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Old 07-15-2001
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decodent is on a distinguished road
First time sail boat buyer

MacGregor 26 as a first boat?

So am I crazy to think that a MacGregor 26 would be an ideal first boat for me?

I live in Santa Cruz, CA where the waiting list for slips 3-4 years for the upper habor (<35-40'' and a bridge to contend with) and almost two decades for the upper harbor.

I am looking for a first-time boat with the following requirements:

1) Liveaboard 3-4 days/week (more of a floating bed and place to hack away on my laptop than anything else)

2) Economical & reliable - I don''t want a British sports car-type boat ... something needing constant maintenance. And I could afford a new one (approx 27k with 50hp outboard).

3) Versatile - something that can be trailored to other locations, i.e. Santa Barbara, Lake Tahoe, San Juan Islands, rivers and other semi-protected waterways. The MacGregor can be pulled behind my Toyota Previa van (a 4-cylinder, no less!), works as a powerboat, sailboat, and even a house trailer while on the road.

4) Motoring capabilities - the ability to sail is fine, and I will. But I also want something that is a reliable and versatile powerboat. Because of the MacGregor''s shallow draft, it can be beached, taken through shallow waters, etc. It also supposedly planes and does 24 knots when empty.

5) A good boat to learn with - it seems a basic boat like this would be a good "starter boat" because it is relatively small and simple. -- Most of the owner reports I''ve been reading reveal happy, contented folks that are happy with the inherent limitations and advantages this rather unique boat offers.

I''m thinking this boat would allow me to:

1) Explore western lakes, rivers, and coastal areas relatively easily and economically.

2) Do 1-4 week trips in areas such as Sea of Cortez, etc.

2) Discover if the reality of living onboard and dealing with the hassles of a boat are the lifestyle I want.

3) Because of the high resale value, get out from under it if I decide it''s NOT what I want.

Though I have my dreams about becoming a permanent liveaboard and perhaps cruising the world someday, this seems like it could be a good "cruising starter kit" boat.

My sailing experience is pretty much confined to growing up with what we called "the tug" (6'' row/motor/sail-boat that my Dad bought), racing on hobie cats, and wind surfing.

I''m acutely aware of boat hull design/dynamics through 15 years of whitewater and sea kayaking, though how much of that would transfer as "good sailboat knowledge" would remain to be seen.

Any feedback, suggestions, etc., would be mucho appreciated.

Thanks! And Happy Cruisin''

aka "decodent"
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Old 07-16-2001
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First time sail boat buyer

I think that much of what you say has validity except for three of your points.

"A good boat to learn with - it seems a basic boat like this would be a good "starter boat" because it is relatively small and simple. -- Most of the owner reports I''ve been reading reveal happy,contented folks that are happy with the inherent limitations and advantages this rather unique boat offers."

Reply: From talking Mac26X owners on the internet and in real life and watching them under way, one thing that I have come way from the conversation with is that these are terrible boats to learn to sail on. I actually taught a husband and wife to sail who had owned one for well over a year when I took worked with them. The problem is that the boats are not terribly responsive so your sails can trimmed completely wrong and there is no clues to tell you that.

In talking to Mac Owners, I have comcluded that many of them simply crank the motor if they want to go any where and sail when conditions are perfect for brief periods of time. While I have run into quite a few owners who clearly love their Mac''s, I have also run into quite a few who really hate them as sailboats. The thing that I have concluded they are like Churchill''s talking dog,"Who cares about enounciation, its that he talks at all", which is to say that they are poor sailboats and no to great as powerboats but they do both which in and of itself is remarkable.

I also had a good friend who went sailing with a Mac owner in an effort to try to help them ''get more out of the sailing part of owning the boat.'' His discription suggests that if you know how to sail and you enjoy boats that sail well, the Mac would be a very frustrating experience.

"Because of the high resale value, get out from under it if I decide it''s NOT what I want."

