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  #1  
Old 04-29-2013
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MacGregor 36 – Help to find out if it is the right boat for me.

Hello everyone,

I am looking for my first sailboat (to buy it) and found one that could fit my needs and my budget but since I'm new to sailing I am looking for some advice.

I have a very specific need/want that I expect to find in a boat so because of that I know that it will not be a easy task to find the “right one” but I am sure that trying to gather as much information and suggestions as possible from more "experienced" boat owners/sailors before making a decision will be the best way to go.

I found a MacGregor 36 with an outboard 25hp engine for sale near where I am and it seems to fit my “profile”, but I would appreciate all opinions, especially from MacGregor owners.

Here is what I am looking for:

1) An “easy to handle” cat, that I can go “island hopping” and freediving (diving without tanks) for 3 or 4 days each time.

2) The combination of sailing/motoring is not a problem, actually it is a “plus”;

3) An average “cruising” speed of around 8 – 10 knots;

4) Need a boat to go over shallow reef (Carefully not to damage it, of course);

5) During the day, moving from one dive site to another motoring will be the case;

6) “Deck space” is the most important as I will spend most of the time there; large trampoline area is a big “plus”;

Now the most “challenging” part:

7) I need to be able to fit 3 or4 people for overnight staying – 2 or 3 nights at a time (not looking for any luxury, but minimal comfort to be able to have a good sleep at night), have a place to prepare meals and a head.


What do you think? It is possible to “convert” a MacGregor 36 to be more a small “cruising” cat and not some much a fast-racing boat?


Apparently some of you own MacGregors and seem interested in sharing your knowledge/experience here in the forum, so I would like to ask if you could help me with links, general information, opinion, experience or any other advise you can give me. All help is appreciated for sure.

Thanks so much for all your help and hope to hear back from you soon.
.
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Old 04-29-2013
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Re: MacGregor 36 – Help to find out if it is the right boat for me.

In a different thread, you asked about Hunters, too. To the best of my (admittedly limited) knowledge, Hunter didn't make cats. Are you still leaning toward a catamaran? What makes you think you want a cat versus a monohull?

Mind you, I'm not trying to talk you out of it, just trying to get a feel for why you're headed in the direction you are.

Do you have any sailing experience? On what type of boat?

What's your budget?
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Re: MacGregor 36 – Help to find out if it is the right boat for me.

Hey Jim,

For my main use, diving and freediving, it is way more practical and enjoyable to have a large "open" deck space to work with it... like trampoline area..

Also it is a personal option... I like Cat and Trimaran more..

I use to work as a diver in a 37 Trimaran for 2 years and, for just about 45 days, got a chance to "captain" the boat, learning from the owner and simply felt that it was my "dream" to some day have my own..

That is why...

Budget: US$ 20 k to buy the boat (of course knowing that I will have to put some more money in later for getting it ready)

What is your opinion about it?
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Old 04-29-2013
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Re: MacGregor 36 – Help to find out if it is the right boat for me.

Are you actually in Thailand? That could significantly influence the availability of boats, and the ones that might be recommended for you.

I can appreciate why a big trampoline would be nice; I've been out on a few cats and they do create a spacious deck, and some even have a comfortable lounge area. My problem with cats is that, until you get into the bigger ones (36 is probably the minimum), the hulls really aren't wide enough to give you a lot of elbow room down below. I know you mentioned that you're OK with "roughing it", but it is nice to be able to actually walk past another person without both of you having to turn sideways. If you're planning on using this as a for-hire boat for day sailing, then I think something in the 36' range would be fine. But if you're overnighting, and if you really expect passengers to want to come back, I think something in that range just isn't going to be that comfortable. Now, my opinions are based on walking aboard cats at boat shows, so take them with a grain of salt. Someone like ChucklesR is really the kind of person you want to chime in here, because he sailed a Gemini for several years.

Cats are also great because they don't heel like a monohull, and they are faster in light winds than their monohull cousins. But monos have other advantages, including elbow room. They don't have the trampoline, but you have to be careful what you put on the trampoline; a bad rip can mean a very expensive repair. The same is true for fiberglass, but different.

I'd encourage you to go for rides on other peoples' boats before you buy. You might just be surprised how well a mono might fit your needs. Plus, its much easier to find a slip for a boat with a 10-12' beam than for a boat with a 25+' beam. Monos are also more plentiful, and less expensive, than most cats.

