Macgregor 26x Sailboat

The MacGregor 26x sailboat was first introduced in 1995 by the Macgregor Yacht Corp, built by Roger MacGregor. Later, in 2003, it was replaced with the Macgregor 26m. And in 2013, MacGregor stopped production of their sailboats. The same design was continued by a separate company, Tattoo Yachts (daughter Laura Macgregor Sharp), with a Tattoo 26 sailboat.

mac26x boat sketches

Some prefer the 26M vs 26X since it is newer. Personally, my favourite is still the 26X, my opinion is biased because I owned one.

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Below is the video that made me want a Macgregor power sailor. OK, I admit, it looks ridiculous seeing a sailboat go so fast. But it is fun.

2012 Macgregor Boat Specifications

  • Overall length: 25.82ft (7.87m)
  • Waterline length: 23.00ft (7.01m)
  • Draft – swing keel down: 5.50ft (1.68m)
  • Draft – swing keel up: 0.75ft (0.23m)
  • Mast height (above deck): 28ft (8.5m)
  • Mast height (above water line): approx 36ft (11m)
  • Boat height (mast folded): Approx 11ft (3.4m)
  • Displacement: 2,250lbs (1,021kg)
  • Water ballast: 1,500lbs (680kg)
  • Outboard engine: 50hp (but have seen some 60hp or higher)

DISCLAIMER: I suggest taking your own measurements before attempting to squeeze under or over something. The measurements above are estimates. Height and depth will change with ballast and amount of weight you have on the boat. 

Benefits of a Macgregor Sailboat

After two years of experience on the water, here’s why I loved our Macgregor:

Get to your destination faster

It seems to happen more times that I was expecting. Out for a great sail and then the wind dies down. Or your destination is exactly upwind. If you are in a rush, you can start up the motor and you will easily beat the rest of the sailboats back to the dock, and the bar.

A large keelboat is heavily anchored to their home port. With our trip to the Thousand Islands, it would have taken us three days to sail there. Having a boat on a trailer allowed us to get there within a day. For further destinations, like Bruce Peninsula, can also be quickly and easily reached. Our Macgregor allowed us to spend more time at our destination.

You don’t need a massive pickup truck to trailer. The boat is light on the trailer with the water ballast emptied, I’ve seen Macgregor’s being towed by cars and minivans.

Low maintenance

Boat exterior is mostly fiberglass and stainless steel with no wood to maintain each season. A buff and a wax makes the hull shine like new every season. The gear on board is simple, and replacing lines and other equipment is very cheap compared to other boats.

At end of season, watching larger boats prepare for winter looks painful and expensive with boat cradles and cranes being setup in the marina. We just pull the boat up onto the trailer and take it home.

You can trailer it to where you want to do maintenance. Have a mechanic on the other side of town? No problem! I also liked the fact I could bring the boat home and work on it in my front yard.

I replaced all of the interior cabin lights for $4. Yes, I bought LED lights for all two of the interior cabin lights. You hear of others spending hundreds of dollars to retrofit to LED.

There are two batteries, one automobile battery and one deep cell battery. Both can easily taken out of the boat and replaced.

Simplicity and easy sail

Lines leading back to the cockpit are simple. While more experienced sailors will scoff at the lack of a traveller, or adjustable backstay, no whisker poles or laugh at the few available tiny winches. As a new sailor, I  really enjoyed the simplicity. It made sailing really easy. In the end, I’m probably losing a knot of speed compared to a fully equipped sailboat but I never really cared. It was the journey. And if it was more about getting to the destination faster I would just start up the engine and beat every other sailboat there.

I’ve read that some people say that the Macgregor suffers in big wind. I found the opposite, our best sail was with a nice steady gust coming in and we skimmed along on a close reach for about 30 mins. Outpacing two other sailboats. Under light wind, performance was slower. Mostly because we had a small jib. But as a beginner, I preferred this as it kept the boat more upright.

Safety

No matter the weather, I always felt safe in our boat. Knowing that we can outrun almost any unexpected storm by starting up the motor and racing back to port.  We’ve been in big waves and we’ve been in high wind. And never felt like the boat was unsafe.

There’s also some great videos online showing the Macgregor in big waves and even one attempting to roll the boat. The boat will self right (with ballast full) and even if it fills with water it will continue to float the foam built into the hull.

Go places where sailboats can’t

We spent a season on the Trent Severn waterway. Not a typical spot for a sailboat. But since we could easily tilt our mast down to get under bridges and into lift locks we could explore areas that sailboats have difficulty getting into. We are probably one of the few 26 foot sailboats with a sail up on Clear Lake.

