Sharing my first sailing experience

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Alexis
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Sailboat: MacGregor 26X
Location: SK, Canada

Sharing my first sailing experience

Post by Alexis » Wed Jun 13, 2018 2:24 pm

Ahoy!

A new Mac 26X sailor here! We purchase the boat for the family at the end of last summer and really started to enjoy it this year. We sail on lakes in Saskatchewan. I had some experience of coastal cruising when I was living in France, and I am used to sail fin keel sailboats from 20 to 35 feet. I decided to purchase a 26 X mainly because of the easiness to trailer, as well as its large cabin. I visited a few years ago the Paris boat show with a friend of mine who was a naval architect and I remember he was pretty amazed by the design of Macgregor sailboats, which comforted me on my purchase.

I would like to share my first experience sailing: don’t hesitate to comment and share advices!

So, we started pretty slow and first enjoyed motoring her around. Our boat has a 9.9 Nissan which is plenty for what I want to do with it... Of course there is no question to plane but only to acquire a decent speed on calm water (I honestly expected less, so I am very pleased with it). Though I noticed that the important freeboard of that boat renders her difficult to steer at some occasion, for instance when trying to dock with some wind. When failing a docking manoeuver at the first attempt, the bow being so high and light would be blown in the wind and the boat would become unmanageable. The only issue I had when that happened was to go away and do the entire maneuver again. Too bad for the style…

We had either too little or too much wind when sailing. With too little wind, I felt I was limited in the sails settings and that the boat could have sometimes as much leeway than forward motion. Getting up to speed with low winds was also pretty challenging and we failed a few tacks by not having enough speed.

On the opposite with too much wind, the proportion to weather helm was quite strong, which illustrated very well what I could read on line. At one occasion during a strong gust of wind (probably above 20 knots?) the boat simply refused to move forward, she took a strong heel and turned to the wind. I knew I had to reef the main at that point but because the wind direction was so bad for us I decided to fire up the engine. We were sprayed in the cockpit (not because of the engine thrust, we only have a little 9.9 remember?) so I could see that the sailing conditions were deteriorating quickly anyway.

At one occasion we could beach the sailboat on a sandy beach where my daughters had a lot of fun. It was the first time I was beaching with a sailboat larger than a dinghy, and I was amazed by the easiness we could go back in high water after that break, thanks to the light weight of the boat.

In conclusion, I think that overall the :macx: is an awesome sailboat. It sure has some sailing characteristics which are quite different from a traditional fin keel but it doesn’t make it a bad sailboat as I could read in some opinions on line. Though I feel that the 26X is not a beginner boat. It fits starter sailors because of the safety and ease of use aspects, but is seems to be a bit technical simply by being somewhere in between the two worlds of dinghys and day cruisers.

I suspect that the sail plan and the sail balance are particularly important on a Macgregor. You certainly don’t want to have too much sail, and may suffer strange hull behaviours if you have too much main sail compared to the genoa, or vice-versa…

What do you guys think?

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sailboatmike
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Sailboat: MacGregor 26X
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Re: Sharing my first sailing experience

Post by sailboatmike » Wed Jun 13, 2018 6:43 pm

You are 100% correct the X is very different to sail, I feel thats why the few "real sailboat" owners that have tried have said such bad things about them, I put that down to them being bad sailors not the boat being bad to sail, for example if I get into a truck I have to adjust my driving style than if I'm driving a sports car, the things that work in a sports car just don't work in a truck.

A couple of tricks for beginners on the X

1) Lift the motor when sailing, while everybody lifts the motor on their "real sail boat" not many do it on the Macs, it cause a heap of extra drag and seriously reduces speed (I measured close to 1 knot but my motor leg is considerably bigger)

2) Come off the wind for 10 or 15 seconds before tacking, this will allow you to build a extra bit of speed and make it easier to come around without stalling

3) Go easy on the rudders when tacking, the steering on the Mac is VERY direct and it can (will) cause the rudders to stall and you lose a heap of hard earned speed if you just haul the wheel hard over, this just means you go straight ahead instead of turning and stall head to wind.

4) Use the jib rather than the genoa, the sail plan on the X has almost the same sail area on the fore sail as the main, if you only have a genoa, furl it in, if you don't have a furler use the jib.

