By David Liscio This popular trailersailer has some get-up-and-go The MacGregor 26 is a trailerable coastal cruiser, powerboat, ski boat, party barge and floating home all wrapped into one hull. The obvious design compromises in a motorboat-sailboat hybrid have made many owners smile. Designer and builder Roger MacGregor ventured into the boatbuilding business in the early s after being assigned a college class project. He decided on a plan to build a small, affordable boat that could be easily transported. I was really only building sailboats as a hobby," said the year-old entrepreneur from Newport, California. The manufacturing facility remains in Costa Mesa, California, although it has sprawled into a 5-acre campus and churns out to boats annually, with a third sold overseas.
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Approximately of the X had been produced before being replaced by the M. The new boat is substantially different from the old.
The following is a summary of the changes. Price increases are a bummer, but inflation has rolled on, and a lot of materials, including resin, have jumped dramatically. We are putting a lot more into the new boat, and I hope that you will agree that the improvements are worth the extra cost.
We were being pressed hard on costs on the old boat, and a major price increase was likely if the X had remained in production. It has a more traditional shear line, and the dark blue hull is a knockout. It really stands out in a boat show or at a marina. The dark blue hull is an option, and will cost extra. The white hull, with black stripes, just like the 26X, is standard. The transom, with its smaller opening and rounded corners, makes a big improvement in the view from the rear.
Much of the rudder system is inside the boat, offering less clutter on the transom. The good looks came at a fairly small price. The transom opening is smaller and not quite as easy to pass through. The boat looks a lot longer, and the taller rig gives it a more traditional sailboat look. The sliding hatch, rather than just sitting on the cabin top, contours to the deck.
When it is open, there is no gap between the deck and the hatch leading edge. The purpose of the deep V shape is to give the boat a softer ride under power, with less slamming against choppy seas. The V bottom has softer corners at the transom, and, at typical angles of heel, the corners dig in less and create a less turbulent wake. The deeper V bottom keeps the boat from sliding around on the trailer, and gives better tracking under power.
The more pronounced centerline ridge provides a stiffer hull bottom. We compared two identically rigged and loaded boats, a 26X and the new 26M, both equipped with 50 hp Mercury Bigfoot engines. At identical rpm settings, the new boat had an advantage of approximately 2 to 3 mph.
This advantage held over a wide range of speeds. It held in both calm and choppy water. The big reason for the higher speed on the new boat is the lack of centerboard trunk drag.
When we studied the videos of the speed runs, the turbulence from the 26X centerboard trunk was clearly visible, while the new boat offered a really clean water and spray pattern. The old centerboard trunk carried along about lbs of water, the new trunk, with its tighter tolerances, carries virtually none. The 26X, boat, with its flatter bottom, was slowed each time it came down hard off of a wave. Both boats showed an equal ability to get up on a plane.
Under sail, the differences were striking. In all conditions, the new boat had a major speed advantage. The taller rig, reduction of the drag from the centerboard trunk, and the rotating mast really paid off. I believe that it will prove to be the fastest trailerable boat we have ever built. The most striking difference in speed was when both boats were sailing with main alone.
In typical conditions, when the 26x was sailing with main and jib, it was going about 5. When the jib was furled, the speed dropped by 2 mph.
With the new boat, when the jib was furled, the speed dropped by only 1 mph, with little change in the balance of the boat. This means that an owner can go out for a sail and forget the jib, and still get good performance. In high winds, the main alone is an excellent choice. The new boat is less likely to get in irons when tacking with just the main, and if it does, it is far easier to recover.
It balances almost as well with the main alone as it does with the main and jib. Since the front third of the main is now working, and not screwed up by the turbulence of the mast, the thrust is now forward, rather than to the side. The result is more speed and less healing angle. When the mast is properly rotated, the boat comes alive. When the mast is centered, the boat slows measurably.
Here are a lot more reasons. Unfortunately, this ridge dominates the interior plan, and made it essential to bring the seating structure on one side out beyond the centerline. This forces a dinette type of configuration, which makes it more difficult to have a good conversational type seating for a bunch of crew members.
