The brand may not be so well known in Australia, but Nimbus is a household name in Sweden. It all started in the 1960s when Volvo Penta was having problems finding a market for its engines. They needed a dedicated recreational boat, so the then President of Volvo Penta commissioned designer Pelle Peterson – a legend in yachting circles – to design the 'perfect boat' for the job.
The result was the Nimbus 26. The next year the Nimbus 26 won the Boat of the Year in Sweden, and the company has since gone on to become one of the biggest pleasure boat builders in Scandinavia.
Hope for Nimbus
It's a long way from Langedrag in Sweden, but Sven Magnusson has set up an agency at Hope Harbour on the Gold Coast and brought two Nimbus models to Australia – the 320 and a 380. Both appeared for the first time at the Sanctuary Cove International Boat Show. The 320 didn't last long – it was sold on the spot.
The 380 Coupe is classic Nimbus from the aft cockpit through to the forward cabin. The hull to the waterline is solid fibreglass with Divynicell sandwich laminate below the waterline and also in the superstructure. This combination is generally found in ocean racing yachts and makes for a very strong hull, it also insulates the hull and stops condensation forming inside.
For a 38-footer the boat is compact and full of little surprises. Step onto the boat from the integrated teak swim platform into the cockpit and there is a feeling of becoming part of the boat. A hard backed cushion is provided to fill the transom door opening so that the lounge is a full wrap-around with a wooden table manufactured with a raised edge to stop glasses and plates sliding off.
On the back of the cabin bulkhead Nimbus has mounted a teak folding chair for use in the cockpit and a teak fitting for fishing rods with a couple of glass holders. It's also a good place for the teak-handled boat hook that comes with the boat. About the only options on this boat were the teak side decks and the teak gunwale rail. Everything else comes standard, even down to all the safety gear.
It includes life jackets, flares, fire blanket, first aid kit, an emergency steering tiller, a tool kit, and a quick access self-inflating rescue ring mounted in the cockpit in case someone fell off, which would be hard to do. And one of the surprises – open the galley drawers and there is a six-piece Nimbus logo embossed crockery and cutlery set – all part of the deal.
All the timber work in the accommodation and the main cabin is a rich satin-finished mahogany and contrasts well with the teak fittings. The owner's cabin up front with its big double berth and his and hers hanging lockers with shelves down one side as well yacht-style bags for shoes and other odds and ends is big for a boat this size.
The second cabin has two bunks with an extension on the outboard one to form a seat and there is a small desk behind the door. The bathroom has a walk-in shower and a wooden top on the vanity as well as a wood grate on the floor. It's very different to most boats in this class.
To make room for the accommodation up front there had to be a compromise and that was the size of the saloon. Despite this, the space has been well used with some clever innovations that start with the big glass door in a stainless steel frame that can be locked in multiple positions.
There is also a table in the galley that can be lowered to form another bed, so the boat can, if needed sleep six.
The curtains and cushions are standard and all the upholstery is Alacantra. It's a stain resistant suede finish and I am told that red wine can be spilt on it and it will just wipe off. But that wasn't part of our test.
Behind the wheel
The driver has a very comfortable seat with a bolster and if he wants to stand up to see where he is going he can look out the top of the overhead hatch. It's not necessary though, as the all-round view is excellent.
In front of him is a mahogany wheel and space for a couple of sounder/plotters or a radar and the standard Volvo Penta analogue instruments set in a panel above them. He also has a sliding window and if the salt builds up on the windscreen there are fresh water washers.
Nimbus craft are obviously powered by Volvo Penta engines. This one had a couple of 260hp D4s set well back in the cockpit and I was surprised to find that V-drive shafts, spinning 19 x 23, four-blade propellers, were fitted instead of legs.
There is a bowthruster, but the way it manoeuvres on the throttles is so good, why spend the extra money.
From rest onto the plane was a smooth transition as the power comes on with the Volvo Penta electronic controls. Despite the weight of the engines in the back the hull travels flat and not a drop of spray came over the back underway.
The hull is semi-displacement and trotted along in the six-knot zones on the Coomera River quite happily and it sat on the plane at 10 knots before dropping off. Up through the range 2250rpm saw a GPS speed of 11.6 knots, while a good cruising speed was 2800rpmm and 20 knots. This was also the most economical cruising speed according to the factory test figures, which showed a fuel usage of 28lt/hour/side. The Nimbus 380 is very quiet underway, helped by the underwater exhaust system.
We punched out through the Seaway at 21 knots and once outside upped the speed to 25 knots. This was a bit much for the conditions and when the speed was dropped to 21 knots it was a lot more comfortable. The boat was so easy to drive it virtually drove itself. It turned smoothly and in a tight turn at 25 knots it just sat in without the slightest hint of cavitation.
Sven had not yet driven the boat at wide-open throttle and as we were outside with plenty of water we decided to see what it would do. We managed to build up to 28 knots on the GPS at 3500rpm. The Nimbus 380 Coupe would appeal to an owner who has got over the need to rush about everywhere and is looking to upgrade. And for getting under bridges, especially on the Gold Coast, the radar arch hinges forward.
WORDS : KEVAN WOLFE