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Considering a 26X

Apr 3, 2020
43
Hunter 26.5 Trailer
Hi all,
After two fun summers sailing my SJ21, I'm seriously considering upsizing. I've been cruising the various sales forums since last fall, and even gone to look at several boats. I live in MT, and the selection is definitely limited. A couple weekends ago We took a roadtrip to the Puget Sound area to look at 4 different boats: Lancer 25, Lancer 28, South Coast 26 and a Neptune 24. The Neptune was easily in the best condition, but not quite the right interior layout and the keel raising mechanism was jammed. The Lancers had a lot of water leaks from various parts of the topsides, and the mold smell indicated that a complete gutting would be required to remedy the mold. The South Coast 26 has been a lawn ornament for many more years than the advertisement, and the owner had it priced with at least 2 extra zeroes to even be close to actual market value.
A couple months ago we looked at another boat over by Helena, that was in need of some repairs to the keel and again just not the right layout.

We are a family of 5, including 3 teenagers (one in college). The probability of extra crew (friends/family) is high. So far we have only sailed at Flathead Lake, but there are other options in the area that we would like to visit. So, what we are looking for in a boat: MUST be trailerable, and that includes relatively easy to launch/retrieve. Large enough cockpit for the wife to lay out and have her sailing siesta. Retractable keel is almost required, as we've found that a lot of the areas we would like to put in only have maybe 2 or 3 feet depth. Private area for a port-a-potty would be great. A basic galley would be nice, but not required. Sleeping for 4 is required, 5 or more would be better. We have no need to sail around the world, we are on protected inland lakes. Having said that, the winds at Flathead can be very variable. I have a little 3hp on my SJ21 and it does fine for getting out of a wind shadow. I acknowledge that an engine is useful, but I really have no desire to motor fast. Being able to motor to better sailing areas does appeal to me, as does being able to motor back to the doc if the winds just die off and I'm miles away.

So, why a Mac 26X? First and foremost because I found one for sale and it's in my price range. Second, and possibly just as important is that I've wanted one since I first saw one at the Puyallup Fair in 1998. Yep, 23 yrs. I already know that Mac owners have to have tough skin. I also know that the family with a 26M up at Flathead was on the lake having fun every change they had. I have no desire to please others with my fancy toy. I want a toy that will be fun for the family for the few years that I have left before my kids wander out into the world. It seems the 26 fills pretty much every need I have. I realize that I'm giving up a lot of performance going from the SJ21, and I'm OK with that. My want is for a boat that the family and friends can enjoy playing on the lake with. I have no need to race, with either wind or the iron genny. If I want performance, I'll take the SJ21 out.

So, I'm posting this thread to ask if anyone who actually owns or has owned a 26X has anything in particular that they liked or disliked? The one I'm looking at is an '01 with a 70hp 4 stroke. I may or may not downsize the outboard. Thanks in advance!
 
May 24, 2004
6,619
CC 30 South Florida
The SJ 21 is one of the best pure sailing boats around. The 26X is unfortunately a hybrid that does not sail well nor does it motor well. It all depends on the type of sailing that you intend on doing. The 26X performs best at anchor where it has ample space to lounge and entertain. It can probably be the first boat at the anchorage. The SJ is a wet boat with a tiny cabin mostly taken by the swing keel trunk, but the harder the wind blows the stiffer it gets.
 

Joe

.
Jun 1, 2004
7,225
Catalina 27 Mission Bay, San Diego
I recommend you go for a test sail on the Mac 26x before you make a decision. Otherwise, get a pontoon boat and some water toys... kid will love you for that.
 
Nov 30, 2020
19
Macgregor 22 Dania, FL
I think your family will be happy on the 26X. lots more space than the SJ21. And you can take the 21 out if you want small crew and high performance.

Chip V.
s/v Sand Dollar
 
Jul 7, 2004
7,540
Hunter 30T Cheney, KS
.... I want a toy that will be fun for the family for the few years that I have left before my kids wander out into the world. It seems the 26 fills pretty much every need I have. I realize that I'm giving up a lot of performance going from the SJ21, and I'm OK with that. My want is for a boat that the family and friends can enjoy playing on the lake with. I have no need to race, with either wind or the iron genny. If I want performance, I'll take the SJ21 out.
Just curious, but what part of owning a 26X fills the "fun" card? Is it space? Big motor? I had a 26S for 10 years. They are simple, easy to trailer and inexpensive. And they sailed pretty well for a first boat. Not as well as your SJ21 though. The only thing I see going for the X is the motor. Not meaning to talk you out of it. Have you all agreed that the 26X will be fun?
 
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Apr 3, 2020
43
Hunter 26.5 Trailer
"Fun" card is simply spending time on the water with enough space. Big motor has very little appeal.