It also reduced the interior floor space and thus moving around space by a significant margin. The daggerboard trunk, which is partially hidden by the galley, eliminated these problems. The daggerboard requires a much smaller opening in the hull, which helps reduce drag and keep structural weight down.
There are no holes in the hull to leak, or pins to wear. The board itself can be lifted out through the deck for cleaning, inspection or repair. Removal of a centerboard is a tougher job.
Daggerboards are a lot quieter and subject to less wear when the boat is moored or at anchor. With a centerboard partially down, the center of pressure moves aft, and the boat gets a lee helm when sailed into the wind.
With the daggerboard partially down, the fore and aft center of pressure does not change, and the boat continues to balance well. This helps when trying to sail the boat to windward in shallow water. For reaching, the daggerboard can be partially retracted to kill off weather helm, in the same manner as the centerboard.
When reaching, you do not need the full lifting power of the board, and the partially retracted board works fine. The down side, of course, is that if you hit something, the boat will come to a stop, just like any other keel boat in the marina. At normal sailing speeds, there should be no problem. The board is strong, and the hull is stronger.
We have developed a system for which we are seeking a patent that allows conventional spreaders, with upper and lower shrouds, and a mast that rotates to good airflow across the mainsail. With a conventional non-rotating mast, the mast creates a serious amount of turbulence on the mainsail, making the first third of the sail virtually useless. The deep notch between the mainsail and the mast disturbs the laminar flow of air across the downwind side of the sail and causes the smooth air flow to separate from the sail and disintegrate into a vast field of turbulence.
The drawings below show the difference. MacGregor 26 Mast Rotation Since the first third of the mainsail is not working, the thrust created by the main is almost totally sideways, causing a lot of heeling and less forward thrust. See the above drawing. With the rotating mast, the boat heels less and goes faster.
The mainsail can now be used as the only sail for comfortable effort-free day-sailing. When the wind kicks up, getting rid of the jib and keeping the mainsail retains really good performance, and makes sailing a lot easier.
The mast section is larger fore and aft and does not require a backstay. This reduces weight aloft, and reduces windage. The rotating rig raises and lowers like a non-rotating rig, and requires no attention when sailing. As the boat tacks, the mast automatically adjusts itself to the proper angle without human intervention.
When raising the mast, there is no backstay to tangle up in the rudder system or outboard motor. The mast is sealed with injected urethane foam, and acts as a powerful buoyancy chamber if the boat is knocked down.
The 67 pounds of buoyancy provided by the mast is equivalent in righting power of adding pounds of ballast in the bottom of the hull. This multiplier is the result of having the center of buoyancy of the mast a long way out from the center of buoyancy of the hull. We have beefed up the chainplates, bow plate and all mast hardware, and the rig looks strong and efficient.
The chainplates have a stainless deck plate welded to them. These plates bolt to the deck, reducing the chance of a leak. A small tube will be cast into the mast flotation foam to allow the future passage of wires to the top of the mast. It is possible to set the rudder rake to completely eliminate rudder load on the wheel. However, a slight weather helm is better for upwind control. The rudders are larger than those on the X, and have a more efficient elliptical tip.
With the deeper V hull, the upwind rudder is less likely to be raised out of the water when the boat heels. This means less drag. With the new hull and rudder shapes, the boat has less tendency to round up into the wind when heeled far over.
The ballast is in a sealed container surrounding the daggerboard trunk. The ballast is bonded to both the hull and the trunk, giving the trunk a great deal more strength. The pounds of permanent ballast replaces an equal amount of water ballast, so the removable water ballast amounts to lbs. Total ballast is still pounds. The new boat is about pounds heavier in its trailering condition.
This adds about pounds, and adds to both stiffness and stability. The deck has more beams, between the liner and the deck, and feels stiffer under foot. The seat area across the front of the cockpit where the mainsheet traveler is located , gives more seating area, but reduces the footwell floor area.
A Comprehensive Review of the MacGregor 26M Sailboat
Approximately of the X had been produced before being replaced by the M. The new boat is substantially different from the old. The following is a summary of the changes. Price increases are a bummer, but inflation has rolled on, and a lot of materials, including resin, have jumped dramatically. We are putting a lot more into the new boat, and I hope that you will agree that the improvements are worth the extra cost.
Macgregor 26 M Boats for sale