Is the Hunter
26 a water
ballast model? I just spent a weekend sailing with my BIL on his Hunter 23 with water
ballast. Granted I typically sail a larger catamaran
that doesn't heel, but at one time owned a Beneteau
235 so have some experience with heeling monohulls. That said, at times I wondered whether the Hunter had water in the ballast tank, because what I thought were pretty minor lake gusts would heel the boat substantially. On second day, we came out with reefed main - which left the small jib
to drive the boat more - and the sudden heeling was not quite as bad. But the gusts were not all that strong either - maybe 15 knots. They target sailing in 5-10 knots and basically head
for the slip with 15 knots. That said, the boat does move very well in light air, and points very high as well.
If yours is anything similar, I would have real concern with going offshore
and trying to sail into trade winds that can be very strong. Granted steady winds are easier to deal with than gusts - but how do you know when you are going to experience the later. Again, I may be way off-base here as my experience is with the shorter 23 foot model with water ballast. Maybe the 26 footer is a different boat altogether.