To each his own

Published on March 29th, 2020

by Bob Muggleston, Points East
This past summer a commercial airline pilot friend of mine, Travis, spent a lot of time researching sailboats. He did so because: 1) He’s interested in upgrading his current platform, a MacGregor 24 trailer sailer he inherited from his father-in-law; and 2) he’s vaguely interested in living aboard a boat once he retires.

Not being that well-versed in boats, but definitely enthusiastic – sailboats and jets both use foils, after all, and employ the principles of fluid dynamics – Travis had many questions. “What about this boat?” he’d ask. “Only $17k with a nearly new diesel and just look at all the work the owner did!”

This was a long and enjoyable text stream. Until that one day. The day Travis asked The Question: “What about the MacGregor 26M?” he wrote. It was accompanied by a link to one of the boat’s promotional videos, which supposedly shows the vessel sailing in 50 knots of breeze off the California coast, and also features a guy waterskiing behind one.

Oh, no. “Not that one,” I groaned. “The sailboat built for a 60 h.p. outboard?” I did know the boat, and had already seen the video. Many times. Needless to say, it was a firm “No” from me, on the basis that the 26M was theoretically designed to be both a powerboat and a sailboat, but somehow was neither.

Travis was undeterred. He listed some of the boat’s attributes: Twin rudders, water ballast, easy trailerability, six feet of headroom on a 26-footer, and the ability to actually get where you’re going . . . in a hurry. He also pointed out that, as a trailer sailer, the 26M resale values stayed high.

Still a hard “No.”

“I’m sorry,” he finally said. “What, exactly, is the problem?”

To be clear here, Travis wasn’t considering the 26M as a liveaboard. This was purely as an upgrade of what he had, and he was already used to trailering his 24-footer to ramps and rigging it there in the parking lot.

“Well . . . it’s . . . it’s . . .” I struggled to find the right words. “It’s ugly!”

A pregnant pause. “Who cares?” he said.

I thought about that a bit. He was right, of course. Who cares? Isn’t the most important thing that the boat gets people out on the water? I’d researched the 26M quite a bit at this point, and was aware that roughly 3,000 of them had been sold by the time their production run ended in 2013.

This makes the MacGregor 26M one of the most popular cruising sailboats ever. By comparison, the worldwide number of J/24s – one of the most ubiquitous “bigger” boats ever made, though not a “cruising” boat – is around 5,500. Full report.

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