I recently had a conversation with Jim, a retired boat dealer, 35 years in the industry, and he couldn't say enough good things about the MacGregor 26, enough praise to make me feel that my first knee-jerk reaction may have been unwarranted. Eleven thousand of the 26's were built, seven thousand in the U.S and four thousand distributed world wide. Those numbers alone make the MacGregor 26 one of the most successful small cruising sailboats ever built. Jim told me this real life story of one of his customers to demonstrate the capabilities of the MacGregor 26.
Two fathers with their sons trailer launched their MacGregor 26 out of West River one Friday night and motored the mile or so over to Rhode River to spend the night off of one of the small islands. Saturday morning, early, they blasted over the flat calm waters of Chesapeake Bay to where the fish were biting. They fished all morning, grabbed a lunch in the spacious cabin, and, with the breeze up, filled the ballast tanks for a pleasant sail back to the take out ramp at West River.
Jim, who sold and also owned the 26, ticked off several selling points of the MacGregor 26:
- A great family boat because the kids got to do the things they enjoyed; water skiing, tubing and not so much the things they found boring, such as drifting in light air. Plus you could get to the anchorages quick enough to enjoy swimming and hanging out with other kids.
- A very roomy interior. With the MacGregor 26, designer Roger MacGregor anticipated the latest "French" styling of Beneteau and Jenneau with the high freeboard and swoopy coach-roof, all in the name of interior space.
- Decent sailing performance. Jim is an accomplished sailor and took the MacGregor 26 over to the Bahamas and did a circumnavigation of the Outer Banks.
- Trailerable, so you could get to a place to sail to the Bahamas or the Outer Banks. Or you could just pull in to a beach.
Here is a drawing of the MacGregor 26M, which I think was the last model of the 26 (the 26X was the first). Thanks to bluefreeyachts.com.au where I got the image.
Plenty of MacGregor 26 cruising videos up on YouTube. Here is one of them.