I don''t know why you think that they have a high resale value. In several recent conversations, I have heard two owners describe taking a real baths trying on the boats. Initially when the boats were introduced there were a limited number of used ones on the market. At this point the used market seems a bit more flooded (at least around here) and both guys described having the boat on the market for a comparatively long period of time and then having to dump it at a big loss. They both originally thought as you did and had set the resale price close to what they had paid for their boats. As the boats languished on the market, they both ended up accepting low prices. The one boat actually failed survey and was put back on the market and at the time of my conversation had yet to sell. If you must buy a Mac26X at least buy a used one so that someone else has taken the first hit.

The other problem is the lack of light air or heavy air ability. You are talking about sailing in an area noted for predominantly light air punctuated by some pretty heavy stuff. I think that your conclusions could steer you towards a used trailerable, but if you really want to sail and sail safely I would suggest that you buy something that is better built and which also sails better as well.

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Old 07-17-2001
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meander is on a distinguished road
First time sail boat buyer

Lovely thread going here. I''m just poking
around and tripped over it.

I bought my first boat last year after (too many) years of OPB''s (Other Peoples).

Just completed my first weekend to Block Island - and loved it.

I''m of the "big enough to learn reality - small enough to manage myself" school.
With some "must be a real boat" thrown in.

The Tartan, Sabre, Bristol and Luders all
seem to qualify. A number of nice T30''s came on the market last year. The T30 had a large following and seemed to have a strong re-sale market (re-sold? - it''s 27yrs old!)

So I bought the best of the T30''s on the market at that time. Very happy with her.

Do it now - spend the 15-20k - get a mooring.
Learn how to maintain her (there''s more to boats than sailing!).
Take it easy - expect mistakes (so make them affordable!)
Use a Surveyor! (and get insurance)

You''ll never regret it.

Bristol, RI
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Old 07-18-2001
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decodent is on a distinguished road
First time sail boat buyer

I really appreciate the feedback here ... wow!

On Jeff''s note, I was surprised to read about resale values lower than I''d been hearing about. However, that is GOOD NEWS; I will keep my eyes pealed for deals.

As for other boats to look at, from what I can tell there are really only two others that sort of fit that category of "easily trailored", and neither of them has the motoring (i.e. "fast") capabilities of the MacGregor.

One is the Hunter 260. See:

The other is the Catalina 250:

Both are heavier than the MacGregor 26 and would probably challenge the towing abilities of my car (a Toyota Prevea with supercharged engine; rated to 3500 lb. towing weight), especially leaving Santa Cruz. We have the dreaded "the hill", a steep, windy (whine-dee) pass that is hard enough WITHOUT a trailor.

Given that it''s going to take 3-5 years to get a mooring (that''s the waiting list time), I''d like to have something in the interim that can be pulled in and out as needed.

I have no doubts the Catalina and (especially) Hunter are better built, but I''d probably have to buy a new car to tow them. And I LOVE my Toyota.

Heck, now that''s the analogy -- that Toyota minivan and the boat I''d like to find. I''m on my second Previa. It runs forever, has a rare combo of performance, comfort, carrying capacity, quality, parking ease, and - (drum roll) - VERSATILITY.

I want a boat that motors well; sails well; never needs maintenance; could be pulled with my Previa to Tahoe, Lake Havasu, Sacramento Delta, SF Bay, San Juan Islands, Baja, etc; costs under 10k; and is big enough to be a single''s liveaboard at least 4-5 days/week.

Now is that so much to ask for?

aka "decodent"
Any feedback would be mucho appreciated; especially if you know of some other
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Old 07-19-2001
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hooligansix is on a distinguished road
First time sail boat buyer

Martin Consider an intenational Folkboat, They are daysailers, racers, weekenders, and cruisers, More Atlantic crossings then any other class. Webb Chilessaid a boat must have three things 1, must be fun to sail 2, must be able to stand up to a big blow 3, must look good when you row away from her at a mooring. The FB has all three she is tough, fast, fun to sail and affordable. Put a wind vane and a sea swing (small stove) on her and you can go any where. They come with or without an inboardbut they sail so well you don''t need an engine or outboard. One in good condition with good sails should run about $8k
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Old 07-20-2001
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First time sail boat buyer

I recently bought my "first" sailboat. Though I had grown up sailing small sailboats at the family lake cabin. My first is a 1984 Hunter 25.5. Sailing out of Milwaukee It was not difficult to look at a huge variety of boats (used). Many were out of the water and would require a large investment to get these boats seaworthy. I was looking to stay under 10k and get as much boat as possible. I was willing to have a pro survey any boat I was making an offer on and was prepard to do most of the work myself.

