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Bay Cruiser 26

2012 September 4

Pocket cruiser

Here is an interesting 26-footer from designer Matt Newland in the UK. The boat is currently being built in Cardigan, West Wales. I'd like to go there. The designer's notes call this a "Mediterranean-style daysailer" but with some added comfort and protection from foul weather. This little boat is the same LOA as my own good little ship so I know the size very well.

One of the prime targets for this design was the ability for the boat to sit on the mud at low tide with grace and panache. If grace and panache can't make it you would just lay over on your side and look quite forlorn.

This is a very shapely little hull with a plumb bow, a fine angle of entry and a transom that comes down to the DWL, so it's almost all sailing length. The turn of the bilge is very firm for good initial stability and the deep drop keel draws 5 feet 11 inches down and will provide good upwind stability. The boat is beamy with a L/B of 3.13 and plenty of beam aft to further enhance stability. The D/L is 120.

The twin rudders will provide good control when the boat is heeled. They also have oversized rudder stocks to take the load of supporting the boat when it's sitting on the mud. With the drop keel retracted the draft is 2 feet. There are plans in the works for an even shallower version drawing 1 feet 4 inches with the keel retracted. The sheer spring is pronounced and gives the boat a perky look.

You could cruise this boat with a crew of four but the real purpose is comfort for a couple. The galley is minimal but adequate and there is room below the counter for a cooler. The head is quite large and very convenient but it takes up a lot of space in this little boat. On my 26-footer the head is under the V-berth so it's not convenient at all but it leaves the interior wide open.

The dinette to port has a drop-down table so it can be converted to another double berth. The drop keel trunk also impacts the layout and will make this interior seem on the tight side. But that's just the price you pay for a boat with shoal-draft capabilities and performance.

There is no forward bulkhead so the V-berth pretty much comes to a point forward. Not sure that would work very well for my clown feet. There is very good stowage volume aft for cruising necessities including an outboard motor if you don't go for the inboard 14-horsepower diesel.

The rig is similar to what you would find on many "sport boats." The main has a square-top head and the double spreaders are swept, eliminating the need for a standing backstay. The SA/D at 20 is far better than my boat so this design should perform nicely in light air and the square-topped main will depower itself by twisting off in a breeze. The shrouds are taken to external chainplates on the hull.

I'm not wild about the cabintrunk. The centerline of the trunk is a dead straight line and to my eye looks a bit awkward. I would have liked to see some shape, an arc, to the centerline, which would have looked more graceful and provided additional headroom at the same time.

Construction is epoxy and glass over a Divinycell core. The keel is lifted by a 12-volt electric motor with a manual back up operated from the cockpit. The entire cockpit sole can be removed for major access to the engine.

This is a very well thought out little boat that should reward the owner with good performance and a fun daysailing.