I've owned a MacGregor
ballasted sailboat for years, and have recently replaced it with a keel
boat because our kids
grew too big for a 26' boat. We loved it.
Dramatically reduced trailering weight.
Very shallow draft
, as low as 12" with ability to pull all boards up.
Ability to go without ballast for increased speed under power.
Much easier to get on and off of the trailer.
1) Extremely tender
, with an unstable feel at the dock
. Once moving, it hardens up but at dock
, they're not very comfortable when someone is moving about in the cockpit
. This is because the center of gravity is much higher than a keel boat.
2) Rapid heeling to 20 degrees or so before hardening up. Again, not problematic, but it can be very scary for new owners and those unaccustomed to heel.
3) They can be knocked over if you forget to ballast them. Ballasting is a manual operation, and as such can be overlooked when in a hurry. It's never happened to me or to anyone I know of on the MacGregor forums
, but it's a remote
possibility. Generally people realize they forgot to ballast when they get wobbled more than they expected. A good safety
measure is to leave the ballast gate open by default. That way if you forget it, at least it's full and leaking rather than empty and unballasted. This will also keep the ballast tank dry.
4) Foul smells can be emitted into the cabin
through the water ballast vent if you've let things grow in the tank. This is prevented by using vinyl tube to move the ballast vent from the inside to the exterior of the boat, usually either the chain locker or the stern near the ballast tank vent.
5) They don't point quite as well as a keel boat, although the difference isn't as dramatic as you'd expect. It's only about 5 degrees or so. They won't pinch much at all however.
If you aren't going to trailer the boat, get a full keel. You'll be much happier with the stability, performance, and one less thing to remember.
If you are going to trailer, get a water ballasted boat. The reduced weight dramatically increases towing options, improves towing characteristics, and makes the boat MUCH easier to get on and off the trailer.
It's that simple.