One of the reasons I like the Ranger 26 is that it’s a very sensible design and not a whole lot needs to be fixed or improved. The open transom outboard motor arrangement is simple and works, the layout in the cockpit is comfortable, and the rig is non-problematic.
That said, it could use a couple of tweaks.
The open transom outboard arrangement makes all kinds of sense but, like any open transom arrangement, it does increase the possibility of getting pooped. On the other hand, the open transom also works like like a great big cockpit drain so as long as getting pooped in confined to the cockpit we’re more or less OK. So, take a look at the companionway on a Ranger 26…
With the hatch boards out you have a really big frelling hole in the boat. My general rule-of-thumb for companionways is that the bottom of the opening should be at least six-inches above the level of the cockpit seats. The best way to do this is to fiberglass the offending void but you could get by with just gluing or bolting the lower hatch board in place. My vote would be to just fiberglass the section.
Since we’re now talking fiberglass we might also consider getting rid of a section of the foot well and raising it to three or four inched below the seat tops. This would cut down on the potential flooded volume of the cockpit while giving us more stowage space in the process which, to me at least, this is a win/win situation.
Before we leave the cockpit subject I’ll point out that while most boats of this size may have a 9.9 or 15 HP motor a 5 or 6 HP is more than sufficient and the weight savings makes it something of a no-brainer.
Earlier I mentioned that a hard dodger would make a lot of sense and would go a long way to improve the cockpits comfort level while adding a good place to have headroom in the galley area.
Now we should wend our way forward to the bow and you’ll quickly notice that the Ranger 26 lacks anything approaching a bow roller, proper fairleads, and the sort of cleats needed to handle real ground tackle. Need I say more?
Which leaves us with the rig and that includes the mast, stays, chain plates, associated hardware, and sails. This is an area where a lot of people wind up spending a lot more than the boat is worth (Especially if you don’t do all of your own work). So it’s an area of the project where you have to get serious. Given the Ranger 26’s age and the likely chance that the standing rigging is just as old I’d go into this process that at the bare minimum you’ll need to replace the stays, chainplates and associated hardware. Masts, in general, are non-problematic and last forever. You will need to look seriously at the sail inventory and while it is still pretty easy to buy good condition used sails for this size of boat so you’ll have to factor all of the costs. Oh yeah, there’s running rigging as well…
So, here’s my take on the rig issues. If the mast is OK and your sails are good you’ll only need to replace the chainplates and stays which does not have to be expensive (more on that in a future post) but if the boat does not have any sails or needs a lot of sail work it starts getting iffy. If the boat you’re looking at had its rig replaced in the last ten years, has good sails, and all you need to replace is a bit of running rigging, you’re home free.
Another option you might want to consider is to change rigs. I’ve long thought that, for cruising on a budget, that a Junk or Lug rig makes all kinds of sense. Even better would be a junk or lug that included a small jib and minimal textile rigging. The cost of building and rigging a junk or lug mast and sail is considerably cheaper than replacing the Ranger rig. There are quite a few other advantages as well but we’ll get into that later.
Which now leaves us with the project list so far as:
- A new galley
- A composting head
- Adding more stowage
- Companion way reduction
- Footwell reduction
- Hard dodger
- Bow roller/cleats/fairleads
- Sorting out the rig
Next up we’ll be looking at a specific project and costs in detail.