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Recent articles, posts and marketplace activity on The Contessa Corner:

Varuna Abandoned in the Atlantic Ocean

Old news for some, but it seems Varuna was abandoned in the North Atlantic.


For sale: 1977 Contessa 26 Ushuaia

The sailboat is located in Angra de Heroismo, Azores, Portugal

Some of the equipment includes the following:

- Storm Jib
- Intermediate Jib
- Working Jib
- 1 Genoa
- 1 Intermediate Genoa (North Sails) with 1 reef
- 2 main sails with 3 reefs
- Dodger
- Farymann Diesel K30 6HP Engine
- Autohelm Seetalk tridata 50 plus
- Deep cycle batteries Exit 900 12V
- Cape Horn Self-steering
- Autopilot Autohelm ST1000+
- Origo Alcohol stove 1500
- DSC VHF NAVICOM RT-450 radio
- 2 10.5 gallon water tanks
- 1 10.5 gallon fuel tank

For more information and photos, please email

For Sale: 1974 Contessa 26 $7500

his listing is for Slow Dance , a 1974 Contessa 26 manufacturers Hull #FLZM9625D174 sitting on a 2004 Triad Trailer (Used Once for 40 Miles) I believe this to be a Project Boat as it has been not been off the trailer for 10 years.

Questions can be sent or called in:

Phone : (704)-401-6670

The sailboat is located in Charlotte, North Carolina

Some of the equipment includes the following:
1988 Yanmar 1GM10
Origo 1 Burner Stove
Hella Fans
Navico Auto pilot
Garmin GPS (Early 1980’s)
25 Watt Apelco VHF Radio (Early 1980’s)
Horizon DS 45 Depth Sounder (2000)
Claw Anchor on Bow Roller
15# CQR
20# North Hill
Lexan Hatches
Dockside electrical cable
200 Watt Inverter
150% Genoa
100% Jib
Yankee Tri-Sail
Boom Vang
Standing Rigging Re[placed in 2000

For Sale: 1980 JJT Contessa 26 $13000

Xanthus is a J.J. Taylor built Contessa 26, built in Ontario in 1980. We are currently in the South Pacific right now in Vava’u Tonga. We have been cruising the Pacific for the past 4 years and did an extensive refit in 2012/13 while we we’re in Hawaii. We have a blog page we’ve put up with a lot of photos and information for those interested it’s:

  • Xanthus has been rerigged in 2013. All new chainplates, turnbuckles, etc, and dux rigging.
  • Mainsail with 3 reefs with strongtrack
  • Trysail with separate track
  • Storm jib
  • Intermediate jib
  • Working jib
  • Genoa
  • Drifter
  • Spinnaker
  • Spinnaker pole with track
  • Flynnspray brass water pump
  • Two 8 gallon water tanks
  • One 10 gallon water tank
  • With inline filter and manifold
  • Force 10 two burner LPG stove with oven.
  • Two 6lb aluminum LPG tanks
  • New Standard Horizon VHF with AIS receiver.
  • Two 20 watt solar panels
  • Charge controller
  • 32 amp battery
  • Two manual bilge pumps
  • Aluminum whale in cockpit
  • Separate bilge pump below
  • Monitor wind vane
  • Dual pivoting tabernacle, can easily drop mast with topping lift and main sheets
  • Sta-set X halyards
  • New running rigging 2012
  • Lazy jacks

Ground tackle

  • 25lb CQR
  • 7kg Bruce
  • 100 feet of 5/16” chain
  • 200 feet of ¾” 8 strand nylon rode
  • 200 feet ¾” 8 strand nylon rode spare
  • Jacklines with 2 harnesses
  • Offshore lifelines

  • Parachute anchor
  • Two sets of dive gear
  • Two Dive Rite BC’s
  • Two sets of regulators Tusa
  • Two aluminum tanks
  • rebuild kits for both 1st stage and 2nd stage regs
  • Full cockpit canvas
  • Forward hatch canvas
  • Two opening New Found Metals Ports
  • 4 non opening ports
  • Oar locks with two 13’ long sweeps
  • Outboard bracket
  • Eton Solara XL solar powered MP3 player

Xanthus is ready to continue cruising for many more years and comes with various, line, dishes, tools, flashlights, GPS, flares, water bladders, laser flare, etc, etc, etc.

As with many boats Xanthus has a lot more money in her than her asking price if interested or have any questions please e-mail

SOLD: 1984 Contessa 26 Varuna $25,000

Varuna #324 is actually for sale due to health reasons (Parkinson’s) and just isn’t getting properly used. She went around the world with Tania and from Maine to the Bahamas and back with me in 2008-9 and has proved to be a very trustworthy and safe boat in all kinds of conditions. On deck she shows obvious age wear and tear and could use some painting tlc on some metal bits, but everything works.

  • Original Monitor self steering gear works like a charm… lots of spares that I have never used
  • 4 man Avon dinghy container mounts on deck…inspected before Bahamas trip
  • Epirb…inspected before Bahamas trip
  • Beta 10 diesel is superb….runs trouble free like new with 752hrs on her…cruises at 5.2kn at 2400rpm with plastic prop
  • LCD radar on mast with swing out panel display in companionway
  • New Garmin chart plotter this year (old one died in winter storage and couldn’t be serviced) This one has build in sounder. Nice!
  • Paper charts include for the entire US East Coast and the Bahamas to Gerogetown
  • Also included a bunch of paper charts for world cruising…most Pacific, I think…. have never looked at them much as never wanted to go that far
  • New main for Bahamas trip…have spare old main that is a bit baggy
  • Excellent troublefree roller furler for jib, genoa, and storm jib
  • Jib has seen better days but is a good cut and a great shape so has life left.
  • Genoa seems a poor cut to me so I don’t like its shape, and I rarely use it
  • Storm jib is like new…but has been a lifesaver…Varuna can beat off a lea shore with her alone
  • Storm trysail is also included…great condition….have never used it
  • Custom bow roller for CQR anchor…makes dropping and hauling/stowing anchor effortless.
  • Two separate Danforth style anchors…one kept folded and one setup with some chain and 100’ of rode
  • Sea anchor….never used so no comment
  • Standing rigging seems in good shape…. steps on mast.
  • Tricolor on top of mast with LED for anchor light…good shape
  • New wiring to bow and stern lights…. lenses do show aging
  • Electric bilge pump with optional mercury switch
  • Manual bilge pump….used only once in a panic when sailing on a std tack in strong winds water siphoned down the electric pump outlet ( now I keep that outlet closed except when wanted!)
  • New fresh water pump diaphragm this year…don’t know how old the old one was as it came with the boat to me
  • Two new quality batteries (that will hold a charge over the winter!!!) installed last year. One is one of those weird looking Optima ones….not cheap!
  • Running rigging is looking faded, but seems sturdy…. did replace jib sheets last years with smaller dia that seem to work better in the self-tailing winches
  • Hundreds of feet of new Samsonline included…mostly running rigging size
  • Lots of stainless metal spares from turnbuckles to bolts to screws
  • Force 10 two burner kerosene stove with gimbaled propane single burner mounted above it for quick jobs
  • New VHF and handheld VHF for Bahamas trip
  • Porta potty…removed old sea water potty thru hulls and glassed over openings
  • Dodger with custom frame included but don’t keep it mounted for just summer sailing as it restricts visibility.
  • Cockpit spray curtains included
  • Vintage Avon inflatable dinghy shows aging but holds air fine…. I keep it stowed up forward below.
  • Newer berth cushions below with matching backrest material…no forward v-berth cushions
  • Hand operated sea water filter… never used so no comment…. these things aren’t cheap!
  • 12 gallon diesel tank…great shape… cleaned for Bahamas trip
  • Engine has a spin-on diesel filter, but a second Napa one with water separated is there too…never seems to be any water in it.
  • New switch panels and much new wiring
  • Also included are your choice of about 50 mariners books…from weather to world cruising to seamanship…Maiden Voyage NOT included!

I am sure I have forgotten something…perhaps even something important. Her price is $25,000 USD firm ( which is about 1/2 of what I have invested in her.) Not cheap…. in the water in Harpswell, Maine. What fun this boat has been, though, and you would not believe how often people still spot the big VARUNA name on her cabin sides and radio over for a comment…even one FL bridge tender request a channel change for a conversation.

If you are a serious buyer… Varuna can be sailed away right now safely/reliably to anywhere alone the US East Coast ( or to Canada!) to get in touch and come round for a trial sail. However, although I will endeavor to answer questions via email, I am not interested in general chatting/stories and such due to my health and slow typing.

My email address is sorry…. no phone number until I know I want to talk to you.

For Sale: 1980 Contessa 26 $22,000

We sailed out of Port Townsend, WA, USA 4 years ago and have been sailing our Contessa 26 “Xanthus” around the pacific ever since. She’s been a wonderful full time home for us. We are currently in Apia, Samoa, at least for the next month or so and then it’s on it some other beautiful pacific island.

Xanthus was built in Ontario in 1980. She’s a true world cruiser and in great shape. We did a major refit in Hawai’i 2012/2013. She comes with her trusty companion, “Lucy” a 10’ 4” nesting hard dinghy with sailing rig. The dinghy is a Danny Greene chameleon design.

For more info and photos visit:
or email

As it seems with most boats there is lots more money in this boat then asking price. Make an offer.

SOLD: 1973 Contessa 26



LOA 26 feet, LWL 21 feet
BEAM 7 feet, 6 inches
SAIL AREA 304 sq. ft
MAST deck stepped, height to W/L 35 feet
DRAFT – 4 ft, 6 inches
ENGINEVIRE gasoline, 7 hp. with op’s manual
TRANSMISSION – single lever with choke



Loretta Armstrong 705-796-7039
Email –


Portable 25 litre fuel tank
120 SHORE POWER with 2 outlets & cable
In line battery charger
House and starting batteries, multi-battery switch
VHF Radio with swing arm to cockpit
Jenson AM/FM radio/CD player
Raymarine depthsounder – new
Raymarine knot meter
Compass readable from cockpit & cabin
ProFurl furling gear
4 Winches, all lines to aft
Electric bilge pump + manual pump
steel cradle, and newer 20 X 30 heavy tarp

20 Gallon fresh water tank with brass hand pump
20 gallon waste tank
New Jabsco marine toilet 2013 Annual spring bottomcote antifouling
Chainplates reseated 2009
New bilge hoses and exhaust
Split backstay with tensioner
Lazy Jacks

Stainless boarding/swim ladder, 4 step folding with treads 2011
BBQ on stern rail
Life ring with floating line
4 scupper drains, 3 cockpit drains
Single line main sheet traveller on the transom
Tiller steering
New main \& jib halyards 2013
New Cunningham 2013
Open turnbuckles
Anchor holder on bow pulpit
Danforth anchor with chain & rode

Green awl grip painted hull and off white topsides, l995.
Teak brightwork refreshed last year
New green sail cover 2011
New l50 Genoa with green UV cover 2012
New loose footed main sail 2012
Dodger and bimini in excellent condition, new plastic 2012.
Sun tarp and forward hatch sun shade

6 cabin ports
Opening forward hatch
Upholstery cabin & V-berth in excellent condition
4 cabin lights
Teak interior excellent condition
Solar fan/vent
Great storage
Ice box
Butane portable single burner stove
Teak bilge inspection floor plates
Teak cabin stowage units (2)
Large V-berth
2 settee/quarterberths 6’6
Cockpit floor matting,
6 docklines and 4 fenders, Life jackets

For Sale: 1971 Contessa 26

Currently in Turks and Caicos heading to lupron DR this evening.

She is a 1971 fully equipped for off shore single handing, i have many photos and can put together a detailed equipment list.

She is turn key ready to sail away with a new owner.

If you would like to see the boat right away we have a Facebook page full of photos. You can contact us through that page.

For Sale: 1981 Contessa 26

With regret I am selling my Contessa 26, I am the third owner of this boat. Besides Comments on its sailing abilities, here are Some highlights to this beautiful boat.
-Top sides refinished 2012 Flag blue.( $2200)
-new lifelines 2012 ($500)
-bottom coat, anti-fouling every year.
-Feryman 7hp Diesel re condition 2013 ( $4500)
-two new Deep Cycle batteries 2013
-Double Axel trailer, serviced, 4 new 10ply tires ($1200)
-Toe rails, hand rails refinished 2013.
-2 main Sails, one great condition full batten, one medium condition.
-Furling 100% jib good condition, stormsail, 120% genoa, 2 spinnakers with pole one like new.
- Federally registered
-Traveller bar installed aft of cockpit.
-all rigged for solo, jiffy rig on main, for quick reefing, all lines lead to cockpit.
-four winches two self tailing.
-danforth anchor, with excessive amount of rode.
-lifejackets, cushions, bumpers, extra lines, ice box, head, sink, portable butane burner, boards and cushions to attach port and starboard berths into double, tools, extra cleats, clamps, and blocks.
-auto helm
-manual bilge pump
-depth meter, compass.

This year, I was to put a new vhf radio and new masthead light, new flares, refinsh the rudder woodwork. This and a good deck scrub, after winter. Gets you to one of the pretties boats in any Marina. “Man Friday” is a few hours of work away from being drop in the water worthy. Currently on the hard in niagara on the lake ( which may still have a slip for it available). If you would like any more information feel free to contact.


Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner: Tania Aebi

Originally published on January 27, 2014 for the National Yacht Club by Oliver Bertin

The National Yacht Club welcomed three very special guests in January – two solo circumnavigators and the former owner of JJ Taylor.

The centre of attention was Tania Aebi, the woman who went around the world in a Contessa 26 solo at the age of 18.  Everybody has heard of her.  She was joined by Declan Mackell, who circumnavigated in a Contessa 32 and Gary Bannister, the guy who built our Contessas.

A famous group for sure.

They were the guests of the Lake Ontario Contessa Association, a loosely knit group of 19 Contessa owners in the Toronto area.  Three of these lovely boats reside at the NYC: John Flanders’ Free ‘n’ Easy, Paul Beaven’s HMS Affinity and Oliver Bertin’s Whimsy.  Former NYC member Jordan Harkness also has a Contessa but he has moved to the Etobicoke Yacht Club which is closer to his home.  There are another three Contessas at Alexandra Yacht Club next door and several at Toronto Sailing and Canoe Club, EYC and Mimico Cruising Club.

For the few who aren’t familiar with Tania Aebi, she was the stereotypical New York bicycle courier/obnoxious teenager.  Her exasperated father finally told her to make something of her life, so she did.  She chose to sail around the world, solo, in a 26-foot Contessa.

Her boat was Varuna, Contessa number 324, built right here in Toronto just yards from our front gate.  If you’d like to see what it looked like, check out Free ‘n’ Easy, John Flanders’ Contessa no. 315. They were built a month or so apart.

Some people were surprised that she chose such a small boat.  But she said she liked that size because it could handle the worst weather, was more than big enough for one person and easy for an 18-year-old girl to handle.  “It never over-powered me,” she said.

That trip changed her life. She discovered a fascinating planet, discovered herself and had a thoroughly wonderful time doing it. The result was a charming book about her voyage titled Maiden Voyage, with a follow-up called I’ve Been Around, a collection of stories she wrote for sailing magazines. Maiden Voyage is a must-read for every sailor, for every teenager and for every parent of a teenager.

Tania now lives in a small village in rural Vermont, has two sons in marine engineering school and spends her time organizing 10-day cruises of the Caribbean. I gather from some of the guests that she is a capable and entertaining tour leader.

By the way, I finally discovered how to pronounce her name.  It is “Abbey“.

When Jordan heard that Tania was speaking at the Toronto International Boat Show last month, he decided to track her down and invite her for a friendly dinner with a handful of fellow Contessa owners. To our great surprise she actually accepted!

But that’s when the event went a little out of control. The call went out to the members of LOCA, the Contessa association, and more than 30 asked to come. So much for our cozy little gathering.

Then Tania asked to bring seven of her friends. Sure why not? Four of them were local people who have gone sailing with her in the Caribbean, all very pleasant people. Then there was Declan Mackell, a famous guy to those in the know but a bit of a mystery man.

There’s a photograph of Declan in Genco’s downtown store, a handsome bearded guy in a toque and sailor’s sweater.  He had just returned from an around the world voyage on his Contessa 32, a trip he started in 1979 back when few people dared such a trip. He later worked as a salesman for JJ Taylor, sold Tania her boat back in 1985 and helped set it up, right here in our basin. They became fast friends but lost touch with each other after Tania left on her two-year voyage.

We’ve tried for years to track him down to speak at the Contessa association without much success. There were reports that he had given up sailing, that he lived on a boat in a mysterious bay somewhere, that he had moved to British Columbia where he was out of touch of telephones and internet and probably semaphore too.

But it turned out that he is alive and well and living in civilization. By sheer coincidence he had written to Tania a few weeks ago just to say hello.  It turns out that he is still living in Toronto, is a member of the Mimico Cruising Club and was definitely available for dinner with Tania.
The third guest was Gary Bannister, a key part of our Contessa triumvirate.  NYC members of a certain age will remember the old clubhouse at the east end of the basin.  Next door was a collection of brick buildings, a long dock and lots of neat old boats.  That was J. J. Taylor & Sons Ltd., a venerable boat-builder from 1904 and the birthplace of our Contessa 26s and Contessa 32s, along with hundreds of lovely old wooden launches and the Fairmile series of wartime patrol boats.

The late Al Scott, a former NYC member, ran that company through the 1960s and 70s before it was taken over by Gary Bannister.  Together, they built nearly 400 Contessa 26s before the shop closed in 1990 and moved to an industrial lot in Rexdale.  Their last job was to make the fibreglass gargoyles, designed by famous artist Michael Snow, that grace the north side of the Skydome.
To cut a long story short, the Contessa association now had three famous guests and a long list of Contessa owners who were keen to come for dinner with Tania – a total of 33 people, but nowhere to host them.

Panic set in.

A quick visit to Tal Wolf and Marc Williams secured a spot at the NYC on the last Friday of the boat show.  Whew!  Then Marc and Todd rushed around and set a table that stretched from the window almost to the fireplace, carefully laid out with wine glasses, a full set of cutlery and white tablecloths. It looked very, very impressive.

Tania, Declan and Gary all arrived on time. They hadn’t seen each other in 30 years so you can imagine their noisy greeting!  We all chatted non-stop over drinks for an hour, then chatted non-stop over dinner for three hours until Marc gently edged us out the door at 10:30 pm.

A great time was had by all – except perhaps Marc, Todd and Eric – who put on a great evening and hopefully got home before midnight!

Photos by José Crespo {photographer + designer}

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Tania Aebi will be speaking at the 2014 Toronto Boat Show

Hello all!

Tania Aebi will be speaking at the 2014 Toronto boat show! For those who don’t know, Tania sailed a JJ Taylor Contessa 26 (#324, named VARUNA) around the world singlehandedly. She’s something of a legend among Contessa aficionados.

She is scheduled to speak Friday January 17 and Saturday January 18 at 2:30 (both days) in Room 107.

I met her a while back when I still owned my Contessa. She is an interesting woman to speak to. I highly recommend trying to hear her speak if you can.

Rebuilding, Restoring, Adding To, or Upgrading Your "Classic"?

Here are Six Rules for Success

by Merrill Hall, JJT 26 “Lucy Ann”

There isn’t a small cruising boat designed that will meet everybody’s definition of perfection. Every boat is a compromise and, over time, just about every owner will contemplate making changes, or adding some gear, or, in the case of the older boat, rebuilding, restoring, or “up-grading”. Although boat yards specialize in this type of work, much, if not all, can be done by a knowledgeable owner with some well developed basic skills. There are, however, some “horror stories” that illustrate what can result when owners lack the knowledge and skills necessary to do the job well. Fortunately nothing is a total loss and from these stories come six basic rules that may be of some value to someone contemplating activities that will make their boat more to their liking.

  • Rule #1: Don’t do anything that limits access to mechanical, electrical, or structural parts of the boat.

    • Nothing beats a hot shower for making the cruising sailor into a human being. The heater itself isn’t the problem; it’s where you find a place to put it on a small cruiser. Altair had her heater located in a cockpit lazarette which precluded any inspection or maintenance of the fuel tank, seacocks, wheel steering mechanism, and any other gear below the cockpit sole. In order to repair two leaking seacocks and their hoses, the engine had to be removed.

    • I looked at a Pearson Triton that had been totally “teaked” on just about every square inch of interior. It looked beautiful but there was no way to inspect the chain plates, genoa track fasteners, hull to deck join, stanchion base fasteners (which were loose), or wire runs, without destroying the screwed and glued teak work.

    • The 30hp Atomic 4 in a Pearson Vanguard had finally wheezed it last and the owner opted for a new diesel. He bought a 30hp Yanmar at a boat show and had it installed. Sounds logical – 30hp replacing 30hp. Unfortunately the owner didn’t understand that the 30hp rating of the A4 was attained at around 4000 rpm and that the engine probably never put out much more that 22hp in the useable rpm range. He would have been quite happy with a slower turning 20hp diesel and would have spent far less money. The installation was so “tight” that it was impossible to service the reverse gear, or the stuffing box, or even get a hand on the cockpit drain seacocks without going headfirst down through the cockpit lazarettes.

