Buying a used Nimbus Commuter 9 motor boat

Nimbus’s take on the Commuter-style sportsboat makes for very a distinctive looking craft, the Nimbus Commuter 9

Back in 1968, the year in which Nimbus began building boats, Jumpin’ Jack Flash was top of the pops and the Rolling Stones were about to embark on a US tour. Fast forward 50-odd years and nothing seems to have changed; the Stones are still rocking, with another Stateside tour in the offing, and Nimbus still builds boats.

But dig a little deeper and much (aside from Jagger’s wiggling hips) has altered. Call it evolution or progress but surviving the long game calls for embracing change in its myriad forms – something at which both the Stones and Nimbus excel.

The first Nimbus to roll off its Gothenburg production line back in 1968 was the 26 cabin cruiser. Popular among boaters for its robust fibreglass construction, snug cockpit and family-friendly accommodation, it was as practical as it was capable.

This concept of functional Scandinavian Design has been Nimbus’s guiding light ever since, along with its other core values of comfort, safety and quality. It’s a philosophy which has resulted in a long line of dependable and much-admired vessels even if that meant eschewing some of the latest trends in favour of more enduring characteristics. If Nimbus made shoes, they would be sensible.

Deep bulwarks, walkaround decks and heavily flared bow make it easy to move around

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However, as time and tastes rolled on so has Nimbus. While it still produces a range of smart, practical, inboard- powered coupé and flybridge models from 30-45ft, it also now competes in the hotly contested market for fast, stylish, walkaround dayboats first pioneered by Axopar in 2014.

Nimbus saw the way the market was going and responded to the challenge, launching the 30ft 8in W9 (Weekender) in 2018, swiftly followed by the C9 (Commuter) and finally the T9 (Tender) variant. Since then Nimbus has been steadily filling in the gaps with smaller 8m and larger 11m versions of the same three W/T/C model lines.

Built in Poland on fast twin-stepped hulls with fashionable vertical bows, the W/T/C range was a brave move for a brand rooted in more traditional inboard craft.

As Commercial Director Jonas Göthberg puts it, “Like every brand we needed to evolve with the times.”

Nimbus are the masters of ergonomic helm design and the C9 is no exception

A popular model

Six years on from that big step forward, the first W/T/C models are now finding their way onto the used market. The model we feature here is a late 2021 (2022 model year) C9, which is being offered for £155,000 VAT-paid by Offshore Powerboats Limited, Lymington, the UK distributor for Nimbus.

The company’s Managing Director, Steve Lane, tells us the C9 has been a good seller with more than 100 produced to date, so secondhand examples should not be too hard to find.

The seller of this particular C9 is New Forest resident Peter Saxton who, together with his wife Sue, is a keen sailor as well as a motor boater. “We bought our C9 new in December 2021,” says Peter. “Our cruising yacht, an XC38, takes up a lot of the summer as we tend to take it down to the South West or over to France, so without the C9 we’d be boatless at home. We use it to go across from Lymington to Cowes, that kind of thing, but two years on with just 63 hours on the clock, it’s hard to justify – hence the sale.”

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In short, the journeys Peter and Sue have been making in their C9 sit in perfect accord with the boat’s intended purpose; commuting, albeit in their case only on an occasional basis. This is where the C9 really scores; it’s a fast, comfortable boat ideal for short hops along the coast or across the Solent at any time of year thanks to that fully enclosed wheelhouse. And when the weather is kind, all you have to do is open the doors and pull back the large glass roof for an exhilarating, open air ride.

The layout of the vessel further confirms its commuting credentials. The wheelhouse, while compact, offers great all-round visibility and protection against the elements, while its full-height side doors are a big help when it comes to single-handing. Keeping the wheelhouse relatively slim and central has enabled Nimbus to retain the full walk-around decks of its open siblings, making it very easy to move around.

Slender mullions and wraparound windows give exceptional all-round visibility

High gunwales and sturdy stainless steel rails (which increase in diameter to a mighty 38mm around the pulpit) give a feeling of safety and security – another bonus for the lone boater.

A midships boarding gate would have made things even better, although if time is of the essence, it is possible to clamber over the gunwales instead of making your way aft to the bathing platform.

