Magnificent Little Ship
tribute to the MacGregor Classic 26' Sloop
3,000 miles from Santa Barbara to Costa Rica you can get to know a boat,
and by that time you either hate it, tolerate it, or love it. Fifteen
years ago, I made the same trip from California to Costa Rica in a 22'
MacGregor-Venture and described it as "Sea-friendly".
story of this trip, "Follow Your Dream" was published in Western Boatman
in February, 1985. "WIND GIFT", a MacGregor Classic 26' Sloop, is
also sea friendly, and its' performance along the way has to be called
awesome. The trip was a 3,000 mile love affair. To me, it is
awesome to lash the tiller with balanced sails and have the boat sail on
track until the wind changes, sometimes for days! i single-handed
"WIND GIFT" and depended on the superb balance of the MacGregors rather
than the use of wind vanes or auto pilots.
in stateside marinas i was always witnessing the avid sailor ho took his
small sail boat sailing every week. When that day came when he "moved
up" to a larger boat the frequency dropped to maybe just a few times a
year. Boats the size of "WIND GIFT" are a joy to sail, and easy to
handle and maintain.
how about a long trip? Off-shore? With storms?
provided some chubascos to show me how "WIND GIFT could handle wind.
Champerico, Guatemala, one hit, with 45 knot winds, gusting to 60.
I was putting a third reef in the main, but gave up and bare poled it,
hiding out in the cabin, watching the GPS.
thought I was heading for rocks, five miles away. I used the outboard
to turn the boat and head out to sea. "GIFT" was riding beam to the
weather on a lashed tiller, making 2 - 3 knots away from the rock.
In those storm-tossed seas, "GIFT" had an easy ride. A gentle pitch;
a yaw to the left. A wave rolled under (the keel was up) and "GIFT"
gentle yawed to the right, with a gentle ten degree roll. It was
about one-fourtha s fierce as the bow waves of the sport fishing fleet
when "GIFT" was at anchor in Cabo San Lucas. In the next chubasco
I sailed under a reefed main.
had a fifteen degree angle of heel, and was making about 5 knots on a reach
in 25 knot winds, on a lashed tiller. In another chubasco, I sailed
under a reefed jib - no main. I was amazed how well "GIFT" points
to weather under only a jib. When I got caught in a gale in the 22'
Venture it was the same story. An easy ride, gentle angles of heel,
and a lashed tiller.
suspicion the MacGregors bounce and bob a lot. This is why they never
take seas over the deck:
are always on top of the water. I have watched my MacGregors at anchor
when I am ashore, and I'm always surprised by how much they bounce.
Then I surmise they must do that when I am on them... I'm just used to
probably reef soner than most sailors. A racing sailor would suffer
severe circulatory deprivation sailing with me. But as a cruising
sailor, I like to take it easy on the rigging, especially when replacement
parts are 6 months away.
what improvements did I make to "GIFT"? Not much, really.
I re-rigged it, I went to a size larger cables for the standing rigging.
Not for added strength, but for added meat to feed the corrosion bugs.
And turnbuckles, because they are easier to adjust on the water than the
spacer plates. The wire going to the light on the mast clanged like
a bell until I ran those foam rubber tubes that are used to insulate water
pipes over the wire.
rudder rattled until I plled up the rudder post a bit to wrap teflon tape
around it. (The same stuff a plumber would use to seal pipe threads)
keel lifting tube spat water on the batteries until I extended the tube
to sink level.
use 1/4" nylon line instead of stainless steel cable for the keel lifting
rope because the swages for the stainless steel cable last only about two
weeks when the boat is in the water all the time.
present rope has been in there for seven months now, with no sign of wear.
the tube and rope to sink level makes it easier to replace the rope when
it does break.
has duplicate solar panels, each charging its' own battery. A voltmeter
tells which circuit is the most cheerful. I designed and build shelving
that buttons into the slot between the hull liner and the overhead
liner. No holes had to be drilled in my precious boat. I added
Harken roller furling for the jib. A real blessing!
designed the mast to be lowered and raised for easy trailering. This
is a terrific advantage for the cruising sailor! The swing keel,
also designed for the trailer, adds a new dimension to the art of sailing.
I call this "swing wing sophistication". The boat can be redesigned
for every point of sail! Sometimes, the sails are happiest on a reach.
My desired course may be a little more off the wind. Compromise is
reached by giving the sails the angle they want, and cranking up the keel
allows me the leeway to give me the course I want. The down-wind
machine has only a foresail, keel up, and a lashed tiller.It is really
a big surf board, singing happily on the forward slope of waves for 20
seconds or more. The keel goes down only when working to weather,
less than 90 degrees off the wind.
started the trip with an 8 HP Honda, which is a good cruising motor using
1/2 gallon per hour, and 10 miles per gallon. My Honda died in Huatulco
and I replaced it with a two-stroke, which is not a viable cruising motor,
at 5 miles per gallon. Hondas don't grow in Huatulco.
wrote this story as a tribute to "WIND GIFT", that Magnificent Little Ship,
and also to MacGregor Yacht Corporation, for an outstanding boat.
am volunteer simplistic. The MacGregor is a solid, basic boat, superior
to many in sailing and safety characteristics. This, along with the
swing keel and positive foam flotation, made it my choice for a cruising
have a look at the
this site, and preparation for this story began.