Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: Washington, DC area
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I learned to sail (well, after ASA 101) in a MacGregor 19, and after two years on the Potomac with it I moved up to a MacGregor 26X which I sail out of the Middle River (east of Baltimore) on the Chesapeake Bay. I've been pretty happy with both of them, but that's because their features match my wants and needs at this time.
ALL BOATS ARE COMPROMISES. Different boats fit different needs. And different budgets. They'er designed and built to accomplish certain goals; a J-Boat wasnt' beuilt for cruising, and an Island Packet wasn't built for around-the-cans racing. That is key.
The MacGregors are built to be affordable and trailerable. You can park it on its trailer, by your house, and haul it to "wherever" for a day, or a weekend, or a vacation of sailing. There's enough room belowdecks for a nominal family (say Daddy, Mommy, and two or three young children) to eat and sleep; the 26X and 26M have a small but workable galley, settees and a dining table, and berths enough to be comfortable for a few days & nights. They are simple and easy to take care of (no brightwork, no through-hulls, no inboard diesel). They sail reasonably well, and power fast enough to entertain the kids on a "pull toy".
But the compromises that made this possible on a budget mean that they're tender and not particularly sea-kindly. Instead of a fixed keel, they have a narrow, light centerboard (19, 26X) or daggerboard (26M). Instead of massive lead ballast in a fin, they have water-ballast tanks in the hull. They are limited to an 8-foot beam, to be trailerable without special permits; that gives up the extra room & stability you'd get from a broader-beamed vessel. And the lack of fancy woodwork (of ANY woodwork) makes them look plain as a Clorox bottle, compared to many other boats out there.
They are not designed to be ocean-rovers. I just checked Delfini Yachts, the MacGregor importer to Italy, and they show it with a CE category of "C" ("Inshore" - winds up to 27 kts, waves up to 6 feet). The manufacturer has a video posted on their website, though, of a Mac 26M being sailed in 45-knot winds and 18-foot seas....
Chris, it depends on what you want of the boat. If you want something fancy and impressive, look elsewhere; if you're fairly new to sailing and you'd like to spend the weekend out on the lake, the Mac will probably do just fine. And if you're in the Baltimore area, PM me and come out sailing on my Bossa Nova.