We just got back from looking at it. I brought my wife and older son along. We definitely liked the room aboard, but the boat wasn't signing our song well enough to want to plunk down that much cash. The rear berth was lacking in headroom, and the v-berth was too short for me. The motor fired right up (owner had it in a tank behind the boat) but the installation was maybe not the greatest. I noticed that there were a number of wires that went down inside the back of the boat and then were just taped off. Maybe an issue, maybe not. But then, the steering, shift and throttle cables dropped down into the rear berth and ate up a lot of space, there was a couple of holes where a cleat had been ripped off at the rear, and more little things here and there. The boat was pretty filthy too, mostly from being stored in a farm shed. Out of the weather/sun is good, and cleaning it off would probably only take a day. In the end we pretty much all decided that it's not a no, but more of a not right now thing. I made an offer that is admittedly lowball, and the owner declined, for now. He's only had it listed a week or so, and I don't blame him at all for not taking a lowball first offer. He did say if the boat is still sitting in a month or so that he may very well take it. I figure if that offer is accepted then I'm getting a good enough deal that I can handle a few repairs, sail it for a summer and if we decide it's not for us I can recoup my money next year.
Anyway, the search continues. There is a Catalina 25 that may be coming on the market, but I don't know if it's the swing keel version. Now, if I could find San Juan 27 in swing keel....


(edit) I forgot to mention: we actually looked at a Mac 26S about a year ago, and it was well within the budget. But, the owner had obviously never used it as a sailboat, the rigging needed some repairs/replacements, the keel had issues, the outboard wasn't working...etc. In the end we chose to avoid another project. If I could find another one in good repair that would quickly go to the front of the line and may very well follow us home.
 
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Joe

.
Jun 1, 2004
7,225
Catalina 27 Mission Bay, San Diego
The Cat 25 would be an excellent choice. Very strong owner's association and factory support. Popular boat that is reasonably priced, well built and sails like a dream.
 

Jim26m

.
Apr 3, 2019
576
Macgregor 26M Mobile AL
Your criteria is not easy. Looking for a large interior, large cockpit, sleeps 5 adults (preferably more), trailerable, shallow draft, good condition, and reasonably priced sailboat; will result in quite a search. Both Mac power sailers and the Hunter power sailer have the Waterbago mentality, and are trailerable. You don't state your budget, so it's hard to give alternatives. There are better alternatives, but typically a bit pricier.

A 26 Mac powersailer can sleep 5 small adults, but as you found, a few less full-sized, or plus-sized adults. Having more than 4 overnight aboard an X or M would be tight, unless they are all family (or super close friends) and used to camping together. Many owners extend the V-berth on at least one side to give a longer accommodation forward.

These boats have a cult DIY following, and come bare-bones from the factory. Many have been owner-modified. Not all boat owners are skilled boatwrights. Finding an old boat that doesn't have strange wiring, or holes in odd places, and strange modifications, may be a challenge, too.

Most curious, to me is, you're looking at power sailers while professing no interest in powering fast. These boats compromise in many areas to have the large interior and ability to power reasonably fast. Most notably, the windage price you pay for that higher headroom interior is significant. Your first cross wind docking, or trailer loading will be... well, you'll want the cameras rolling.

Restricting yourself to trailerable beam, 25-28 feet length, and a sailboat, is probably going to keep you below a really comfortable interior for 5 (or more) large adults. Understand your opposition to slip fees (mine is "slipped" in my basement), but you will likely use the boat more if slipped. Rigging will take you an hour initially. I'm down to about 20 minutes now. Breaking down for trailering will be longer. I'm at about 45 minutes now. I have a 14 mile, high speed tow to the ramp. If you're very close to the ramp, that would cut some time off, as you could spend less time securing items for towing.

Do you realistically expect all 5 to overnight? I day sail with 6 (5 plus one son-in-law), and it's rare that everyone has more than 4 or 5 hours to spare simultaneously. Spending a whole day out, usually results in a crew of 4 or less.

Per your earlier post and @Justin_NSA, I would think the 26S a better overall fit. Still won't sleep 5 or more large adults comfortably. Basically the same interior with less headroom (windage). Should sail a bit better. There should be some in reasonable condition and the price should be reasonably low due to age.
 
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May 31, 2014
7
Macgregor 26x Georgetown ME
Every time someone posts about considering a 26X, I see the same EXACT words about not sailing well and not motoring well, also that it is best at anchor. I wonder if this person has actually spent much time with a 26X. I have been sailing the coast of Maine with mine for eight years, so let’s look at the other side of the coin:

Macs obviously sail better than any motor boat, but they also motor better than any sailboat, particularly a trailer sailer.
Sailing to windward with the boat heeling at 25-35 degrees will be exciting enough, even if not very fast.

