciated about the “Rossi” turned out to be the helm. It didn’t feel ‘added on’ (though it was a separate molded fiberglass assembly) or positioned as an afterthought as I’d experienced on other boats. The Rosborough helm was all business (I found myself designing what instruments I’d put where), was designed for comfort (I wanted the same destroyer wheel that was in “Iana”), and was the same overbuilt quality that one could find throughout the boat. Ample opportunities for radar, autopilot, chart plotter, fuel analytics gauges, etc. were there. When Steve told me I could drive, I felt instantly at home behind the wheel.

The boat was responsive at all speeds, and I found myself flashing back to articles I’d read, testing her at those speeds, etc. I told everyone to hold on and put the RF-246 through a series of “S” turns and some sudden stops and starts. No matter how abruptly I handled the controls, the yacht handled it with grace, and I didn’t succeed in getting one drop of water on the high fore deck or the windshields. The truth is, we had a glorious, clear, sunny day on Puget Sound, but it was clear that the Rosborough was ready for anything (which I’ve verified since, during trips across the Rosario and Haro Straights to Victoria, B.C., and “out the gate” in San Francisco Bay in ‘Kokomo’).

We spent a few hours on the sound that day, and Lee Ann and I got all our questions about the Rosborough RF-246 answered, either by Steve & Eunice or their wonderful boat. There was no doubt left in my mind after “Iana” was my first RF-246 experience … this was the boat for us. Back at the slip, we enjoyed more conversation and comparison and then, new friends, parted ways.

By now you know that I ended up finding the Rosborough of my dreams a couple months later. I’ll leave it to you to read about how I came to that particular boat, the fifth Rossie we ‘experienced’, in the article “30 Years Later We Found The Perfect Boat For Us” in the Op-Ed section.

The Rosborough RF-246 has proven to be a fine combination of trawler, and a very reliable and comfortable yacht, for Lee Ann and me. We ended up with twin 150hp four-stroke outboards, that burn about 1.8-2.1gph at 7-8 knots (roughly the same as a single diesel), a reasonable rate at cruising speeds (12-15kts), and lots more on those rare, brief W.O.T. runs (as much as 1gph for every knot of speed we travel at). You fans of details (like me!) can see the official Honda Marine report at the link following this article (the official Honda test was performed on my boat).

The boat has a dinghy davit (heavy duty, from Rosborough; which can be used to rescue an individual from the water), an Achilles dinghy with a 4hp four-stroke Tohatsu outboard, and an anchor windless with a 22lb Delta plow-style anchor. Take a look a the photos for an idea of how the boat is rigged … a top-notch job by E.Q. Marine.

We may have compromised on some of the boat’s features which I initially thought were important to me (a pilothouse and the idea of an inboard diesel) but we got so much in return that those, like the memories of wandering through the Nordhavns, Krogens and Selenes, are just pleasant memories along the journey to the perfect boat.

Op-Ed Article: “30 Years Later … We Found The Perfect Boat For Us”

Honda Performance Data – “Kokomo”

Posted in Boats | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Nimble Nomad 25 – In A Class Of Its Own

Nimble Nomad 25

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:

Posted in Boats | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

North Pacific Yachts NP28 – Establishing New Traditions

North Pacific Yachts has not been around a long time by yachting standards, but they’ve certainly made their mark in the yachting business since the company’s inception in 2004. The NP43, the yacht they started with, is still the largest model, and the far-sighted company has grown the North Pacific Yachts fleet by introducing three smaller models, the smallest of which falls in our size category and has established itself as a leader. The NP28 gives the owner everything he looks for in a trawler yacht, plus one big bonus … it’s trailerable.

It was so successful, in fact, that Nordic Tug decided to bring back its legendary NT26 (26 foot) model, and it’s not hard to imagine why yacht owners are flocking to purchase this boat with its classic lines, raised pilothouse, and diesel propulsion system. It’s the dream yacht, really. Large enough to be comfortable on long trips and small enough to be trailerable (without a permit) to your launching point. And, it can be kept on land, on its trailer, bypassing expensive berthing fees, higher insurance premiums and costs associated with the boat being in the water full-time.

The NP28 holds true to the concepts that North Pacific puts into all yachts: (1) easy access to all machinery and equipment, (2) a low-maintenance exterior (3)  a warm, nicely-finished interior, (4) a thoughtful, well-planned layout with ample creature-comforts and a few creative innovations, and (5) a long and rather generous list of standard equipment, much of which is optional on other yachts.

You’d have to look twice to confirm that you’re looking at a 28-footer (instead of a much larger vessel) when the NP28 is in the water. The all fiberglass and 316 stainless exterior (no teak) is all business, and well thought out. The hull is constructed of solid hand laid-up fiberglass, and is finished with Vinylester resins, 2 layers of epoxy below the waterline and 3 coats of bottom paint. Top notch hull treatment. The superstructure is also fiberglass, with Nida Core foam coring to cut down on weight.

