Old enough to know better
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Beacon, NY
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Re: Boat Purchasing Advice
The Mac Gregor 26 (assuming you are talking about the ones that can take 50 HP outboards, they made a few different models) has to be the most polarizing boat ever made. There are those who love them and sail them for years, while others never sail it and use it as a power boat, and finally those who buy them and use them for a couple of years before getting something that suits there needs better. Also there are lots of folks who seem to despise them, but don't own or often have never been out on one just due to the set of compromises they entail. Keep in mind any boat is a compromise. But trying to make a sailboat that will plane on the water with an outboard, will inevitably make it not sail nearly as well, and putting a keel and mast on a power boat will equally make it a worse power boat. But if you feel you really need to the speed to maintain a schedule but still want the option to sail it is the only game in town (well there are some Lancer's and the Hunter Edge as well). The other thing is the boat was made to be easily trailered, now if you plan on towing it a lot that is great, if not then you are making the boat lighter weight than may be ideal for sailing and strong build. Just be aware of the compromises. that said there are 2 across the slipway and they both get used often, though I don't know if the sail them a lot or not. One has a 50hp outboard, the other a 15hp (plenty for a boat that size) so my guess is the latter sails, the former powers but neither seems to tow them.
To me it seems unless you really need a boat that can be towed frequently and don't need the speed I would look elsewhere. They are not particularly strongly built boats and Lake Michigan can get pretty rough. Also the motion of them does not appear to be very pleasant so if you do get caught out there it might be a rough ride. The way I see them is that they are not a very good sailboat, nor a very good power boat. But if you want both you have to live with the compromise. For me they are great for smaller lakes, especially with kids that might loose interest at 5 knots all day.
There are LOTS of boats out there that can be purchased for well under the $30,000 range depending on your level of comfort desired and willingness to get your hands dirty. But as long as you don't need to trailer the boat, then I would recommend something like a Catalina 30, an ever present boat that are everywhere and are cheap, reasonably well built and sell quickly for what you paid for it (likely minus any repairs and upgrades you made) so you should not be out too much if it does not suit your needs. For coastal anything by any of the major builders is good, including Catalina, Hunter, Beneteau, O'Day, Erickson, Tartan, Pearson, C&C and many more. I would suggest getting out and looking at as many boats as you can in the 15,000 to 20,000 range and see what you like. Don't worry too much about age, it is really all about condition a well maintained fiberglass boat will last longer than we will! Even boats in the 27 foot range can be pretty comfortable, but can get tight for longer cruses. 30 foot seems to be where you get more creature comforts, but it varies among models.
1976 C&C 33
Project boat, lots of work to be done!