That 70 HP motor is definitely a plus. I would take it to a boat mechanic to check on the installation. You have obviously been sailing long enough to know Captain Murphy’s Law, that when you have sailed to the turn-around point, the wind dies. You can spend the next couple of hours floundering around with the other sailboats, or you can say, “The heck with this. Let’s go home.“. You’ll like it and use it more then you think.

18” of draft with the boards up and the ballast tank empty it a definite plus.

The real problem is the size of your family. I don’t know of any trailer sailer that sleeps a family of five with three teenagers in any sort of comfort. That wide bunk under the cockpit is really best for little kids. It also comes at the expense of having any lockers in the cockpit. I use that area mostly for storage. If, however, you are going to use it mostly as a day sailer, be aware that it takes about an hour to set the boat up before launching and the same amount of time to put it away after you take it out of the water.

If you want to read some discussions by some serious Mac sailors, go to MacGregorsailors.com.

Jon Cons
Dream Catcher
 
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Jim26m

.
Apr 3, 2019
576
Macgregor 26M Mobile AL
@Joncons is spot on. Although, I've been told they aren't much good at anchor either.:p

They are a different type of boat that seem to be either loved or despised. I love mine. Is it perfect? No. It suits my current boating needs as well as could be achieved with my current budget. I understand that they aren't everyone's cup of tea, and that's fine. I have very thick skin...

Unlike @Orbweaver, I want the ability to motor at reasonably high speed in addition to sailing. It is a very handy feature - even if you mostly sail. For example, we over-stayed our welcome on the opposite side of the bay one afternoon and wound up getting a wind shift as the sun was getting low. Rather than make a long upwind sailing trip, I dropped the sails and motored back in time to get it on the trailer before dark. It would have been a long evening with a small kicker. Yes, it was sloppy to stay too long. But, it was nice to visit awhile longer with friends we hadn't seen in a long time. That silly big outboard allowed us to be a bit sloppy.

That 70 hp might push the 26X at around 18 knots... Ever had a storm on the horizon you'd like to run from? A little speed can be a good thing every now and then...
 
Apr 3, 2020
43
Hunter 26.5 Trailer
Thanks everyone for the replies! I am well aware that my requirements list is very restrictive. Part of that is because we have Orbweaver already, so we aren't looking for "something close that'll get us on the water". We already have that. Budget-wise I have a mild target set at $10K or less, but we have more than that set aside "if the perfect boat comes along". We have to be realistic about seasonal toys (I already have motorized toys that are seasonal, and have been seriously considering downsizing that fleet: Snowmobiles and motorbikes). I spent more time on the sailboat than the Goldwing last summer, so the funds for sailing next summer may be increased. I actually have a slip lined up too, so for the most part we won't be trailering, at least not this summer. But, having the ability to haul the boat somewhere for a winter vacation is very appealing.

Regarding the size of the family, I keep offering to stop feeding the teenagers so they'll fit better into small spaces but that doesn't seem to be too popular. :) However, the kids do like sleeping under the stars. Last summer we had 3 kids sleeping in the cockpit on Orbweaver, 1 on each seat and 1 on the floor. They were quite happy there. So, sleeping 5 doesn't necessarily mean all 5 are in the cabin somewhere. Oddly enough, after 21 years my wife and I still like to sleep in the same bed. So when it comes right down to it, a boat with a berth large enough for that (I'm 6') and maybe 1 or 2 single berths would be adequate.

Regarding the motor size, I agree that being able to motor back to the dock/outrun a storm has it's value. Jon Cons, I like the way you put that: "motor better than any sailboat, and sail better than any motorboat". If I end up with one, I'm gonna use that if anyone decides to give me lip about my choice!
 
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Jun 8, 2014
1
Macgregor 26X Newberry
I've slept in the cockpit of my '01 26X. It can be done but the seat is pretty narrow.

There is a thread at macgregorsailors.com discussing how much was paid for a Mac. The average for the 26X right now is about 15K. If I remember correctly there were two <10K. One was a very motivated seller and the other was very dirty and needed a new engine.

You can sleep 5 adults in the cabin if they don't mind sharing beds and if at least two are not at all claustrophobic. The rear berth is large and comfortable but it does not have a lot of head room.

I would agree with the idea that it is the "best motoring sailboat and the best sailing motorboat". I came from a 16' racing beach cat to the Mac for many of the same reasons as you. The Mac was the only boat that had the interior room, shallow draft, and was trailerable with a vehicle that I could use as my daily driver. I certainly gave up a lot of pure sailing performance (I would literally sail circles around monohulls with my Prindle just for fun) but I have never regretted the change.
 
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Apr 3, 2020
43
Hunter 26.5 Trailer
Well, the Mac wasn't meant to be. I found a Hunter 26.5 for half the price in better condition. thanks again everyone for the advice!
 
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