1980's Cape Dory 26' - SailNet Community

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Old 01-07-2010
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1980's Cape Dory 26'

We had been looking at PS Dana's, but that didn't work out. We are thinking about a Cape Dory 26. All info would be appreciated about the sailing/build characteristics. We plan on sailing over nights in the Chesapeake Bay and rivers.
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Old 01-07-2010
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Either boat would be the wrong boat for doing overnights on the Chesapeake. The Chesapeake rewards boats that do well in either light air or heavy air, and these boats are not all that great at either end of the spectrum. That means that for most of the good sailing days, these boats are effectively rolly powerboats with a mast.

Beyond that, on the Chesapeake a decent turn of speed rewards a boat owner with a whole lot more options in terms of places to anchor for the night and dead slow boats like these would be painfully restrictive.

I would suggest that you consider a more well rounded design that can sail well in light air and change gears to heavier conditions quickly.

Respectfully,
Jeff
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Old 01-07-2010
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If you haven't come across the Cape Dory Sailboat Owner's Association yet, give it a look. Welcome to the Cape Dory Sailboat Owners Association's Home Page

I do not have experience with the 26 but I have a 30. These boats are not for everyone but the people that they appeal to really like them. They tend to be heavier and feature full keels. This makes them slower and less responsive than some modern boats but that has its benefits as well. If you like to sail long days and relax at the helm and not get the last 1/4knot out of the boat, they are perfect. The build quality tends to be good on their boats. Everything is heavily built and can stand up to quite a beating. The biggest thing to watch for is delamination in cored decks.

Many modern boats will get you to that anchorage faster and have larger accomodations once you get there. However, if what you are really interested in is the journey to the anchorage, then a boat like this will work well. If racing around is what you are looking for, then a CD26 won't be a good fit but if having a wonderful laid back cruise is what you are looking for, they can be quite good.

Discussions of Cape Dory boats pop up from time to time here and it often turns into a question of how quick they are which doesn't directly dictate how much fun they can be to sail. As Jeff points out above, the weather that you expect to encounter is important. I do not have very much experience with the Chesapeake but it seems like the winds tend to be quite light in the summer which would not be ideal with this boat. A boat like this does best in 10-20 knots. Make sure that the time of year you plan to sail has appropriate winds for the boat that you look into.

Last edited by klem; 01-07-2010 at 12:44 PM.
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Other Options

Jeff,

Could you suggest some boats that would be a better fit? While I don't live on the Chesapeake, my local wind conditions are similar.

Thanks,

Kate
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Old 01-07-2010
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For the price of a Cape Dory 26, I would say a favorite of mine might be something like a Tartan 30 and for less money and build quality something like a Pearson 30. Other good choices might include something like a J-28 or J-30.

Jeff
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Old 01-07-2010
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Speaking of the Tartan 30, check out the Tartan 28 article in the new Good Old Boat!
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Old 01-07-2010
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I will disagree (as I've doen in the past) with Jeff's assessment of the suitability of the Dana for the Chesapeake. We sailed ours happily for years. We visited loads of places, sailed and anchored comfortably, with most of the amenities of much larger boats. I was never disappointed with its sailing ability -- and our immediate prior boat was pure racer (Melges 24). There are very few boats in that size range which could carry the payload we loaded in it and still sail so admirably.

That said, the Cape Dory 26 is a smaller boat in every respect except length over all. Like most of the models in the CD range, they are on the narrower side. And this model lacks an inboard diesel, which for many folks begins to mark the threshold between more capable/serious cruisers.

If you pursue the Cape Dory route, I would encourage you to bump up a bit and look at the CD 27 or 28s, with inboard diesel engines (even the later CD25D might be an option). These are closer to the Dana in size.

Going up a bit more, one of my favorite models in the line-up is the CD30 Mark II, which was a bit of a departure in that it was designed by Clive Dent rather then Carl Alberg. It's proportionally beamier than its brethren and has a bit more modern appearance, with a very room interior for its size. Here's an example:

1988 Cape Dory 30 MKII Sail Boat For Sale - www.yachtworld.com
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What about something like this?..

View Boat Photos - YachtWorld.com
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Old 01-08-2010
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While it's true that Chespeake summers are often hot, sticky and still, isn't it true that from around October-December and early March-May are much windier, and better sailing?

It seems that as long as you're not restricting yourself to June-Aug, there should be enough wind to push that thing.
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It is true that the best sailing on the Chesapeake is typically in the spring and fall, with the summer usually being hot and windless, but even in these seasons the winds are typically either below 10 knots or in the high teens- low 20 knot range. I know that some very good sailors have been very satisfied with their Dana's, but my sense is that a more modern design (like the Sabre 28 for esample that someone mentioned) would be much better suited to a new sailor on the Chesapeake and would offer a more rewarding sailing experience as well as better handle the short chop that typically comes along with the higher winds of spring and fall

Jeff.
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