A Reprint from
The Magazine for Today's Boating
"It sails like a racer, yet offers comforts for the whole family"
Any journalist worth his coffee and typewriter welcomes the chance to scoop another author or publication.
So when Hal Koch, the Western United States public relations manager for Chrysler Marine, contacted Trailer Boats magazine about being the first on our block to test Chrysler's newest trailerable sailboat, there was only one lag in communication . . . when could we do it?
A convenient date for both parties was established to evaluate the Chrysler 26, the all new Chrysler/Halsey Herreshoff design that was built primarily for trailerable, full-comfort family cruising. Its available both in keel-centerboard and fixed keel versions, but naturally our preference was to evaluate the centerboard model because of its easier trailerability.
The meeting point would be San Fransisco, a good reason for drumming up some enthusiasm for the upcoming test, because the weather there is conducive to giving the boat a good workout.
Earlier in the fall, the Chrysler 26 was introduced to members of the press at Lake Lanier, Georgia. However, this would be the first time anyone would have some exclusivity with the boat. The prototype of the Chrysler 26 was trailered from Detroit to meet us at Jack O'Rourke's Sailshop in Alameda, California. If first impressions mean anything, then the Chrysler appealed to us as a sound family cruiser with lots of features.
The first part of the evaluation would be the Chrysler 10 horsepower outboard (called the Sailor 10) which was attached to a specially built attachment on the stern. All of the controls are hidden in the lazarette as are the fuel tanks. The controls lead into the cockpit area for the easy-to-reach ignition system and throttle handle. Turning the key starts the outboard and the fuel is controlled through a throttle handle which resembles the type in small runabouts. Choking is simply a matter of pushing in the key. The initial start didn't require choking, but we tried it out later, just to see how it worked. The throttle is located in a position where most inboard controls are, giving the impression of having an inboard engine. This Chrysler comes with an inboard option. However, after using the outboard, we wondered why the need for an inboard, particularly if you consider that the outboard is easily accessible and less expensive. The other advantage of the 10 HP engine is that there's not an extra through-hull to contend with. The Sailor 10 provided more than adequate power as we left the Sailboat Shop in Alameda and headed for San Francisco Bay.
As we powered up the channel, we were checked out on the rigging features by Jim Lyon, Chrysler's West Coast representative in charge of sailboats. Also joining us for the evaluation was David Biddle, a sales department employee at Chrysler's regional office in Benicia, a few miles north of San Francisco.
We plotted out a simple course - take the 26 out in the open bay and really give her a chance to perform under rugged tide and wind conditions.
When we approached the Oakland-Bay Bridge, we were disappointed to discover something the San Fransisco Chamber of Commerce would just as soon not mention - - smog. It was a sight not often seen in San Francisco, but it was there nonetheless. Perhaps the reason for the smog was a distinct lack of wind. This was one area we hadn't planned to test, but we did find that the 26 sailed well in light air, particularly when you consider that we only had a working jib with us. This was also a good time to test the crank that controls the centerboard. It was easy to raise and lower.
As we neared the Oakland-Bay Bridge, the winds gradually picked up so we set our course for Alcatraz Island. The tack to Alcatraz was a sailor's delight since the winds had piped up to nearly 20 knots. We were cranking along smoothly with the rail nearly under and the boat responding crisply to the tiller.
These wind conditions provided us the chance to test how everything held up. The #16 Barlow winches were well placed for the crew and with a slight effort, pulled in the jib for a hard sail. While Alcatraz was our course mark, we decided to tack a bit early. Again, another chance to test the boat for responsiveness under strong wind conditions. The first tack was smooth, even and direct. You'd expect a few bugs in the prototype, but nothing so far. One complaint is the actual size of the cockpit -- it's small for a 26-foot boat. For cruising, this isn't a major deficiency, but for racing, quarters could get cramped.
Our next heading was for Fisherman's Wharf, a historic landmark mostly for tourists, but in this case we wouldn't have a chance to taste the abalone at Tarantino's or the succulent lobster at Alioto's.