    • Being able to easily get at things should be considered a safety issue and not a minor consideration. Sooner or later, everything will fail and your ability to make repairs (often quickly) should not be compromised.

  • Rule #2: Don’t do any structural alterations to any boat without first getting an opinion from a professional naval architect.

    • I was invited aboard a ’68 Pearson Coaster in Rhode Island several years ago where the prior owner had “opened up” the interior for a less “closed-in” appearance. The main bulkhead and forward bulkhead was cut out and a metal tube compression post added with the belief that it alone would provide the required strength. The vee berths were changed into a large angled double berth which had a hinged panel to gain access to the now non-enclosed head. The companionway bulkhead was also cut away in places to provide additional storage bins accessible from the cabin. The old ice box had been removed and the area now was occupied by an oversized nav station which required the removal of the starboard settee berth. The boat had been extensively sailed for almost ten years in this condition. Unknown to the owner, the hull was longitudinally twisting and inwardly “pumping” at the main bulkhead area. The hull exhibited swirl shaped and longitudinal crazing on the starboard side and the upper shroud chain plate and attachments showed evidence of metal fatigue. The boat was later sold as a “project boat” and the new owner was in the process of returning this classic to her original state. No naval architect in his or her right mind would have supported those “improvements”.

    • Then there was that classic Bristol 27 that the owner made more “salty” looking with the addition of a varnished bowsprit. Unfortunately (or fortunately), he forgot to add the bobstay. The boat handled poorly with a tremendous lee helm until the mast came down in a blow. It’s an ill wind that blows no one some good. Carl Alberg would have been pleased.

    Boats are complex integrated structures that depend greatly on their internal stiffening members to maintain hull shape under load. Altering these can often cause more problems than solutions. The sail plan and associated rigging is matched to the hull design. Unless the designer really blew it, any alterations should only be done as a last resort and only with professional advice.

  • Rule #3: If your boat is a classic or a “one-design”, keep it that way. The designer may have known something. Don’t diddle with success.

    • The Pearson Ensign is a classic Alberg designed racing daysailer that is rumored to be built again. I looked at one a few years ago that had been “restored”. The original teak cockpit sole had been replaced with solid fiberglass and, to make matters worse, the flotation was removed from under the cabin berths to make “handy” storage lockers. With the flotation compromised and the added weight of the fiberglass sole, the boat would not meet the “one-design” requirements resulting in a much reduced value. The owner had spent many thousands on the work (including a beautiful Awlgrip job) that will never be even partially recovered.

    • Another Pearson Ensign was customized for cruising by installing a self bailing cockpit and adding a small dog house to the cuddy cabin. The owner didn’t know that the Pearson Electra was the cabin version of the Ensign and was built with these attributes. He could have hunted for one of these. The boat was later restored to original by her new owner.

    • The Ranger 23 was the first US boat to be specifically designed to the Quarter Ton Rule. Gary Mull’s design proved to be a fast and able club racer and a good small coastal cruiser. I saw a “customized” version that had had a 16” to 18” diameter hole bored athwartships through the lead fin keel to lessen ballast for racing. This resulted in a fast but very tender boat that outsailed its PHRF rating in light air but proved to be too tender for cruising. Of course, given some time, the boat was locally re-rated so that it’s custom keel modification became only a conversation point.

    • Also of note is the Pearson 30 with the double berth added under the cockpit sole (just like the new boats) necessitating the removal of the inboard engine. No problem here. The new 25hp outboard hanging off the stern does it all in the name of lugg-jury.

    Customizing, rebuilding, or upgrading (whatever you want to call it) of any “classic” should be done carefully and discreetly in order to maintain the boat’s appearance, character, and sailing performance. You may regret anything done that detracts from the original.

  • Rule 4: Don’t scrimp on materials.

    • I’ve seen lifeline stanchions, pulpits, and stern rails made from galvanized pipe and mast spreaders made from steel electrical conduit.

    • I inspected a boat whose owner had installed brass domestic water valves instead of bronze seacocks to save money. All showed serious corrosion and required replacement before the boat could be insured.

    • Using indoor-outdoor carpeting glued to deck non-skid areas has appeared several times and, when wet, assures a quick passage overboard. Remember that that sticky backed plastic teak always looks like sticky backed plastic teak (say that a few times quickly). There’s no substitute for the real thing.

    Marine grade materials are relatively expensive. Good stuff, manufactured for a low volume and somewhat seasonal market, naturally costs more, but the advantages of not scrimping will be apparent for many years to come. Good stuff lasts.

  • Rule #5: Become familiar with the ABYC & NFPA safety codes.

    These are “safety standards for the design, construction, equipage, maintenance, and repair of small craft” and cover everything from proper wiring, to stove installations, to the placement of fire extinguishers, the securing of battery boxes, etc.

    • Many boat fires are electrical in origin. I’ve seen household circuit breaker boxes and solid copper wiring used on many boats with 110 duplex receptacles used for both 110 volt shore power and 12 volt battery power. Lamp cord is good for household lamps but not for boat wiring anywhere. Your batteries can supply hundreds of amps that present a clear fire safety hazard unless properly wired using the correct materials.

    • A Bristol 30 had a totally new interior. The owner was a master woodworker and had done a beautiful job using mixed hardwoods. I was most impressed with his custom insetting of his Coleman gasoline camp stove. It was beautifully done with cutting board cover and a special compartment to hold a supply of fuel. Unfortunately, he was unaware that, although beautifully done, his installation was not only illegal, but inherently dangerous.

    • The lure of that hot shower has prompted too many people to install those propane “instant” water heaters. Regardless of whether vented or not, they have resulted in several deaths and are not approved for marine use by NFPA, ABYC, or by anyone with half a brain.

    Boats built just a few years ago do not meet all the current applicable standards, and the older “classics” don’t even come close. Making your boat comply with the new codes is a personal safety issue that costs little and saves much.

  • Rule #6: Get the knowledge and skills before you need them.

    • Research the vessel. What was its original purpose, strengths, and weaknesses? Why is it considered a “Classic”? What improvements have others made? What problems did they encounter? What did they choose not to do?

    • Learn the things that you’ll just have to “accept”. That old full keel classic will not keep up with today’s racing machines – don’t expect it to. No, you can’t add a water mattress to the vee berth without affecting sailing performance. Forget about the stove with the oven on your 23 footer and ditto for the chandelier.

    • Learn about fiberglass (FRP) construction and repair. There’s more to it than buying those cans of goop with the little measuring pumps and a few yards of cloth. There are many techniques and materials for a myriad of situations that have to be handled properly. There are at least three types of resins that you may encounter and all are not perfectly compatible with each other. There are many books that you’ll have to read and understand before you tackle the job. The touchy visible stuff may take an artist’s eye and skill, but making a strong structural repair is well within the talents of most people.

    • Learn and practice good workmanship from mechanics to woodworking to painting and varnishing. If you’re not good at something, find somebody who is and give them the job. My wife does all the painting and varnishing on our boat. I’m not even allowed to look at a brush. I do, at times, sneak a peek. I looked at a Pearson 35 that had been converted from a settee berth layout to a dinette layout. It was pretty well done mechanically but exhibited very poor cosmetic workmanship throughout. In short, it was a mess that detracted from an otherwise elegant old classic.

    Knowledge is the primary key to success in all endeavors. If you can’t develop the skills needed, the knowledge by itself will keep you “in touch” with the boat while someone else’s skills are used. This will allow you to better evaluate what is being done, certain problem areas, real costs, and the quality of workmanship. That’s got to be worth something.

    There are many more rules that can be added to this rather light overview but these are to me the most prominent because they result from my own experience. You may also have already developed some of your own. I didn’t mention the small things like adding wheel steering to a Paceship 23, or the previous owner of my Islander Bahama 24 adding 500 lbs of internal lead ballast because it “keeled over” too much. I sold the stuff , made a few bucks, and the boat sailed quite well and didn’t seem to keel over too much at all.

    It should also be understood that there are many boats where the rules don’t apply at all. These were junk when they were new and unfortunately haven’t improved with age. It would be foolish to invest your time and money into something that was never any good in the first place. There’s more to a classic boat than just her age.

    So, off you go to do what you’ve decided will make your boat closer to your ideal. I wish you well and assure you that you are not alone.

    Minutes from the Nov 1, 2012 Lake Ontario Contessa Association Meeting

    The meeting was held in the chartroom at the National Yacht Club. It was the first time I’d even been there. It was very nice!

    In attendance were:

    John Flanders and Lesley Flowerdew of Free ‘n’ Easy
    Jordan Harkness of Vixen
    George Gurr of Branwin
    Paul Beaven of H.M.S. Affinity
    Oliver Bertin of Whimsy
    Adrian Lebar, formerly of Kefi but continues to be boatless.

    The first thing we discussed was the name of the association. We discussed whether it should be the Great Lakes Contessa Association, The Lake Ontario Contessa Association, the Great Lakes Contessa 26 Association, the Lake Ontario Contessa 26 Association… eventually, after a lot of talk, we came to a group decision that the name could be changed at a future date to accommodate any needs, so we agreed that the Lake Ontario Contessa Assocation was a good name for now. The fact that a potential acronym is LOCO Association did not escape my notice. Maybe it’s because I don’t have a boat.

    Next we discussed membership. Until now, John has been handling membership, but he and Lesley will be out of the country for the winter, so he thought someone more local might be a better choice to handle membership. I volunteered, since I run this website anyway. It seemed like a natural fit.

    Subsequently, the new address for membership, or to generally reach anyone regarding the association, is I’ll check this address on a regular basis.

    We discussed a fair number of technical issues with membership: forums vs mailing lists, etc. No decisions have been made on this front, but I would like to point out that anyone who uses the forums can subscribe to a thread and have it email you when someone responds. It’s pretty easy.

    Another question we pondered but did not answer conclusively was whether or not to include Contessa 32 owners. Everyone’s thoughts are greatly appreciated.

    Programming was our next topic of discussion. It was generally thought that 3 major events for 2013 was a good start for our fledgling association: a long-distance cruise (say, to Niagara-On-The-Lake or Picton, maybe), a fun race, and a local cruise. Jordan volunteered to facilitate the program idea-gathering process. Note that he didn’t volunteer to be in charge of programming! He’ll ensure we have a general outline of programs for 2013 by mid-December. Actual dates are hard to pin down until other events from other sources (specifically racing schedules) are known.

    Oliver suggested two speaking nights, where we might be able to have speakers come in and share information with the association. Possibilities include finding someone who worked at JJ Taylor when our boats were being built, and also having someone come in and give a talk about the technicalities of racing, since most of us aren’t racers.

    Jordan finally asked how often we should meet, and it was generally determined that once a month was plenty.

    Then I begged a ride off Oliver (not only don’t I have a boat, I didn’t have the car either!), and we all made our way home.

    While it didn’t happen at the meeting, Adrian is moving (and seconding) that someone else be in charge of taking minutes next time!

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    To be held on November 1st at 7:00PM in the Chartroom at the National Yacht Club.

    It is still just a few months since we started this fledging association of Contessa-loving folk. So far there are 18 boats on our list and we know there are many more in our area. This summer we didn’t do too badly, with gatherings at the National and at Ashbridges and several meetings. For Lesley and me, it has been a wonderful opportunity to make new friends and to tap into a large collective resource about our boats.

    The end of this year’s sailing season seems like a good time to be thinking about what we would like to be doing next summer before our schedules are filled up with other events. There is also a chance to have a series of winter meetings/lectures on chosen topics. There are still a number of old-timers around that helped to build our boats who I’m sure would be interested to talk with us.

    Also, after a successful start it might be a good time to talk about how we would like to continue with this association. Up until now, I have been acting as the recording secretary and the communicator, but soon, Lesley and I will be leaving for most of the winter, so perhaps someone else could take that on. At a bare minimum, as an association we need a recording secretary and someone to look after getting people together.

    (The Great Lakes Alberg Association goes further with a Commodore; Cruising director; Racing director; secretary; treasurer; newsletter and website coordinator, etc. I don’t know whether you want to go this far, but it is worth thinking about where we would like to take this into the future. They also publish a useful list of members.)

    Please let me know if you will be attending so that we can make sure there are enough chairs.

    I hope to see you all on Nov 01

    John (

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    24th America's Cup - AC72

    These are not your father’s America’s Cup racing boats. While I remain skeptical about the whole concept, it is possible that Larry Ellison might revitalize the public opinion of sail racing.

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    Looking for a Competent Marine Surveyor? Good Luck!

    A Commentary, by Merrill Hall, JJT 26 “Lucy Ann”

    Sooner or later you’ll need a survey. The worst time is when your trusted insurance agent calls and tells you to get one…at your expense, of course. On the other hand, you could be buying a boat and you should be having a survey done before you own the barge. This is always a good idea for most land based air breathing mammals. In either case, hunting down a competent marine surveyor is not a simple task.

    A little background music, Maestro…Back in the middle 1990s, I was doing pre-listing inspections for my wife’s small boat brokerage (Pocket Cruisers). Small cruisers yielded small commissions and the last thing she needed was for a boat deal to fail because of a negative survey. I looked at around one-hundred boats and labeled about 30% as “junk”. Pocket Cruisers never lost a sale due to a bad survey. As luck would have it, a local surveying company offered to teach me the fine art and took me on as an apprentice. In 2005, I passed the exam and was accredited SAMS-AMS (Yachts & Small Craft) by the Society of Accredited Marine Surveyors and have worked for HMS (Maine surveying company) until retiring in 2011. As a retired surveyor, I can be blunt and opinionated without ruffling any feathers.

    There is no federal or state licensing of marine surveyors. Anybody can call themselves a surveyor and print up some business cards. But these characters have no credibility with insurance companies or lending institutions and their surveys are generally not accepted. The bankers and insurance guys will accept surveys from surveyors that have received “CMS” (from NAMS) or “AMS” (from SAMS).

    The two major professional organizations that “accredit” or “certify” marine surveyors are SAMS (The Society of Accredited Marine Surveyors) and NAMS (The National Association of Marine Surveyors). Although their members say differently, both organizations are essentially the same with similar requirements and activities.

    Examinations – Although I only took the SAMS test, I understand that they are both very similar. It wasn’t a difficult exam but covered a lot of ground in a relatively short time. Many parts required info that only someone who was an experienced surveyor would know. I passed.

    Ongoing education (OE) – Both groups have periodic meetings both regional and national. You get OE points for attending the educational seminars. If you don’t accumulate enough points, they strike you from the roster (supposedly). I don’t know if this has ever happened. A SAMS member can attend a NAMS OE event and have those points transferred and visa versa. Over the years, about half of the info was valuable and half was junk. It should have been better.

    Codes of Ethics – The two organizations have similar codes. They both overuse words like professional and professionalism, ethics and ethical without knowing their definitions. They blat out a full page of drivel where one sentence would cover it all – “A professional marine surveyor will serve only in the best interests of his/her client”. This is all you need.

    Oversight – Neither organization practices oversight. If you get a lousy, poorly done survey and complain to the head office, they’ll do nothing even if you can clearly prove that the surveyor was in violation of the codes of ethics. Now, if you sue the surveyor (for errors & omissions), and you win, they may take some action but I’ve never heard of any actions being taken.

    Case in Point – Joe from Australia was buying a sailboat here in the States so that he could cruise the Maine coast for a few summers. Joe had only seen the broker’s listing sheet and would not personally see the boat until months after the closing. His surveyor of choice, Ed, was a NAMS-CMS and a SAMS-AMS surveyor. Joe telephoned Ed and detailed what his expectations were of a pre-purchase survey and that included full photos of any areas of concern plus additional interior and exterior pics to illustrate the overall condition of the vessel. The survey came in with no photos of anything. The report itself was incomplete…looked like a check-off sheet…and missed items that constituted dangerous conditions that were clearly a liability to the safety of the vessel. Ed had noticed that there were barnacles on the boot top at the stern. His recommendation – “Raise the boot top”. He didn’t see that the “scum line” showed the bow raised about 8” and the stern down by the same. The boat had obviously been sinking due to leakage in the cockpit sole hatches and the prop shaft stuffing box that was corroded to the point of uselessness. Adding to the sinking picture was a loose leaking stern tube. All of this was obvious to anyone with reasonably good vision and intelligence slightly greater than a cherrystone clam. A series of over sixty emails passed between Joe, Ed, and the broker before things were somewhat cleared up. When Joe tried to get insurance, his company refused to accept Ed’s survey. Joe had to get another one done.

    A formal complaint was filed with the Ethics Committees of both SAMS and NAMS. The complaint included all documentation and emails. No action was taken. Both Ethics Committees judged that the complaint was “civil in nature and not an ethical issue”.

    Joe commented, “I dodged the bullet because I decided not to sail the boat to Maine. If I had, there would most probably be substantial financial damages and perhaps criminal action. Given that both organizations ignored the complaint, I will never again accept SAMS/NAMS surveyors as members of viable professional organizations”.

    Hunting for a good one (this shouldn’t be a crap shoot)

    1. Go to the SAMS & NAMS websites and list down the surveyors in your area. This is only a start. The listed surveyors have at least passed an exam and should be somewhat current with today’s technologies. There’s no guarantee of competence here, but it’s better than nothing.

    2. If you need a survey for insurance underwriting, ask your insurance person and see if the name(s) you get match any on the NAMS/SAMS list. Put a check by that name or names.

    3. Ask other boat owners and people at boat yards. Some info may be just scuttlebutt but anything is better than nothing. Put a check by that name or names.

    4. Go online to some of the boat forums and see if you can get any recommendations. Put a check by that name or names.

    5. Ask a new boat salesman whose company accepts trades. Very often a dealer will have a surveyor look at a boat before being accepted as a trade-in. I’ve done more than a few. Put a check by that name or names.

    6. Now, go back to your NAMS/SAMS list of candidates. Any checked more than once? Those will be your first candidates for further investigation.

    7. Call each one.

      1. Discuss fees i.e. total cost when all the dust clears.

      2. Ask for a sample survey of the type you are requesting.

      3. Ask for references e.g. recent survey clients that you can contact.

      4. Ask whether or not the survey references ABYC, NFPA, CFR standards.

      5. Ask how fair market value is determined. Pure guesswork is not allowed.

    A few cautions:

    • Don’t ask a surveyor (who is too booked) for a recommendation of another surveyor. I have seldom seen other surveyors’ work. Given that, I’m as much in the dark as you are. I made a recommendation once and lived to regret it. In the “Case in Point” above, who do you think got Joe (the Australian) into trouble in the first place.

    • Don’t sign up for an “Insurance Inspection”. This is an inexpensive “check list” format that will most probably be rejected by your insurance company. Ask for a full condition and value survey.

    • Don’t be impressed by titles. Many surveyors are ex professional mariners. You see a lot of “captains” out there. The title is supposed to instill confidence. It’s the same level of confidence that you would have if you hired a long-distance truck driver to inspect your kid’s mini-bike. I held a Masters License for over fifteen years and nobody ever called me Captain. I preferred Skipper until a crewman slipped and called me Scupper and that title stuck for years.

    In short – Go with SAMS/NAMS surveyors only, do your homework, ask around, talk to several surveyors. There are many good ones out there. All you need is one. Good luck!

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    Living aboard Sophia

    This afternoon, while out for my daily lunchtime walk along the waterfront in Toronto, I spotted the familiar keyhole shape of a Contessa 26 companionway. As I approached the boat, her skipper, Paul Kestle came up into the cockpit and we had a conversation.


    Paul has been living on his Contessa 26, Sophia, for the last several years, including winters. He spends his summers hanging off the hook in many places in and around the GTA, and winters at one of several different marinas. This year, he says Sophia is being hauled out for a refit and paint job.


    Paul has extreme confidence in the seakeeping capabilities of Sophia, and reports having been out in 5m waves without feeling like the boat couldn’t handle it.


    He’s hoping to meet up with the Lake Ontario Contessa 26 Association (working title) at some point in the future.


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    Folkboat designs & their derivatives

    Name LOA LWL Beam Draft Disp. Ballast Sail area Headroom Berths Engine
    Nordic Folkboat 25’ 2” 19’ 8” 7’ 3” 3’ 11” 4,300 lb 2,315 lb 258 sq ft      
    Folksong 25 25’ 2” 19’ 8” 7’ 3” 3’ 9” 5,040 lb 1,985 lb 280 sq ft 4’ 4” 3-4 Inboard / Outboard well
    Contessa 26 25’ 6” 20’ 0” 7’ 6” 4’ 0” 5,400 lb 2,690 lb 304 sq ft 5’ 8” 4 Inboard
    Marieholm IF 25’ 10” 19’ 10” 7’ 5” 4’ 0” 4,740 lb 2,750 lb 280 sq ft 4’ 8” 4 Inboard / Outboard well
    Bowman 26 26’ 1” 19’ 10” 8’ 0” 4’ 0” 5,062 lb   313 sq ft   4 Inboard
    Marieholm 26 26’ 3” 20’ 2” 7’ 3” 4’ 0” 5,000 lb 2,300 lb 280 sq ft   4 Inboard
    Invicta 26 26’ 5” 20’ 8” 7’ 4” 3’ 11” 5,130 lb 2,307 lb 311 sq ft   4 Inboard
    Hurley 27 27’ 0” 20’ 0” 8’ 0” 4’ 6” 5,820 lb   532 sq ft   5 Inboard
    Halcyon 27 27’ 0” 20’ 3” 7’ 8” 4’ 0” 6,720 lb 3,000 lb 365 sq ft   4 Inboard
    Dockrell 27 27’ 0” 21’ 0” 8’ 0” 3’ 0” 7,000 lb 3,200 lb 314 sq ft   5 Inboard

    I found this excellent table of Folkboats and derivatives on the website of Joseph Moore. Reposted with his permission.

