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Nomad has Billy Joel lineage

The Shelter Island Runabout can be built with or without the drop-down "tailgate."

The Long Island, N.Y., boatbuilder responsible for the Shelter Island Runabout is about to launch a smaller version of “Billy Joel’s boat.” With lines that rival the original 38-foot Doug Zurn design, the 30-foot Shelter Island Nomad from CH Marine has some noteworthy features of its own, including ventilated propeller tunnels and a hinged, drop-down transom.

The new boat’s name comes from the Chevrolet Nomad, the classic 1950s station wagon that was often transformed into a drag-racing machine, according to CH Marine president Peter Needham. “It was just a fast, cool old car with a giant tailgate,” he says. As the so-called “tailgate” of the 30-foot runabout developed, the name was a natural fit.

That tailgate is designed to provide easy cockpit access for people and gear. “If you back this thing up to a floating dock there’s all sorts of things you can roll onto it,” says Needham — like dinghies, mopeds, wheelchairs, bicycles, pets and scuba divers. “Or if you just want to sit there and hang your feet in the water.”

While the transom is a nice feature, Needham says the Nomad’s molds were designed to easily build the boat with a fixed transom, as well. “I think it’s going to be a really handy boat and a real pretty boat,” he says.

Her hull has a gently sweeping sheer line and is Awlgripped in the owner’s choice of colors. CH Marine uses a Kevlar and E-glass hybrid laminate with Core-Cell foam coring in the vacuum-bagged hull. The builder uses vinylester resin in the construction of both the hull and deck. The deck, built with E-glass composite and vacuum-bagged Core-Cell coring, is finished in white gelcoat and contrasting non-skid.

The boat has a varnished teak coaming cap and cap rails, and varnished teak grab rails on the windshield and cabin top. While a fiberglass windshield frame is standard, teak is available, as is a teak cockpit sole. The helm was designed for Raymarine C-Series electronics and includes Stidd helm and companion seats. Cushioned engine boxes provide additional seating.

In the cabin, the Nomad has composite bulkheads, teak trim, teak batten hull ceilings and teak-and-white-striped cabin sole. There is a V-berth forward, a head compartment with shower to starboard and a galley unit with a stainless steel sink to port.

“There’s a cabin, an enclosed head and a semblance of a galley, so if somebody wanted to overnight on Block Island they could,” says Needham. The cabin space has been limited, however, to leave room for the boat’s primary dayboating duties. It helps her lines, too.

“You can make a tall, boxy boat and get some room down below, but they’re ugly as hell,” says Needham. Instead of the foredeck rising with the sheer line as it reaches the bow, the Nomad’s deck actually is sunken as you move forward.

To go along with her clean profile, the boat has sporty performance, with an estimated top speed of 50 mph with standard power and 55 mph with an optional upgrade. Zurn designed ventilated tunnels for the surface-piercing five-blade propellers, with twin 260-hp Yanmar diesels standard. The optional engines are twin 315-hp Yanmars.

Twin inboards are uncommon in this size and style of boat, Needham says. “To not have to rely on a towing company to get home on a Sunday afternoon is some peace of mind,” he says.

CH Marine decided to go ahead with the Nomad last June. “I had a bunch of calls for a smaller boat,” says Needham. “It’s for people who like our boats and find a 38-footer is too much for them.” It’s not a question of money but rather of size, he says, be it a small slip at the marina or an aversion to handling a big boat.

CH Marine is building two boats right off the bat, with late spring or early summer launchings. One customer, a fly fisherman, has helped guide the design of the tailgate, Needham says. The owner plans to bring along an inflatable to allow him to anchor his Nomad off rocky fishing spots.

Needham warns of delays, as he expects a line to form when the Nomad is launched.

“When we did the [ShelterIsland] Runabout, Billy Joel had the first one, and I didn’t realize how many people were watching from the sidelines,” says Needham. “When everything worked there was a stampede, and we got backed up. And I think the same thing is going to happen.”


LOA: 30 feet, 2 inches

BEAM: 9 feet, 11 inches

DRAFT: 1 foot, 8 inches

DISPLACEMENT: 10,480 pounds

HULL TYPE: modified-vee


TANKAGE: 155 gallons fuel, 30 gallons water, 10 gallons waste

POWER: twin diesel inboards to 630 hp

ESTIMATED SPEED: 50 mph top, 44 mph cruise (with twin Yanmar 6BY260s)

PRICE: $299,300

CONTACT: CH Marine Yachts, Shelter Island, N.Y.

Phone: (631) 749-0856.



Talking Boats With Billy Joel

The singer-songwriter has always loved being on the water. Soundings recently sat down with Joel to talk about the many boats he’s owned.