Chandlery October 1, 2005 Issue

Nomar Bumper

A new, heavy-duty approach to protecting your boat at the dock.


]In olden days, you got a disapproving look or comment from proper yachtsmen if you called a "fender" a "bumper." And it was bad form to mill about the harbor with your fenders hanging over the side.

Of Practical Sailor's half dozen nautical dictionaries, all but one fails to recognize the word "bumper." However, the one that does—by way of the terse phrase "also called bumper"—is Rene de Kerchove's respected International Maritime Dictionary.

Therefore, with de Kerchove's approval, PS feels it's OK for Joe Holmes to call the products he builds and sells bumpers. Of his new company, Holmes Marine Specialties, Joe's wife, Eva, said, "We pride ourselves on workmanship and integrity." Joe is a mechanical designer; Eva used to be the CEO of a dental clinic.

The Holmes' product—"Nomar bumpers"—are for attachment to wood, concrete, steel or aluminum docks, so that when you foul up the approach to your slip, you won't suffer the usually terrible penalty.

(Once, while entering a slip we'd occupied for several seasons, the boat skinned an outer piling, and, with a horrifying noise like shattering glass, the rusty head of an old, hither-to-unnoticed spike cut a deep, three-foot-long groove through thegelcoat and into the fiberglass.)

Nomar bumpers won't prevent that kind of disaster, but they'll allow you to scrape the dock withlittle or no adverse effect.

The Nomars come in 3- or 4.5-foot sections. The 3-footer has a void in the foam that permits it to be wrapped around a corner. Both sizes are beautifully made, with cores of high-density polyethylene, closed-cell foam, the heaviest woven polyester fabric covers PS has ever seen, 2-inch webbing straps, and all stainless hardware. (The fabric, with a tensile strength of 136,000 lbs., can't be sheared; it's done with a thermal cutter that also seals the edges and prevents fraying.)

After the foam is shaped, it's inserted in a plastic sleeve that provides waterproofing. The webbing straps are run through slots in the foam and the sleeve (which is sturdier than sewing), and the end is sewn shut.

Joe told PS that it's very easy to attach a Nomar or two to a wooden dock, no matter which way the planks run. Attaching to a concrete dock is usually more difficult, and if the concrete dock has a steel frame, it may involve drilling holes to first attach a wood plank.

"A bonus is that if you change docks or move to a different marina, you can take the Normars with you," explained Joe.

Considering that the Normar bumpers seem close to indestructible, that's a reasonable statement. (The repair or replace warranty is for five years.)

The four-foot Nomar sells for $99.95 with straps, $89.95 without. The three-footer goes for $89.95 or $79.95. Joe and Eva also offer kits of stainless hardware (screws, washers, bolts, web loops) to fit any dock configuration.

Contact - Holmes Marine Specialties, 800/501-0607,

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