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Old 31-10-2011, 03:58   #1
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Columbia 26 MKII ?

I am interested in getting a boat that will be comfortable on SF Bay. I have seen a 1969 Columbia 26 MKII for sale for $4500. She looks to be in good shape from the pictures, but I haven't seen her yet. I'm interested in knowing if this would be a suitable boat for the Bay, maybe light coastal trips. Also, what's the general consensus on the overall quality of Columbia built boats of this era? I realize I'm going to have to go through her with a fine tooth comb to make sure she is sea-worthy, but that's ok, I just want a good quality boat for a starting point.
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Old 31-10-2011, 05:48   #2
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Re: Columbia 26 MKII?

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, Husker Harley.

See Blair Arden’s Columbia 26 Mk2 website
http://www.columbia26mk2.com/
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Old 31-10-2011, 06:41   #3
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Re: Columbia 26 MKII?

G'Day HH,

Columbia was never known for superior construction, but in its day there were a lot of Col 26s sailing on the Bay, and while I'm not in the area any more, I bet there are still a few going strong. With any boat of that age, speculation about their sailability is useless... it depends on the individual vessel and how it has been maintained over the years.

So, IMO there is nothing inherently wrong with the Col 26, but personal inspection followed by a professional survey is required to weed out the floating disasters.

Good luck.

Jim

PS I've seen a couple of them in Oz. Don;t know how they got there but they are still floating and sailing.
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Old 31-10-2011, 11:47   #4
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Re: Columbia 26 MKII ?

OK, you're going to get a long dissertation on this boat from me.

I've owned my C26M2 for a little over a year now, and I've owned and sailed on a number of other boats, so I can compare.

The C26M2 is a heavy boat for it's length. We're talking 5900 lb displacement, with 2500 of those lbs just in the keel. This makes for a very stable and seaworthy boat. Combine that with the high freeboard, and you've got a boat that stays dry in nasty conditions and doesn't heel too much. So as a safe, comfortable cruiser capable of whatever you throw at it in terms of wind and waves, it's excellent.

As neer as I can tell, the hull and rigging are pretty bulletproof. I've smacked some obstacles pretty hard at speed, without so much as a blemish. The mast and standing rigging appear to be quite stout in comparison to other similar boats. These boats were made with two rigging options: standard and racing. The racing has two sets of shrouds leading to the base of the spreaders instead of one, and also adds a spinnaker car track on the mast and some other goodies. Mine's the standard, but if the one your looking at has the racing rigging that's a big bonus.

Sail area is slightly on the small side compared to other boats of the same size that are more geared to performance. Fairly small main with large masthead jib.

So ... you're saying "heavy, high freeboard, small sail area, this thing must sail like a PIG right?". Here's the wierd thing ... NO! Ol' Bill Tripp did something right when he designed this hull. I race mine regularly, and it seems to hold it's own nicely against the Thunderbirds, J24's, SJ28's etc. It seems to have a slippery hull or something, because once it get's it's momentum up, I'm passing those other boats on a reach and downwind (she SCREAMS downwind either with a spinnaker or wing & wing with a poled out genny). But, it doesn't point real well, and on tacks it loses all momentum and takes a while to accelerate again. But once you learn the tricks of how to take advantage of it's strengths, she's a great performer. I also do a lot of cruising with other boats, and it's great to be able to keep up with the rest of the fleet, even the big boys. Many other boats this size get left behind on such outings.

There are some negatives on this boat. I don't like the free hung spade rudder hanging way back there. It seems delicate. When I bought mine, it had a severe weather helm problem, which I found out was a bent rudder shaft. I fixed that and now it sails perfectly balanced, but I can see how a grounding or hitting something from the rear could easily bend that rudder. I'd prefer a skeg or keel hung rudder. But ... I gotta say that old tub does turn on a dime!

These were mass produced, cheaply built boats, and that's reflected in the fit and finish. You won't find nice woodwork or signs of craftsmanship. But if you don't mind plain, the cabin is reasonably roomy and comfortable for a 26 footer.

There are a LOT of C26's out there, partly because so many were built, and partly because they were built like tanks so a high proportion are still floating. This means they can be had real cheap, sometimes even free if you don't mind putting serious elbow grease into an abandoned marina derelict. $4500 may be a reasonable price if the one you're looking at is in real good shape, although if you're willing to wait and look around you might be able to do better. In my opinion, these boats are one of the most undervalued bargains out there.

I'm sure I could go on and on, but PM me if you have any more questions about my experience with my C26M2. Good luck!
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Old 31-10-2011, 12:05   #5
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Re: Columbia 26 MKII ?