We were now at the City Front and it was time to tack again. Again, everything was working well and we headed out towards the Bay. By this time of the afternoon, the winds were starting to subside. Perhaps by another area's standards that would mean a lazy reach, but in San Francisco, that translates to not quite rail down.
Our destination, the dock near St. Francis Yacht Club, was nearly in sight so we decided to take one more tack before calling it a day, at least to windward. Here's where, for the first time all day, we had difficulties. The plan was to take the sails down and motor to the dock, but the rudder had different ideas.
After we dropped the sails, the engine didn't start immediately. This was due to the fact that we had been sailing rail down for a considerable time and the fuel tanks were tilted in such a way as to rob the engine of fuel. Nevertheless, when the engine wouldn't start and with our sails down, we found ourselves totally immobile. And as is the case when you're at sea, other things have a tendancy to break down. In this case, the rudder. However, when the rudder wouldn't respond, Jim Lyon discovered what had happened. He tightened the collar around the rudder shaft and we were back in business again. By this time the engine did start and we proceeded to the dock as planned.
In looking back on the trip, everything -- with one exception -- worked quite well. All of the fittings are quite solid. The mainsheet and the jib halyards worked well. It's easy to raise the sails. In all, a very good piece of machinery.
This constituted the first part of the evaluation. Because of time considerations, we had another chance to observe and evaluate the underbody and interior of the 26 when the production model appeared at the Southern California Sailboat Show in Long Beach. The 26 boasts a 6-foot standing headroom cabin that sleeps six on foam cushioned forward vee berths, twin single side berths, and a double stern berth located under the cockpit. The literature on the boat refers to the space as "cozy" and its just that. The space would be utilized better as a storage area.
The standard 26 cabin features include an enclosed portable marine head, double leaf dinette table, cutlery locker and cupboard, space for one 50-pound and one 100-pound icebox, and a smooth fiberglass headliner. The position of the iceboxes is something we question -- particularly in a 26-foot boat. The smaller ice box is placed underneath the companionway, which makes it difficult to reach, even for a casual snack or drink. Incorporating an icebox into the galley complex would have been much better. The 26's standard galley has a two-burner alcohol stove with a stainless steel cover, 10-gallon water tank and a stainless steel sink.
While the boat was in Long beach, we had a chance to test how the hinged mast step works while raising and lowering the mast. There are a couple of ways to raise the mast and we chose the simplist -- attaching an extra line to the forestay, then running it through a block and back to the aft winch. This system can be done by one person, but its best to have someone else along to steady the mast.
Chrysler offers what it calls "Custom Mated Sailboat Trailers", although we didn't get a chance to try one out. Our test boat came with an E-Z Loader trailer which was adequate for loading and unloading, but we would have liked to try out the "mated" trailer to see how it would handle a boat of this size. As more and more manufacturers go to larger trailer sailers, the design of the trailer becomes even more critical.
While the standard boat comes well equipped, there's a wide selection of optional extra equipment available: Bow pulpit, stern rail, lifelines and stanchions, mainsheet traveler, halyard winches, cabin window and privacy curtains, Yanmar 8 HP diesel inboard with remote controls, Chrysler Sailor 6 or 10 HP outboard, bimini top, canvas dodger curtains for cockpit area, stern boarding ladder, backstay adjuster, running lights and mainsail cover.
Other options include spinnaker with pole and fittings, cockpit cushions, boom vang, cradle, mast-raising bridle, mainsail jiffy reefing and Barlow or Lewmar winches.
|Draft (Swing Keel)||2'3" to 6'2"|
|Main Sail Area||106 sq. ft.|
|100% Lapper Sail Area||161 sq. ft.|
|Working Jib Sail Area||138 sq. ft.|
|150% Genoa Sail Area||230 sq. ft.|
|170% Genoa Sail Area||254 sq. ft.|
|Rec. Power||8 HP Diesel inboard|
|Rec. Power||6-10 HP Sailor outboards|
|Consulting Designer||Halsey Herreshoff|