So, now, stepping down from my soap box...

As a practical matter, I don't know too much about the MacGregor cats (or most boats, for that matter...I'm new to this too, though I DO tend to research things a bit). I have seen them in listings, and thought they looked interesting. How long ago did the company stop making them?

FYI, it was announced earlier this year that MacGregor is closing shop. The founder's daughter is starting a new company, but the Mac's won't be made any more. Now, there are THOUSANDS of Macs out there, so you'll likely still find support for them for a long time, but it may be important to know that the factory won't be there any more.

From what I understand MacGregor was a pioneer in the production boat building space. Sure, Luhrs brought out the Hunter boats, and I think Catalina beat them, too. But they took things to a whole new level. They built boats for a price point - where else can you find a brand new sailboat for $30-50K? - and they found ways of meeting that price point. They built thousands of boats, and sold them to entry-level buyers. For most buyers, these were their first boats. So, that meant that the boats weren't always that well taken care of. Plus, the production processes and techniques used by MacGregor were designed to crank out boats. They weren't always the highest quality, and thus their owners really should have paid more attention to the care and maintenance of the boats. They also suffer from a lot of the same problems as other production boats of their era. If you just wander a marina and ask people about MacGregors, you'll find that most people will tell you that they stink. They know someone whose friend had one, and it sank. Or it had rotten decks. Or the mast fell down, or the rudder ripped off, or... But you'll have a harder time finding an actual owner who has had serious problems with his/her boat. Yes, there are bad MacGregors out there. There are bad Catalinas, bad Hunters, bad Pearsons, bad Island Packets, etc. And the sheer number of MacGregors, and especially the target market to whom the vast majority were sold, means that there are some out there that have been VERY poorly maintained. But you'll also find videos of people who took stock Mac monohulls out in 30-50kt winds off Southern California, and people who trailer them all over the country.

So, would I buy a MacGregor? Probably not. If I sailed a lot of lakes, I'd consider it. Or, if I never expected to leave Barnegat Bay or the upper Chesapeake, maybe. But there's enough nagging doubt in the back of my mind to have me concerned about having my family offshore in rough conditions in one. I also don't like the layout of the cabin on the 25's (the only ones I really investigated), nor do I care for the cockpit (it seems too tight to me). I do like the modern design, though.

So, I've given you a page-long response, but didn't address your question.
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Old 04-29-2013
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Re: MacGregor 36 – Help to find out if it is the right boat for me.

BTW, since you mentioned Hunter before, some Hunters can be very good boats. What I learned (again, I may be WAY off the mark!) is that the Cherubini-era Hunters (i.e., those designed by John Cherubini) were great boats for the money. They were stout, well built, and handled decently. Then, early 1980's, about the time when the luxury tax was imposed, Hunter made some changes. Cherubini wasn't working with them any more (not sure if that was his decision or theirs), and they made a lot of changes to "sexy up" the boats, but didn't take into account how that impacted the boat. So, for example, the Hunter 28 is seen as a pretty horrible boat. The build quality is so-so, and the sailing characteristics are horrible. But she looks pretty at the dock! These decisions hit the company pretty hard. They learned that their customers really wanted something that still sailed and handled well. So, in the late 1980's or early 1990's, Hunter started paying more attention to things like build quality, materials, and sailing characteristics. But the 5-10 year window where things went downhill REALLY hurt the company's image. I think that, if you talk to most Hunter owners, they will tell you that the mid-70s and early 80's Hunters were decent, and the newer ones are decent, too.

Like MacGregor, Hunter built/builds to a price point. They do a fantastic job of making a very attractive boat (at least to my novice eye) at a (comparatively) modest price. IMHO, Hunters are roughly peers with Catalinas. Catalinas and Hunters are both decent boats, and fine for their intended purposes. They aren't going to be built as well as an Island Packet, or a Tartan, or any of a number of boats, but they are generally fine. Sort of like a Honda Civic - it's perfectly fine. Does a Civic have the same equipment, comfort, style, etc. as a Lexus SUV? Nope. But it still gets you from Point A to Point B fairly well, fairly safely, and fairly reliably. A Hunter in your price range probably won't get you safely across the ocean, but it should get you down the coast and make for a comfortable cruising boat, or as a dive boat.