Everything I've heard over the years is that generra of Columbias in the various sizes are built like tanks and sail fairly well too. The rudder is exposed and I have heard of one problem with the rudder shaft badly corroded. There is a 30 up here with good inboard diesel for $6k, so dont pay too much for a 26!
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Old 04-09-2012, 17:09   #6
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Re: Columbia 26 MKII ?

I have one and totally second wristwrester's comments

The high freeboard means that the deck almost never gets wet. The top deck sits roughly 4.5 feet above the waterline. The boat is heavy and sails like a tank, very forgiving. It absolutely does just scream downwind with just a genoa up (I did 7.8 kts in a 20+ kt wind with 2-3 foot following seas). It points upwind quite well, sharpest upwind I've been is 15 degrees off the wind and we were moving along pretty well, we porpised the dingy we were going so fast on that tack in light winds. The cabin is pretty roomy, it can sleep 2 couples and a single. The doubles are a bit small for two if you arent cuddle buddies, when I bring my buddies out it sleeps 3. Construction of the lower hull is solid, the fibreglass is about an inch thick down there.

The downsides I've noticed: Motoring in waves of any size is horrible, it hobby horses up and down. Under sail however, this thing just pounds through them. With the high freeboard again, under motor, it will catch the wind and point you off the wind and can be difficult to steer under motor power. The outboard well is in a terrible place in the cockpit, on my boat the whole well has been sealed shut and a transom mount placed on the back, in the cockpit it would be loud, smelly, and you'd end up kicking it all the time. On the transom its much better, although combined with the hobby horsing means a lot of cantilevering the prop out of the water when motoring in waves, something that the designers tried to fix with the well in the cockpit I guess.

When I say it sails like a tank, I mean it. I went out with a few inexperienced guys this past weekend and the forecast that called for 10-15 kt winds turned out to be 20-30 gust 50. Closehauled under the 20-30 kt prevailing with a 150 genoa we were heeled only at 15-20 degrees. The gusts blew us to 40-50 degree heel within a second, but that wasnt really the boat's fault; a 150 genoa isnt designed for 50 kt winds, and with my limited experience and a totally green crew swapping sails was not an option at all.

When you get your crew working smoothly you wont lose much speed on your tacks and jibes, but if your crew is sloppy on the tacks and gybes as wrist mentions you will lose almost all of your speed.

If you plan your route and tacks well however you can make some pretty good time in the boat, and if the inside configuration is stock and unmodified there are two extra compartments that can hold water so you can put extra ice in them and store food cold, one in the v-berth and one underneath the single. The icebox does a pretty good job of keeping your food cold with ice. Lots of storage elsewhere on the boat. We keep a months worth of food, fishing and crabbing gear, books, clothes, tons of extra lifejackets, blankets, pillows, four extra sails, dishes, tools, downriggers and a whole host of other crap on the boat and there's still room for 50 beer, 30 bottles of water, four bottles of rum and 15 2-litre bottles of pop and she isnt even full, with the compartments closed there is nothing lying loose anywhere.

Hopefully you got the boat and are living it up aboard by now!
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Old 04-09-2012, 17:45   #7
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Re: Columbia 26 MKII ?

My first boat was a brand new Col 26 Mk II. Had a love-hate relationship with the boat. Boat had a bad habit of rounding up uncontrollably in gusts. The gust would hit, boat would heal, rudder would stall and it was suddenly like rudder had departed the boat. Nearly T-Boned a couple of boats when it did this. Finally just started sailing it without the main from fear of the roundup surprise. Boat had to be driven constantly, any inattention on the helm and boat would round up. No single handing that boat without an auto pilot.

Boat pounded badly and oil canned going to weather in short period steep waves of the channels. Oil canning busted the tabbing loose on the forward and amidships bulkheads after a couple of trips to Lahaina from HNL. Couldn't recommend any serious big ocean sailing without reinforcing the hull and a lot better bonding of the bulkheads to the hull.

Mine was a '79 and came with a roller reefing mainsail and boom. Terrible system. Be sure the main has been converted to slab reefing. You'll be reefing often or just not using the main.

Interior volume was tremendous for a 26' boat so it was great for a semi liveaboard in the tropics. Poor storage but lots of room which was fine for me back then.

My boat was built when sillycone first became popular. Factory used sillycone to bed everything and it leaked like a sieve. Spent my two years of ownership removing every piece of hardware and fittings on the boat and rebidding with LifeCaulk. Leaks were especially obnoxious on the boat because there is no bilge and any water getting below sloshes all over the place. Usually ended up with water over the floorboards on channel passages.

The motor in the well worked fine even with serious waves. Powered most of the way home from Molokai across the Molokai Channel without drowning the motor like a transom mounted outboard would have.

