So, while I really like the Lyle Hess designed Balboa 26 I’ll be the first to admit that at 3600 pounds of displacement it’s not quite up to the requirements of long distance voyaging.
Now, this Lyle Hess design is a whole different kettle of fish…
It’s the 26-foot Falmouth Cutter which has a beam of about 9 1/2 feet and a displacement of six tons.
Fact is, you might be interested in learning that the ballast alone of this design weighs more than an entire Balboa 26.
With that sort of displacement you can load it to the gills and pretty much go anywhere you need or want to. The downside, is a hip heavy displacement boat of this sort is going to be a lot more expensive than the Balboa 26 and, more than likely, more than someone looking for a VolksCruiser can afford.
Lucky for us there are a lot of boats in the middle ground that might do the trick.
Another of my favorite designs is the Columbia 26 MK 2 which has enough displacement (5900 pounds) to actually carry more in the way of water, provisions, and gear than in the Balboa 26. In terms of budget the Columbia costs about the same as the Balboa.
The downside, for me at least, is that the Columbia has a draft of 4′ 4″ and if shoal draft is a factor that’s a possible issue.
There are a LOT of good 26-foot designs out there and the trick is to pay more attention to the displacement and beam than the length. Beam and displacement have a lot more impact on payload and livability than length does.
I always try and compare boats based on their displacement whether it’s about the actual design or when comparing prices to sort out what sort of a deal a given boat represents.
Which is a roundabout way of saying that, just maybe, you shouldn’t be looking at boats that are 26-feet long but instead looking at boats with a displacement of between four and six thousand pounds.