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    Lake Ontario Contessa 26 Meetup at ABYC, September 8, 2012

    When a sail-in meet-up of the Lake Ontario Contessa 26 Association at Ashbridges Bay Yacht Club was suggested for this past weekend, nobody realized it could rain so much. In fact, we set a record for the GTA as the rainiest September 8th in recorded history!

    As many as ten boats were expected, from as far afield as Hamilton and Pickering. As the week wore on, the weather forecast for Saturday slowly went off. As of Friday evening, Environment Canada was calling for winds gusting as high as 35 knots, and waves from one to three meters. Some might (and did!) call that Contessa weather. Others were perhaps a bit more prudently cautious.

    At sunrise on Saturday morning, it was raining in buckets across the GTA. There wasn’t a lot of wind to speak of, but the precipitation was incredible. Last-minute phone calls were made, hurried emails sent in order to rethink the meeting time and method. Most decided not to sail, given the rain and the imposing forecast.

    None of which was going to stop Bastian, who sailed from Pickering to Ashbrides Bay. Mostly sailed. Had the sails up, anyway. He arrived a few hours after he left, very wet but safe and triumphant. His opinion of the weather? “Unpredictable. Waves about 2 feet.”


    John and Lesley had arrived on Free ‘n’ Easy the day before, in largely pleasant conditions, though Lesley did note that the mid-ship hatch was leaking.

    John and Lesley on Free 'n' Easy

    Along with Abbey Rode, which was already at home at ABYC, three Contessa 26’s were in attendance.


    Oliver and I arrived at roughly 3pm and joined John, Lesley and Jann, who were already in the dining room waiting for the rest of us. Bastian had gone over to get his gas can filled up, and would join us shortly after that. George, Jose and John W arrived, and we sat down for a brief lunch and to await the remainder of attendees.


    Eventually there were 13 of us: George and Kathy, Bastian, Jann and Tiina, Jose, John W, Oliver, Jordan and Feng, John and Lesley, and of course myself. Once we had all arrived, and those who decided to eat lunch at the Club had finished, it was time for boat tours! Thankfully it had stopped raining, though the wind had picked up a bit by this point.

    This was really the meat of this Contessa meet-up for me. I owned a Contessa 26, but foolishly sold her almost seven years ago. And have been regretting that decision ever since. I’m finally in the market for a boat again, and I wanted to see if reality would meet with the images I had in my head. I also wanted to make sure that the boat would meet my needs.

    Though we didn’t quite make it to ten boats, we had three specimens to inspect, which is a lot more than none. Since it was the first on the way, we started at Jaan and Tiina’s Abbey Rode.

    Jann on Abbey Rode

    Abbey Rode is a 70s era JJ Taylor Contessa 26. She’s in lovely shape. Jaan gave us the tour, at at one point, there were enough of us on board that the cockpit sole was below water-level! Still, Contessa 26’s can accommodate a surprising number of people, as long as the boat’s at dock and everyone’s sitting down. It was the first time I had been aboard a Contessa since I sold.

    Group in Abbey Rode's cockpit

    Next up was Free ‘n’ Easy, belonging to John and Lesley. Free ‘n’ Easy is a late-model JJ Taylor Contessa 26. She is in excellent condition, and very obviously cared for. Many stayed on Jaan’s boat for some extra talk and explanation, so the cockpit stayed reasonably dry during this visit. Still, there were six people aboard her at one point. I took a seat on the starboard side of the cockpit and leaned on the tiller.

    Free 'n' Easy

    Free ‘n’ Easy is so similar to the Contessa 26 I owned that I had a strange sense of deja vu. Even more, I totally felt like I had come ‘home’. Being on Free ‘n’ Easy hardened my resolve to once again own a Contessa 26.

    Lesley on Free 'n' Easy

    Last up was Bastian’s boat, a 70s era Contessa 26 which I embarrassingly don’t have a name for! This boat was, by far, the most unique Contessa 26 I have been in to date. Because Bastian has removed all four bulkheads, the boat feels incredibly spacious and open. While privacy for use of the head might be an issue, it is undeniably a roomy feeling boat.

    Interior of Bastian's Boat

    Shortly after I came aboard, George hopped down below and started a heated debate with Bastian about compression from the mast, and Bastian’s slowly buckling headliner. I think eventually Bastian came up with some interesting ideas involving posts instead of full bulkheads.This will definitely be a boat to watch.

    Bastian's Boat

    Thankfully the rain had held off to this point, but we had obviously pushed its limits, since it finally started to sprinkle. We all made our way back to the dining room for dinner. There was good food, excellent company, and beer.

    Dinner and beer!

    There was some iced tea, and some wine as well. We talked and got to know each other. We talked boats, and racing, and origins, and experiences, and passed a very pleasant evening in excellent company. We even managed to get a group shot.

    The whole lot of us.

    Near sunset, a spectacular series of rainbows (3, one for each boat!) made an appearance in the evening sun, proving without a doubt that Contessa’s are, indeed, the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

    The Rainbow

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    Sept 8 - 9, 2012: Ashbridges bay cruise

    The Lake Ontario Contessa 26 Association will be having a sail-in get-together at Ashbridges Bay Yacht Club on the weekend of September 8-9.

    Six, possibly seven Contessa 26s are anticipated at the meetup, where lots of good cheer, Contessa talk, and general exchanging of ideas will ensue.

    Read or post in the appropriate forum thread for more information.

    Thursday, August 30 - Refurbishing a Contessa 26

    At 7:00PM Thursday August 30 2012, there will be a meeting of the Lake Ontario Contessa 26 Association (working title) at Alexandra YC in Toronto where George and Jeffrey Gurr will talk about the refurbishing of their Contessa 26, Branwin.

    This will give us an opportunity to learn from each other and share our experiences.

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    For Sale: 1976 Contessa 26

    1976 Contessa 26 – HIN: ZJT031640175
    $8,500 USD – In Pueblo, Colorado

    Including: mast, standing, running rigging, paint and primer for hull.
    No motor.
    Trailer: 2005, Titled, 4 wheel breaks – Very good condition.
    Sails: Main and 150 roller furling Genoa.
    Hasler wind vane.
    Boom Tent.
    Anchor w/ chain and rode.
    One boat hook.
    No blisters, has been also in salt water.
    Eight bronze port lights.
    Mahogany additions.
    All interior wood has been refinished, requiring finish coat.
    Interior nearly repainted, extra paint good.
    Decks one coat, beginning of reseating deck gear

    More pictures and info:

    I will continue working on it, but I am moving to a place w/ no lake/ocean, that’s why I am deciding to sell it. The Boat is located in Pueblo, Colorado – U.S.A. Will ship to anywhere in the country or Canada.

    $8,500 USD, including trailer, above, and vessel.

    Contact: Lysandro Sandoval Filho +1 (719) 214 9511 Pueblo, CO – U.S.A.

    SOLD: 1975 Contessa 26 Hull # 142

    A 1975 fresh water Contessa. Faryman diesel,Alcohol stove, head,
    anchor,all safety equipment.

    Roller jib, steel cradle, new radio.

    Solid boat for 40 Years old. Forhatch, ports and running rigging need
    replaced but over all a good boat for almost 40 years old.

    Lays in Barcelona NY.

    In the water, come and sail her. Pick a really bad day so you can
    appreciate a Contessa.

    Will deliver anywhere on Lake Erie and would consider delivery in other

    Great Lakes.
    6500 usd

    For Sale: 1982 JJ Taylor Contessa 26

    1982 built by J J Taylor 26’ used for daysailing the past 20 years.
    New Farrymann inboard diesel engine
    Mainsail & cover
    140 Genoa roller furling (1 year old)
    head and holding tank
    vhf radio,
    auto bilge pump
    dripless stuffing box
    deck railing and netting fence
    covered cushions, 6 life preservers, ring buoy with line, fenders
    bosuns chair
    trailer included
    slip paid for thru Oct 2012
    Location: Delran NJ
    Call Bill at 856-786-1419

    R.I.P Alan Nye Scott

    It is my unhappy task to relay to you an email I received today from Steve Davies:

    On July 13th Alan Nye Scott, builder of our wonderful boat, passed away as a result of injuries sustained in an accident in his vehicle at a railway crossing in Belleville. I’m told he was 87 years of age.

    I was not a close friend of Alan, but I would see him now and then not only around “sailing circles”, but sometimes just bump in to him at Canadian Tire on a saturday morning. He was always friendly and asking about “the vessel” and how things were going making sure I was keeping her in shape. He actually contacted me recently when he saw an issue with some rudder / keel repairs that I was working on. He kindly offered advice and it was a great help. I’m sure judging by his friendly nature and all the wonderful sailing associations he had that he lived a rich life full of wonderful family and friends. He leaves behind a great legacy of all the fantastic boats that he built. He had recently acquired a 29 of his own and was making plans to whip her into shape and to his liking and enjoy some sailing. Sadly that didn’t happen for him, but he was doing what he loved right up to the end… I heard him say once in conversation something to the effect of “I just can’t seem to stay away from messing about with boats”

    Steve Davies
    Restless V , Alberg 29 Hull #1

    In addition to being the man responsible for commissioning the Alberg 29 (and very rare Alberg 34), Alan Nye Scott was president of J.J Taylor, the company responsible for all the Canadian-made Contessa 26s and Contessa 32s. The Contessa family, the Alberg family, and the sailing world at large has lost a legend.

    The Belleville Intelligencer has more information:

    SOLD: Contessa 26 Hull #59

    Hull in good shape (no delimitation, no osmosis and hydrometer test done)
    Everything inside is dismantled (project of full renovation abandoned)
    Mast + Boom + sails included
    All original parts (tech) included
    No Engine – no electronics
    Road Trailer included (Value $4000)
    Blue Book :

    Near Granby Qc
    Serious calls only

    For Sale Contessa 26 # 136 

    Built 1976 JJ Taylor, Toronto 
    Laying Balboa, Panama 
    Australian Registered
    Sailed single handed Miami – Panama 
    Windpilot windvane 
    GPS GME VHF & AIS Standard Horizon GX2100 
    Marine stereo/cd player 
    Various charts of the Caribbean and Pacific Solar 
    Panel with adjustable mount and solar controller 80watt Siemens 
    12v 60AH battery 
    Yamaha 4hp 4-stroke engine on transom mount 
    Grab bag includes EPIRB, spare GPS Garmin, flares, torch 
    Liferaft coastal 
    Medical kit Westmarine 
    Single burner Origo 1500 methanol stove (5 gallons of methanol onboard) 
    Flexible water bladders 50 ltr x 5 
    Gasoline tanks x 6 (2.5 gallons each) 
    Tool boxes x 3 (various extensive spare parts) 
    Anchor and 6m gal chain 
    Various lines onboard 
    Fenders 2x large, 4x small 
    Spare tiller 
    Sails: main, 2x genoas, #2, #3, storm jib, spinnaker (and pole)
    This is a great clean example of the famous Contessa 26. Previously only sailed on fresh water until June 2010 when I spent the money to sail her single handed across oceans. New upsized standing rigging 2010, including running backstays and a removable inner forestay for extra strength. Over $10,000 spent in the last year, she has sailed the Caribbean and ready to go further.
    Please email
    For gallery visit:

    SOLD: 1975 Contessa 26 Hull # 118

    Oriana III is for sale. Nice boat with nicer than average interior woodwork. Original gel coat. Never painted. Has already been cruising 3 months this spring, well set up to go.

    Yanmar 1GM10 Diesel, under 450 Hours
    Oil and filter just changed
    Thorough spring tune up including new Yanmar exhaust elbow

    Last year: New exhaust system engine to Transom
    New Vetus water strainer and anti-siphon valve on engine
    New PSS dripless shaft seal. New Aluminum fuel tank
    All new fuel lines. Racor primary fuel filter rebuilt
    Old bottom paint stripped off to gel coat and 2 layers of Micron CSC
    ablative bottom paint applied

    Bow Roller with 10 Kg Bruce anchor, 50 feet 5/16 chain and 120’ rope
    Secondary 13 lb Danforth. 300’ stern tie on reel

    Main sail and cover, 2 Genoas, 1 working jib
    New halyards, sheets, jib downhaul, topping lift – all led aft
    Mast steps, jackline padeyes
    Origo Gimballed non-pressure alcohol stove
    Manual bilge pump, Rule 750 auto bilge pump

    2 – 12 V batteries 1 Starting, 1 Deep Cycle – new June 2011
    Dual Bank smart charger, new electrical panel
    Icom VHF, Garmin depth sounder

    Includes charts, most safety gear and very nice Booth rowing tender

    In and out of water Marine Survey done April 2011
    Vessel located Sidney, BC
    For Sale at $12,500

    SOLD: 1973 Contessa 26, #48

    • Dreamspeaker, ex Rum Ginny, ex Dreamspeaker, ex Barefoot
    • Beautifully maintained, fully equipped for cruising and club racing
    • Glossy white gelcoat in excellent condition, blue cove stripe and boot top, blue VC17M
    • Blue Sunbrella Natty Dodger and sail cover
    • Varnished teak trim and cockpit grate
    • Forward toe and hand rails stripped and refinished with 6 coats Epifanes varnish (2011)
    • New hatch boards (2011)
    • Cockpit lockers, bilges and engine compartment re-painted (2010-2011)
    • Fuel tank cleaned and reinstalled on new base with new deck fill and gauge (2010)
    • Cockpit drains relocated, new seals on access hatches with positive-sealing, single-bolt fastener system (one per hatch, 2011)
    • Five coats Interprotect 2000 epoxy barrier coat (2006), top coat squeegeed and sanded to #320
    • Yanmar 1GM10 diesel (1995), re-installed in 2011 on new bearers and mounts
    • Doyle PHRF main with loose foot, two full battens, two reefs, draft stripes, numbers and insignia (2010)
    • North 153% genoa with numbers and draft stripes (2005)
    • Good suit of Raudaschl sails – bi-radial main (1995), #1, #2, #3
    • Spinnaker in turtle bag with pole, winches, lines and gear
    • Halliards, lift, reefing and vang led aft to two Harken #8 winches on cabin top with SpinLock organizers and clutches, jib downhaul line led aft to cockpit
    • Barient #16 primary winches, Gibb spinnaker winches, Gibb halyard winches on mast
    • New stainless rigging in 2010 with Sta-Lok terminals, Blue Sea toggled turnbuckles, new Klacko Marine tangs for 7/32” uppers (upsized from 5mm)
    • New lifelines in 2010 with gate eyes and Wichard gate hooks
    • New bronze, ball-valve seacocks throughout (2006-2008)
    • Pumps – Whale Gusher manual (2009), Rule 500 electric (2010)
    • Jabsco head (2004)
    • Uniden Solara VHF (2007)
    • Plastimo compass,speed/distance log, Magellan handheld GPS with mount
    • Danforth and Bruce-style anchors, 100’ and 250’ marked nylon rodes, 10’ chain
    • Force 10 barbecue, new ForeSpar Mini-Galley (2011)
    • Starting and house batteries
    • Two boarding ladders, fenders, dock lines, all safety gear
    • Folding cradle
    • Lying Mimico Cruising Club, Toronto, Ontario
    • Asking $13,000

    For Sale: 1973 Contessa 26 #39

    Main sail latted with two reefs, 140% Genoa on furler controled with two self tailing Arken winches. Pole. Original main sail, genoa, jib and spinaker.

    GPS Garmin 120, VHF COBRA MARINE MR F55, SIMRAD TP10 Tiller Pilot.

    Danforth anchor with 10’ chain and 100’ rope.

    Toilet. Cushions.

    4 strokes Outboard Yamaha T9.9 High Trust 2002 with remoted controls.

    Boat in Québec (Gaspésie)
    You can see some pictures at :

    $10,000 or best offer.

    Contact Mathieu Brosssard
    450-465-2043 / 514-318-4537

    SOLD: 1979 Contessa 26

    Boat and hull and fittings in great shape
    Teak rubrail
    New cushions
    New portholes
    New head
    No Engine


    Boat in Marblehead

    SOLD: 1985 Contessa 26 #331

    -10hp Bukh diesel in excellent condition w/12 gal. diesel tank; -less than 200 hours on motor mounts, cutless bearing, packing and water lift muffler, less than 50 hours on rebuilt water pump;

    -All standing and running rigging new in 2009 w/new chain plates and most deck hardware rebedded;

    -Sails new in 2010….Main w 2 reefs, 135, 110, 90 and storm jib in excellent cond.

    -New Lewmar #16ST sheet winches w/ new genoa cars

    -Custom mainsheet traveler w/ Lewmar cars

    -Internal halyards in mast and internal reef lines in boom

    -Cape Horn self-steering

    -Mast re-wired w/ new tri-light and vhf antennae

    -Factory barrier coat and Interlux VC 17 hard racing bottom

    -Head w/ 15 gallon holding tank scrubbed out and unused

    -19# Danforth style anchor w/ chain and rode in foredeck anchor well

    -New Raymarine VHF and Uniden depth sounder still in boxes

    -I bought the boat last June from Barry Alten but I’m afraid I’ve gotten too old to cruise her. She’s on the hard in Oriental , NC. I’m sanding the exterior teak and hopingto have a new awning made for her.

    I’m asking the same price I paid for her….$17,900.00 as I believe this is the fair price for a Contessa of this quality. I hate bargaining….it makes no sense to me.

    SOLD: 1981 JJ Taylor Contessa 26

    I am selling my JJ Taylor Contessa 26. She sleeps 4, has a head, stove, icebox and sink with fresh water hold. Powered by an inboard German Farymann diesel she is very economical under power. She’s extremely stable under sail and has a solid feel even with the gunnels submerged. You will find her an excellent choice as a family day sailer for both local and distance sails. She comes with an Autohelm, VHF, spare sails, new upholstery, new dodger, new sail covers and Comox moorage. Please call 250 792-4810 or email me for a showing.

    Year Built – 1981
    Port of Registry – VANCOUVER
    Gross Tonnage – 4.55 t
    Net Tonnage – 4.25 t
    Construction Type – MOULDED
    Construction Material – REINFORCED PLASTIC
    Vessel Length – 7.86 m
    Vessel Breadth – 2.32 m
    Vessel Depth – 1.25 m
    Engine – DIESEL
    Number of Engines – 1
    Propulsion Type – AUXILIARY
    Speed – 6.0 knots
    Propulsion Method – SINGLE SCREW
    Propulsion Power – 7 BHP
    Builder Name – J.J. TAYLOR & SONS LTD.

    SOLD: 1985 JJ Taylor Contessa 26. #327 “Suselle”

    New Harken Furler & jib
    Three new up-sized self-tailing winches (Lewmar 16ST – on cabin sides & starboard cabin top)
    Monitor windvane
    New ash/mahogany tiller with cover (& spare)
    New Jib sheet track cars
    Newer plastimo compass
    All new, never used, hoses for head hook-up
    Buhk diesel engine (professionally maintained), all new fuel lines
    Ground tackle: 10K Bruce anchor, 10lb. Danforth, Simpson Lawrence manual windlass.
    Dodger and cockpit cover
    Lots of spare parts and bits and pieces.
    Additional sails: spinnaker/pole, 180 genoa, 150 genoa, stay sail, storm sail.
    For history of boat see:
    Clean, dry boat. Lightly sailed, frequently.
    Boat located in Penetanguishene, ON
    $17,000 $14,000 obo SOLD

    For Sale: 1973 Contessa 26

    - Tan-bark sails: mainsail, 155 genoa and reefable working jib
    – Drifter (aka Cruising Shooter)
    – Storm jib and trysail (both new)
    – Nissan 6hp 4-stroke outboard w/3 gallon portable tank
    – Standard Horizon CP150 GPS chartplotter
    – Standard Horizon Quest GX1255S VHF w/DSC
    – Horizon SL45 Digital Speed Log
    – Si-Tex Model FL-7 depth sounder and fish finder
    – Plastimo Contest 100 bulkhead mount compass
    – Rigging replaced in 2004
    – Bottom painted Nov 2008
    – AquaSignal tri-color navigation light w/all-around anchor light
    – Hassler Wind Vane (requires “remounting” using existing holes)
    – Autohelm (needs repair)
    – 25 lb CQR w/ ~16ft 7/16” chain & ~120 feet 9/16” rode
    – 14 lb Performance2 “Danforth” style anchor w/200 foot rode
    – “Bruce” style claw anchor, 16.5lb
    – Two automatic bilge pumps
    – Two Whale Gusher manual bilge pumps
    – Kerosene heater, bulkhead mounted
    – Guest 10 battery charger
    – Two SeaGel Deep Cycle marine batteries
    BBQ, rail-mounted
    – Two cockpit jib-sheet bags
    – Force Ten Seacook stove (uses small propane cylinders)
    – SS Sink w/ hand pump
    – Raritan PH-II Head & holding tank w/ approved valve arrangement
    – Kerosene hanging lamp
    – 12V DC interior lighting
    – 120v AC circuit
    – 30 amp 25 foot shore-power cord



    Boat is laying San Francisco, CA

    Sold: 1983 JJ Taylor Contessa 26

    Currently located in Oriental, NC

    • This boat is in wonderful condition and has traveled more than 4000 miles in the past year.  She is ready to go! 
    • She has a reliable 10 hp Bukh inboard diesel in great running condition.
    • There are many new and recent parts including:
    • Almost new sails (first used in 2010)—Main, storm jib, working jib, and 135% genoa.  110% Genoa is in fair shape and is my most-used sail.
    • Recent standing and running rigging (2009)
    • New genoa track cars
    • Self-tailing Lewmar 16 cockpit winches
    • Custom mainsheet traveler system with Lewmar traveler
    • Mast rewired with new masthead lights in 2009
    • Cape Horn self-steering vane—works beautifully!  I only steer in channels and harbors or if there is NO wind!
    • Less than 200 hours on new engine mounts, cutless bearing, shaft packing, and new water-lift muffler
    • Water pump rebuilt 50 hours ago—new spare parts on board as well
    • Racing-smooth bottom with Interlux VC-17 bottom paint and factory barrier coat
    • Head with holding tank
    • 19-lb Danforth style anchor with chain and braided rode
    • Raymarine VHF
    • Depthsounder, new in box

    I pulled, polished, inspected, and re-bedded all of the chainplates and also re-bedded some of the deck hardware this winter.

