shallow draft keel-centerboard hull has many advantages:
and safety at sea.
to protected remote anchorage's or to shallow water sailing areas like
the Bahamas or Friesland.
grounding in tidal harbors on the wide keel.
of building and maintenance, economical to own.
seaworthiness may come as a surprise to beginners or to those who have
never sailed a shallow draft boat but experienced seamen know that the
shallow draft boat is more seaworthy than a hull with a deep keel.
Unlike the deep boat, a centerboarder will not resist the sea. Instead
of tripping on it's keel, it will dodge the waves or lift over them. Properly
designed, a keel centerboarder will have the same ultimate stability than
a boat with a conventional keel. All over the world, lifeboats are shallow
draft. Slocum sailed around the world in a shallow draft boat, my daughter's
Presto style sharpie was 55' long but had less than 4' draft and sailed
2-1/2 times around the world and I sailed half around the world in a 41
footer with 3' draft.
But there is more to it than safety at sea. In case of real bad weather
like a hurricane, a shallow draft boat can take refuge deep inland or
in very protected coves inaccessible to deep boats. The centerboarder
can, with only a small tide, be beached for repairs or to clean and paint
the bottom. It can go on anchor where nobody else can and save on marina
Altogether, shallow draft is the way to go for a serious cruising boat.
That type of hull is also ideal for the amateur builder. A keel casting
is costly: easily $5,000.00 with shipping in the case of a 26' boat. In
our boats, the wide keel is integral to the hull (no leaking bolts) and
filled from inside with lead ingots and lead shot cast in resin. If transportation
to the launching place is problematic, the lead can be installed at the
last minute just before launching.
many still believe that a deep keel is a must for stability, here is the
roll over chart for the VG26.
you can see the VG26 has a positive righting arm until 137 degrees. The
area under zero is very small and returns to null at 180. This means a
stiff boat that is very unstable if it ever turns turtle. Many production
boats in that size have positive stability only up to 110 or 120 degrees.
production boats in that size have little storage room and no payload
capacity. Serious cruising entails carrying stores for the length of the
cruise. Not only food, water and fuel but spares and extra gear.
The VG26 has much more payload capacity than other boats in that size.
The figures show a light to medium displacement.
The light displacement is the complete boat with it's gear and equipment
but no crew or stores.
Cruising displacement means weight with the crew and all what it takes
to cruise: fuel, water, food, stores, gear, spares.
Our designed waterline is at cruising displacement.
You can add more weight, the PPI (pounds per inch of immersion) tells
you how many lbs it takes to bring the boat down 1".
You will rarely see those figures listed for production boats. Their displacement
is usually very close to our light displacement.
wrote a detailed story about this boat. Visit the AmateurBoatBuilding.com
and see the articles titled Virtual Design.
do not compare the VG26 to light weekend boats of the same LOA. Instead,
use the LWL (length at waterline) as a base.
is a comparison table:
hull shape is our trademark 5 panel hull. Easy to build and good performance.
packed a lot in a 26' hull to keep material cost and marina fees down.
The beam is within the legal towing limits with a wide tow permit (US
rules). That permit cost $10.00 in most US states.
The Vagabond 26 is not a boat that you tow to a ramp for a Sunday sail.
She should live in the water but can be towed home for winterization.
The hull material is our epoxy-fiberglass composite with a plywood core.
This is essentially a plywood stitch and glue skin between heavy structural
fiberglass in epoxy. Easy to build and stronger than single skin fiberglass.
7/8 sail plan is traditional with a large mainsail and small jib. This
makes sail reduction easier and eliminates the need for a furling jib.
It is always easier to reef a main than to change a foresail. The small
jib makes tacking single handed easy and it can be fitted with a reef
The small jib allows us to have a wide shroud base. For light weather
sailing or long downwind runs, the plans show a retractable pole to use
with a gennaker or triradial. The pole fits on deck and can be a plain
aluminum spi pole or a carbon fiber pole with spi pole end fittings. A
bobstay is shown but optional.