The NP28’s cockpit is about 4’ X 7’ including a propane locker and 20lb tank. It features a transom door to a good-sized swim platform and a standard hot & cold shower. There’s enough space for a couple of deck chairs, and you may want to opt for the bimini-style top option.  In the floor of the cockpit is the lazarette, a popular storage locale. As with every other space used on the boat, this is nicely finished and easy to access.

Forward, and accessed from either side of the pilothouse, is a well-equipped ground tackle system that includes a 25lb plow anchor, 30’ of chain and 150’ of rope. The standard, dual-control (pilothouse switch or foot pedal) Lewmar windlass features a chain/rode gypsy and a 600lb capacity. While handling your ground tackle, you’ll be reassured by the 1.25” stainless railing, especially in restless seas. A standard sea water wash down is to port.

Entering the salon from the cockpit requires raising a hinged glass cover overhead and entering through an aluminum door with a large glass window, steeping down as one enters. One is immediately struck by the contrast between the interior and exterior, North Pacific has used teak (walls are teak veneer, while cabinets, doors, etc. are solid teak) to accent and warm the interior of the NP28. The overhead cover you just came through, though necessary due to the sunken design of the salon, works with 6 large windows and the spacious 6’5” headroom to add to the sense of space and light. Once again, you don’t feel that you’re on a 28-foot boat.

To port one finds a 7’ settee that features drawers built-in underneath. The settee converts to a tall double bed in moments, utilizing a nifty pull-out panel concealed beneath the cushion. The nautical drop leaf, high-low table can either be an unobtrusive cocktail/coffee table or, with leaves ‘up’, a full-size dinner table. I like this arrangement better than the dinette found on most boats, because – especially on a smaller vessel – it creates more room in the salon. On the starboard side, North Pacific provides a 5.7cf fridge/freezer, a two-burner stove, and a single sink with drainboard. A cabinet seems designed for a microwave, and there is ample storage in cabinets and drawers below. Counters are sufficient for most meals and are manufactured of Corian or equivalent material.

Move forward, and up two steps, and you’ll find yourself in the pilothouse. NPY has succeeded in making this a separate venue by virtue of it’s separate level, the partition walls between it and the salon, and a curtain to obscure the passageway. This makes sleeping guests (on the convertible sofa at the dinette) feel that they have their own space, and makes navigation feel removed from activity both forward in the V-berth and aft in the salon. The pilothouse has port and starboard (where the helm is situated) seats that can be joined with another hidden pull-out panel thereby creating a settee that runs the width of the pilothouse or a watch berth for the skipper. The pilot’s seat also slides to make it easier to use the door. There are 9 large windows, including 2 ports in the partition (to your rear) that comprise an almost 360 degree view from the helm.

Forward and down two steps is the captain’s cabin (or V-berth), the head and the hanging locker. The V-berth is comprised of two berths with filler cushions if desired. The head is remarkable for a 28’ boat (a manual toilet, 2 cabinets, a sink, a mirror and an opening port; and a Tecma electric flush toilet is an option). The smallish holding tank (20 gal.) is monitored via a head-mounted Tank Watch gauge. The head does double-duty as a shower, but we recommend using the cockpit shower (included) whenever possible, although the head is 100% fiberglass finished with Gelcoat.

The Cummins QSD 150 diesel engine comes with a 105 amp alternator. The 150 is popular and well-suited to the NP28 as it allows for economical cruising, and will push the boat along at 13 knots (when carrying a light load). The Cummins is a 4-cylinder diesel engine featuring electronic common rail fuel injection. This provides a smoother, more quiet ride than mechanical engines do. It also reduces smoke (to almost none, even on a cold start).

The NP28 features electrical done the way you’d find it on much bigger, mainstream (read “name brand”) yachts. Tinned copper throughout, color coded, labeled behind each junction box/access point, and accessible per a pre-printed ship’s schematic (included).  The electrical panel looks like something out of a 50-footer, but that seems to be the way NPY does things.

The boat comes standard with 2 AGM 8D house batteries and one 4D starting battery for the Cummins diesel. Also standard is a Xantrex 1500 watt inverter/charger with an 80-watt rapid charger when you’re connected to shore power. This means you have A/C voltage throughout the boat at any time. If, however, you want a generator, the NextGen 3.5KW diesel generator is an option from the factory. Be advised that you’ll give up most of your lazarette space to have this option installed, and the factory advises the purchase of a Honda eu2000 portable generator for back up power if you’re not thinking air conditioning (The $1000 Honda vs. the approximately $10,000.00 NextGen is a no-brainer if you don’t need air conditioning).