    Price: $15,900.

    The boat is on the hard in Oriental, NC.  She had been a Lake Erie boat her whole life until this winter, when she took me down the rivers to the Gulf of Mexico and now this far back up the East Coast.  Her engine has been flushed and all the salt scrubbed off the boat, so she isn’t deteriorating from corrosion while she sits.  If she doesn’t sell soon, then I will take her back up to Lake Erie where she has her trailer.  The boat and trailer can be purchased together for $17,000 unless one of them sells separately first.  

    If desired, I will deliver this boat by sea from Oriental to points on the east or gulf coasts of the US, or the Great Lakes.  

    Contact me at 508-364-1459 or sy.cavendysh (at) gmail (dot) com  

    If I don’t respond right away it is because I am at sea.  I will get back to you!

    SOLD: 1974 JJ Taylor Contessa 26 #96 "SOOLAIMON"

    Present owner since 1976. Registered by name for international sailing.

    Original gelcoat. Dark green hull, white deck. No osmosis.

    Working jib, mainsail, 150% genoa, plus spare 150% genoa. Anchor, VHF radio, folding steel cradle. Four upgraded cockpit winches.

    Original Petter diesel was removed in 1983. Prop shaft and stuffing box still in place.
    Replaced by 10 hp Honda outboard with custom built aluminum mounting bracket which allows easy vertical positioning of the motor. This motor was an excellent match for the Contessa, smooth, quiet and with hull speed at half throttle.
    The Honda was retired last year and replaced by new 9.8 four stroke Tohatsu. Again an excellent match for the boat. Tohatsu cost $2,500 and has less than 20 hours running time.

    This Contessa has been used for day-sailing for the last 10 years.

    This is an excellent upgrade project. Needs rewiring, new battery, general tidying up and cosmetic work.

    To be launched May 7, 2011, Toronto, Canada.

    Unlimited advice, sailing lessons etc from 65 year old present owner.

    PRICE: $4,500 Canadian. ( Without outboard : $3,000. )

    For Sale: Contessa 26 SOPHIE

    Completely re-fitted in 2005 to a high standard, Sophie is a high specification Contessa 26 in good condition.
    She is set up for short-handed sailing and ready for extended cruising.
    Sophie is currently lying ashore in Ross-shire (North West Highlands of Scotland).
    Available from end of July 2011 (after farewell cruise). May be able to deliver her South as far as Oban.
    For more information see:
    Contact Jake Burnyeat
    0781 501 45 40

    SOLD: 1972 Contessa 26 Hull #27

    “LITTLE MINUTE” IS FOR SALE. A Contessa 26 completely restored by a very talented master craftsman to better than original construction.
    This boat underwent a two year out of water complete rebuild. Everything on this boat was rebuilt, strengthened, or replaced.

    This restoration includes the following:
    • Decks professionally re-cored
    • Bottom barrier coated with 5 coats of Interprotect
    • Hull, 5 coats of Perfection 2 part polyurethane
    • Decks, 3 coats of Perfection 2 part polyurethane
    • Rebuilt mast interior support beam
    • New teak toe rail and hull to deck joint redone and strengthened
    • New teak rudder cap assembly and tiller
    • All exterior teak is new (see pictures)
    • New Lewmar centre hatch
    • New Lexan in all ports
    • All deck fittings re-bedded with stainless backer plates
    • Interior wood completely replaced including bulkheads
    • All cushions replaced with new upholstery and foam
    • New Origo gimballed alcohol stove
    • New 120 volt shore power system including a new panel
    • 12 volt system: 2 new DC panels, new marine grade wiring, two recent 12V batteries and built in battery charger
    LED navigation and interior lighting
    • All new electronics: Raymarine VHF, speed, depth, and autopilot ST2000
    • Plumbing-All new items: bronze seacocks, hoses, stainless steel sink, Fyn Spray faucet, manual and electric bilge pumps
    • All new standing and running rigging, turn buckles, and SS chain plates
    • New Harken traveller and mainsheet system
    • New double life lines
    • Custom bow roller
    • New Harken #32 two speed self tailing winches
    • Sails: full battened main (good), 150 genoa (good), 120 genoa (new 2009), 90 Jib (new 2009) asymmetrical spinnaker (excellent)
    • Kubota 6HP diesel with low hours, new aluminium fuel tank, Racor separator/filter, new Vetus waterlock exhaust and hosing, and new raw water strainer
    • Anchor, 100’ anchor rode, all safety equipment, and cockpit cushions included.

    Boat is located on Presqu’ile Bay Lake Ontario. See the listing in for pictures. There is more to this list, so please call or email for more information.

    SOLD: 1982 Contessa 26 #299

    Excellent Condition – photos available
    Diesel well maintained with extensive maintenance records for the boat.
 Good suite of sails including main, working jib, and genoa.
Sound hull, deck, bulkheads, autopilot, chainplates, solar panel, etc. new VHF radio, new Head, new diesel tank, new compass, new Garmin Radar, new Garmin Radar-Connected GPS 
Boat located in Prince Edward County, (Lake Ontario) Ontario Canada. 
Would prefer Ontario buyer, but will consider inquiries from abroad. Buyer responsible for transport, and customs if exporting from Canada. Dry storage available for a fee until transport has been arranged.


    Ontario registered axle trailer available : included in price!


    Interested parties should plan on visiting the boat ASAP.

    Phone: 613-741-8990

    SOLD: 1983 JJ Taylor Contessa 26

    We are selling our 1983 JJTaylor #312. The boat was upgraded
    in 2006 with new stays and shrouds( increased wire size),
    Schaefer Roller Furling, an Aries windvane, new VHF radio, JRC Radar, a new Jabsco head and a gimballed Origo alcohol stove.
    The same year the cutlass bearing was replaced Vixen has a Farymann diesel 7HP, Autohelm, Telescopic swimladder, One SS Bruce anchor and one Danforth, Schaefer Roller Furling,
    Mainsail, working jib, genua and spinnaker
    Spinaker pole, Aquasignal trilight,
    Signet windindicator, registered 406Mhz Epirb ,
    Plexiglass companionboards
    Spare tiller. Steel cradle
    Boat located in Bayfield Ontario, For more info or pictures call
    Peter at: 519-471-9360. Price $18,900

    SOLD: 1985 Contessa 26, Sail #331 (including trailer), Dunkirk, NY

    Second Owner and she has sailed on Lake Erie her whole life.
    10hp Bukh diesel, with new motor mounts.
    All new lines, sheets with new Clutches
    New main sail, storm sail, working sail (85) and genoa 135 plus the original 110 genoa in good condition.
    New traveler
    New Cape Horn windvane
    New Raymarine radio
    Mast rewired with new tri-light on top
    Sleeps 4 very nice interior upholstry
    New lower stanchions,
    New gaskets around the hatches
    New companionway made of teak
    New bumpers
    There are a number of photos in the photo gallery under Cavendysh plus conversations about my boat in a number of threads

    SOLD: 1974 Contessa 26 #244 $6300.00

    SOLD: 1974 Contessa 26 # 244: $6,300.00 (including outboard and trailer).

    Built by Jeremy Rogers Yachts in Lymington, England!
    Beautiful woodwork and well-maintained.
    See pictures at
    New Nissan Marine long shaft outboard in 2007
    Mainsail, two jibs, one spinnaker ? roller furler jib
    New dark green paint and gold stripes in 2007
    Depth sounder, mast and deck running lights all working
    Compass, misc. safety equipment and older life jackets, two anchors, etc.
    Solar panel for charging batteries
    Sleeps 4 or 5 ? very nice interior upholstry
    Fresh bottom paint and Sikkens ?varnish? 2009.
    Boat was trailered in 2007 from Kansas to Ohio. Price includes trailer.
    Boat is stored indoors, but currently is in the water in Sandusky, Ohio (Lake Erie).
    Move to central Texas necessitates sale of boat.
    Call DJ at 419.357.5893 to find out more!

    SOLD: 1983 Contessa 26 #305

    Beta 13 (kubota) 2005 (low hours)
    solar panel 2005
    epoxy bottom paint 2005
    survey fall 2008
    autopilot 2005 with remote control
    simrad depth instrument 2005
    teak floor 2008
    re-wired 2008
    dc panel 2008
    battery 2006
    roller furling 2005
    anchor/chain/rode 2005
    pram dinghy built 2006
    bbq Dickinson 2005
    macerator pump 2005
    galley foot pump 2005
    hella fans 2 2005
    sony cd player 2007
    invertor 2005
    upholstery and foam for settee seats 2005
    xantrex battery monitor – link 10 2005
    force 10 kerosene heater

    Contessa 26, JJ Taylor. Overhauled for Bahamas trip in 2005. Recent survey in fall 2008.

    Must sell. Owner has taken job in the Carribean.

    Boat is on the hard in Whitby, Ontario.

    $18,000 OBO


    1970s Contessa 26 for sale

    Pisces is a JJ Taylor made vessel constructed in the early 70s. I purchased the boat in Kingston, Ontario in the fall of 1998 and believe I’m the 5th owner of the vessel. Growing family and work obligations are leaving me less time to take advantage of this splendid cruiser. She is a wonderful boat for anyone looking to improve their seamanship, cruise the Great Lakes, or even take her further. I have set up a website describing her features, a list of projects that I’ve identified, the conditions of purchase, and information on best days to view the boat at

    Serious inquires only please.


    The classic Contessa 26 available for new, loving owner at a great price. We purchased a larger boat and are cruising.

    Red hull, teak rudder and inboard Westerbeke 7hp 2-stroke with manual. Main sail, working jib and 150 genoa. In good condition.

    The first pleasant and serious buyer with US $3900 can own a world-class sailboat. Call Gary: 716.818.0307 or email: gary (att) eckisrealty (dott) com

    For Sale: 1985 Contessa 26, Sail #332

    A newer JJ Taylor Contessa 26 in great condition, ready to sail. 10hp Bukh diesel, with new 11.5 gallon diesel tank, (2005). New interior cushions, (foam & upholstery), in 2005. Original main and 110 genny in good condition, 140 genoa in excellent conditon. She’s been lovingly maintained with any issues dealt with as they arose: New tiller 1999, new Morse single lever engine control 1999, new jabsco head 1999, new 22# delta and 200’ chain/nylon rode 1999, most thru hulls and ball valves replaced 1999, rudder removed & 3rd, (lowest), pintle rebuilt 2000, new stuffing box 2000, all stanchions rebedded 2000, new VHF 2000, new Garmin GPS on swing out bracket in companionway 2000, 2 new Group 27 batteries 2004, new racor primary filter 2004, new ST80 Tridata 2005, cutless bearing replaced 2006.

    Located in Annapolis, MD. More details on request, please contact Steve McCrea at 410-693-3572 or steve (at) ed-hamilton (dot) com. $$17,000 OBO

    For Sale: Contessa 26 1972

    Contessa 26 1972 For sale traditional design and lay out-built by JJ Taylor in Toronto.

    No time to sail her bought an other vessel vessel. She needs a new caring owner.

    Original gas engine serial number ooEV14799 With a copy of owners manual, engine bed has to be replace and upholstery worn. Complete rig 4 sails plus 1spinaker (newer used), WHF, Depth, Compass, 2 anchors with chain, BBQ force 10, ectr, With a coat of bottom paint can go sailing. Selling for $9500 and would help to sail her to home port or would help to arrange land transport.

    More images are available of the vessel and sails. Images are available please contact at

    For Sale: 1981 JJ Taylor Contessa 26 in San Diego

    Yanmar 1gm (low hours)
    3 blade prop.
    sea swing stove
    force 10 grill
    auto helm 1000
    manuel bilge pump (cockpit)
    35lb. CQR on the bow roller (new chain and rode)
    25lb. Hi-T danfort on the stern. custom stern chain locker (new chain and rode)
    stainless steel swim ladder
    bottom paint in 2007 (petit trinidad)
    2-roller furling head sails (hood)
    main with 3 reef points (hood)
    am-fm weather band cd player with I-pod conection (4 speaker system))
    all new canvas including cock pit curtians
    new natty dodger
    new cock pit awaning
    two new deep cell batteries
    boom vang
    head with holding tank (deck pump out)
    wisker pole
    all teak was varnished and is in good condition
    custom removable teak table (inside)
    led cabin lites
    all upholstry is in good condition including cock pit cushions

    I am moving and I can’t take the boat with me but it will be missed alot.

    16,000.00US or best offer, Michelle (619)274-6809

    For Sale: 1972 Contessa Hull No.41

    1972 classic Contessa 26 reluctantly for sale (available with an assumable berth in Sidney BC), much loved and well maintained family boat, cruised and gently raced (with a 295 handicap there is never a need to jump the start), in last two years has had standing and running rigging replaced and upgraded, new tan sails and sail cover, new Harken roller furling, Garmin GPS with charts and depthgauge, new Plastimo compass, new batteries, hull has been repainted in recent years and boat has been regularly surveyed for insurance purposes, Yanmar 9hp deisel regularly serviced, comes with spinnaker and equipment, ready to go, hoping for $18000 obo.

    Check out for pictures.


    1972 Contessa 26for sale

    No time to sail her bought an other vessel. She needs a new caring owner.

    Original gas engine serial number ooEV14799 With a copy of owners manual, engine bed has to be replace and upholstery worn. Complete rig 4 sails plus 1spinaker (newer used), WHF, Depth, Compass, 2 anchors with chain, BBQ force 10, ectr, With a coat of bottom paint can go sailing. Selling for $9500 and would help to sail her to home port or would help to arrange land transport.

    More images are available of the vessel and sails. Images are available please contact. Email

    Lots of Contessa 26's for sale this fall

    Hi all,

    There are a lot of Contessa 26’s for sale this fall. Be sure to check them all out in the Marketplace.

    SOLD: 1974 JJT Contessa 26 Hull 91 with trailer.

    Lots of new stuff check out and click the for sale link.

    • Yanmar 1gm10 520Hrs
    • New VHF
    • New GPS
    • Old Radar
    • New Stereo
    • New Origo 1500
    • New ST22 Tillerpilot with Remote
    • New Paint
    • Deck and interior in the process of being refinished.
    • Boat is in Mission Bay, San Diego.

    For Sale: Contessa 26 1979

    Main sail new 2000, Working jib new 2005, storm jib original good, genoa original good.
    New standing rigging 2005 except for the backstay. The boat has two backstays for offshore sailing.
    Trim tab windvane selfsteering
    35 lb danforth with 275 ft. of rode and 30 ft. of chain. 25 lb CQR 100ft. of rode 15 ft. of chain.
    Avon 4 man double tube offshore liferaft. Inspected 2005.
    Epoxy barrier barrier coat on bottom 2005.
    Hard dinghy that can be stowed on deck.
    I removed the engine and use a 3.5 nissan long shaft. It works fine getting in and out of the dock. I built a very unobtrusive bracket and have left all inboard mounts and shaft aperture for possible repower.

    I have had the boat since 1997 and have sailed from New England to Bermuda and throughout the Caribbean. The boat has always been covered when on the hard and sailed when wet. I have kept the boat always in seaworthy condition, and upgraded and fixed as needed. She is solid and stiff and has never let me down in all of the conditions I have sailed in and remains that way today. She is ready to go to sea today and looking pretty as ever. Sitting Block Island, Rhode Island, soon to be hauled either CT. or RI.

    United States Coast Guard Documented.



    SOLD: 1981 Contessa 26

    ST 4000 autohelm tiller pilot with new motor
    solar panel
    rebuilt engine
    2 new marine batteries
    new main and sail cover, GPS, radio, newer alchohol stove, new storm jib, genoa and spinnaker=good, jib=fair, extra main, extra anchor,updated , offshore flares, all cooking utensils, rebuilt head, MOB pole, multi-season ablative paint
    overall excellent condition
    Charcoal grill, Bose cockpit speakers, radio, CD player and Bose salon speakers, extra genoa
    new bilge pump and electrical panel, dry boat
    18,000 USD without new Zodiac, 19,000 USD with dinghy

    Located in Greenwich, CT. Will consider sailing to new location if within 100 miles.
    email Cheryl:


    There are several new listings in the marketplace, representing some amazing Contessa value.

    Be sure to check it out!

    SOLD: 1986 Contessa 26. Sail# 345 with new trailer.

    Turn key boat, well equipped with a wide range of new offshore equipment:
    • Monitor wind-vane professionally installed, w/3 vanes.
    • Autohelm ST4000 tillerpilot new in 2005 (magnetic compass type)
    • ACR 406Mhz EPIRB new in 2006, batteries good till 2011.
    • Westerbake 2cyl 12Hp FWC Diesel (93hrs) runs like new, w/built in 10gal aluminum tank, 3 fuel filters/bleeder, spare alternator, spare starter, 1” prop shaft, 5 Gal plastic diesel can.
    • New Mercury 2 passengers 6ft inflatable dinghi w/ used but good 2hp Honda outboard, pump, oars, repair kit, carrying case. Survival Products self inflating life raft.
    • Garmin GPSMAP 3205 chart plotter w/built-in charts for the coasts of North America, Bermuda, Hawaii. Installed in cabin or in cockpit. New in 2006
    • Gen X wind generator new in 2005. Collision Avoidance Radar Detector new in 2006
    • West Marine VHF600 DSC fixed mount radio w/ antenna on top of mast new in 2006
    • Echopilot, Forward Looking Sonar (bronze, 2006). Depth, Speed Log, older but works well.
    • Shroud tension gauge. Gimballed stove converted to propane. Para Tech Sea anchor w/swivel never used. Delta, Fast Set 14 lbs plow anchor w/ 200ft rode 24ft chain new in 2006
    • Richie Compass. West Marine 500 Medical kit. Coast Guard Equipment.
    • Katadyn manual reverse osmosis water maker PUR Survivor-06. Radar reflectors (2)
    • Automatic electric bilge pumps (2), manual bilge pumps, engine operated bilge pump
    • 73Ahr ea. Gel cell batteries (2) new in 2006 + separate cranking batterie
    • 2000W Power inverter. Diesel fuel operated cabin heater. Shore power. Fishing kit.
    • Plano Extra Deep Marine Box for abandon ship supply. US flag, some foreign courtesy flags.
    • New 3rd pintle added on bottom of rudder. SS/brass lightening rod on top of mast, above antenna connected to brass grounding plate. Anti-collision white strobe light on top of mast.
    • Mast stepping kit using the boom as rigid member. (See sequence of steps on pictures)
    • Factory built in, water and holding tanks, manually operated head w/ Y valve.
    • The boat is equipped with well functioning new wireing, amps and volts meters,“work shop”, clean cushions, molded white fibreglass interior, new dodger/bimini, Profurl R25 roller furling. Trailer has 4wheel disc surge brakes, 24ft rod extention, LED lights, alloy wheels, 2 spares, never immersed in salt water. 4 bags of sails: new (yr 2007 $1300) offshore mainsail, used but good mainsail, 150% genoa, 110% working jib both in good condition, new sleeve for rolled up headsail. All halyards terminate in cockpit.

    Call: Tony 513-231-2077 E-mail: Boat located in Cincinnati, Ohio
    $35,000 (US)

    To see a complete set of pictures please visit:

    For Sale: 1979 Contessa 26 #245

    Contessa 26, “Island Girl”, for sale. This boat has been sailed more than once a week for the past 1 and a half years, but need a bigger boat for live a board.

