There was a time when I thought power was the thing -- faster,
louder, and leave a big wake...However, time passed, and I
became hooked on the quiet challenge of sail.
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I looked at big boats; however, at 5 knots it
takes a long time to get to prime cruising grounds. Purchase,
maintenance and slips fees are also a factor. Thus, a trailerable
sailboat seemed the most logical choice.
The downside of
a trailerable is the relative lack of space for cruising and the
compromises that have to be made to the design.
There are a number of excellent small sailboats. A
few are still in production. Also, a review of John Vigor's "Twenty Small
Sailboats to Take You Anywhere" lists a few older models
with good reputations. For example, the Pacific Seacraft Dana 24
and Hake Yacht's Seward 26RK are attractive choices; they are the
right size, have that classic look, and can take rough weather.
However, they and other similar production boats are either out of
my price range, not really trailerable over long distances, and/or
require a pretty big vehicle to tow.
As a result, I decided to focus my search on the
so-called Class C "Clorox Bottles" by Hunter, Catalina
In the beginning, I was not really looking at water-ballast boats.
I initially favored the Catalina 25 wing keel because it gets high
marks for sailing characteristics and shoal draft. I looked at a
couple of Hunter 26 boats and compared them to the newer H260. If
you want to see the differences between the H26 and H260 click on this link. However,
when my wife saw the H260
cabin size and openness, and I checked out the ease of rigging and launching the
H260, the other alternatives started to lose ground.
Overall, I've been surprised and pleased at how
well the H260 sails in a variety of conditions. Once properly
trimmed, the boat settles into a comfortable grove and
tracks nicely. Easy to sail single handed, the main provides
plenty of power in light winds and the furler headsail makes
balancing the sails easy. In sum, its sailing characteristics
compare favorably to similar fin keeled boats I've
sailed. More importantly, this is a great shoal
draft boat -- you can easily run it up on the beach or back it
up to some rocks and step ashore.
The advertised 5000+ pound displacement of the
H260 allows it to sail like a bigger boat. Based on a dry weight
of 4400 pounds, the boat's displacement may actually be quite a
bit higher. We've been through some fairly rough weather together
and she's never given me cause to worry about her seaworthiness.
However, I would not consider taking her too far off shore as this
is still a Class C boat.
Anchor in 18 inches of water
There are not many downsides to this boat, but a
few deserve mention.
First: The H260 is a safe family boat,
not a racer. You'll easily achieve hull speed of 6.4 kts. in
light air, but if you like playing with the rigging to squeeze
every ounce of performance out of a boat, you'll be
disappointed with the lack of a backstay, traveler, or jib
fairleads. With a PHRF
rating from 216 to 224 you'll spend a lot of time at the back
of the pack.
Second: Although not as
"tender" as other boats of the same size, the large
roached main requires you to reef early; in gusty conditions
it's important to tend the main or the H260 will round up on
you. Once reefed and properly trimmed, the H260 sails fast and
handles well reefed. This boat can handle significant weather.
Third: The 55" rudder is both a
strength and a weakness.
The rudder is responsive and can be adjusted to accommodate
very shallow water, but like many boats with kick-up rudders
it can be damaged in various ways. The stock rudder is easily
repaired, and some sailors report success with a shorter
48" replacement from Ida Sailor
Marine. I always have a spare available.
Much of the information on this site also applies
to the earlier version the H26. I can't take much credit for
originality in anything here. I've mostly adopted/adapted/stolen
the ideas of others. If you get ideas for some of your own
projects from these pages - share them with us.
note: If you are a trailer sailor, consider joining the Trailer Sailors Association.
You'll be glad you did. We took a trip to the Canadian North
Channel last year with over 50 boats from all over North America
and had a great time.
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