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rlltrash 09-21-2012 02:04 PM

Water Ballast Boats ?
 
Hello All;

Are there some readers who have experience with Water Ballast boats? If so, what kind of boat(s)? Please tell us about it - pros and cons.

The MacGregor 26 is the only one that I know of. I have heard that it is not a great sailboat. It is, perhaps, a better power boat. What other boats in the 20' - 30' range use Water Ballast? How well do they sail?

Thanks, Richard

RobGallagher 09-21-2012 02:15 PM

Re: Water Ballast Boats ?
 
I learned to sail on a Hunter 240. Nice trailer sailor with decent room down below for a boat that size.

Nice to sail on a nice day. Not something I would want to be out on if, as it does in New England, conditions changed quickly. Nor is it something I would want to use for coastal cruising.

Water ballast is a trade off I'm not willing to make. However, IF I had to start towing a sailboat on a trailer I might have to rethink my options.

At this point I do have options, I could trailer, use a slip, dry store or stay on a mooring.

A keel boat on a mooring, for me, is by far the best option.

(One thing you don't mention is why you are interested in water ballast)

JMHO YMMV

PeterSailer 09-21-2012 03:31 PM

Re: Water Ballast Boats ?
 
If you you're not planing on take your bot out of the water after each sail, or if you won't be trailering the boat much, I wouldn't choose a water ballast sailboat.

But to answer your question:

MacGregor 26
Hunter 240
Hunter 260
Catalina 250 mkll

I have only sailed on the MacGregor 26 and didn't really enjoy it, I can't say anything about the other sailboats listed above but I am thinking that they are probably better boats then the MacGregor.

Pros:
-If bad weather is on the way your can lower your sails, dump the ballast and plan back to your marina/mooring
-easy to transport
-If you manage to poke a hole ( in the water ballast tank) through the hull it shouldn't sink

Cons
-Ballast isn't down low where it should be
-Water density 62lbs per cubic foot, lead density 709 lbs per cubic foot= tender sailboat
-less head room
-Hard to access and inspect the ballast tank (I don't recall seing a inspection port in the MacGregor but I could be wrong please correct me if I am. I don't know about the other boat listed above)

And this is probably just me but I'm always scared to loose all my ballast while I'm sailing on one of these boats =D

Cheers

Pierre

Barquito 09-21-2012 03:46 PM

Re: Water Ballast Boats ?
 
Quote:

And this is probably just me but I'm always scared to loose all my ballast while I'm sailing on one of these boats =D
Hey, I've been scared enough on my keel boat that I almost lost my ballast... oh, your talking about something else.:D

Sumner10 09-21-2012 04:36 PM

Re: Water Ballast Boats ?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by rlltrash (Post 924999)
Hello All;

Are there some readers who have experience with Water Ballast boats? If so, what kind of boat(s)? Please tell us about it - pros and cons.

The MacGregor 26 is the only one that I know of. I have heard that it is not a great sailboat. It is, perhaps, a better power boat. What other boats in the 20' - 30' range use Water Ballast? How well do they sail?

Thanks, Richard

There are 4 water ballast boats in MacGregor's history. They have always pretty much made one model boat at a time due to the space at their facilities.

The first water ballast is the D from about 85-89 and is a daggerboard boat, thus the D. It is a pretty fast boat with a PHRF of about 210. The boat is not a power boat, but has a displacement hull with a top speed of about 7 knots, under sail or power.

Next is the S and and is the next generation and almost a clone of the D except it has a swing centerboard, thus the S. It is slightly slower than the D due to the centerboard trunk with a PHRF of about 220. This boat is also not a power boat and also has a top speed of about 7 knots. This is the boat Ruth and I own. We bought the S over the D because we wanted to trailer all over the place to unknown waters and the swing centerboard can hit bottom with no damage. The rudder on both of these can also kick up and these boats can be ....

http://purplesagetradingpost.com/sum...sep-oct-09.jpg

...beached and run in water of 18 inches or less.

The S and D both have pop-tops...

http://purplesagetradingpost.com/sum...ell%20Pass.jpg

....that you use at anchorage (some sail with them up, but you shouldn't) and give you standing headroom when up. Down you have about 5 feet which really isn't a big deal as there is no place to walk around in these boats anyway. If it is cold, 40 or below, we leave the top down for more warmth.