We show single swept back spreaders and a single backstay offset on the
transom. Those who prefer can opt for a split backstay with tensioner.
The complete wardrobe is made of 4 sails: main, jib, tri-radial and storm
jib. Simple and economical.
The VG26 is powered either by an outboard on the transom or an inboard
The plans show two versions of the boat, one for outboard and one with
an inboard diesel.
outboard fits on a standard outboard bracket sold in most marine store
or we can supply it. A 6 HP is sufficient, max. 15 HP.
The outboard has a small fuel 6 gallon tank in a cockpit locker.
inboard diesel is Nanni diesel (Kubota based) with saildrive. We can supply
this as a complete kit, see BoatBuilderCentral.com.
Other saildrive inboard engines can be installed.
is a 20 gallon diesel fuel tank. The diesel engine takes some room in
the aft cabin. With the inboard engine, the aft berth becomes a single
one instead of a double.
The VG26 is fitted with an integral keel and centerboard trunk. No welding,
no expensive casting, no difficult keel to hull assembly.
is also stronger. The VG26 can sit dry and stable on its one piece keel
without any additional support or bracing. That feature allows the boat
to dry out without help in tidal harbors and makes bottom cleaning and
painting on a tidal beach possible: no more expensive haulouts!
wide centerboard trunk makes maintenance easy: the CB can be removed while
afloat and the trunk cleaned and painted.
rudder is deeper than the keel but a very simple design feature allows
it to slide up for sailing in shallow waters or beaching.
Starting from the bow, there is chain locker accessible from the deck
followed by a double vee berth. The vee berth is 76" long in diagonal
and there is enormous storage room under the berth (the boat is designed
to take weight there).
is a wide hatch over the vee berth.
saloon has a 6'-4" berth on the port side and a shorter seat followed
by a galley on the starboard side. The centerboard trunk supports a folding
show a dorade type vent but other ways to ventilate the cabin can be used:
opening ports, louver doors etc.
galley has sufficient room for a small fridge, a double burner stove and
sink and even a small microwave. The fresh water tank has a capacity of
is 76" headroom in front of the galley.
the port side, there is an enclosed head, headroom is 68". The head connects
to a 40 gallon black water tank located behind the head.
head is vented thanks to an invisible dorade type vent located in the
the head, there is storage room above the pump out tank. In the standard
version, there is no access to storage from the cockpit seats. The cockpit
is completely watertight for strength and safety in bad weather. Sails
can be stored behind the head, under the cockpit. This makes sense since
very few sail changes are required.
an option, the plans show a full bulkhead behind the head and a wide cockpit
seat hatch. This creates a wet locker. For that option, we show a sole
in the locker, above the water line.
the starboard side, there is small desk with shelves behind the galley,
ideal for electronics. It is followed by a wide and long double berth.
The outboard side of the berth is 83" long, the inboard side is 74" long.
The whole berth can be made 16" longer if the builder sacrifices the small
outside cockpit lockers.
berth fitted with a cloth leeboard can become a snug pilot berth under
is plenty of storage under the aft berth.
aft cabin opens to the saloon but a curtain can be installed behind the
companion way ladder.
light, there are two Lexan windows in the cockpit sides. The aft cabin
is with a vent in the ceiling. That vent is located in the forward part
of the cockpit backrest and made water tight through a dorade type baffle.
The opening can be closed in case of bad weather.
is good seating headroom at the head of the berth: 50"+.
to the deck is through a companion way fitted with a standard hatch and
two drop down panels. The companionway is separated from the cockpit by
a wide bridge deck. This not only provides headroom to the aft cabin but
is a required safety feature for a blue water boat.
cockpit has comfortable benches with wide backrests extending from the
cabin sides. There are small storage spaces in the backrest for winch
handles, binoculars etc.. A main sheet traveler runs along the edge of
the bridge deck, this is another safety feature since the main sheet is
often used as a grab handle while moving around.