5) If you try and tack and stall just backwind the jib, she will come around quick smart, a move I would think most of us have learnt in our early Mac sailing days (I learnt most of these on my first day out mainly thanks to reading this forum before heading out)

6) ALWAYS have at least some centerboard down and 1 rudder down and locked when you try and come into the dock, I like to slow right down well before the dock to see what the wind / tide is going to do before I attempt to dock, this way I can make my plan for docking factoring in the wind / tide drift and use them to my advantage rather than trying to work against them

These should get you started and make living with a X the great experience (all be it sometimes a little challenging) the huge majority of us here have

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Ixneigh
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Re: Sharing my first sailing experience

Post by Ixneigh » Thu Jun 14, 2018 8:58 am

As a lifelong keel boater, I had to relearn some basics with the Mac.(m model) But you will! Of course the boat is a compromise, but once you get used to
the little quirks shell do ok. I will say that the sails must be in good shape and trimmed correctly for the boat. Don't pull the main in too tight. Make sure your speed is up before you try to point. If the sails are blown out or old, replace them! These boats have teeny little foils and need to be moving well to come about, also.

Ix

Alexis
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Sailboat: MacGregor 26X
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Re: Sharing my first sailing experience

Post by Alexis » Thu Jun 14, 2018 4:28 pm

@Ixneigh I certainly over pulled the main, so I will try loosening it a bit. Actually, I think I also have a tendency to overestimate the importance of the main and will test to sail with the genoa only. Some sailors put the genoa first, but I always hoist the main first.

@sailboatmike thanks for all your good ideas! I will answer then all:

1- I have noticed a lot of discussions about lifting or not the engine. I didn't tried yet to sail with the engine up, but I will. I believe I should also remove the connection with the rudders? I started working on an upgrade in that domain, which is to replace a rigid but very noisy connection between the engine and the port rudder mount, by a soft connection with some level of shock absorption between the engine and the rudder mounts both sides. I should take the opportunity to add a quick disconnect system somehow...

2- It is a very good advice, my father's sailboat wasn't very fast and I have been used very young to the speed gain phase before tacking. Actually I think this should be systematic when you prepare a tack, with what ever boat you are sailing.

3- Interesting, I didn't noticed that yet! It make sense, though! Maybe it explained why my wife and I messed up our first tack in light wind "Did you steer to starboard? -Yes, all the way!" ...and the boat just stayed there... Though, I am wondering if the 26X naturally faces the wind by design?

4- Thanks for the tip, I will try with a little bit of the genoa furled. What should be the effect of having too much genoa?

5- I didn't know it was a common practice on the Macs, I used to do that on my father's sailboat at well!...

6- The wind drift experience when docking I described before was with the full centerboard and both rudders down... The marina is narrow and long in almost a straight line, and the wind that day was blowing right in a middle, crosswise to the piers. I am guessing there was little I could do... Luckily two people were on the piers that day and helped me approaching the bow.

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dlandersson
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Re: Sharing my first sailing experience

Post by dlandersson » Fri Jun 15, 2018 6:58 am

If you have an X, you simply raise the engine. :wink:
Alexis wrote:@Ixneigh I certainly over pulled the main, so I will try loosening it a bit. Actually, I think I also have a tendency to overestimate the importance of the main and will test to sail with the genoa only. Some sailors put the genoa first, but I always hoist the main first.

@sailboatmike thanks for all your good ideas! I will answer then all:

1- I have noticed a lot of discussions about lifting or not the engine. I didn't tried yet to sail with the engine up, but I will. I believe I should also remove the connection with the rudders? I started working on an upgrade in that domain, which is to replace a rigid but very noisy connection between the engine and the port rudder mount, by a soft connection with some level of shock absorption between the engine and the rudder mounts both sides. I should take the opportunity to add a quick disconnect system somehow...

2- It is a very good advice, my father's sailboat wasn't very fast and I have been used very young to the speed gain phase before tacking. Actually I think this should be systematic when you prepare a tack, with what ever boat you are sailing.

3- Interesting, I didn't noticed that yet! It make sense, though! Maybe it explained why my wife and I messed up our first tack in light wind "Did you steer to starboard? -Yes, all the way!" ...and the boat just stayed there... Though, I am wondering if the 26X naturally faces the wind by design?

4- Thanks for the tip, I will try with a little bit of the genoa furled. What should be the effect of having too much genoa?

