Nor’westing Magazine, “ At The Ramp” Feature

By editor Chuck Gould

 Macgregor 26M


Those of us rapidly becoming so “long in the tooth” that we could double as vampires will clearly remember the opening lines of a popular TV series from the 1950’s and 60’s “Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird?! It’s a plane?!” Of course the mysterious object was neither bird nor plane, but something much more marvelous and unique; “No, it’s Superman!”

 Those opening lines, etched so indelibly on the childhood memories of an entire generation, come to mind when considering this month’s vessel for our At The Ramp feature, the MacGregor 26. When spotted on plane at over 20 mph and rigged with a mast it would only seem natural for certain observers to have difficulty attempting to categorize the craft. “Look! Out on the bay! It’s a powerboat?! It’s a sailboat?!” And of course the mystery boat is neither a conventional powerboat nor a “high performance” sailboat, but something marvelous and unique in its own right, “It’s a MacGregor!”

  Every four hours, every day of the year, somebody buys a new MacGregor. While there are several “trailer sailors” offered by various competitors and MacGregor has also built larger sailboats (up to 70-feet LOA), MacGregor Yachts has taken the design of the 26 well outside the traditional “power vs. sail” paradigm and created a boat that can perform with astonishing versatility. The name MacGregor and the concept of trailerable sailing are nearly synonymous.

  Powerboat purists may consider the MacGregor and conclude, “There are several powerboats that come to mind that will go faster or handle slightly more nimbly than a MacGregor.” Sailing elitists could properly observe, “There are some sailboats of the same and similar size that will outsail a MacGregor.” While there is some merit to either reproof such critics may be missing the point entirely. MacGregors sell in exceptionally large numbers to boating families who want to enjoy the ability to motor along at planing speeds or slow down and sail silently through the San Juan or Gulf Islands.  The MacGregor is one of the few boats that could allow a south sound boating family to spend 4-5 days of a week’s vacation actually sailing in the islands, (rather than a short 1-2 day sail between 2-3 day motor cruises up and back). MacGregor may not be the most precise handling powerboat ever built, but it certainly sails better than 99.99% of its competitors. MacGregor may not be the ultimate high-tech 26-foot sailboat, but it can be 3-4 times faster than most when in the motorized mode- where most sailors actually seem to spend most of their time, most days.


Construction and Design:

MacGregors are built on solid, hand laminated fiberglass hulls. There is no “chop” used in the layup, which allows the MacGregor to be lighter and more easily trailered than a chop strand layup of equal size. MacGregor avoids the use of balsa or foam coring in Their fiberglass layups, but does include a generous amount of solid foam flotation to keep the vessel afloat should it ever become swamped.

The hull and deck joint is mechanically fastened as well as chemically bonded, using 3/16” bolts on 4” centers. Deck hardware is through-bolted with backing plates and washers for increased strength, and all of the through bolt nuts are accessible from the Interior but cleverly concealed behind removable access panels.

The MacGregor hull is shaped like a traditional sailboat above the waterline, but the bottom is flatter than most sailboats and designed to allow the boat to plane with adequate HP in the powerboat mode. A retractable daggerboard and retractable dual rudders provide the required stability and steerage when sailing, but are unneeded and easily withdrawn when the MacGregor is used as a high-speed powerboat. The retractable daggerboard allows the MacGregor to sit low on the trailer, and enables the boat to float free of the trailer in shallower waters and at a greater number of boat ramps than high-riding trailer sailors with fixed keels.

Sailors will appreciate the rotating mast of the MacGregor 26. Sailboats with conventional masts will experience points of sail where the mast creates a pocket of turbulent air over the forward portion of the mainsail and reduces the lift accordingly. MacGregor’s rotating mast will present a more aerodynamic face to the wind and provide greater sail efficiency. The mast is foam filled to provide additional buoyancy and assist in righting the MacGregor in the event of a knockdown under sail. Ease of raising and lowering the mast will be important to any trailer sailors, and MacGregor has incorporated a system that allows the mast to go up or down in a matter of minutes.  

Ballast is important when sailing, but can be less desirable when powerboating and adds additional weight when towing.  MacGregor uses 300-pounds of permanent ballast, and incorporates a “water ballast” system that adds up to 1150-pounds additional weight to the hull when needed. The MacGregor stability is enhanced by 1450 pounds of ballast, but the tow vehicle is only required to haul 300 down the highway. The water ballast system can be filled underway, and is self draining when the MacGregor is converted to powerboat mode.

Powerboaters will be pleased to note that the MacGregor is rated for motors up to 70 HP.  According to MacGregor Yachts, the 26-footer will turn about 22 mph (or 19 kts) with only a 50 HP engine. (The Seattle dealer, Blue Water Yachts, reports speeds of 25 mph with a 70 HP outboard). 19 kts  is just fast enough to tow one adult on a waterski, a feat that is absolutely unlikely to be performed by any other boat capable of sailing. (Boaters looking primarily for a waterski or wakeboard boat and with no interest in sailing would probably select something other than a MacGregor). With a smaller motor or throttled back, the MacGregor can loaf along at casual “trawler” speeds and enjoy excellent fuel economy.


Interior Design and Amenities:

  MacGregor provides a pleasantly upholstered interior, with headroom of up to 6-feet below decks. A double row of cabin windows introduces plenty of natural light, to preclude any “down in the cave” sensations associated with some sailboat cabins. A useful sliding galley module is located on the port side of the cabin, and will lock into a forward, middle, and aft position. By shifting the galley between the aft cabin berths and the salon, more space can be provided when appropriate for changing activities throughout a boating day. The galley consists of a stove and sink, with cold stowage provided by an ice chest that nestles into a dedicated compartment under the rear bunk.  

With the starboard dinette table knocked down and the starboard cushions converted to berth, the MacGregor will sleep more people than anybody would care to have aboard. With at least two in the forepeak, at least two in the aft berth, and at least two in the port and starboard berths a large family could easily bunk down for a weekend or longer.  

The head compartment is fully enclosed, providing some welcome privacy that is simply not available on many boats of similar size. A portable toilet is standard on the MacGregor 26, but a fully plumbed, conventional marine toilet with through hull and holding tank is an available option. A folding door can isolate the forward compartment from the main cabin, allowing more privacy once again.



The MacGregor 26 remains a popular and appropriate choice for boaters anxious to enjoy a single vessel that can be a very good sailboat as well as a very good powerboat. Enthusiastic MacGregor owners probably wonder why other boaters would ever settle for a boat that is “only” a powerboat, or “only” a sailboat. MacGregor owners are so busy having fun that they probably never really fret that their own vessel will never contend for the “ultimate” status in either the sail or power category, especially as their boats continue to serve them reliably and well without regard to the type of boating they choose to enjoy on any particular day.  

The relatively low purchase price and the reduced monthly costs that can be associated with trailer boating (compared to keeping a boat in a slip) allow a greater number of people to get out on the water in a MacGregor. That’s a very good thing for the families that are cruising in MacGregors, as well as for boating in general.  


In the Pacific Northwest. MacGregors are represented by Blue Water Yachts at 2400 Westlake Avenue N Suite # L-1 in Seattle. (206-282-4261).


How to reach us:

  For new or used boat sales:
 For parts and accessories:
 For general or technical information:

 2400 Westlake Ave N. #L-1
 Seattle, WA 98109

 (206) 281- 8704 

 (206) 282-4261
 (800) 688-8626

  Driving Directions