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.  

Hunter 260
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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. 

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Easily Beached

As a result, I decided to focus my search on the so-called Class C "Clorox Bottles" by Hunter, Catalina and Macgregor

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.

  • Fourth: This boat weighs almost 6000 lbs including the trailer, engine and other stuff so you must have an adequate tow vehicle. More on towing at this link.

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.

A final 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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