As current owner Peter explained, in this case it’s best to climb aboard ahead of the wheelhouse door where the flow of the side decks takes a step up, thereby reducing the drop down into the boat.

For outdoor living, the C9 comes with a full set of seat cushions to cover the large aft locker and the cabin-access hatch on the foredeck.

Supportive helm seats swivel to face the aft bench across a small drop down table

Speed and comfort

In terms of performance, the C9 is certainly no slouch. While various outboard options have been offered since launch, the single 300hp Mercury Verado V8 fitted to our review boat is currently the most popular choice. This tops out at just over 44 knots, although at that speed it is drinking fuel at around 101 litres/per hour. Cutting back to 35 knots almost halves the fuel burn for more efficient cruising.

Peter certainly appreciates the C9’s speed and seakeeping, being happy to go out in all but the most extreme conditions: “Certainly in 20 knots (F5) or less of wind speed I’m very happy all the time and, should you need it, you’ve got the power to get yourself out of trouble,” he says. “I’ll obviously go to whichever is the sheltered side of the Solent if I’m going into the wind but downwind isn’t an issue.

“Only if it’s approaching 30 knots (high F6), especially wind against tide, do you have to drop down to six or seven knots. I don’t like the slamming, so I just slow down and put the heating on inside.”

Open-plan berth is fine for a couple sleeping on board over a long weekend

It’s creature comforts like this that make the Commuter 9 such an easy boat to live with. It’s not the most spacious of boats for a 30-footer, but with indoor seating for six – two at the helm and four on the settee which curves around the rear bulkhead – Nimbus has done an excellent job of making the most of the wheelhouse’s
limited dimensions. Dining is possible too; the two helm seats rotate 180° to face the settee, and a folding table hinges up between them to create a passable dinette.

Preparing the meal is a little more tricky as this involves stepping below decks, where headroom is restricted, to access the small galley, comprising a single burner hob and a sink. There is a fridge by the companionway too, but that aside, storage space for provisions is limited. It’s a similar story further forward where the wedge-shaped double bed is a good size but storage space for clothes is scarce. Completing the picture is a heads compartment with a washbasin and toilet but no shower in a space Peter describes as “sitting room only.”

Despite these limitations, Peter has lived aboard for extended periods. “I’ve stayed on board for five or six nights at a time when I’ve been involved in running sailing events in Cowes,” he confirms. “It’s compact but it’s perfectly civilised. A little bit restricted on headroom, which I was expecting, sure, but you kind of have to work around the boat, don’t you?”

Compact indoor galley is handy to have on a sporty overnighter such as this

It’s a salient point. As the name suggests, the Commuter 9 was never intended to be a liveaboard cruising boat – the Nimbus 305 Coupé fulfils that role – instead, it’s a smart, practical, all-weather sportsboat that also has surprisingly decent overnight accommodation.

Much like its closest rival, the Axopar 28 Cabin, the Nimbus C9 is first and foremost a fast and relatively affordable dayboat that is fun to drive, easy to look after and can be used all year round. It’s a few feet bigger and heavier than its Finnish rival, with a more substantial open plan cabin in the bow and internal access to
the heads compartment, which arguably makes it a more versatile weekender too.

It may be a very different style of boat to the Nimbuses of old but those core values of comfort, safety and quality still shine through.

Nimbus Commuter 9 specification

Model: Nimbus Commuter 9
Designer: Joachim Gustavsson
Hull: Stepped vee
RCD: C (8 persons)
LOA: 30ft 8in (9.35m)
Beam: 9ft 8in (2.95m)
Draft: 3ft 3in (1.0m)
Displacement: 3,170kg
Fuel capacity: 320l
Water capacity: 80l
Top speed: 44.2 knots
Fuel consumption: 1.7l/nm @ 27.7 knots
Range: 147.7nm at 27.7 knots with 20% reserve

Nimbus Commuter 9 running costs

Annual fuel burn: 1,252 litres (based on 25 hours at 32.5 knots and 25 hours at 6 knots)
Annual berthing: £6,638.50 (based on £710 per metre for a Hamble River marina downstream of Bursledon bridge)


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