Sailed the hell out of the boat, spent every weekend out sailing and took it to every island but the Big Island when I took leave. I really enjoyed the sailing and the learning experience was tremendous. Would never buy another one, though.
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Old 04-09-2012, 18:16   #8
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Re: Columbia 26 MKII ?

Interesting. Mine is a 72 and doesnt have a drop of silicone anywhere, no worries with leaks decades later. Bulkheads are strong as hell, the boat has been sailed in squamish where 25+ kt winds are the norm rather than the exception. The waves dont really get much worse than 3-4 ft chop, maybe where you were at it was bigger.

I often sail it with just the jib, people keep telling me how dangerous that is and telling me of crazy lee helm but like you say it wants to point into the wind so i find it is strangely balanced with just a 150 genoa with the cars pulled all the way back.

Even in 20-30 with gusts of 50 ive never experienced what you describe with the rudder though.

I read that they made tons and tons of mk 2's and over time the molds got worn out, they then took off the waffle no slip pattern and made some other changes to the mold to make it simpler and changed the boat model to a columbia 26 k. Ive seen one as there is one parked in the slip opposite to me, it certainly doesnt look to be the same quality as my boat.

Maybe the later 26 mk 2's suffered from problems with worn out molds.
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Old 16-11-2014, 22:38   #9
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Re: Columbia 26 MKII ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by roverhi View Post
My first boat was a brand new Col 26 Mk II. Had a love-hate relationship with the boat. Boat had a bad habit of rounding up uncontrollably in gusts. The gust would hit, boat would heal, rudder would stall and it was suddenly like rudder had departed the boat. Nearly T-Boned a couple of boats when it did this. Finally just started sailing it without the main from fear of the roundup surprise. Boat had to be driven constantly, any inattention on the helm and boat would round up. No single handing that boat without an auto pilot.

Boat pounded badly and oil canned going to weather in short period steep waves of the channels. Oil canning busted the tabbing loose on the forward and amidships bulkheads after a couple of trips to Lahaina from HNL. Couldn't recommend any serious big ocean sailing without reinforcing the hull and a lot better bonding of the bulkheads to the hull.

Mine was a '79 and came with a roller reefing mainsail and boom. Terrible system. Be sure the main has been converted to slab reefing. You'll be reefing often or just not using the main.

Interior volume was tremendous for a 26' boat so it was great for a semi liveaboard in the tropics. Poor storage but lots of room which was fine for me back then.

My boat was built when sillycone first became popular. Factory used sillycone to bed everything and it leaked like a sieve. Spent my two years of ownership removing every piece of hardware and fittings on the boat and rebidding with LifeCaulk. Leaks were especially obnoxious on the boat because there is no bilge and any water getting below sloshes all over the place. Usually ended up with water over the floorboards on channel passages.

The motor in the well worked fine even with serious waves. Powered most of the way home from Molokai across the Molokai Channel without drowning the motor like a transom mounted outboard would have.

Sailed the hell out of the boat, spent every weekend out sailing and took it to every island but the Big Island when I took leave. I really enjoyed the sailing and the learning experience was tremendous. Would never buy another one, though.
Just reread my comments and i made typo error. The boat was built in '69, launched in 1970.
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Old 24-12-2014, 08:25   #10
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Re: Columbia 26 MKII ?

Looking for anyone with experience with a Columbia 30, 1974 or early 70s, Standard Rig, fixed keel. There is little to no reviews on this boat on the web. The boat would be used as a weekend family cruiser on a nearby lake. Thanks in advance, Jim


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Old 24-12-2014, 08:31   #11
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Re: Columbia 26 MKII ?

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, Jim.

Columbia 30 Specs
Columbia 30 Specifications
COLUMBIA 30 sailboat specifications and details on sailboatdata.com
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Old 24-12-2014, 08:40   #12
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Re: Columbia 26 MKII ?

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Originally Posted by Husker Harley View Post
I am interested in getting a boat that will be comfortable on SF Bay. I have seen a 1969 Columbia 26 MKII for sale for $4500. She looks to be in good shape from the pictures, but I haven't seen her yet. I'm interested in knowing if this would be a suitable boat for the Bay, maybe light coastal trips. Also, what's the general consensus on the overall quality of Columbia built boats of this era? I realize I'm going to have to go through her with a fine tooth comb to make sure she is sea-worthy, but that's ok, I just want a good quality boat for a starting point.
The first keelboat I ever owned was a '69 Columbia 22. It was a great starter boat for the Bay- built like a brick shithouse and very forgiving. Assuming the boat you are considering isn't a total POS, you will have a similar experience, I'm sure. Fast, it will not be however.
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