Colgate 26

By Jack Hornor

Revised by BoatUS editors in October 2012
Colgate 26

Photo by Doris Colgate

Principal Dimensions & Specifications
Measurements should be considered approximate and the manufacturer&s specifications may be relied upon. Bow & stern appendages are generally excluded.
Length Overall25’ 8”
Waterline Length20’
Maximum Beam8’ 6”
Maximum Draft4’ 6” (optional 3’ 6”)
Displacement/Weight2,600 Lbs

After more than 35 years of teaching sailing, Steve and Doris Colgate, owners of the Offshore Sailing School no doubt had an idea or two about what they were looking for to replace the school's aging fleet of Solings. To turn Steve Colgate's list of parameters, the Colgates called on naval architect Jim Taylor and the result of this collaborative effort became the Colgate 26. Now in wider use among sail training programs such as the U.S. Naval Academies, the Colgate 26 has also built a reputation as an affordable daysailer that can accomodate the whole family or up to to six adults comfortably.

Introduced in 1997, the Colgate 26 is built by Precision Boat Works of Palmetto, FL which has been building their own line of daysailers and pocket cruisers for more than 32 years - so they too know a thing or two about building small boats. In their role as trainers, Colgate 26s are used and abused seven days a week so it is important that they are built to keep maintenance to a minimum and repairs simple. Hulls are constructed of solid fiberglass, decks are built with Corecell foam to add rigidity and reduce weight. An internal fiberglass liner is glassed in place and provides much of the structural support and stiffening for the hull. The deck and hull are joined with an external flange, sealed with 3-M 5200, bolted every six inches and covered with solid rubber rub rail. The 1050-lb. lead keel is attached with eight 1/2-inch stainless steel bolts.

To minimize maintenance, the only wood used in the entire boat is the tiller and the only opening to the area below deck is the companionway. The cockpit is self-bailing as are the cockpit seat lockers and there are no ports or vents to possibly leak.

At the scale these drawings are published, they become cluttered when too many features are included so, to show off her good looks, I have drawn the profile eliminating life lines and rails. However, standard equipment includes a bow pulpit, life lines and rails. To lessen the possibility of damage, the bow pulpit does not extend past the bow and to provide a more secure feeling for novice sailors, a rigid stainless steel rail replaces the traditional wire life lines along the cockpit.

Colgate 26

Photo by Doris Colgate

The most prominent features of the Colgate 26 are what makes her a great daysailer and teaching platform: a huge cockpit and high performance. The skipper and crewward dec can sit side by side along one cockpit seat. The molded fiberglass combings are nicely contoured for comfort and there are no cleats or winches to interfere with sitting atop the coaming in the event the wind picks up and you need to move weight a bit more outboard. There is a thwart across the cockpit at the rudder that provides added support for the rudder post and the attachment point for the mainsheet traveler. The finishing touch is a large "sugar scoop" transom which provides a perfect perch for a sailing instructor as well as a handy boarding platform whether getting aboard from the water or the dock.

There is a small cuddy cabin forward with self-tailing jib sheet winches on each side of the companionway and all sail controls are within easy reach without leaving the cockpit.

When it was introduced, the Colgate 26 won Cruising World magazine's Best Pocket Cruiser award but it's a bit of a stretch to consider this boat a cruiser. This is a daysailer with some minimal accommodation. As if to admit as much, although the Colgate 26 comes with an impressive list of standard equipment including a spinnaker, berth cushions are optional. Below deck there is a v-berth forward, port and starboard quarter berths and sitting head room. Aside from the companionway, there is no ventilation, windows or ports so if the companionway were to be closed in inclement weather the cabin would get uncomfortable. A forward deck port, water tank and berth cushions are all offered as options.

For auxiliary power, standard equipment includes an outboard motor mount on centerline at the stern. Adding a three- to five-horsepower outboard with an internal fuel tank should give you all the power you'll need under most conditions. 

I suspect that a sailing school transitioning from a Soling to the Colgate 26 might be a bit like Americas Cup contenders going from 12 Meters to ACC boats. Jim Taylor has done an excellent job of designing a boat that won't scare beginning sailors, yet has enough power to challenge and excite experienced sailors. The Colgate 26s sail area/displacement ratio is a respectable 23.9 and displacement/length ratio is 145. These numbers are not quite up there with similarly sized early sport boats but they are impressive considering this boat's primary training role. It has always surprised me a bit that she has not yet gained more popularity as a one design racer. A relatively deep draft and large rudder help to provide control in a wide range of wind conditions.

The Colgate 26 is a boat that should appeal to any sailor interested in a good looking, easy to maintain fun ride.

Naval architect Jack Hornor was the principal surveyor and designer for Marine Survey & Design, Co., based in Annapolis, MD. He was on the boards of the American Boat and Yacht Council, the National Association of Marine Surveyors, and the Society of Boat and Yacht Designers. He and his wife sailed their Catalina 42, Legacy, based on Maryland's Eastern Shore.

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