With a low draft we found spots to stay overnight in the thousand islands that the bigger boats couldn’t get close to. I’ve even seen other Macgregor sailboats pulled up onto a beach. I could never bring myself to do this, but maybe in an emergency.

Negative aspects of a Macgregor

I’ll admit, it’s not the perfect boat. I don’t think a perfect boat exists out there. So here’s a few things to consider with a Macgregor.

Neither powerboat or sailboat

It’s a hybrid, and like a hybrid bicycle, it has benefits of both worlds but doesn’t excel in either. It’s a sailboat, but won’t perform as well as a true sailboat. It’s a powerboat, but it’s not going to be faster than other powerboats with a 50hp engine.

You don’t quite fit in with the powerboat crowd. They will make fun of your sail and how slow you go under sail. They will complain about your lines clanging against your mast. They will laugh at your tiny cabin and lack of a 500watt stereo system.

You don’t quite fit in with the sailboat crowd. They will scoff at your motor, thinking it’s cheating when you race them back to dock. They will grin as they pass you under sail mocking your tiny sails and lack of a 10 ton lead keel. 

It’s sparse inside

For a couple going for a week long cruise, or a family going out overnight. It’s perfect. I think of it as a nice step up from camping in a tent trailer. You have basic amenities on board, two beds (third if you fold down table), water, cooler, toilet, kitchen and bathroom sink.

Storage is limited, and most of it is carefully tucked away under seats and secured in plastic bins. We’ve put some temporary shelves next to the sink. But it really could use more shelving, we were just too cautious about putting any screw holes into the fiberglass to secure new shelving.

Bathroom is tiny, and not really sure why there’s a sink in there. Would have preferred a little more room. We joked that the easiest way to use the toilet was to drop your pants outside and then wedge yourself backward into the bathroom. The toilet is a porta-potty. It technically is a “holding tank” that can be pumped out through plumbing on the exterior of the hull. But it really is a self contained toilet that you can completely remove from the boat. The running joke is that if you can’t get to a pump out, you can do the walk of shame and carry the holding tank to the bathroom and dump it into a toilet.

Simple kitchen

We use a portable stove and space is tight for cooking. I found the best method for cooking (and it is enjoyable) is to stand at the ladder looking into the cockpit and have the portable stove right in front of me. Again, perfect setup for a couple on the boat but gets too crowded with a family on board.

You are handcuffed by the requirement for ice. You either pack food like you are back country camping or you need to find ice every couple of days. And then you deal with the growing pool of melted ice each day in your cooler. I’ve seen people put fridges into their Macgregors but this ruins the simplicity. Bigger batteries, portable generators, …

More info on Macgregor Sailboat

If you are looking for more information, check out my Macgregor Checklists, with some more useful information on the Macgregor 26x. Looks like most people really like my post on how to raise and lower the mast on a Macgregor sailboat.

9 thoughts on “Macgregor 26x Sailboat

  1. Janusz says:

    Dziękuję autorowi za obszerny i szczery opis. Jak wysoko jest wewnątrz w kabinie ? Bardzo cenię sobie prostotę i użyteczność takich jachtów a amerykańskie tym się różnią od europejskich. Wiele lat pływałem O’day25 (balastowo-mieczowy) w Polsce (Mazury – kraj 1000 jezior). Sprzedałem, bo już zbyt niska kabina. Teraz chcę kupić Mac Gregor 26x. Ofert w Europie jest jednak bardzo mało. Pozostaje zakup USA i transport w kontenerze. Mam tylko obawy, by nie kupić kota w worku 🙂

    Reply
    1. Shane says:

      Hi Janusz, I had to use Google translate to read your comment. Height inside the 26x is not that tall. It has been a while but I believe it was approx six feet in the center. But most of the cabin was much less. It probably isn’t any better than your O’day sailboat.

      Here’s the translation of your comment to English. Not sure how accurate it is.

      — Above comment translated —

      Thank you to the author for a comprehensive and honest description. how high is inside in the cabin? I really appreciate the simplicity and usefulness of such yachts and the American ones are different from the European ones. for many years I have swam o’day25 (ballast and sword) in Poland (Masuria – the country of 1000 lakes). I sold it because the cabin is already too low. now i want to buy mac gregor 26x. however, there are very few offers in europe. what remains is the purchase of the USA and transport in a container. I only have concerns not to buy a pig in a poke 🙂

      Reply

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