    Yanmar 9 HP Diesel
    new motor mounts ‘07
    2 batteries hard wired to smart charger
    Jabsco Mini Head, Y-valve, 3 gal holding tank
    new shore fuse box, wiring ‘05
    new mainsail cover ‘06
    lazy jacks
    new jib sheets ‘06
    Hood Roller Furling w/150 Mack Sail
    Harkin Traveler
    new double life lines ‘06
    LED Cabin Lights
    VHF radio
    Force 10 Propane Grill
    slip avail St Petersburg FL Municipal Marina

    $11,500.00 (US)

    call Britt 404-234-5557 or 727-512-1681

    For Sale: 1975 Contessa 26 #30

    Contessa 26, Christina, for sale, #30, 1975, excellent condition. Newly installed Universal 2 cylinder diesel with new aluminum fuel tank. New dodger and bimini, green sunbrella. GPS and VHF radio and trailer. 5 newer sails, including genoa and whisker pole. All new cushions inside and out. $15,700. For more information call Murray, 905 515 8712 or e-mail

    Picture in gallery: Picture

    SOLD: 26' 1977 Contessa

    The Teal III has a 6.5 HP Petter diesel regularly maintained. Main & Genoa sails. 1991 Harken roller furling & halyards. 1995-96: all shrouds and tunrbuckles. Depth sounder, VHF , Ritchie compass. 1994: throttle replaced and all new seacocks. 1991: new fuel tank. 1997: deck pump out for head holding tank. 1998: Oak tiller. 1999: Automatic bilge pump. Hard dingy. Winter frame. Old Genoa and Main. Currently listed with a broker. Located in Newburyport, Mass at Merri-Mar Yacht Basin. Seller on west coast, boat on east coast. See pics, broker contact info at: For info contact owner Michael Matthay at 707-964-3598 or broker Jay Lesynski at 978-465-3022. $4,900 or best offer.

    For Sale: 1973 Contessa 26

    For Sale (bought bigger boat); Contessa 26 “Sterling” 1973. Farryman 13 hp diesel. Hank on sails…Main, Genoa, # 2, # 3, DRS with pole, AM/FM Stereo/Cassette, VHF, Depth, Head with unused holding tank and overboard discharge Y valve, two batteries with battery switch, plow anchor with 250’ rode, light lunch hook, cockpit cushions, cockpit table, new dodger, boom vang, sail cover, tandem axle storage trailer with lights and electric brakes. Located Chemong Lake near Peterborough…dockage paid through end of season. $ 13 000 (Can) or best offer. Contact Bill at

    1984 Contessa 26 for sale

    1984 Contessa 26 for sale.

    Currently listed with a broker. Full details available at link below. I will be happy to answer questions directly, but any interest in looking at or buying the boat should go through the broker.



    Contessa 26 Gallery added

    We’ve added a gallery to The Contessa Corner!

    Now forum members can upload images to the gallery using the same username and password they’ve always used on the forums.

    If you’re not a forum member, join now! There’s no cost to be a member of the Contessa Corner, and Contessa 26 ownership is not a prerequisite.

    Go check out The Contess Corner Gallery now!

    Bill Ploughman's new fangled Contessa 26 table

    Table 1
    Table 1
    Table 1
    Table 1
    Table 1
    Table 1
    Table 1
    Table 1
    Table 1

    SOLD - 1985 Contessa 26, JJT #334

    1985 Contessa 26, JJT #334. Located New Hampshire. $6000 / BO.
    Details at

    SOLD: 1972 J.J.Taylor Contessa 26

    Located in Montreal region and suveyed in april 10th 2006.

    All the sails are in very good condition : Main 2riffs 2005, Genoa 2003 2 jibs,1 storm jib. Halyards (7/16”) new 2005 are coming back to the cockpit on two winches.

    Inboard engine :
    Engine is a Universel Atomic IV runs perfecly
    Electric fuel pump 2005
    Fuel filter water sep. 2005 (cartrige type)
    New alternator 2004
    Distributor,coil,condenser,points…everything was redone in 2004
    Propeler 10”dia. original bronze 2 blades
    Propeler shaft 7/8” stainless steel
    Gas&smoke alarm in the bilge
    Original Atomic owner’s book

    Other equipement:
    alcool stove
    Propane BBQ
    Dept souder/loch Nexus 2003
    gps 2004 garmin
    Vhs 2004 Uniden
    auto/manuel bilge pump 1”dia. 2005
    Manuel bilge pump (cockpit)
    Marine toilet whit rigid holding tank
    Danforth type anchor 15pds
    Oceanne anchor 26pds. (2005)
    30’ galvanised chain (2005)
    115’ X 5/8” dia.rope (2005)
    Four fenders and lots of dock-lines 1/2”&5/8” dia. 15’and 20’long
    Stainless steel swiming ladder
    Stell cradle.

    I have to put my Contessa 26 for sale I’m asking 9000$cdn. I’ve put towsands of dollards on her in the last few years I never though I’ll sell her but I fell in love with an Alberg 30 (it’s in my back yard already) and I can’t keep the two of them. She’s at Quebec/Ontario border near trans-Canada hwy 40kms west from Montreal.

    For more details and pics:
    cell: 514-246-0041

    Web page

    SOLD: 1978 Contessa 26

    Recent survey available.
    Fleet Champ last 3 years, beer can races.
    9.9 Johnson
    all new cushions in cabin and cockpit
    5 sails all in good shape a Main, 80%, 110%, 150%, 165% Drifter
    all lines aft.
    needs nothing!
    6 clutches
    two winches on cabin top
    all hardware fitted with backing plates
    We’re looking for standing head room.
    It has a Marine Head that is only a year old, a holding tank is built in, I have the Y valve for overboard discharge but it is not installed, local laws. .
    Extra gear included:

    Also a 3 year old compass on bulkhead in cockpit.
    Harkin traveler
    anchor and rode
    Non pressure alcohol stove
    Gimbaled single burner propane stove
    Improvements to the hull, deck, rigging, engine, or interior:

    This boat is in very good condition,the following upgrades have been done in the last 3 years.
    Bottom repaired with all epoxy West System products, it is now a forever bottom with VC 17 bottom paint
    A few more things I haven’t mentioned is the two settees can now be joined with an insert so it becomes a bed a wide as the cabin, the back cushions fill the gap.
    General condition and any additional information:

    We bought and rebuilt Her hoping to go cruising, have now decided it makes more since to charter.
    We would like to see her go back to the big water where she belongs. Looking for a Catalina 27 with trailer, willing to trade for the right boat!
    See link on this site for the bottom job repair work.

    Email Stan at
    or phone 303-973-4124

    More information in the forums

    More Pictures

    Contessa 26 Marketplace added

    We’ve added a Contessa 26 marketplace to the main site.

    This new section of the site is dedicated to listing Contessa 26 sailboats for sale, in hopes of exposing those boats to a broader cross-section of the Internet than listing them in the Contessa Corner discussion forums alone.

    If you’d like to have your For Sale Contessa 26 listed in the marketplace, send an email to

    Be sure to check our new Contessa 26 Marketplace

    SOLD: #322 a 1985 J.J. Taylor Contessa 26

    Hank-on 150% Genoa, Hank-on Working Jib, Main with two reef points. Tillerpilot, VHF Radio, two-burner kerosene Force 10 stove, Force 10 Propane barbeque, knot meter and GPS. Foredeck anchor locker, teak & holly sole, 8hp inboard diesel.

    The boat is in excellent condition. The boat was last surveyed in August 2004. Photos and a copy of the survey are available at the link below.

    Reason for selling: Three children that aren’t getting any smaller means we need just a little more space than our beloved Contessa can provide.

    Laying: Bronte Outer Harbour, Bronte, Ontario, Canada



    Price: $20,000 CDN Sold April 19, 2006

    Anchor discussion

    When I bought my Contessa it had a 25 lb. plow anchor on an anchor roller on the bow, as well as a 13 lb Danforth on roller chocks on the stern. I installed a bracket for my windvane gear and had to give up the stern anchor. And I put roller furling gear which made it even more difficult to manage the plow anchor on the anchor roller on the bow. I tried very hard to get a nice secure installation of the CQR on the anchor roller, but it always looked like a disaster waiting to happen. Plus, the damn things are awkward to manage because of the articulated neck on them, particularly in the cramped area of the bow on the Contessa. I was constantly worrying about bashing up the front of the boat. I’m not against CQR’s in general. In fact, I sailed with one around Europe and the Mediterranean for two years on my old wooden ketch, although whenever in doubt I always tossed my gargantuan fisherman’s anchor overboard—it never failed me or dragged in countless anchorages around Europe. In fact, if I had the room, I’d have another fisherman’s anchor. But my CQR failed on several occasions. With almost dire consequences. But that may have been pilot error on my part.

    Back to the Contessa, though. The solution which I found most satisfactory was to buy and install a 22 lb Bruce-style (a.k.a “Claw”) anchor. It fits compactly, snugly and securely on my standard anchor roller. I can lash it down very quickly. And it’s a hell of a lot easier to handle when dropping the anchor or hauling it back aboard. I purposely moved up a size or two in selecting the 22 lb Horizon Claw (rated for 35ft plus boats). Anchors are like religion I suppose, lots of personal emotion and spiritual conviction involved here. So far I’m satisfied. But I expect there’ll be a flood of contrary opinion on this one! In fact, I’m beginning to wonder why I opened my big mouth.

    Cheers, Sam

    Merrill Hall

    Sam, go easy on your big mouth. Mine is bigger and that fact has been attested to in the courts. I strongly disagree with your choice of a “Broose” after watching one dance across the bottom in the Carrib. The CQR had also failed (as usual) and we finally settled down with an old Danforth. I’m not much of a fan of any anchor other than Danforth (not copies) and the traditional Yachtsman… I once had an all bronze folding Herreshoff. It was a shame to set ‘cause it looked so good aboard. I carry a Danforth 13lb “deepset” as a primary and look for muddy bottoms.



    Merrill, I bow to your superior mouth! I guess the real points here are: 1. what bottom are you anchoring in, and 2. you should carry several (different) anchors for different conditions. Incidentally, I kept the 13lb high tensile steel Danforth and the CQR on my boat. Just in case!


    Kent Ross

    Hi Sam, I also have a Bruce style “claw” on a bow roller and am very satisfied with this arrangement, although I believe mine is one size smaller than yours, Holding power seems to be good, I carry a Danforth for a second anchor.

    Kent Ross(the New Guy)

    The View from "Troyka"

    I had a transcendental sail yesterday on Troyka. Southwesterlies 10 knots, no sea to speak of, warm breezes more typical of mid-August than mid-September, drifting under full main and 150 genoa along the coast of the Island where the late summer barley and oats has turned golden, bisecting fields of intense green clover and wooded lots under an intensely blue and unblemished sky. Were it always like this! But now the first of our early fall storms is coming with storm-force southeasterlies due tonight. Put out the fenders and the extra lines! Back to reality.


    Steve Stewart's "Maiden Voyage"

    I’m happy to report that my maiden voyage on Vittoria went very well after some minor mishaps raising the rig. I launched in Anacortes, Washington in late July and knocked about everywhere from Victoria to the Octopus Islands for about 6 weeks and 500 miles. It was a great trip and the open wound on the top of my head from rushing below with a baseball cap on and smacking the mast support arch is almost healed. I returned to San Francisco bay in time for my wife’s birthday (this behavior was in my best interest). I have launched and had time for a little San Francisco sailing. If I’m lucky, the wind machine will continue to work here for another 50 days or so. I have learned a few things so far. 1. water ships into the cockpit @ 55 degrees of heel. 2. At 60 degrees it comes in fast enough to go on into the cabin if the hatch boards are not in place. 3. The aft arch supporting the mast is quite unyeilding. 4. My 15lb. hi tensile Danford drug once and fouled once but my 35lb. CQR just works.

    Roger, You folks have some of the nicest cruising grounds I can imagine. I enjoyed everywhere I went and everywhere I stopped. I even caught the Marine Holiday at Comox complete with parades, live music, and fireworks. The Sea Cadets were really something. They seemed to really enjoy what they were doing. Victoria was beautiful but it is hard to communicate with the harbor forks when your boat is named Vittoria, it seemed to cause no end of confusion. I saw another c26 at Gibson but no one around and no name on the boat. Roger, You mentioned a woodstove installed in a c26 that was for sale. I am interested in hearing from anyone on a safe instillation of a heating stove in the contessa. I can’t seem to figure out a place to put it that would not be a major hazard for burning off ones hide. After the third low streaming into the desolation sound area I was pretty soggy and would have much appreciated a way to dry things out a bit. Have a good sail.

    Merrill, I must have missed some email, what is happening in the U.K. next July? In my boat the inner liner was crazed badly under the port lights. This was caused by compression of the window fasteners. It was not a problem except being very unsightly. When I made the replacement frames for inside the cabin, I made the bottom web much larger than the rest simply to cover the crazing. It came out looking O.K. If there are any folks out there looking for a c26, there might be one available in Berkeley California. I heard a rumor while I was launching there. If there is still anyone looking for a contessa on the West Coast let me know and I will look further into the matter.

    P.S. Merrill, I kept the pointy end forward most of the time. The Pacific Northwest, however is sprinkled with rapids that often exceed 10 knots. White water sailing is a regional pastime which is down right frightening to the beginner and can somewhat cloud the definition of forward.

    Good Sailing Everyone,
    Steve Stewart

    Engine problem

    I purchased a 1976 Contessa 26 in September of ‘99. I sailed and motored it from Ohio back to Long Island, NY. In October of that year, the engine, a 6.6 hp Petter, started giving me trouble, so I deceided to have it rebuilt. I got several good recommendations about a diesel mechanic on the south shore of LI. I spoke to this person and he agreed to do the work if I could obtain the parts needed. I removed the engine in January and, because I had to get the parts from England, I didn’t bring him the parts and engine until March 21, 2000. It took him 3 and 1/2 months to complete the job. I got the engine back in in the middle of July. The rebuilder said he had run it in his shop and the oil pressure was good. After numerous adjustments to the alinement and electrical system it fired right up and ran beautifully. I ran it a total of 1 to 1 1/2 hours after installing it to check for leaks and adjust linkage, etc., and the boat sat on my mooring until August 19. That weekend I took a trip to Milford CT from Smithtown Bay, a run of 5 hours. About a half mile from Milford the engine died and I couldn’t get it started. Friends I was meetin towed me to an anchorage. I was able to sail back to Port Jefferson the next day and leave the boat on a mooring at Setauket Yacht Club. I had been scheduled to have the boat hauled to do some rigging work, paint the bottom, install transducers and change some gate valves anyway, so I figured I’d work on the engine on the hard. Yesterday, September 1, I found out what was wrong. There was no oil in the engine! The oil pressure sender, which was replaced by the rebuilder, had backed almost completely out of the block. The engine is seized; you can’t even turn it over when it’s decompressed. I have left numerous messages with the rebuilder and he has not returned them. He’s probably away for the weekend on his boat. I paid him $1200.00 for his labor and I brought $700.00 worth of parts. I think I have the right to expect that the engine would be able to perform without checking each bolt and nut every time I start it. I did check the oil before I left on this trip, like I do each time I start any marine engine. It’s incredibly nerve wracking and frustratiing to spend all this money and go through all this work for nothing. Any opinions on my next move? I mean besides turning the engine into a mooring. Anyway, it did me good to vent.

    Tom – 1976 J.J. Taylor “Hali Kai 2”


    01Nov00 I went to the Annapolis Boat Show to meet a guy from NC who is a distributor of Beta Marine Engines. I put a down payment on a 14 HP model. I got a 15% discount. I’ll be taking delivery some time in December. I think this was the best solution. The new engine is 2 cylinder, fresh water cooled, twice the HP and only 15 LB more.

    Discussion on blisters and bumpers

    Mike Yelland

    My C26 had a large quantity of small blisters sanded off, and I don’t think even 1/16” was taken off, but I’d like to build it up, maybe more so than original – any suggestions WRT cloth type, weight, dry or wet lay up ? Also I’m thinking of adding a ss ‘bumper’ on the front just in case I were to hit something maybe out at sea. I wonder if a 1” thick piece of rubber would be better, glassed in ?

    Frank Otta

    Yeah, but the glass will crack when the rubber is compressed.

    Warren Kimmitt

    I am also in the process of refitting and have started on the hull blisters. I sanded all of the bottom paint, and primer off leaving me with osmosis blisters about 3 inches apart over the entire hull. As the hull dries I had planned to grind out the blisters and use the epoxy sealer and filler, then add about 3 coats of epoxy to seal the hygroscopic gel coat (Interlux video method). Yesterday, a fiberglass “expert” came by and told me my best bet was to rent a gelcoat stripper and take all of the gelcoat off. When I poke a hole in the blister, the contents smell like vinegar. He tells me that this is sea water having dissolved my fiberglass resin, and because the manufacturer did not put a barrier coat under the gelcoat, the problem is not merely cosmetic. Apparently with the gelcoat off, and the hull completely dry, the osmosis spots are easy to see and repair as they are powder and fiber. He said it would end up being less work and a better finish. I may follow his advice as it will take only one day to strip the gelcoat. With the gelcoat off I will be able to completely survey the hull and put an epoxy (no blister) bottom on. Apparently some people put a veil (very light cloth) on top of the bare glass and then several coats of epoxy. A fellow with a CO26 near my town has done this and is very happy with the result. He ground his gelcoat off, but said he would use a stripper next time as it was very labour intensive. There are gelcoat repair video’s available from West Systems, Industrial Plastics, and Interlux Paints that are somewhat helpful, but I think I will go the epoxy bottom route as the South Pacific is in my future. I have spoken to perhaps a dozen people about the right way to repair this problem, and consensus is: be sure the hull is “completely dry” before you proceed with any of the above. I plan on 6 months of drying while testing with a moisture probe. I am told that a sealed bottom, gyproc heater and an industrial dehumidifier (rented) can reduce this drying time to one month, but I would be concerned about distorting the hull.

    Steve Stewart

    I use automotive body filler for much of the cosmetic work on the boats. It is inexpensive, easy to work with, and sets up in minutes. I have used it under the water line for periods of 5 years and it was in good shape after. Catalina used it to fair cast iron keels on some of their boats. It seems that with an epoxy water barrier over the top it would serve quite well for “small pox”. If you try it be sure to pick up some of the plastic applicators the auto stores sell for applying the stuff, they work great.

    Steve McCrea

    Regarding bumpers, I have to say, don’t bother. One of the many reasons I love full-keeled boats so is because the best “bumper” is a few days in the spring with a grinder and West System. Touching wood, (believe it or not, I have sailed Maine all my life, and have managed to only run aground in far-flung destinations, never here, yet, that is), I have yet to bounce off a rock with the Contessa. I expect that I will at some point, and I’m truly unconcerned about the resulting damage. One would be truly hard-pressed to do much to the forward end of a 26’s keel, even at top speed. When I purchased my boat, it was clear that someone had indeed found such a rock, at a decent speed; the resulting damage was little more than a slight dent-shaped gouge. I think perhaps the best thing one can do with a boat new to them is go run it aground, it reminds you that unless you’re in heavy seas, it is generally not a very serious problem. These lovely boats can take far more than we all dare to give them, I’m sure.

    Mike Yelland

    I’m not so worried about rocks or grounding, but floating stuff we always hear about. I thunked into something like a 2×4 this summer – no biggie but there are a lot of flotsam out there they say. 1” rubber strips covered with glass should do it.

    Roger Myerscough

    Well it seems that this has to be confession time! I received my comeuppance about five years ago when I motored L’Epice at full speed into a rock. As someone who is paid good money not to do this kind of thing this was an occasion of utmost shame and I slunk into the marina under cover of darkness and the haul out and repair was conducted under a cloak of anonymity and disguise! L’Epice, however, did not let me down and the damage was confined to a fist sized gouge at the bottom leading edge of the keel which was just ground out, dried and filled with epoxy, glass etc. This was a really full speed collision with that rock, the boat came to a “grinding halt” and the whole rig shook, so I think that the minimal damage that occurred was a testament to the integrity of, at least, that part of the vessels construction.

    Roger Myerscough

    I did the gelcoat peeling routine last year. I opted to have the job done for me for two reasons, lack of time due to work and also because I thought that if I did ever come to sell the boat a professional job may be a little more desirable to a prospective purchaser. There was actually a third reason – laziness! But the first two make a better story! I did however go a little cheap and have the job done by a guy who I have known for many years rather than by one of the established boatyards in the area. This person has been doing the job for many years and I had seen examples of his work, in addition he had just bought a gelcoat peeler and all his previous jobs had been done by grinding/blasting. I also opted to do the job before it was REALLY REQUIRED inasmuch as she had a good number of small blisters all over the hull but it was nothing like as bad as some hulls that I have seen. The work was as follows:

    1. Gelcoat and first skinout peeled.
    2. Hull completely dried. The moisture readings were very low almost as soon as the hull was peeled, an indication that the blistering had not penetrated too far. However we had six weeks of drying – outside and in glorious weather.
    3. A layer of mat and Vinylester 411 Resin 4 Complete fairing of hull with Duratec Vinylester Putty 5 3 Coats of Duratec Vinylester epoxy primer 2 coats Bottom Paint.