As if the NP28 doesn’t have enough on its standard equipment list, a Vetus 35KGF bow thruster is also standard. Add that to the oversized rudder and keel (with prop protecting skeg) and you have a highly maneuverable yacht at all speeds and alongside the dock.

I think it took the folks at North Pacific Yachts plenty of planning and creativity to come up with a yacht that has all these features, sports a real raised pilothouse in a 28-foot diesel trawler, and is just 8’6” in width. I say “Bravo!”. I think others must be scratching their heads, unable to imagine how they can improve upon it. And I think that you need to see the NP28 before you buy your next boat … you may be as impressed as I am … and don’t forget to ask about a trailer.

* Photos courtesy of mftr. website:
Posted in Boats | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cutwater 28 – The builders of famed Ranger Tugs may have ‘broken the mold’ with this boat.

Cutwater Boats is new, but the concept behind the creation of the new Cutwater 26 and 28 is tried and true, and backed by the people who make one of most respected “tugs” in the business … the Ranger Tug. Take a quick look at the features of the Cutwater design, and you get an idea of the innovation and creative thought (read “boater’s knowledge”) that goes into every boat. Dig deeper and you’ll find a depth of quality and features that make the Cutwater 28 one of the best values for your yachting dollar.Comfortable living is one thing you’ll find emphasized onboard. The Cutwater 28 includes a double sink, a combination microwave and convection oven, a stateroom refreshment center (including microwave, coffee-maker and sink!) and a flat-screen television. Since these are four of the most requested interior amenities, it appears that the Cutwater planners were listening to their market. The boat features all the regular yachting amenties in addition to these and others.

Cutwater 28 – Specifications

LOA molded 28′ – 0″ 8.5 m
LOA rigged (with swim & pulpit) 32′ – 4″ 9.85 m
Bridge clearance (with folded mast) 9′ – 1″ 2.76 m
Beam 8′ 6″ 2.59 m
Draft 28″ .71 m
Fuel capacity 100 U.S. Gal 378.5 L
Water capacity 40 U.S. Gal 151.4 L
Holding tank capacity 30 U.S. Gal 113.6 L
Weight (Dry) 6,400 lbs 2,904 kg
Engine Yanmar 6BY2 260 HP

The Cutwater 28 boasts what it calls a “radical departure from conventional deep-V hull geometry”, largely due to the builder’s Keel Stepped Hull bottom with tapered intake tunnels. This system distributes an uninterrupted flow of air evenly across segments of the running surface, while vectoring air away from the propeller. The result is said to be a smooth ride, straight tracking, responsive performance, and excellent fuel economy. In case you’re wondering if this the same concept used by Regal Marine, it is similar, but not identical. The father and son team that is the ownership of Fluid Motion LLC, David and John Livingston, is also the designer of this revolutionary hull, and in the 90’s they designed the Regal hull.

A “substantial keel skeg” extends down the aft third of the hull, contributing to the boat’s straight tracking and providing protection to the propeller and shaft against submerged objects. The keel pad that runs the length of the Cutwater 28 plays a part in distributing air along the bottom, reducing drag which, in turn, yields benefits in hull speed and fuel efficiency.

The well-appointed yacht comes with a single diesel for propulsion. The Yanmar 260hp, 6-cyllinder 6BY2 diesel is the only propulsion option, and seems well suited to the boat. The Keel Stepped Hull lets the boat achieve about 28 knots (33 mph) and the Japanese diesel is quiet at the helm and throughout the interior of the boat.

The Cutwater 28 is feature rich, but the builders offer a few add-on features worth considering. The aft control station, which is built onto the cockpit sink enclosure, is a popular add ($5000), and if you live in the climbs I do, you’ll want to consider the A/C unit and the generator you need to power it (about $12,500). A  135 watt Kyocera solar panel ($1200) , mounted to the roof, is available to assist with battery charging.The 28’ boat sleeps 6, utilizing the V-berth forward, the convertible dinette (makes into a compact double bed) and a very clever “2nd cabin” concealed beneath the dinette, which boasts 7’ in height and room for two. Six people in the confined space of the cabin and using the single head (with 6’ in headroom) will need to be family or close friends, but it’s really nice that the accommodations have been designed in.

The Cutwater 28 includes a long list of standard features (like stainless rails and built-in fenders to protect your dingy on the oversized aft swim platform) that you need to see and experience to appreciate what it’s like to have aboard your boat. And, perhaps best of all, the Cutwater 26 and 28 are both trailerable (8’6” beam) so when you’re done on one coast, getting to the other and all the lakes and rivers between is just a matter of trailering the boat and saying “see ya”!

* Photos courtesy of mftr. website:


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