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Chrysler vs. Seaward

Jul 25, 2017
47
MacGregor 25 Madison, WI
I've been looking for a "heavy" but easily-trailerable ~26 ft boat for the Great Lakes and the Caribbean. I've been most impressed by the Chrysler 26 because it's got both internal ballast (basically a shoal keel) and a swing keel which add up to 2000 lbs, though the Catalina 25, San Juan, Balboa, Ericson 25, etc... also seem like viable options.

However, whenever I talk about this on forums, someone invariably says that I should get a Seaward (e.g. 26RK) instead.

Here's what I see when I compare them:
  • Seawards have less ballast (1200 lbs) and so are probably less seakindly.
  • Looking at PHRFs, they're about the same speed.
  • Owners of both boats claim to love them, though C26 owners are more likely to be interested in selling to upgrade to a larger boat.
  • C26es are sometimes called "entry level boats" while Seawards aren't. Not sure why.
So... are Seawards actually better? If so, why? And does the difference warrant 10-30k difference in price?

Thanks!
 
Oct 22, 2014
10,204
CAL 35 Cruiser Portland OR, moored EVERETT WA
Fritz. Both of these boats a a bit small for a new sailor to take out to the ocean for extended passages. Not that it has not been done It really comes down to the sailor and the crew. If you do take this approach you will need (in my opinion) have some safety gear and choose your weather window wisely.

Looking at the two boats I would tend towards the Seaward than the Chrysler.

I found this link to a review of the Seaward. They are still in production. The designer says the boat was intended to be used in the Ocean waters you mention. Seaward 26 RK - Practical Sailor Print Edition Article

Additionally I suggest you listen to this podcast by 2 sailors who have way more ocean sailing time than I do. They talk about the Gulf Stream and crossing it to the Bahamas. It is informative. They like their 50 something foot boats for such adventures. online. The podcast was produced by Andy and Mia of https://www.59-north.com. Accomplished sailors.
 
Aug 16, 2018
67
Seaward 23 Annapolis
How long are the trips you plan with this boat? And how many people aboard? Now it has certainly been done, but a 26 ft boat is not large for a longer cruise through the caribbean, even for 2 people.. For example, unless you're <5'10" it doesn't even have standing room. A hop over to the bahamas is simple, but passages in the caribbean I feel could get quite exciting in a 26 ft boat, that's ostensiably intended for coastal cruising in Florida (per the designer).

I really like my Seaward 23, but it's much older and smaller than the 26RK, so I don't feel I can comment much on the boat directly. The main draw of the 26 is the shallow draft, but how important is that in great lakes and caribbean? I would think less than in Florida? Personally not sure that's the boat I would choose for those areas. Though it does make trailering easier. The older Seaward 25 might also be a (cheaper) option. Or the 32 a much more comfortable option, at something like 2x the price..

edit: also bit peculiar boats to compare. From what I can see the price is a 10x differece..? $5k vs $50k.
 
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Jul 25, 2017
47
MacGregor 25 Madison, WI
Fritz. Both of these boats a a bit small for a new sailor to take out to the ocean for extended passages. Not that it has not been done It really comes down to the sailor and the crew.

The podcast was produced by Andy and Mia of https://www.59-north.com. Accomplished sailors.
Hi jssailem, I've been sailing for a few years (many helm hours) and been in some rough spots. Been listening to Andy's podcast for a couple years now. I'm not looking for real blue water - mainly looking norther caribbean like Bahamas and Cuba. Passages less than 24 hours. Already been on Lake Michigan a fair bit and have some idea what to expect. I've read a blog of a guy who sailed around the northern caribbean in a C26, had some pretty rough weather which the boat handled well.

Trailering is a requirement for me. I have a smaller trailerable now and move around all the time.

Since I can't find a review in Practical Sailor of the C26 I can't directly compare the 26RK to it. Anyone know why everyone seems to think the Seaward is more seaworthy?
 
Jan 19, 2010
6,680
Hunter 26 Lake Martin AL
I used to own a Balboa 26. It is a very heavy and well built boat. The fiberglass on this boat is THICK and reinforced in key stress areas. It is technically trailerable but it is not easy to launch and retrieve. I'd say the Balboa is great if you want to trailer home for the off season but you would want a slip or mooring if you were going to use it regularly. The Balboa has a 1200lb lead bulb on the bottom of a cast iron swing keel. It is one stiff boat. If you look at one, pay close attention to the keel area and ask for a test sail that will let you get her heeled over. The keel pivot bolt is below the water line so any issues with the bolt gasket will result in significant leaking. It is a relatively easy fix but it would require that you have the space and tools to make the repair. You want to put some stress on the pivot pin to make sure it is not leaking so the test sail is essential. You also need a serious keel winch and hardware for this beast so look over the condition of the winch and cables.