If you stay with monohulls, Catalinas, Hunters, Irwins, Ericsons, Pearsons, and several other brands, in the 30-35' range are all going to be within your budget. From what I've seen of the catamarans, most of the decent ones will be too expensive for you, with the possible exception of the MacGregor.
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Last edited by jimgo; 04-29-2013 at 11:59 PM.
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Old 04-30-2013
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Re: MacGregor 36 – Help to find out if it is the right boat for me.

A monohull likely isn't going to have shallow enough draft to get over a bunch of reefs though
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Re: MacGregor 36 – Help to find out if it is the right boat for me.

There are 30-35' centerboard mono's with pretty shallow drafts when the board is up.
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Old 04-30-2013
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Re: MacGregor 36 – Help to find out if it is the right boat for me.

I own a Mac 36 in the Florida Keys and love the boat. Key points for me: sailing at 15+ knots is fun!; big, open deck; shallow draft; snug but long berths; taking large groups of friends out for day sails.

BUT, it's definitely not a boat for everyone. There are some significant limitations:

- Lack of above deck shelter in hot sun or bad weather.
- Lack of standing headroom below deck. What's cozy to me is claustrophobic to many.
- No place for a private head compartment, and limited galley space.
- Heavy loading with gear, supplies, or bulky modifications greatly reduces performance under sail and motor.
- Spade rudders (24-28" draft depending on loading) are vulnerable if you're in really skinny water.

It's an amazing boat for fast sailing and lounging around above deck in fair weather. It's a suitable weekend cruising boat if you're frugal and don't mind a camping approach to sailing. As much as I love the boat--and I spend the whole winter living on it--I think most people wouldn't find the boat comfortable for 3-4 day trips.
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Re: MacGregor 36 – Help to find out if it is the right boat for me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jimgo View Post
Are you actually in Thailand? That could significantly influence the availability of boats, and the ones that might be recommended for you.
Yes, I just moved to Thailand few months ago and that is a big "limiting" side of my search options...

Thanks a lot for all the info Jim... very helpful.

I still think that a Cat would work better for me... besides personal taste and preferences, large flat deck space and shallow draft are my main concern, and I cant get that with a monohull.

I know it is not a easy task, specially because my small knowledge about boat and even smaller budget, but I figure I need to start somewhere, otherwise another 2 or 3 years will pass by and I will still be writing and asking questions trying to find the perfect boat for me.

So, this project is a priority for me now and I hope to be able to gather enough information to make it happen.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jimgo View Post
If you just wander a marina and ask people about MacGregors, you'll find that most people will tell you that they stink. They know someone whose friend had one, and it sank. Or it had rotten decks. Or the mast fell down, or the rudder ripped off, or... But you'll have a harder time finding an actual owner who has had serious problems with his/her boat.
This is the main problem that I found so far.. could not get in touch with real owners that could share their personal experiences to help me learn more about the MacGregor 36.. but I hope it will change with this post...

Ps: Do you happen to know any MacGregor 36 owner here in the forum?

Thanks again!
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Re: MacGregor 36 – Help to find out if it is the right boat for me.

Hello Robert,

Thanks for the reply.. Nice to hear from a McGregor owner.. I would like to ask your help in some specific things that you wrote:

Quote:
Originally Posted by RobertKWFL View Post
- Lack of above deck shelter in hot sun or bad weather.
- Heavy loading with gear, supplies, or bulky modifications greatly reduces performance under sail and motor.
The one I am looking have a rigid deck in the back and a new built sun deck roof made of fiber glass... to me, it seems to solve the "shade" problem, but do you think the weight of the construction could be a problem?

Have you seem this kind of modification before? What is your opinion?

Quote:
Originally Posted by RobertKWFL View Post
- No place for a private head compartment, and limited galley space.
The head is a major concern for me. How did you solve this problem in your boat? Have you installed a head? Any suggestions?


Quote:
Originally Posted by RobertKWFL View Post
- Spade rudders (24-28" draft depending on loading) are vulnerable if you're in really skinny water.
I am a dive instructor and did some great dives there in the Keys many years ago. From what I remember, the "drop-off" is pretty steep and right of the road... but do you also sail in shallow waters?

How do you manage the Spade rudders in those situations?


Thanks a lot for all the help... I really appreciate the time you are spending sharing your knowledge and experiences.

Have a good day!
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