5- I didn't know it was a common practice on the Macs, I used to do that on my father's sailboat at well!...

6- The wind drift experience when docking I described before was with the full centerboard and both rudders down... The marina is narrow and long in almost a straight line, and the wind that day was blowing right in a middle, crosswise to the piers. I am guessing there was little I could do... Luckily two people were on the piers that day and helped me approaching the bow.

Alexis
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Posts: 94
Joined: Tue Feb 06, 2018 3:45 pm
Sailboat: MacGregor 26X
Location: SK, Canada

Re: Sharing my first sailing experience

Post by Alexis » Fri Jun 15, 2018 9:53 am

Thanks dlandersson, I will raise the engine next time!

JotaErre
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Re: Sharing my first sailing experience

Post by JotaErre » Fri Jun 15, 2018 3:51 pm

When I sail single-handed, I use only the genoa, and the :macx: works quite well that way.

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Tomfoolery
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Re: Sharing my first sailing experience

Post by Tomfoolery » Fri Jun 15, 2018 5:30 pm

JotaErre wrote:When I sail single-handed, I use only the genoa, and the :macx: works quite well that way.
I use just the genoa when I'm lazy, since it's on a furler. But if I want another knot, I also raise the main. It's just many time more work to prep, hoist, dowse, and store in its cover. No more work sailing with it, though, once it's up. :wink:

Alexis
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Sailboat: MacGregor 26X
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Re: Sharing my first sailing experience

Post by Alexis » Mon Jun 18, 2018 12:49 pm

So, I unfortunately didn't have a lot of wind this weekend. I mean 5 Kmh at most... It was definitely not enough wind to sail with the genoa only but I tested full sails with the outboard up and it seemed to do a difference. I am not sure if it was a placebo effect, but we could catch a breeze when we found one.... and moved forward!

Thinking more about the genoa / main sail balance: I am wondering if the 26X's weather helm would cause the boat to prefer having some genoa up, even if there isn't any mainsail? (By the way I think the weather helm is an effect of the flat and large design of the stern, and by the way fits well with the idea of a safer boat)

Because of the lack of wind we motored pretty much and I took the opportunity to make a few experiments. I noticed (without surprise) that the boat likes to have half the centerboard down when motoring. Though, I was surprised with the fact that the boat was barely controllable without the rudders and put them back quickly into the water to regain control. Is it the same on all 26Xs or could it be a characteristic of my boat? I precise that I have a 9.9hp with what seems to be a home-made link between the starboard tiller and the engine, which is mounted with bare screws and nuts.

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sailboatmike
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Re: Sharing my first sailing experience

Post by sailboatmike » Tue Jun 19, 2018 2:07 am

Below 6knts rudders all the way down (rudders only have 2 positions all the way up or all the way down), let the centerboard down a bit, I normally let out around 6 to 9 inches of centerboard line.

Above 6 or 7 knts with rudders and centerboard she can get twitchy, not all the time but when you hit the wave at the right angle she will leap to one side, very disconcerting until you work out whats going on

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NiceAft
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Re: Sharing my first sailing experience

Post by NiceAft » Tue Jun 19, 2018 5:22 am

If I may add one more trick to your bag of goodies.

Drape a line from the bow to the stern (outside of the shrouds). When you step off the boat while docking in cross winds, hold that line, walk amidship, and place over a cleat. In a really strong wind, there is nothing you can do, but doing your best and pray. :D

Our high freeboards have both their advantages (tall cabin space) :) , and disadvantages (docking in a cross wind) :cry: .

Ray

P.S. List where your location is. We have board members from around the world. We are a friendly lot.

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Jimmyt
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Re: Sharing my first sailing experience

Post by Jimmyt » Wed Jun 20, 2018 7:47 am

Alexis,
Don't feel bad that you struggle with docking in wind. I had the whole ramp area laughing and scrambling to save their boats on my first try. Thought I could drive right on the trailer like a bass boat. No damage other than pride...

Windage is tough. See attached video of a poor guy fighting a crosswind docking. Proving that you can even get humiliated with thrusters.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=OtC2FI81OuE

To his credit, he shoe-horned it into a spot that you could barely get the dinghy in... eventually.

I always love watching the "neighbors" make a mad dash for fenders - standing at the ready as the new guy pulls up.

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