There is also A LOT of storage under the cockpit area so if you set it up well with easy to use storage compartments, it would make a nice long range cruiser. I used to keep four small coolers in there and still had room for a 10 gallon gas tank and it was not even close to full. That area would also be a great place to put an expanded batter bank (if you move the gas tank). The cabin is very nice and the V-berth large and actually usable, however there is no main berth. You have to drop the table to get a "main berth". With the table dropped, you have a nice queen sized bed. To starboard is a settee that could sleep a 5th person. There is an area for an enclosed head and a hanging locker. There is also a large icebox to port that is usable but could be converted to an actual top opening fridge. The galley sink is also in that area. To starboard is a place for a stove. Mine boat's stove was removed by the PO and I used a camping stove on top of that counter. You can see all of this in the photos below. As a long range cruiser, it would be nice for a couple and one kid. As a short range weekend cruiser 4 or 5 could fit. Five gets tight as storage becomes an issue.

I did a lot of work on mine and have attached a pic of the keel I restored. You can see the lead bulb and get an idea of how stiff this boat is. I have also included some interior shots. In the first interior shot, you can just make out the hanging locker to starboard just before you get to the V-berth. The head is behind the bulkhead to port. The V-berth is behind a second bulkhead so the head and hanging locker are in their own "room". You can just make out the opening to the V-berth in that seam photo.

The first two water shots are at Smith Mountain Lake in Virginia. The second two water shots are in the Pamlico Sound off the coast of North Carolina. She is a stiff heavy wind boat and can go into shoal water but raising and lowering the keel takes a few minutes so it is not like you can sail fast in shoal water and quickly raise the keel as the bottom rushes towards you. You still need to pay attention to the water depth.

weekend
Ready.jpg
Balboa4.png
Balboa5.png
Balboa6.png
sml-bob7.jpg
Undersail.png
South River (Port).jpg
Chillin'.jpg
 
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Jul 1, 2010
689
Seaward 25, Catalina 350 Erie, Pa
The difference in price is probably due more to the fact that Chrysler's I see online were made in the 70's. Seaward didn't start making the 26rk until about 2003. You could pick up a Seaward 25 for about half the price of a 26rk, but you don't get the vertically retractable keel on the 25.

We have a 1996 Seaward 25 that we have taken to Lake Champlain, Lake Ontario, Lake Huron, Penobscot Bay, Maine, and off the coast of Rhode Island, so it can do what you're asking. I have friends that have taken their Seaward 25 to the Bahamas. Seaward boats are well made and make great small coastal trailerable cruisers.

That said, I don't know anything about the Chrysler, so can't help you there. Another boat to consider is the Oday 26. They're nice boats. The Catalina 25 you already mentioned is another good one.
 
Jul 25, 2017
47
MacGregor 25 Madison, WI
I used to own a Balboa 26. It is a very heavy and well built boat...
Thanks rgranger for the great description! I've been considering a Balboa too, though according to SailboatData it's got about 800 lbs less ballast than the C26 so currently it's my second or third choice.


What do you think about having storage aft rather than an accessible double-berth? I'd noticed the same thing about the Ericson. Do you like that as a feature, or would you prefer a berth there?

Have you been in any rough conditions to learn how the balboa handles heavy seas and wind?

Have you looked at a San Juan, Ericson, Catalina 25, or other swing keel boats to have a sense for whether you like the Balboa better?

I'm familiar with swing keels (have one now) and what you have to do to maintain them. Mine currently leaks, especially upwind when it's loaded down, but not enough that the bilge pump can't manage it easily. Just haven't gotten around to fixing it.

Thanks again!
 
Jul 25, 2017
47
MacGregor 25 Madison, WI
The difference in price is probably due more to the fact that Chrysler's I see online were made in the 70's. Seaward didn't start making the 26rk until about 2003. You could pick up a Seaward 25 for about half the price of a 26rk, but you don't get the vertically retractable keel on the 25.
That makes sense, and is what I'd been thinking too. The 25 seems comparable to a San Juan 26 but with less ballast.
New isn't necessarily better from my perspective. Do you have reason to think the vertically retracting keel on the 26RK is superior to the the shoal keel of the 25?
 
Jul 1, 2010
689
Seaward 25, Catalina 350 Erie, Pa
The 26 will point better. Also, the keel trunk supports the cabin top arch better, as some of the 25's had compression issues with the arch. That said, I like the looks of the interior better on the 25. The keel trunk takes up a bit of inside room
 
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