Under the cockpit benches, on the transom side, there are P & S wet lockers
that drain overboard, for fenders and docking lines.
cockpit and seats are slanted and drain over board, the plans show wide
deck, we show a suggested layout with the CB painter line returning to
the cockpit but we leave halyards on the mast. Those can be returned to
the cockpit if the owner prefers.
method: The VG26 hull is made of a plywood core between structural fiberglass/epoxy
means that we build a relatively light plywood hull assembled in stitch
and glue and build strong fiberglass skins on each side of the plywood.
The strength comes mostly from the fiberglass and epoxy, not from the
standard deck and cabin top are made in foam sandwich but we show a plywood
version as an option.
VG26 can be built either in a basket mold or the traditional way, upside
down on a simple jig.
to the large size of the panels, it becomes difficult to use a basket
mold for boats 25' or larger. In this case we prefer to build the hull
upside down on a jig.
Building a boat hull upside down on a jig is the traditional method described
in most books about wooden boat building.
The jig can be made of the boat's frames and bulkheads or from throw away
plans show how to build a frame to roll the boat. This is not as difficult
as a first time builder may think.
1.Set up a male jig made from molds with a few ribbands.
2.Cover it with the hull panels.
3.Build fiberglass seams and fiberglass the outside of the hull.
4.Turn the hull over and remove the molds.
5.Fiberglass the inside of the hull.
6.Install the interior framing, finish the inside including main systems
like tanks, inboard engine.
7.Deck the hull.
building is as simple as any other stitch and glue boat: it will take
longer to build than a small skiff but does not require more tools or
better skills. The plans include a step description of the hull assembly.
builders should have a basic understanding of sailboats and have build
at least one small boat such as our D4 or Cheap Canoe.
supply complete diesel inboard installation drawings with our kits if
that option is chosen.
Many options exist.
The main one is an inboard diesel engine.
We could not fit a straight shaft engine without loosing most of the saloon
but a saildrive fits quite well under the companionway ladder. There is
no miracle, you must accept to loose part of the aft berth. It sill leaves
a nice wide and long aft berth and plenty of storage space. The fuel 20
gallons shares the space behind the head with the blackwater tank and
the exhaust takes the place of the outboard tank in the rear port locker.
are plenty of other small options shown on the plans and you can customize
the interior as long as you keep all bulkheads where we show them.
serious long distance cruises, like a 6 month cruise for two to the Caribbean
or some other long range expedition, I would add a sole in the forward
part of the saloon. Raise the seats and table, there is room and use the
space under the sole for storage. This will keep the CG low and since
you do not need standing headroom where you sit, it is a win-win option.
Along those lines, the VG26 has a nice feature. The displacement is calculated
for a well loaded boat. If she is used mostly for week-end cruises, the
weight of the stores can be replaced with 500 lbs of lead ingots to bring
her to her waterline. If later the owner wants to sail away on a long
cruise, he can remove the ballast and load the boat with plenty of water,
fuel and stores. The capacity of all tanks can easily be increased.
Of Materials: (Excerpts
from our BOM)
BOM list materials based on our standard layout and includes a 15% waste
factor for resin and fiberglass. For plywood, we use standard sheets 4'
x 8' (122 x 244 cm). Please read the building notes and see the plans
for detailed specifications. Marine Tech or XL boat building plywood can
be substituted for marine ply in stitch and glue construction. That type
of plywood cost, on the average, less than $20.00 a sheet in 1/4" (6mm).
Meranti marine can also be used and cost usually less than $40.00 a sheet
(1/4"). Good quality exterior is acceptable if it has no voids.
39 sq. yds.
See our BOM and check local prices for supplies. Depending on the level
of finish and the experience of the builder, this boat will take between
400 and 800 hours to build. The hull can be assembled in 200 hours.