The S and D are very good sailing boats. Yes with the water ballast they are tender to about 12-15 degrees and then stiffen up. Some of the guys that have them sail hard and have tried to knock them down and haven't been very successful. They are not a blue water boat, but one guy did sail one from Calif. to Panama all off-shore. I wouldn't but we did take ours 400+ miles down the west side of Florida and across Florida Bay to the keys and north up to south of Miami.

The S model ran from about 1990 to '95 when the X came about. The first of the two models that some of the guys love to hate. It is also water ballast and does have more freeboard due to the standup headroom which many love in a boat this size that you can trailer.

http://www.vehibase.com/macgregor-m-26-x.jpg

Now we are at the water ballast boats that have 60-90 HP outboard on them. These are niche boats, but ones that have kept MacGregor in business when a lot of others that build 'real sailboats' went out of business. They along with the S and D's have huge rear berths...

http://www.macgregor26.com/index/rea...ooke_large.jpg

....larger than most boats under 30 feet and a lot of people love that. For us that area is storage and is what makes month long cruises without re-supply possible.

Regardless of what people think of the X and the M next these boats are extremely popular with their owners for the most part and I'd suggest that you go to the Mac site for these boats and hear what the owners say if the X or the M is the boat you are considering (I'd post a link here to the site but don't know if that is ok. PM me if you would like a link).

The current model being made is the M that has a little more headroom than the X and a different interior layout and the M has a daggerboard vs. the swing centerboard of the X.

Water ballast is really widely misunderstood. It has its good points, the major being that you don't need a diesel pickup to tow these boats (our S has a dry weight of 1800 lbs. without ballast) the con is that they are a little more tender than similar sized boats with a fixed keel or a swing (weighted) keel. For us the trade-off has been well worth it.

If you are interested in what you can do with a boat like ours read a couple of our trip reports...

Macgregor Trips-1 Index

We bought a fixed keel larger boat, the Endeavour, but it is 2200 miles from us and we will probably only have her for a few years as we are around 70. If we lived on the water someplace we would probably have a fixed keel boat there, but we don't. We live in the desert more or less so will keep the Mac and enjoy using her all over the U.S..

Are there better put together boats than a Mac, sure, like the Hunter, but if buying new they are many thousands of dollars more than the Mac. We have never felt that our boat was going to let us down or was unsafe and we just don't day sail her. BTW even if the bottom was holed you would not loose the water ballast as it is below the water line. You would not want to keep sailing without fixing it but you could sail or motor home. Here is a good article that really explains how water ballast can and does work...

Mistress of Grand Traverse

Sum

-----------------------------

Our 37 Endeavour --- Our 26 MacGregor --- Trips With Both

http://purplesagetradingpost.com/sum...avour-sm-1.jpg

rlltrash 09-22-2012 02:02 AM

Re: Water Ballast Boats ?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by RobGallagher (Post 925011)

. . . . A keel boat on a mooring, for me, is by far the best option.
(One thing you don't mention is why you are interested in water ballast)

JMHO YMMV

Thank you all for your comments. I appreciate that. A special thanks to Sumner10 for taking the time to write that great report on the MacGregor and include the pictures.

To answer the question above - dry mast-up storage. Where I live in southern California, a mooring is hard to find. My options are slips and dry (on trailer) storage. Because it is salt water, I prefer the dry storage to help keep the bottom clean. Also, like Sumner10, I like to trailer a boat occasionally. Both of these desires point to a water ballast, lifting or swing keel boat. HOWEVER, I want a "good" and relatively fast sailboat for ocean coastal day sailing (and a little racing), not a compromise. (If I have to decide between the two, I will take the "good" sailer over the water ballast.) It sounds like the MacGregor 26 D or S may work. I will have to check them out in more detail.

Does anyone else have any experience with a MacGregor 26 D or S boat?
How about other Water Ballast boats? Is there a better sailing boat than the MacGregor? Can anyone share their sailing experiences on any of these?

Thanks again, Richard

HeartsContent 09-22-2012 03:09 AM

Re: Water Ballast Boats ?
 
The Macgregors are the top of the trailer sailor food chain as the market clearly bares out.

I see lots of the old 26's hitting the ramp in Dunedin, Fl.

[geek engaged]
1st rule of racing young Padawan. :) :) :) Determine a racing win, the speed of a boat does not. Feel the full power of the force in wind shifts, headers and puffs you must. Found in the decision to tack, the victory will be.
[geek disengaged]

The early Macgregor 26s are very affordable and feasible racers. I see lots of the old 26's hitting the ramp in Dunedin, Fl.

rlltrash 09-22-2012 03:50 PM

Re: Water Ballast Boats ?
 
