This blog is to track our adventures in our MacGregor 26M sailboat Southern Star. We bought her from Blue Water Yachts in March of 2012 and immediately started sailing her around Lake Washington from her home slip at Newport Yacht Basin.
Southern Star is a “powersailer”, meaning that she can both sail along with the breeze or scoot along at a pretty good clip when the wind is not cooperating. Check out this picture – she’s hauling a skier!
We fell in love with sailing years ago, when we sailed on an America’s Cup class yacht in San Francisco bay on a “three hour tour”. Fortunately no visits to Gilligan or the Skipper on that trip! We took some basic sailing classes back in ’98 (ASA 101) in Illinois on the Andiamo. We vacationed on Kentucky Lake a few years later on a Hunter 31 and loved it. Now we finally have our own to go out in any time we please.
In September 2012, we plan on taking 10 days to take her to the San Juan Islands and explore the many marinas, coves, anchorages and bays.
Picture of San Juan Islands by Robert Demar Photography
The first modification I made to Southern Star was to upgrade her ballast tank. A MacGregor 26M has a tank under her cabin floor that can hold 1200 lbs of water to provide her with some stability and counter-weight to stand her upright when the wind tries to heel her over. The tank as it comes from the factory has two valves that have to be opened. One at the stern that I can reach with a boat hook easily enough, and one down in the cabin up under the forward berth. What a pain that one is to get to and use. Especially if you prefer to motor with her tank empty for better speed. You can’t (and mustn’t try to) sail her with an empty tank – it’d be dangerous. So I found myself looking for a way to make this easier. What I chose to do was to replace the valve under the forward berth with a pipe that vents overboard. I took the valve out and in its place inserted a brass threaded fitting that had hose barbs. Lots of 3M 5200 marine sealant, of course. I routed the hose from the vent up under the berth to the nose of the boat and up to the anchor locker. I installed a thru hull fitting there at the top edge of the locker and clamped the hose down there.
Now when I open the valve in the stern, the water can flow in easily, and if I motor over about 7 kts it flows out just as easily. When I have her either full or empty for the needs of the travel segment at hand I close the valve and I’m all set.
Someday I’d like to add some type of water level sensor to the tank that would toggle a light on the steering pedestal to let me know if it wasn’t completely full or completely empty to give me that better warm fuzzy that my boat is configured safely for the type of boating I’m currently engaged in.