    The guy that did the job commented to me and to another CO26 owner at a separate time on the high quality of the lay-up and showed me the differences between L’Epice’s lay-up and that of a couple of other boats that he was doing. He also gave me a five year guarantee and I don’t think he’s left the country yet! Total cost $4300 CDN. I am very pleased with the result, he did a superb job of fairing the hull and I believe, rightly or wrongly that she is a stronger boat than when we started out.

    ASKEW's 2001 Maine Cruise

    by Kent Ross

    I arrived home on August 19 after a wonderful trip from my home in Fredericton, New Brunswick down the coast of Maine on our 1970 Contessa 26 ASKEW. I thought a few of you might enjoy some of the highlights from our log.

    Aug 3 – Grand Lake to Saint John NB, 40 Miles down the Saint John River Spent the night at the Royal Kenneabecasis Yacht Club.

    Aug 4 – Depart 1000,Thru the Reversing Falls at Saint John, Destination Eastport, 44 miles, cleared customs and got my cruising permit, warm sunny weather, spent most of the day motoring.

    Aug 5 -Eastport to Cutler, 45 miles, started out clear but fog socked in after an hour and stayed with us all day, a LOT of lobster pots, motorsailed all day, anchored in Cutler Harbor for the night. Went for a walk on shore, but the town was pretty quiet

    Aug 6 – Woke up to fog again, destination, Winter Harbor, winds 20 knots on the nose, spent most of the day motoring in thick fog and 6’ seas, lots of lobster pots, rough day.

    Aug 7- got a SHOWER at the Winter Harbor Yacht Club!! Today’s destination Somes Sound, had a lovely run up the sound with my Chute full and pulling us along at 4.5 knots in about 6-8 knots of wind, went for a walk into town, woke up at 0300 to a LOUD BUMP out thru the forward hatch to find a friends J36 entangled in my Rode, his anchor dragged (Fortress), no damage done, about 20 minutes to untangle, his wife commented on my “cute underwear” (I was in a bit of a rush).

    Aug 8 -Woke up, just making breakfast when a squall rolled thru, about 30 knots and a lot of rain, left in the rain for North East Harbor. Arrived in North East in fine sunny weather, took a floating dock, went into town for a shower!!! did a little sightseeing, played tourist, Met another Contessa 26 owner Roland Barth, owner of “Mares Tails” author of the Book “Cruising Rules”(great book, Roland and Barbara gave me an autographed copy, which I have already read, Thanks Roland) , if you read the Good old Boat article on the CO26 you would have seen a photo of Roland and Mares Tales, decided to spend another day here.

    Aug 9 – On shore leave, went with some friends for a nice dinner out in SouthWest Harbor at XYZ Mexican Restaurant.

    Aug 10 -Departed North East For Sorrento, Had a beautiful day, sunny and warm, until Squall blew thru just as we were approaching Sorrento Harbor, changed into bathing suit, didn’t want to get my clean clothes wet, high winds, heavy rain, HAIL, (not bathing suit weather) Trying to dry out my foul weather gear, Rafted with j36 BLUE J on a mooring, spent a quiet evening.

    Aug 11 – Left Sorrento for Bucks Harbor, had a fine sail. Had to stop and dive on a friends boat, to remove lobster pot from prop (I’m the fleet diver on most of these trips). Bucks Harbor was one of my favorites, nice harbor Outdoor SHOWERS, very protected, spent a quiet evening.

    Aug 12 – Bucks Harbor to Rockland, had a beautiful sail, arrived in Rockland, tied up at the Municipal docks and listened to the last three hours of a Folk Festival that was on shore at the end of the docks, Went out for dinner at a local pub “the Waterworks” they have the largest order of Fish and Chips that I have ever seen.
    Aug 13 – Departed Rockland for Stonington, Had a beautiful sail all the way to Stonington, sailed thru the Fox Island Thorofare. Gorgeous! Couldn’t dock in Stonington as there are a LOT of lobster boats and a Town bylaw gives working boats precedence over pleasure vessels (as it should be). We stayed at a boatyard called Billings Diesel, a very large full service yard about 3 miles from town, got a drive into town in the evening and had a great $9.99 Lobster dinner.

    Aug 14 – Stonington back to North East Harbor. Saw Roland, Barbara, and MARES TALES again on their way back from Roque Island. In North East Harbor Had a SHOWER!! Did a little shopping, and got the boat ready to start heading home, this was the last of the easy days for a while, Tomorrow Roque Island.

    Aug 15 – North East to Roque, motored all day, the prevailing South westerlies that we were counting on had changed to North Easterlies!!! Large swells, Boat handled well, anchored at Great Beach Roque Island, woke up at 0100 the winds that were holding us off the beach had died and now we were rolling beam on to the swells, re-anchor in deeper water, not much better, went for a walk on the beach in the morning, a wonderful unspoiled place, possibly the cleanest beach I’ve ever seen.

    Aug 16 – Roque Island to Grand Manan tonight we’ll be back in Canadian waters, started out motoring but south westerlies started to fill in and before long we were doing 6.25- 6.75 knots on a broad reach finally this is what it is all about, 10 miles out of Grand Manan I was standing in the cockpit, just smoking along. My faithful crewman Otto was steering, and I was just soaking it up, when the waters parted 200 yards to our port side and a huge whale completely cleared the water before falling back on his side with a tremendous splash, I was yelling for Michelle to come out but she only saw the splash. Luckily our whale friend gave us an encore. What a Day! Looked down at the knot meter; the winds building, 6.75, 6.8 c’mon Baby, 6.85, 6.9…C’MON BABY you can do it! Daddy wants to see 7! 6.95, 6.98, 6.99 C’MON BAAABY!! 6.75, 6.6, 6.5… Oh well, In my mind I saw 7. Going up the Grand Manan Channel you have either 2-3 knots of current with you or against you, our Speed over Ground was 10.2 knots. Rounded the head of Grand Manan, winds now on the beam, sudden gust from the high cliffs almost knocked us down, time to get the sails down, ready for Harbor at North Head. Took a mooring for the night, cleared customs via Radio Patch to Customs Agent in Ottawa. Blowing about 30 knots South Westerly, Rolling, little sleep.

    Aug 17 – 0400 time to get up, got to catch the flood tide which will give us a lift to Saint John NB Left at 0430,still dark, motored out by Radar, got under way, winds are 12-14 Southwesterly but the seas feel BIG due to the winds last night, 6AM light enough to see that the seas (not swells) are about 10’ on the stern quarter about every 5 mins a big one (12-14) rolls thru. Rough Day and only 30 miles more of this. My crewman Otto is steering well but the rest of the crew is feeling a little under the weather, Only 20 miles more, only 10 miles more, motor sailing but the seas keep luffing the sails, hard to keep a course within 20+- degrees. 1300, Made it to Saint John, just in time to transit the falls at 1315, up through the falls, back in my home river. Spent the night at Royal Kennabecasis Yacht Club. Had a much deserved SHOWER!! And a hot greasy Cheeseburger at Wendy’s.

    Aug 18 – Saint John to grand lake 40 miles up river, time to dry out the boat and give her a good cleaning, she’s taken good care of us and deserves it, Arrive in Douglas Harbor (Home Port) and discover that there was a race that afternoon and the corn boil and all the people on the dock are not there to welcome us home. Oh well, give me some of that corn and there must be some cold beer left here somewhere.

    Will I do it again? In a minute! Maine has some of the most beautiful cruising grounds, only second to their Neighbor to the North, The New Brunswick and Nova Scotia coasts (sorry I had to add that).

    Fair Winds

    Kent Ross
    Fredericton New Brunswick
    1970 Contessa 26 ASKEW
    JJ Taylor, hull #049

    Why We Chose the Contessa 26

    “Amazing Grace”

    As A new owner I am hesitant to speak out and yet I feel a need to add a few thoughts to this discussion. I have worked with engineers from time to time and have seen them reach for perfection and feel a lessened sense of satisfaction when it proved unreachable, as it usually does. As a writer and translator I have struggled with poetry being brought from one language to another and see the compromises made to protect sense of the work. We can feel satisfied that we have chosen a creation which has an overwhelming history of success. One can say that there are improvements which would render her safer, yes. Could one not say of many other boats that they are wanting and nothing further can be done? Contessas have made crossings and that is not in dispute. Failures are few with her and that is also not in dispute. We are all a cautious lot, we sailors, and we thoughtfully chose this for our partner. Can improvements be made, certainly, and they should be. The sea is in constant flux and we should be too. Change not for changes sake but for safety and improvement. I chose her for me, not because I was a good sailor but because she was. Yours Aye, Patrick

    “Lucy Ann”

    I got this whacky idea while sailing from So. Bristol, Maine, USA back home to Yarmouth, Maine. It wasn’t a long trip at all and became much shorter (in time) when the wind piped up to 35kts with gusts much higher. We were sailing our custom Islander 33 (11000#) with new Furlex roller furl and all the below comforts of a cheap motel suite. When raising the mainsail earlier, I noticed that the topping lift was hanging on by a thread and made the old mental note to replace it once we were back home. Not a good decision if, in fact, it was a decision at all. After an hour of motoring, through a calm, the wind came up nicely and we were on a good beam reach (making a solid 7 kts) until we rounded Fuller Rock and the howlies began. Time to reef, Right? Wrong! The topping lift was now serving as a very effective tell-tale. A crew of two old duffers could lose some important body parts doing that drill in a heavy sea. We rolled the Furlex (with high-tech foam luff) and proceeded on at 8+kts with a humungous weather helm and ragging main. Our next trick was to hang a left at Chebeague Island’s East End Point and head into the eye of the breeze towards home. We tried it for a few harrowing minutes (with rail buried and super weather helm) and then fired up the iron spinnaker, lashed the boom to the lifelines, and rolled up the headsail. After picking up the mooring and downing four fingers of single malt, Laraine (she had a wine cooler)and I both concluded that we needed something that either of us could handle under the worst conditions. When you’re getting a bit long in the tooth, it’s best to plan ahead. The boat would have to be a small, tough, masthead rig, with a very secure foredeck and it couldn’t cost a fortune. We cleaned up the “moose” and instantly put her on the market.
    While killing time in one of our local boatyards, I looked again at the Contessa 26 named “Charisma” that had been somewhat abandoned in her spot for many years. Down below was mess but the engine looked like it just came out of the box. I got the tools and gave her a quickie survey and found cosmetic crap only with no structural problems at all. I asked the broker about her and he suggested a “crazy” offer. I made a very crazy offer assuming that it would at least start the negotiations. No negotiations – it was accepted. BTW, the engine awakened after a five year sleep after a few turns and a slurp of new diesel fuel.

    I’ve already blatted about some of the weak points so here are the strong points.

    1. Soft chine (wineglass cross section): Without flat bilges, and with a narrow beam, the hull sees very low loads in heavy going. The hull is designed for going through waves vs. pounding on top of them. This makes both hull and rig loads quite low.
    2. Glassed hull to deck attachment. Nothing beats this for keeping things together. All the bolts and 5200 in a horizontal flange arrangement can’t beat glassing for strength and keeping out water.
    3. Off-the-stern rudder: One less hole through the hull. Easy to inspect/repair. Gives superior steering for a long keel boat and very light helm.
    4. High toe rails = secure foredeck: Sliding over the side takes determination and planning.
    5. Deck stepped mast: There are two schools of thought here and each has viability. I prefer deck stepped for several reasons based on sea experience that I won’t bore you with.
    6. Lack of companionway slider: Small boats in heavy seas always take water through the sliding hatch even when fitted with a sea hood. Keeping dry below decks is a priority on a small boat.
    7. We also didn’t need the room. We sail alone. Five berths just gave us more space to store the junk that we shouldn’t have brought aboard anyway.
    8. And finally, I wanted a boat that sailed as well as a Pearson Ensign. I had spent ten years racing these little darlings and longed for similar performance. With the exception of being a bit slower to tack, the overall feeling is the same with exceptional windward ability. That’s it. Sorry to be so wordy. Merrill


    As to my personal choice of the Contessa 26, it started with my owning a Catalina 22 and sailing it in and around San Francisco Bay. I purchased the Catalina as an inexpensive experiment to see how my new family took to sailing. I had been sailing solo in a Hobie 14 since the mid 70’s. The experiment went well enough and the cheap little “Chevrolet” of a boat proved to be a surprise. The Catalina is fast and responsive and, after adding pulpits, lifelines, reef points, jack lines, downhauls, etc, etc, was safe enough to take my family on the bay. At one point we were able to beat into 32 knots of wind against a 4 knot tide. The wave conditions in the bay are very short and very steep. Frankly, for a dirt cheap boat, I was impressed.
    The engine that drives the weather, during the summer in San Francisco, is the difference between the cool offshore air and the hot inshore air in the Central Valley of California. The sea air is typically 55 deg and the inland air in July is usually over 100 degrees in the afternoon. This causes a whopper of a convection wind that pulls cool Pacific breezes through any gap in the coastal mountains. The local sailors say the Valley sucks. I have experienced temperatures as high as 117 degrees in the Central Valley. This according to a book on local weather written by the retired head of the NOAA, with the delta t. up to the high 9’s, winds as high as 65 knots stream under the golden gate bridge and through the San Bruno gap onto San Francisco bay. Many a day we have set out on a beautiful morning with fair winds in the forecast only to find ourselves rail down, two reefs in, and punching into almost vertical 8 foot seas by 1 pm. about 2 pm it is usual to receive on the vhf a revised weather forecast alert from the Coasties. there is comfort in knowing that they are on their toes but discomforting to know the wind speed has not yet peaked for the day. the next usual event is to start the run for home, scan the horizon and find that there is no one else on the bay except a 60 footer practicing for the Transpac and we are 2 hours from home port. home is almost dead down wind and if you leave up way too much sail the Catalina will peg the steam gauge surfing the following seas.

    Oh my, I’m rambling, back to the selection process. i want to expand my sailing horizons and my wife wants more head room and a more sea kindly motion (she’s only 5’1” which played right into my hands). this left the door open for me to go shopping for a stout boat that would take care of an idiot caught out in blow in the approaches to San Francisco bay. I also wanted to be able to trailer to the pacific north west and to Mexico for life has seldom allowed the time to get to these fabulous sailing areas at 4 knots.

    My interest in Contessas started when i read L. A. Coles book about the 1979 disaster of the Fastnet race in the U.K. If the man knows what he is writing about, the Contessa 32 appears to be one of the best boats for surviving in the worst of conditions. Having studied cruising boats for years and knowing of the fine reputation of the Folkboat, I started considering the 26. The 32 is too large to trailer and out of my budget range allocated for hobbies. Subsequently I realized that I had found the perfect boat for me.

    I have watched the ads in the bay area off and on for years. Suddenly a Contessa 26 appeared for sale for the first time ever. She was completely gutted for a refit in anticipation of the single handed Transpac. after a few weeks of negotiations, i convinced the owner to allow me to do the refit and thus reduce the sales price. I am looking forward to a long and mutually beneficial relationship between my “new” boat, short wife (great spouse, great crew, great friend), and myself. Steve Stewart

    Discussion on cored decks

    Question: I recently read an article that said that Contessa 26s were built without a core in the deck. As I have recently acquired Tepukei (a 1988 JJ Taylor version) and have not yet had need to drill into it’s deck, I am unsure whether to believe this or not. Can anyone confirm or refute this? Frank Otta

    Answers from the Groop:

    1. It is true. Our little boats are built like tanks. no balsa or other things that soak up water and rot.. The only drawback is that in colder climates like the great lakes area in the fall and spring the boats do tend to sweat over night if they are shut tight while you are sleeping so ventilation is a must. Randy

    2. The foredeck is cored with end grain balsa with a total composite thickness of about 1”. Weather decks are also cored with balsa of lesser thickness. Since I’ve had to drill thru these areas, it’s hard to miss it. Most of the coach roof is not cored but stiffened by the inner liner. As long as the core is dry and remains attached, this is a strong method of construction. Merrill

    3. Could there have been a change somewhere along in the production???? Our 1976 does not have balsa in it, honest. I have made holes in the foredeck as well as the coach roof and no wood. Randy

    4. Jeeezze, Randy, There could have been a change in ‘76. When replacing my foredeck mooring cleat, I was astonished at the thickness of the glasswork and the core. Most boats of this size would have cored the deck with 1/2” core material. I had only had two beers at the time and there was a core. Let’s hope that someone else pipes up. Merrill

    5. It appears that J.J.Taylor & Sons seem to have experimented with a number of stiffeners. My 1974 Contessa was reinforced with 3/8” plywood (I have the core samples) but others of the same vintage were reinforced with end-grain balsa or a foam like material simply referred to as 4mm coremat. The layup schedule for a Contessa indicates that she is rather a substantial boat on deck: after the gel coat comes a 1.0oz chop strand, followed by 1.5 oz strand followed by 2.0oz woven roving the coremat and all flat surface reinforced with 3/8”core material (what ever was handy) and the finish layer is another 1.5oz strand mat. Peter ,”Blue Peter”

    6. Hali Kai II’s hull was laid down in 1975 and finished in 1976. While installing two 6” bronze cleats on the fore deck, I found that the deck was cored with some kind of wood. Not wanting any problems with rotten deck core and delamination in the future, I did the following: Drill oversize (1/2”) holes where the new fitting will go. Tape under the exit of the hole. Fill the hole with thickened epoxy. Let set at least over night. Redrill with proper size bit for the bolt being used. Counter sink a slight bit (1/8”). Coat the bottom of the fitting with a caulking recommended for the job and spread out to a uniform thickness. Put a bit of chalk in the counter sink. Place the fitting over the holes and slip the bolts in. DO NOT TIGHTEN. Let the bolts bottom out but DO NOT TIGHTEN. Leave at least overnight so the chalk sets up and forms a gasket. Cut a backing plate out of 1/2” plywood or aluminum or stainless plate at least three times larger than the foot print of the fitting. Chalk around the area where the bolts emerge from the over head. Slip the backing plate on and use fender washers if using a wooden backing plate. Lock washers and nuts can be tightened now. Cap nuts may prevent a nasty gash but still leave a dent. It’s a lot of trouble but pretty much guarantees a leak-free deck. Tom Spitznagel, Hali Kai II, hull #153.

    7. The boat is a 1981 J.J. Taylor and definately is cored with balsa throughout the deck. I mounted a vent and installed some deck hardware this summer. I had also read an article stating that Contessas were all solid glass. Imagine my surprise when I cut my first. Neil

    8. Does anyone have any contact with someone who was involved in the JJ Taylor production run – or even some names I could try to track down, seeing how I’m in the Toronto area – we could run this by? This is a subject we’re obviously all pretty interested in, and for my ten cents worth, hard though it is to believe there may have been a point in production where coring was dropped totally in favour of a straight fibreglass structure, with deck reinforcement from the liner only, I have fairly good reason to suspect Randy may be right; certainly as far as the foredeck is concerned, and possibly re. the side decks also. There’s also one magazine article or book reference I’ve read – sorry guys, can’t remember where now, but within the last couple years; I’ve looked but I can’t find it again – that stated there was no coring anywhere in the deck structure (‘tho everything else I’ve seen printed has stated there is). My suspicion is there were variations across the run as a result of manufacture cost factors – or even short term material shortages – at given times, rather than any deliberate attempts to mod. the design (tho’ I’m not ruling the latter totally out); so it could turn out everyone’s right, and it just depends on the particular boat. Be real nice to narrow any changes down to specific periods or hull number sequences tho’... Robin

    9. I thought I would add my 2 cents worth and as I think that I have the oldest Contessa in the Groop (I stand to be corrected) a 1970 it might add to what we know about the early models . This spring I drilled a 3/4 inch hole in the deck, just forward of the mast to run a radar cable through, and it was definitely cored, looked like about 3/8 inch plywood, and although I have not yet drilled any holes in the foredeck I am sure that it is cored as I have a small spot on the starboard side that snaps occasionally when walked on, a sure sign of a cored deck that is a little bit sick(a project for someday). I hope this helps with the discussion. Kent Ross

    10. God what did I start. It seems we may all be correct. Interesting though. It sort of makes each of our boats one-of-a-kind. Randy

    Contessa 26 Specifications

    Co26 Lines

    JJ Taylor Boat:

    L.O.A.: 25’6” (7.8m)
    L.W.L.: 21’0” (6.4m)
    Beam: 7’6” (2.3m)
    Draft: 4’0” (1.2m)

    Sail Area: 304 sq.ft. (28m2)
    Ballast: 2300 lbs (1043 kg)
    Displacement: 5400 lbs (2400kg)

    Rating (PHRF-LO) : 243

    2005 Contessa 26 Rendezvous - Western Canada

    The 2nd Annual Contessa Sailboat Rendezvous took place at Union Steamship Marina, Bowen Island, September 17, 2005. This year saw a 50% increase in boats from last year….from four to six! We had three 32s and three 26s all in one specially reserved area of the marina, thank you USM! More boats were expected – there were over ten regrets dues to schedules and engines, (some were likely watching to see if the rendezvous would indeed survive its inauguration!) Numerous additional Contessas have promised to attend next year – now it’s in writing! One couple’s “excuse” for not attending was a good one: on their way to last year’s rendezvous, he proposed to her as they rounded Point Atkinson, and they are currently on their honeymoon!