What I did was identify how much I could budget for the purchase (cash), storage, repairs, outfitting and dockage. I found a boat that I was able to deal on.

But getting all the facts on paper of what you want in a boat is more important than picking what boat you want first.

My wife wanted headroom, I wanted a boat that was fun to sail, had an outboard, and was capable of boucning up and down the western coast of lake Michigan with confidence. There had to be a buyer eager to sell. The boat had to have potential and score well in a survey. I found a Hunter 25.5 that filled the bill nicely. I would not say this is my ultimate boat nor would I think it is more than it is. A light coastal pocket cruiser. It has really exceeded my expectations. A fun boat, sails like a dinghy (may be a bit tender for some) but get her up to speed and she stiffens up nicely. The rig is sized so that I can have one hand on the tiller and the other the main sheet like a dinghy....

So far this season we''ve made the Milwaukee - Port Washington run - 26 miles one way lots of sailing out front in a variety of conditions and have been getting used to learning all the things about larger boat ownership. In August we''ll be heading south for two weeks bouncing down the coast to Chicago. Sailing during the day and overnighting in the many ports along the way.

I say find yourself a used neglected boat in good condition of a reputable model that is known to your local sailors. Set your expectations of how you will use the boat and lay out REALISTIC goals. Have any used boat surveyed first!!! It is way worth it!!

Good Luck
See you out there
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Old 07-22-2001
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dhartdallas is on a distinguished road
First time sail boat buyer

Hello martinojohn. JeffH has given you a lot
of good information. If I may put in my two
cents worth, I would say don''t buy a boat to
to learn in and don''t try to determine meta-
physically what kind of boat you want or need. Having owned a 24 foot power boat you
know that a boat is "a hole in the water that
you pour money into." Were I you, I''d take
sailing lessons. They are cheap and basic
sailing doesn''t take long. Then I''d spend a
little time sailing day rate dinghies, day sailers, and twenty to twenty-five footers.
If you like sailing then and think its for
you, you could then go on a couple of week
end charters in larger boats with experienced
people and help on board. By then you will
know the lingo, have the skills, will have
been around boats and will know enough to
decide what is your cup of tea. You will be
well placed to decide where you want to cruise, keep your boat, etc.

Finally, let me ask you to do this: Go walk
around some marinas and look at the sailboats
there. See how many have cobwebbs hanging off of them, are covered in dirt and bird
droppings and haven''t been used in months,
sometimes years. If you get too large a boat,
you will always have the problem of crew.
It is a depreciable asset. It costs a lot to
keep up. Slip rent up there isn''t cheap, etc.
You can bare boat charter a loaded boat a lot
of times for the cost of a thirty foot boat.

Not trying to discourage you. Just want to
be sure you are in love before you get married. If the occassional sailing trip is
your wish, charter will make you money.
And you won''t saddle yourself with the pay-
ments just starting your career. Don''t rush
it. Spend some time on it. And be careful.
You might catch it. It isn''t curable.

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Old 06-15-2008
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Wink New York in a weekend

I realize that the original message is a number of years old, but I couldn't let the writer's comment about wanting to take a weekend trip from Boston to NYC go by without comment. No one with any idea of what sailboats do would suggest something like that. A week... maybe. A weekend... maybe riding a hurricane with first easterlies and then westerlies, but it wouldn't be fun!

I wonder what the writer wound up doing in terms of his sailing career.
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Old 06-15-2008
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camaraderie is a jewel in the rough camaraderie is a jewel in the rough camaraderie is a jewel in the rough
Lenny...I think you will find a number of "one post wonders" in the post and you wonder where they went after a lot of people respond with thoughtful answers. Such is the internet.
BTW...welcome aboard and don't be a "wonder"!
No longer posting. Reach me by PM!
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