Trawler version of a Nimble Wanderer


The Nimble Boat Works was founded in the mid-1980s by Jerry Koch, who wanted to build boats that could both sail and motor, and could be put on trailers. He worked with Ted Brewer, a well-known sailboat designer, and started small, with a 20-foot boat he called the Nimble 20. Later models gradually got bigger, and were given more interesting names, like Kodiak, Nomad, Vagabond, and Arctic. If you get the impression that these were not mass-market boats, you're on the right track. No two identical boats were ever built.

The Wanderer, at 32 feet, is largest of the Nimble line, and comes either as a trawler (as in the picture), or as a sloop (like Barquinho, pictured below), with mast, main and genoa jib, and extra ballast. Like all Nimble boats, Wanderers can go on a trailer, and are shallow draft (2' 10"), suitable for the shallow bays, canals, lakes, and estuaries of inland America. They are also large enough to tackle coastal waters, even the Inside Passage to Alaska.

Sadly, Nimble Boat Works went out of business several years after Jerry's death in 2003. The majority of Nimbles can be found in the East Coast, but I've seen at least one other Wanderer on Puget Sound. Several other Nimbles are currently listed on the Yachtworld site, but none are Wanderers.

Barquinho at Orcas Island


In 2007, I went back to the East Coast to look at a Nimble Wanderer I had seen advertised online. My wife, who had never been a boating person, was understandably skeptical. But she was, and still is, a very understanding and supportive partner, and it was my money. It helped that I took my brother-in-law, who knows something about boats.

We went to the South River Marina in Maryland to check out the boat, and I loved her the minute I went aboard. She wasn't an old boat -- she'd been launched in 2000 -- but she had the look of one, especially when I went into the main cabin and saw the spacious layout and all the wood.

Within two days I had also bought a Ford 250 diesel truck and a triple-axle custom trailer. As soon as the boat was loaded, we took off for the trip back across the country. It took us four long days, and a couple of long nights, to get back to Puget Sound.

She already had a name, but it seemed quite attached to previous owners, so I decided to change it. One of my favorite songs is O Barquinho, a jazz samba tune usually translated as My Little Boat. You can hear a lovely version by Karrin Allyson on YouTube. (Based on my experience, you might not want to change it without researching a website on the subject of boat names, e.g.

Sunset on Puget Sound


My wife Martha and I have spent the 12 years since cruising on Puget Sound, where we live on an Island across from Seattle. We've been nearly everywhere on the Sound, from the San Juan Islands near the Canadian border to the city of Olympia.

Alas, the time has come to sell the boat. As the principal operator, I now feel I'm getting too old and clumsy to handle the boat safely. We haven't done all the things we originally dreamed of doing, of course, but what we have done has been wonderful.

We have now found a buyer like ourselves, who enjoys cruising, exploring, sailing, anchoring, and living on a boat. He and his wife have ambitious plans for cruising in the Northwest, and eventually taking the boat on the Great Loop. Barquinho has many years of exciting life ahead of her.

Jon Bayley