    It turns out that every Contessa owner also knows someone who owned or owns a Contessa! And, it’s been discovered that the boats are usually bought and sold within the current circle of Contessa owners and past owners.

    Contessas are also very popular in Britain, and a good number of UK ex-pats own Contessas. Are the stories told with British accents funnier? Or is it the British in the sailor that gets those stories started in the first place?!

    Once the storytelling was over, some of us who were previously atheist realized, yes, there is a God, and he is a sailor!

    After a great dinner at Doc Morgan’s, the big draw over on one of the 32s was not the really the gracious hospitality but the Espar heat!

    Being the last boat to leave has an advantage – the lack of an audience makes it much easier to maneuver to starboard in reverse!

    The 2006 Contessa Sailboat Rendezvous promises to be even bigger and better than this year!”

    2005 Rendezvous 1 2005 Rendezvous 2

    2004 Contessa 26 Rendezvous - Western Canada

    The greatest four-boat rendezvous of the year was held September 18th & 19th, 2004 at Union Steamship Marina, Bowen Island, B.C., (an island just off the west coast of Vancouver, B.C.)

    Contessa 26 Boats attending were the Hill family’s 1985 “THE POINT”, the MacLeods on 1979 “KATE”, Shannon Rae on 1985 “RHIANNON”, and Jobe & Kathrin Groot on 1981 “AVENTURA”. Ben Wilson is in Vancouver from Scotland, and his 1971 Rogers Contessa “EILEAN MOR” is on mooring in Scotland!

    As you can see, the dock layout was a little awkward for a “groop” picture! One boat left early and was stern-to, against a piling with a powerboat on their port side so you’ll know it wasn’t me and my inability to centre a picture, it was the docks. Plus, as ou are all well aware, our boats do not sit proud against many of the high docks I am discovering in my travels on the Pacific Northwest Coast!

    We all got to talk Contessa 26s for 24 hours straight! Some great stories, many good ideas and installations on each boat, and all great people! It’ll be an annual event, and all sizes of Contessas from anywhere are invited next year! If you are able to make it, contact ShannonRae AT

    Rendezvous 1 Rendezvous 2 Rendezvous 3

    What's a Contessa 26?

    Contessa 26 – A tradition in Fibreglass
    By Paul Howard

    The Contessa 26 entered production in England in 1966 by Jeremy Rogers in Lymington, with several hundred built. Moulds for the Contessa were shipped to Canada in 1969, with the first of the boats completed later that same year. J.J. Taylor and Sons Ltd. had been building boats on their site overlooking Toronto Harbour’s Western Gap since 1904. The Contessa would become the design to help this company change over from wood to fibreglass production. Taylor’s yard was later taken over by the National and Alexandra Yacht Clubs when the manufacturer moved to Rexdale, in Toronto’s dry-docked northwest quadrant. Other locally built boats from the 1960s, made of fibreglass but based on the lines of the Folkboat, are the Whitby 26 Folkboat and the Alberg 30. The family resemblance of moderate beam without pinched ends, pronounced sheer, long overhangs, especially at the bow—a long keel cut away at the forward end and a steeply raked rudder shaft attached to the keel, is obvious in all of these designs. The Contessa was known as a capable ocean cruiser from the outset of production in England. Many of these boats competed in the OSTAR (the Observer Single-handed Transatlantic Race) and the Round Britain and Ireland Race. In the first three years of production 350 hulls were laid up. The 26 is easily recognizable by its massive outboard rudderhead with slabs of teak sandwiching the rudder, as well as a long curved tiller poking from the middle of the sandwich. The bubble at the aft end of the coachroof where most vessels have a sliding companionway hatch—is said to make the coachroof stronger and more watertight for rough ocean conditions. Headroom under the hump is 5 ft. 8 in.

    Cramped Quarters
    The lack of light and air from a sliding hatch has always put me off the Contessa. I am 5 ft. 10 in. and have lived aboard on sailboats with less than standing headroom. But each has had a sliding hatch where I could stand upright with feet on the cabin sole and my head poking out the companionway hatch. I enjoy surveying the 360 degrees around the horizon from this vantage point.

    As well, the Contessa employs a raked cabin bulkhead to allow one to climb the companionway steps without bumping ones head on the coachroof. I also dislike the long stack of raked drop-boards, as they tend to let in more rain and spray than shorter, vertical boards, and must be kept closed more that the vertical type.

    The boat feels closed-in, a condition many owners—and later the builder—have rectified with the addition of an opening amidships hatch. This cramped space reminds me of a comment made by a Frenchman who observed as he visited my British-built yacht: “Les anglais,” he nodded knowingly as he surveyed the tight quarters of the main salon, “ils se cachent du temps!” (translation: The English hide from the weather.)

    Canadian Version
    The interior, however, feels safe, protected and cocoon-like but definitely not open and airy. The Canadian version of the 26 was pulled from the same British-made hull and deck moulds until hull 300, in 1983. Then Gary Bannister, the principal partner of J.J. Taylor since 1979, redesigned the deck mould and some of the interior moulds. To increase headroom, he lowered the floor by lengthening the hump at the aft end of the coachroom to extend farther into the cabin. He also added a amidships hatch for increased light and ventilation. Other changes at the time included the addition of an anchor locker at the bow and a switch to cast lead ballast instead of cast iron, and the shifting of the water and waste tanks. The updated version also had a teak and holly sole.

    Power Plant
    The boat always had the option of an inboard diesel engine, with the 6.6-hp Petter first installed—then, later, the 7-hp Faryman was standard. Halyards were lead aft on the updated version, with clutches and winches at the aft end of the coachroof. A third set of gudgeons and pintles was added to support the long blade of the rudder.

    Taylor 26
    It was in 1984 that the Contessa had her name changed to the J.J. Taylor 26. “The name change made no difference to the buyers of the boat,” said Gary Bannister. “And the Taylor name had always been associated with the boat.” According to Bannister, Jeremy Rogers had gone bankrupt and the British Contessa moulds were destroyed in a fire. The company that subsequently purchased the rights to build the boat in the U.K., also claimed the rights in North America. After some legal wrangling, Bannister found that he had every right to continue to build the boat, only he was unwilling to suffer through a lengthy—and costly—international dispute. So, he simply changed the boat’s name and continued production. Ironically, the Contessa never went back into production in the U.K.

    Viki de Kleer of Toronto is the sole owner of Mollyhawk, hull number 163, built in 1975. As an avid sailor who often single-hands her boat, Viki is one of the few Canadian sailors to hold the prestigious Royal Yachting Associationís Yachtmaster’s certificate ñ a much more rigorous level of competence than the Canadian Yachting Association’s Offshore standard. During her 18 years of ownership, she has added a amidships deck hatch, and the diesel has been changed to a Yanmar 9-hp. Viki also replaced the split fiddle-block mainsheet system with a traveller mounted across the aft end of the cockpit and supported on a stainless tube above the tiller. De Kleer says this arrangement not only gives better sail control, but also keeps the mainsheet from running across the cockpit.

    She has also added roller reefing to the headsail and a jackstay to the foredeck for setting a storm jib. A bow anchor roller now pokes out at the starboard side of the forestay.

    “There was always water on the side decks, as the scuppers were not the lowest point of the deck,” she observed. New scuppers, at the right level, are now retrofitted.

    De Kleer also had a third gudgeon and pintle added to the rudder, and a shoe is now bolted at the heel of the keel to overlap with the foot of the rudder. This addition prevents floating lines from snagging in the gap between the rudder and keel.

    Varuna is the best-known Taylor 26, sailed around the world by Tania Aebi, the youngest woman to solo circumnavigate. Her stories were often featured in a U.S. sailing magazine in the mid-’80s, and were later published in her book Maiden Voyage.
    In all, there were about 400 Contessa and Taylor 26s built in Canada, and the last rolled out of the factory just before it closed in 1990. “As a swan song for the company,” said Bannister, “we constructed the 14 friendly gargoyles that grace the corners of the Skydome in Toronto.” Micheal Snow, the artist who created the figures, sculpted them in foam. Then the boat builders at J.J. Taylor fibreglassed and finished them. “It was a fun last project for the company,” said Bannister.

    The Contessa/Taylor 26 is a much admired institution in Ontario, and its long production run make this boat a common sight. Its loyal owners are traditionalists and keen sailors who appreciate the Contessa’s easy-to-handle and dependable performance.

    Reposted with Permission from Canadian Yachting.

    Brochure Front Page (J.J. Taylor) line drawing & specs.

    Contessa 26 Line Drawing

    Custom Made Water and Holding Tanks for the Contessa 26

    by T. Newell Decker

    My boat is a J. Rogers Contessa 26 and when I purchased it there was only a small (approx. 13 gal) water tank situated under the starboard v-berth. This was a fiberglass tank of apparently free form construction made to fit between the center divider and the hull. I wanted more water. In addition, the boat had no holding tank and I thought it about time to stop pumping my personal effluent into the lake in which I sail. Because of its nearness to the head on the starboard side, I wanted the holding tank there also. The water tank would have to go on the port side. Those issues determined I began to look around for tanks that matched the shape of the space. If one looks carefully the space is almost a right triangle and commercially available tanks of that shape are difficult to come by. I looked at a number of internet sites that make custom tanks but the shapes were wrong and the cost associated with custom construction were a bit heavy for my wallet. I seems that the only solution was to build my own tanks. What follows are my construction steps (with pictures) in the hope that the next fellow will not have to start a project like this form scratch.

    On the Rogers boats the storage area under the port v-berth has a stiffener across it about half way from the hanging locker bulkhead forward and the very pointy-most forward end of the boat. This would have to be removed in order to get a tank of any size installed there. Removal was done with a wood chisel and did not offer much resistance. It does leave a spot that must be filled in with thickened epoxy. I also removed the water tank on the starboard side and am keeping it as a spare. I think that it will fit under the saloon settee if needed. The job of the stiffener will be replaced by the position of the new water tank. The stiffening on the starboard side will be provided by the new holding tank. Next I painted all of the storage space into which the tanks would go with Interlux Bilgecoat. This provides a nice shiny surface that is easily washable in the future.

    Construction materials: – 2 – 4×8 sheets of ¼” exterior grade BC plywood. – Enough quarter round to use on all inside joints of the tanks – About 100 ½” brass screws – 1 – Group B West System Epoxy (105 resin + 209 hardener) – 1 – West System White Pigment – 1 – quart Interlux BilgeCoat – 1 – can of epoxy filler (West System) – 10 yards 4” wide fiberglass cloth – fittings for inlet ports, outlet ports, vent ports, and inspection port for water tank. Size of these will be dependent upon the size of the hose you decide to use.

    Construction dimensions:
    Tank 1

    Construction directions:

    1. Even though I have provided dimensions in this article, it would be wise to do as I did and start with a cardboard mock up of the tanks. This will insure a good fit after construction is complete.

    2. Begin by cutting the top, inboard side and the ends of the tank.
    The actual dimension of the hull side (hypotenuse) of the water tank will vary with your actual top and inboard side dimension…so, best to leave until step #3 is complete. If you do not make the holding tank any larger than my dimensions, it will turn out to be rectangular on the hull side. In both cases I cut the hull side out by laying the glued up box on top of the plywood sheet and tracing around. I think this insures the best fit.

    The pictures below show the beginnings of the water tank (hull side is not in place):
    Tank 2

    Tank 3

    3. With thickened resin, glue and screw the quarter round cleats in place and glue and screw the top, side and ends together.

    Pictures below show this process (note that ¾ inch parting stock was used for cleats – quarter round is better):
    Tank 4

    Tank 5

    4. Cut out plywood stiffeners for the fittings and attach to inside of tank with epoxy and screws.

    Picture below shows this for the fill port on the water tank:
    Tank 6

    5. Cut out hull side of tank. Best to lay box on top of plywood sheet and trace around for exact dimensions. Remember that the water tank hull side will not be a rectangle because the forward end of the box is smaller than the aft end (to accommodate hull narrowing).

    6. Cut holes for the inlet, outlet and vent. For water tank also cut out for inspection port. Cut through both the tank plywood and the stiffeners.

    7. Put three to four coats of white pigmented epoxy on the inside of the tank as well as the inside surface of the top. The white pigment will make it easier to see the scum when it comes time to clean out the tank. Be certain to epoxy the raw edges of the cutouts for the fittings. Make certain that all seams (inside and out) are filled with resin. If you do not wait until the epoxy is completely set before adding additional coats you will not need to sand between coats.

    Pictures of inside of holding tank (note use of quarter round):
    Tank 7

    Tank 8

    8. Attach hull side of tank with thickened epoxy and screws.

    9. Wet out all edges of the tank exterior and put on 4” strips of fiberglass cloth wrapped around the edges.

    10. Thoroughly saturate the fiberglass strips and let dry to tacky.

    11. Put two coats of epoxy on all exterior surfaces.

    12. Adjust dimensions of fitting ports with a wood rasp so that fittings fit tightly.

    13. When epoxy is dry (not tacky to touch) finish sand all exterior surfaces with 220 grit paper.

    14. Put on two coats of Interlux BilgeCoat (available from West Marine).

    15. Install fittings with polysulfide caulk.

    Final outcome of water tank should look like this:
    Tank 9

    Tank 10

    16. Fill with water – cross fingers and hope nothing leaks!

    17. Install in boat. Some adjustments will need to be made to get the water tank on a slight angle so that most of the water can be pumped out as it is used. Some adjustment may be needed between tank and hull in order for tank to fit tightly in space.

    Lucy Ann's Engine Cover seal

    This has held up since 1995 – No leaks… yet.

    5/16-18 Stainless Steel Phillips Head Scrooz & “Fender” Washers
    Engine Hatch 1

    Note (the black stuff) Seal made from 1/2” OD Type “B-1” Fuel Hose glued into factory molded trough.
    Engine Hatch 2

    Threaded Block made from glass filled Teflon 3/8” thk (in hatch flange right above exhaust riser)
    Engine Hatch 3

    Contessa Gear Details (Photos)

    Lucy Ann’s Mast Top – Anchor Light – Spinnaker Halyard Block
    Lucy Ann Mast Top

    Lucy Ann’s Steaming Light & Spinnaker Topping Lift Block
    Lucy Ann Running Lights

    Winterizing for Very Chilly Conditions (like below Zero degrees F)

    by S. M. Hall.

    Winterizing a boat gets a bit complicated when you live in an area where you can expect long periods of below freezing winter temperatures. Here are some tips and procedures for getting your boat ready for her winter snooze and then a no-surprises wake-up in the spring.

    Water System: Drain the water tank somehow. You can rig a siphon or pump it out through the sink and let it drain over the side. Then pour in a gallon of non-toxic antifreeze into the empty tank and pump it into the sink until you see the color change. This will prevent freezing of the lines to the sink and damage to the pump itself. Do the same with the head. Do you have a sewage holding tank? If so, have it pumped out and slobber in some more non-tox.

    Bilge and Bilge Pumps: Get as much water out of the bilge as possible. If you don’t have a bilge drain use the old sponge-on-a-rope trick or anything else that works. Replace the bilge drain plug and pour in a gallon of non-toxic stuff and run the electric bilge pump and operate the fixed manual bilge pump (if you also have that). The antifreeze is cheaper than replacing pumps. Once the pumps are squared away, open the bilge drain. Disregard this step if your boat does not have a drain.

    The Engine will need: (in this order)

    1. The fuel tank topped off and fuel stabilizer added. Stir it up if you can. It’s also a good time to drain off any water that may have collected in the fuel filter sediment bowl…if you have one.
    2. The oil and oil filter can be changed after the engine has been run long enough to come up to temperature. There is a certain amount of condensation produced and some acids formed when the engine is running. Changing the oil gets rid of the moisture and any corrosive materials. You’ll need an oil pump with its suction hose small enough to fit into the dipstick hole. These are available from marine supply stores. Try to get it as deep into the oil as possible. This doesn’t remove all of the old oil, but it will get most of it.
    3. Save checking the condition of the zincs until spring.
    4. If you don’t know when the fuel filters were last changed, this is a good time to do that. If you don’t know how to change them and then “bleed” the fuel system, this is a good time to learn. With the new oil and filters installed, and the fuel system bled, run the engine again for a while to get the new oil through everything. Then connect the raw water intake hose to a bucket of non-toxic antifreeze and keep feeding it until you see color coming out the exhaust. Shut down the engine and wish the little darling a good winter’s nap.
    5. But before she snoozes off, slacken the alternator and water pump vee belts and then give her a good wipe-down with some sort of light anti-rust oil. Don’t forget the shift linkage and the shifter. Everybody swears by WD-40. I don’t like the stuff by itself and always use a mixture of WD-40 and Marvel Mystery Oil. Why Mystery Oil? Who knows! When I was a kid, in somewhat prehistoric times, I was never without a can of it and used it everywhere. From bicycles to BB guns, it was the cookie. Strange habits are hard to break.

    Mast and Rigging: There seems to be a trend today for leaving the mast stepped with its wind instrument sending units whirling away. It probably costs a few dollars less, but in my opinion, it’s asking for trouble that far exceeds any financial benefits. Freezing rain and snow gets into everything including the mast interior where it slithers down into the boat (if keel stepped) or onto the deck (if deck stepped with drain holes). It’s almost impossible to create a seal where the mast goes through the winter cover and therefore more water is allowed through to the deck. . Water penetration into even the best swaged wire terminals and Norseman type fittings can cause a lot of damage due to repeated freezing and thawing. Those somewhat expensive whirling gizzies don’t have much of a chance if winter gales come your way. Then there’s the business of rigging loads. Since the hull, when ashore resting on its keel, takes a somewhat different shape than it had when afloat, the rigging will also be differently loaded. It is my opinion that this is not a predictable situation and the combination of winter temperatures and winds from many directions may fatigue materials and degrading hardware and hull structures. Leaving the mast stepped may save a few bucks this year but is not an intelligent choice for the long term.

    It’s best to get the mast off the boat where it doesn’t belong and get it ready for what’s coming. Good boatyards either store masts inside or on a yard rack that is totally covered with shrink-wrap. If you’ve dragged your boat home, you can even do a better job than the yards. One obsessive skipper that I know removes all his rigging (both standing and running), individually labels each, and hangs them up in his cellar. Initially I thought that this was one of his many overkills, but since the name of the game is common sense, he’s got a good practice here. This method allows you to individually inspect each piece and then to apply some sort of lubricant/corrosion inhibitor that can do nothing but good. The mast is then stored outside on horses (not the live kind) and wrapped with polyfilm. In the spring, you assemble everything using new cotter pins while keeping an eye on everything. Although time consuming, it sure makes sense.

    Batteries and Electronics: Charge the batteries and store them inside where the temp is above 30 deg F. No magic here. I once worked at a gas station and my boss told me to never set a battery on a concrete floor because the mass of the concrete did something wild and wooly that would quickly degrade the battery. I’ve heard that this is an “old wives tale” that has no factual/scientific basis at all. I have never reacted well to facts that are in conflict with a perfectly good myth. I therefore store my batteries on a 2” piece of Styrofoam that insulates them from the basement floor. All electronics should be stored in a warm dry place. The fluctuations of temperature and humidity can cause condensation damage to certain components and degrading of printed circuit boards. Although most pc boards for marine use are coated with a moisture seal, in high volume products this sealing may not be of the best quality. It’s wize to keep the gear cozy and dry.

    Winter Cover: Commonly, there are only two choices here – a tarp over a frame or shrink-wrap. I don’t believe in shrink-wrap and, since you’re properly storing your mast, don’t even think of using it for a ridgepole. There are enough relatively sharp edges on a mast to ruin the best tarp when the snow piles up. The common “blue” poly tarp is a poor choice. Material thickness is only about .003” and I’ve never gotten more than two years use out of one of these $30 cheapies. For about $70 you can get a “farm” quality tarp made from .008” material. The one I have now has been used for three years. This should be its last. The frame itself can be built from scrap wood or 1”x 3” strapping lumber. The only consideration here is to make the ridgepole high enough to let even wet snow slide off. To protect the tarp from any sharp edges, get a roll of “sill-seal” foam strip from your local building supplier and staple it where needed. Tying down the cover is not rocket science. Leave the ends open for ventilation and don’t fasten any of the hold-down lines to your jack stands – tie them from side to side passing under the hull. The whole covering routine shouldn’t take more than an afternoon unless you make it a social event.

