SAIL MAGAZINE EVALUATION OF THE MACGREGOR 26
Note: The following article applies to the 26X, recently replaced by the 26M. However, the boats are very similar, and many of the comments relating to the X will be applicable to the M. We will post new reviews and comments on the boat as they are received.
Article appearing in the February, 1996 issue
Written by Chris Caswell, edited by Charles Mason
While Roger MacGregor's boats haven't always been the most beautiful or opulent, they've always been well thought out and very competitively priced. This new 26-footer is no exception. MacGregor is so enthusiastic about the boat's potential that he has stopped production on his other models to concentrate on this one.
Construction of both hull and deck is solid hand-laid fiberglass, and just about everything on board is made from molded sections to minimize cost-intensive handwork. The result may seem spar-tan to some, but it makes the boat easy to clean and maintain.
The hull has been designed to plane at high speeds under power and can carry up to a 50 horsepower outboard. That power can move the boat at speeds in the mid-20s, giving you the performance to add water-skiing to your water-sports repertoire. Water ballast provides stability afloat and minimum trailering weight ashore.
The cockpit is more than 6 feet long, and a pedestal-mounted Morse wheel-steering system maximizes cockpit space. The helmsman's seat hinges up for access to the outboard and for easy boarding at cockpit level. The raised cabintop's forward hatch provides access to the bow, where there is a large anchor locker and bow pulpit.
The main cabin has 6 feet of headroom. The dinette and settee can convert to a double berth, while the bow area is devoted to a good-size V-berth. A king-size bed with sitting headroom is located under the cockpit. The berth cushions are a bit thin, however.
Even with a 50-horsepower Tohatsu outboard, the boat sailed quite well, especially when reaching and running. With the ballast tank full and the board down, going to windward was much more efficient than I had expected. The long, thin centerboard works well, and the twin rudders remain fully submerged even when the boat is heeled.
When we fired up the outboard, we discovered another side of the boat's performance potential. After pivoting the rudders up and reconnecting the steering system to the engine, we had the maneuverability and speed of a powerboat. We reached 24 mph, and the boat cruised along happily at 21 to 22 mph. That speed can get you to the next port quickly, and it's a nice safety feature if bad weather approaches.
The 26X is an innovative design. The price is good, and the boat has a remarkable range of performance and well thought-out accommodations. If you're looking for an easily trailered family cruiser for about $16,000, including sails, the MacGregor 26X should earn a spot on your short list.