In looking through the archives, I found several threads from years ago. One problem I had not thought of is Marine Growth in the water ballast tanks - when the boat is sailed in salt water. Can anyone comment on that?

As for stability and sailing performance, the old posts tended to recommend weighted lifting or swing keels rather than water ballast. What do you think?

Richard

PeterSailer 09-22-2012 04:17 PM

Re: Water Ballast Boats ?
 
Quote:

In looking through the archives, I found several threads from years ago. One problem I had not thought of is Marine Growth in the water ballast tanks - when the boat is sailed in salt water. Can anyone comment on that?
A guy that I know who owns a MacGregor 26 said that he uses Javex bleach once in a while in his water ballast tank. But he says that it's no big deal because he usally empty he's ballast after each sail.

Quote:

As for stability and sailing performance, the old posts tended to recommend weighted lifting or swing keels rather than water ballast. What do you think?
Yes a boats with a weighted swing keel will be less tender then the same boat without it thats for sure, but the ballast is just one of the variables... there is also beam, sail plan and the center of Gravity. Maybe even hull shape?

Pierre

Sumner10 09-22-2012 05:10 PM

Re: Water Ballast Boats ?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by rlltrash (Post 925372)
In looking through the archives, I found several threads from years ago. One problem I had not thought of is Marine Growth in the water ballast tanks - when the boat is sailed in salt water. Can anyone comment on that?

We haven't used anything in the tank and have had no problems, but the longest we had water in the tank was 2 months in Florida. I know some of the guys that leave the boat in the water add a little bleach like Pierre mentioned. I would not be concerned about this at all.

Quote:

Originally Posted by rlltrash (Post 925372)
...As for stability and sailing performance, the old posts tended to recommend weighted lifting or swing keels rather than water ballast. What do you think?

I think you need to separate the stability from the performance and look at them a little separtely. There is 1200 lbs of water ballast in the boats to help make up for the fact that it is higher than say a swing keel that is weighted. All fixed keels and swing keels don't have the same stability either. You can't make a blanket statement that will cover all of the possibilites. Most boats that are trailerd that are the size of the Mac have weighted keels in the 400-600 lb. range. A lot of people are under the impression that since it is water it isn't the same as 1200 lbs. of lead at the same location in the boat. That simply isn't true. Read the link I posted above.

Ruth is a non-swimmer and is not crazy about heeling period and she gets along with the boat. We sail it a little flatter than most people probably do. The traveler I made helps with that. She is on the tiller 90% of the time so she can turn into the wind any time she doesn't feel comfortable. I usually run the sheets and she is up to the point of feeling comfortable with 12-14 deg. of heel and I'll keep it there with the sheets. A lot of people with these boats sail them much harder than we do. As I mentioned before you can't hardly knock one down if you try and those who have succeed say the boats comes right up on its own immediately. With the high coamings even if the boat is knocked down for a second no water enters the cockpit.

The down to any of these smaller boats is that gusts of wind can easily change the heel by 2-3 degrees very quickly. It is now that little sudden change that still bothers Ruth a litttle, but not near as much as before. We have been in open water crossing Florida Bay with the occasional 4 foot wave and the boat is always stable and you never feel in danger.

Still you can't compare this boat or other trailered boats, even those with weighted swing keels, to say a 26 foot fix keel boat that weighs 5,000-6000 lbs.. You alson aren't going to easily put those boats on a trailer and launch and retreive easily.

Now about the performance the D and the S are boats that will sail very close to the wind, sail very well in light winds and with a reef or two in the main will sail in winds up to 20 knots comfortably for most people. Their PHRF ratings prove that they are fast overall boats that sail very well.

Here is a link to PHRF ratings that helps to explain them if one is unfamiliar with them ....

PHRF

... and here is a link to their ratings....

http://offshore.ussailing.org/Assets...er+19+2011.pdf

...if you have another boat you are interested in compare it to the S or D.

For sure there are some faster boats out there in this length but can you eaisly trailer/launch them. Can you outfit them to cruise in them for a week to a month or two?

Now if you are looking at the powersailer X's and M's their owners will be the first to admit that they aren't great pure sailors, but most of them bought them for a different reason.

I'm not trying to sell everyone on an S or D because it isn't the boat for everyone, but is a nice option for the needs of some of us. I still haven't found a boat that is better all around for Ruth's and my needs,

Sum

--------------------------------------
Our 37 Endeavour --- Our 26 MacGregor --- Trips With Both

http://purplesagetradingpost.com/sum...avour-sm-1.jpg


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