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
Displacement: 2450 lbs.
Designer: Ted Brewer
Builder: Nimble Boat Works, Odessa, Florida
* Photos courtesy of mftr. website:
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.