    Back to shrink-wrap. On the positive side, it’s relatively cheap and creates a snug fitting cover that keeps just about everything out. It’s also a slippery material that sheds snow and ice like a duck sheds water. You also don’t have to build a frame, own your own tarp, or spend a day putting it all together. Somebody else does all that in a quarter of the time. Unfortunately, there isn’t much more to say that would be positive. While it keeps everything out (except hornets), it also keeps everything in. I’ve worked on shrink wrapped boats on cold sunny days and have always been amazed at how warm it can get on deck. Sounds great doesn’t it – until the sun goes down and it cools off quickly. Day after sunny day this thermal cycling goes on and my gut feel is that it isn’t doing anything much good. Moisture retention is another issue even when the installers put on those hooded vents. During the damp days of early spring it’s most noticeable and sometimes the condensation drips from the inner surface. I’ve seen few installations that have provided the level of ventilation that comes naturally with a tarp over a frame. Tarps “pump” when the wind blows. It’s the nature of the beast and this pumping gets a lot of air moving. This lack of ventilation may have some serious consequences that have not been noticed before now. Several marine surveyors have recently discovered substantial side shell blistering on hulls that have been shrink wrapped all the way down to the waterline. Since these boats were left wrapped for a year or more, this may not be an issue for seasonal storage, but I believe that the conditions for blistering exist when any covering traps moisture. Since blistering is a progressive thing, it may not be wise to even consider poorly ventilated shrink wrapping for seasonal storage. If you’re stuck on shrink wrapping, have the installer place blocks of foam or another suitable material between the lower “belt” and the hull. Use enough of these blocks and the hooded vents to insure that a good volume of air will get in and out. And don’t wrap much below the shear line. I still think that the old tarp is the best choice.

    Jack Stand maintenance: You don’t set’em and forget’em. All the weight of the boat is on the blocks under the keel and large fluctuations in temperature may cause movement in the ground that everything is resting upon. If the blocks sink a bit, the stands start taking the load. I’ve seen hulls “dimpled” by this. Generally, if not left too long, the dimples pop out but sometimes they don’t. If the ground under the keel blocks heaves upwards, the jack stands can’t do their job and the boat sways side to side when the winds blows. Check them regularly but mostly when there has been a major change in temperature like after the first deep frost and after those few warm days that trick you into thinking that spring is just around the corner (when, in reality, it’s way down the pike).

    Note: I’ve pointed out, here and there, that certain statements are clearly my opinion. In reality, everything here is my opinion and you will, no doubt, find many other opinionated old blabbers with different views than mine. Since resigning from the Flat Earth Society, I have, however, become more realistic in my approaches to boat maintenance and welcome any comments, corrections, and additions.

    29 OCT 2002

    S. M. Hall

    Prop Pitch Calculator XLS file

    An XL file that helps calculate correct prop pitch.


    Askew's Mast Step Support Beam

    By Kent Ross

    Before, with Main Bulkhead Removed
    Mast Step 1

    When I purchased ASKEW my 1970 Contessa 26 I was concerned with the attempt someone had made to strengthen the mast step. It appeared that the fiberglass stiffener that the main bulkhead screws to had cracked in the middle due to the compression load of the mast. They had attached aluminum plates to either side and through bolted them, it looked rough, and to make it worse they had taken a black marker and written “Watch Your Head” across it.

    Now this might pass muster on some ships, but not on Mine. After some careful thought I decided to make a laminated beam and install it on the back side of the main bulkhead to support the mast compression load better.

    Step 1- remove the main bulkhead and hanging locker, make a cardboard template of the underside of the deck
    Step 2- Build a laminating form, rip up some oak lumber into ½”x3” stock
    Step 3- Laminate beam using oak strips, epoxy, and lots of clamps (had to be done 2 or 3 laminations at a time letting the epoxy set up before adding more) there were 6 laminations in total, giving a finished size of 3”x3”
    Step 4- Fitting, after reinstalling the main bulkhead, and trimming the tops of the vertical posts to allow the beam to sit tight against the forward face of the plywood, I spent quite a bit of time sanding the beam to a perfect fit with a belt sander
    Step 5-With the beam fit into its place I drove three long stainless screws through the fiberglass stiffener from the aft side into the beam, to temporarily hold it in position.
    Step 6- Cut the corner of the hanging locker bulkhead to accommodate the beam
    Step 7- Add 4 teak knees that were made to purpose from scraps, making sure that the beam is tight to the bottom of the deck. (I used a hydraulic jack and great care to make sure that it was tight)
    Step 8-Varnish to taste.

    The loose wires are after I took the Radar out at the end of the season and are usually fastened up in a corrugated plastic conduit.
    Mast Step 2

    In addition because the former owner had botched the job and severely marked up the fiberglass stiffener that was visible from the main cabin I opted to cover it up with a couple of pieces of teak also supported by made to order teak knees screwed to the main bulkhead.

    After a little bit of varnish it looks great, And more importantly is immensely strong. After a season of sailing I hardly have to adjust the rig, it just doesn’t slacken up very much (before this improvement it had to be adjusted several times per year)

    Looking aft from the head, beam extends the complete width of the cabin Mast Step 3

    Quite an improvement – Looking forward from main cabin
    Mast Step 4

    Rhiannon's Anchor Roller

    Rogers Anchor Roller

    My Experience with the Auto Steer Wind Vane

    By Dennis Dunigan
    AutoSteer systems are made by Hydra Engineering in Falmouth, Cornwall, UK. The unit for the Contessa 26 is the trim-tab version. I chose it because:

    1. I wanted to eliminate the plumbing shop hanging off the stern
    2. I thought that I would lead two scuppers through the transom before heading off shore, and this unit would not interfere with scupper holes.
    3. It is one of the lightest units around.
    4. It seemed to be the least expensive.
    5. It appeared to be simple and bullet-proof.
    6. I had seen some boats with JJ Taylor installed Monitor vanes where JJ Taylor had reinforced the transom with ½” plywood that ran practically the whole width of the transom. I thought that I might have trouble reinforcing the transom or putting big enough backing plates on it.

    I bought the boat in New Hampshire (USA) and planned to sail it to the Chesapeake, but the gear and the pictures that we later requested were a bit slow in arriving and then the welder went on vacation. Anyway, I ran out of time, didn’t sail it down, and, as of August 2002, haven’t extensively used the unit. These comments and observations are not based on any extensive experience.

    1. It’s one of the least expensive units to buy but is probably more expensive and more trouble to install. You need to fabricate a fitting for the top of the rudder as well as a fitting on the stern rail to which you bolt the vane unit. Unless you can do your own welding and metal work, I would not recommend it.
    2. It is easy to fasten and unfasten the unit from the metal plate hanging off the stern rail (four bolts) and easy to lift everything over the rail for storage (except that there is little room in a Contessa to store anything).
    3. To adjust the unit, you turn the knob on the front right of picture below (lower right photo). This rotates the vane. Simple enough, though it might get old leaning over the stern rail to do this. It does however eliminate a lot of cockpit clutter.
    4. During a trip from Oxford, Maryland to Annapolis, Maryland, when the wind was too light to use the unit, I disengaged the connector rod from the rudder head (removed the forward of the two pins) and let this connector rod hang from the vane unit thinking that this would be equivalent to removing the lines of a servo-pendulum unit from the tiller. Big mistake! The round black piece, held in place by the forward pin, unscrewed itself from the connector rod and found its way to the bottom of the bay. Sent letter, pictures, and credit card number to England for replacement parts.
    5. If I had to do it over again, I would probably install a Cape Horn just because it would be easier to install, and I would expect it to be better in light air. All vanes work in heavy air. But, again, I haven’t used the unit extensively and it is a beautifully made piece of machinery.

    In Peter Hancock’s “Sailing Into Sunshine”, the third of his books about cruising in a CO26, he says that he steered eighty percent of the time with a Quartermaster vane which is just a vane in the air attached to the tiller. I think that any vane would steer a Contessa. I would probably try to make a Quartermaster type of vane if I were handier.

    Autosteeer 1 Autosteer 2 Autosteer 3 Autosteer 4

    Mainsheet Traveler aboard Rhiannon

    Mainsheet Traveler aboard L'Epice

    Stainless Outfitters Boarding Ladder

    Ladder Down 1 Ladder Down 2 Ladder Stowed 1 Ladder Stowed 2

    The Contessa 26 Registry is up!

    We’ve added a JJ Taylor Contessa 26 registry to the Contessa Corner. If the information for your boat is listed incorrectly, or you have information that doesn’t appear on our registry, please email us at or post in the Contessa Corner discussion forums. You can access it by clicking on the link in the right sidebar.

    We are hoping to be able to construct a registry of Jeremy Rogers boats as well, as we know there are a great number of these boats plying the waters on both sides of the Atlantic.

    On the registry page we’ve also included a wonderful map (courtesy frappr and Google maps) which will allow us to visually see the places Contessans call home. Be sure to add your boat!

    Stan & Sally Hullett's Blister Repair on Maybe II

    Our First Look at Maybe II
    Hanky Panky 1

    Our first look of the cabin. What a mess!
    Hanky Panky 2

    I started with a grinder, afraid I would miss some, I later sandblasted the hull.
    Hanky Panky 3

    The blasting exposed more blisters. This one went thru the hull.
    Hanky Panky 4

    Wetting out patches with epoxy.
    Hanky Panky 5

    Applying class cloth patches using West System Epoxy.
    Hanky Panky 6

    Re-Named Hanky-Panky
    Hanky Panky 12

    Hanky Panky 11 Hanky Panky 10 Hanky Panky 9 Hanky Panky 8 Hanky Panky 7

    Good Reading


    Good Old Boat is Pocket Cruisers’ choice for the most helpful and interesting sailing periodical. Since most pocket cruisers are quite old by now, we’re a perfect fit. No full page adverts for million dollar boats, just good useable information on keeping that old girl sailing. Go to their website and get a free copy. (Merrill)

    Cruising Books:

    Harbours & Marinas of Prince Edward Island by Sam Cioran is “the first sailing guide to be published for sailors and boaters who want to visit one of the most attractive recreational boating areas in Eastern Canada”. Very complete with everything that you’ll need when planning a cruise. Workbook format for ease of use aboard. Excellent (Merrill)

    Magic of the Swatchways or any others by Maurice Griffiths – cruising yarns around the Thames Estuary mostly in the preWW2 years. Maurice Griffiths was Editor of Yachting Monthly magazine for 40yrs and designed many cruising yachts. (Roger M)

    How to:

    This Old Boat by Don Casey is a primary resource book for those of us who are restoring or just maintaining an older boat. Lots of good stuff for getting professional results and not making those common mistakes. (Newell)

    Boatowner’s Mechanical & Electrical Manual: How to Maintain, Repair, and Improve Your Boat’s Essential Systems By Nigel Calder (Newell)


    Three Years in a Twelve-Foot Boat by Stephen Ladd chronicles the author’s cruise in a 200 pound sailing row boat from North America to Central and South America and then the Caribbean. (Newell)

    Adrift by Steven Callahan is the frightening tale of a man who, after the sinking of his boat, spent 76 days alone on the Atlantic Ocean. (Newell)

    Maiden Voyage by Tania Aebi is the thrilling account of her 2-1/2 year solo sail around aboard her Contessa 26 Varuna. (Kent)

    Vertue XXXV by Humphrey Barton – story of the first Transalantic voyage of the famous Vertue class yachts. (Roger M)

    Sailing out of Silence; Sailing into Sunshine; Sailing Home (just published, not yet read)
    The above three books are by Peter Hancock and recount the tales of a number of years voyaging around the British Isles/Mediterranean/Caribbean on the owner’s Contessa 26 “Kylie” (Roger M) Review: I purchased Sailing into Sunshine. While it is an interesting read, it is not a “how to” book about sailing in the Caribbean. Rather it should be read for the authors reflections on his adventure in a Contessa. I certainly would recommend it for anyone looking for a winter read or for a longer period of time aboard. Newell D.

    “No Barriers” by Neal Peterson The story of Neal Peterson, a Black South African, who built and sailed his 40 foot boat “Stella-r” in a single handed Trans Atlantic race; a story of hardship, racism, apartheid, and how he rose above it to sail his dream! A great read that shows what can be done if you have a goal and work hard towards it. (Kent)


    Riddle of the Sands by Erskine Childers written in 1903(I think) so the language is a bit on the baroque side. It is a tale of cruising and spying in the Frisian Islands. (Roger M)

    Coopers Recommended Reading List for Ocean Voyaging

    In no particular order the following list represents some books I have read that have contributed to my understanding of, and approach to, making long voyages at sea. All of these voyages have in common the simplicity of the boats and the knowledge that the operators are the ones in charge of their fate. Most of them were undertaken without even VHF, let alone SSB, Sat Phones, computers, GPS, Weather fax’s, life rafts, radar and the other stuff that is essential for going to sea to day. Except as noted, voyages were in carvel planked wooden boats.

    Voyaging under sail Eric and Susan Hiscock: Compendium of designs, systems and techniques. The Hiscock’s made a career of making long distance voyages after 1950.

    Atlantic cruise in Wanderer III Hiscock again. One lap around the Atlantic in a wooden 30’ er in the early 60’s.

    Around the world in Wanderer III same Hiscock’s, same boat, longer voyage. WIII is presently owned by a German shipwright and is on her 4th circumnavigation. Surely a record in it’s own right.

    Trekka around the world John Guzzwell: One slow lap around the world in a 20’ boat built by the boat-building author. (He is still in practice in Vancouver somewhere). This passage was a record at the time that might still stand for the LOA. He took about 12 months off to sail back to England with the Smeeton’s but was famously dismasted with them in the Southern Ocean, see below.

    Once is not enough Miles Smeeton: An account of the voyage with his wife and Guzzwell in the southern ocean, capsize, dis-masting, and passage to Chile under jury rig.

    Vertue 35 Humphry Barton: An account of his east to west Trans-Atlantic passage, with one crew, in the mid-1950’s in a 25 foot LOA Vertue class. The author was a prominent surveyor and partner in the design firm Laurent Giles, designers of the Vertue class. Interesting section on recovering from a cabin splitting knockdown while weathering a Hurricane off Bermuda.

    Heavy weather sailiing Adlard Coles: The later editions are edited and updated by Errol Bruce. An anthology of personal experiences and observations of heavy weather conditions with an analysis of the meteorological conditions before and during the storms and the tactics of his and other boats involved.

    Sopranino Patrick Elham & Colin Mudie: Two young English guys sail a 19 foot early ULDB from England to Spain, the Canaries, the Caribbean and up the eastern seaboard (in winter) to New York. Elham became a prominent delivery captain and Mudie is still a practicing Naval Architect.

    50,000 miles under sail Hal Roth: Things to contemplate after one lap of the Pacific in their modified 1970’s production fiberglass cruising boat. Discussion of what works, what is worthless and why. Roth and his wife have, like the Hiscock’s made a career of sailing and writing about it.

    The ocean sailing yacht in a couple of volumes Donald Street who is an accomplished amateur surveyor of coast lines (and boats), professional insurance agent for Lloyds of London and another character who has made a career of boats. These two volumes are similar to the Roth and Cruising Under Sail books but of a later vintage. Author of the popular cruising guides to the Caribbean.

    Venturesome voyages of Voss Captain Voss was I think Canadian or maybe from the US northwest. He was a mariner at the turn of the 19th-20th century. He made several voyages all in small boats, under 30-35 feet. He was a professional mariner, like Slocum, if my memory serves me.

    Deep water & shoal W.A. Robinson: The 1930’s story of a circumnavigation, with one crew, in an Alden design 32-foot ketch.

    The long way & the logical route Bernard Moitissier: Two books by a Frenchman who has attained mystical proportions in the French cruising fraternity. Born in Indochina in the 1920’s he grew up with Asian kids sailing junks. The two books are accounts of long distance, long term voyages, over 100 days each, in a 40’ steel ketch named Joshua, (which is presently a French Maritime Monument) complete with insights in the psychology of solitude.

    The ship would not sail due west & ice bird David Lewis: The first is his account of competing in the first OSTAR against Hassler & Chichester, in again, a Vertue 25 foot class boat. The second, written after his 1972 circumnavigation of Antarctica in a 32-foot steel boat is, in my mind, more of an essay on how not to undertake a passage and is interesting in that light.
    A world of my own Robin Knox-Johnson: An account of his benchmark solo single-handed circumnavigation, undertaken in mid-late ‘60’s. 290 day’s at sea, non-stop in a 32 foot Tahiti Ketch.

    Have anything to add? Let us know!

    A Design for a Mainsheet Traveler

    (or “Horse”, if you prefer*)

    by Merrill Hall

    * What is it they say about English and Americans, two nations divided by a common language? My Concise Oxford English Dictionary says of horse: naut, rope, bar in various uses. A Penguin Dictionary of sailing has: A metal bar fitted athwartships in sailing boats, which retains the mainsheet, and on which it travels. (Incidentally it also gives as a second meaning a sand bar that the tide may leave high and dry). So I will continue with horse as I am too old to change, but of course you are quite right all the catalogues all them travelers now. Peter de Jersey, Guernsey, Channel Islands, UK “Dysca III” CO 26

    Regardless of the name, I wanted one. Every boat that I had ever owned had a traveler. “Lucy Ann” didn’t and I had to remedy the situation. Being involved in the design and manufacturing business helped because, not only could I design the thing, but I had access to local shops that could make the parts at a reasonable price. The design had to be both rugged and aesthetically pleasing and not totally out of character with the Contessa’s lines.

    After a taking a few dimensions, I drew up what appeared to be an attractive design and then modeled it using cardboard and duct tape. The duct tape didn’t hold well so I switched to a combination of hot melt glue, bad language, and single malt. The cardboard model looked great (at least to me) so I fired up the CAD system, finalized the design, and detailed the parts for the shop. “Dirty” Don’s sheet metal shop fabricated the risers, “Fat Andy’s” (who is skinny as a rail) supplied the teak for the cross bar, and the bronze track, with slider and stops, came from an outfit in Portland, ME USA called Traditional Marine Fittings.

    Traveller 1

    Traveller 2

    Traveller 3

    Traveller 4

    For cutting the cross bar camber, I printed a full scale pattern, glued the pattern to the teak, and cut it on a band saw. Final finishing was minimal.

    The track is through bolted to the teak using 1/4-20 bronze flat head screws with nuts and washers recessed on the underside. Attachments to the risers are 1/4-20 stainless steel round head screws, counter bored from the top and bunged.


    1. Riser Brackets (2) #316 stainless steel .125” thick. Heliarc welded. Angled inward at 20 degrees and 11.38” high.

    2. Cross Bar (1) Teak sawn from a 2.25” x 3” x 48” plank. .65” camber.

    3. Track (1) 1” bronze with bronze end stops and bronze car with bronze car stops.

    Total cost: Approx $350 (US)

    Blister and Bumper Discussion

    Mike Yelland—My C26 had a large quantity of small blisters sanded off, and I don’t think even 1/16” was taken off, but I’d like to build it up, maybe more so than original – any suggestions WRT cloth type, weight, dry or wet lay up ? Also I’m thinking of adding a ss ‘bumper’ on the front just in case I were to hit something maybe out at sea. I wonder if a 1” thick piece of rubber would be better, glassed in ?

    Frank Otta—Yeah, but the glass will crack when the rubber is compressed.

    Warren Kimmitt—I am also in the process of refitting and have started on the hull blisters. I sanded all of the bottom paint, and primer off leaving me with osmosis blisters about 3 inches apart over the entire hull. As the hull dries I had planned to grind out the blisters and use the epoxy sealer and filler, then add about 3 coats of epoxy to seal the hygroscopic gel coat (Interlux video method). Yesterday, a fiberglass “expert” came by and told me my best bet was to rent a gelcoat stripper and take all of the gelcoat off. When I poke a hole in the blister, the contents smell like vinegar. He tells me that this is sea water having dissolved my fiberglass resin, and because the manufacturer did not put a barrier coat under the gelcoat, the problem is not merely cosmetic. Apparently with the gelcoat off, and the hull completely dry, the osmosis spots are easy to see and repair as they are powder and fiber. He said it would end up being less work and a better finish. I may follow his advice as it will take only one day to strip the gelcoat. With the gelcoat off I will be able to completely survey the hull and put an epoxy (no blister) bottom on. Apparently some people put a veil (very light cloth) on top of the bare glass and then several coats of epoxy. A fellow with a CO26 near my town has done this and is very happy with the result. He ground his gelcoat off, but said he would use a stripper next time as it was very labour intensive. There are gelcoat repair video’s available from West Systems, Industrial Plastics, and Interlux Paints that are somewhat helpful, but I think I will go the epoxy bottom route as the South Pacific is in my future. I have spoken to perhaps a dozen people about the right way to repair this problem, and consensus is: be sure the hull is “completely dry” before you proceed with any of the above. I plan on 6 months of drying while testing with a moisture probe. I am told that a sealed bottom, gyproc heater and an industrial dehumidifier (rented) can reduce this drying time to one month, but I would be concerned about distorting the hull.

    Steve Stewart—I use automotive body filler for much of the cosmetic work on the boats. It is inexpensive, easy to work with, and sets up in minutes. I have used it under the water line for periods of 5 years and it was in good shape after. Catalina used it to fair cast iron keels on some of their boats. It seems that with an epoxy water barrier over the top it would serve quite well for “small pox”. If you try it be sure to pick up some of the plastic applicators the auto stores sell for applying the stuff, they work great.

    Steve McCrea—Regarding bumpers, I have to say, don’t bother. One of the many reasons I love full-keeled boats so is because the best “bumper” is a few days in the spring with a grinder and West System. Touching wood, (believe it or not, I have sailed Maine all my life, and have managed to only run aground in far-flung destinations, never here, yet, that is), I have yet to bounce off a rock with the Contessa. I expect that I will at some point, and I’m truly unconcerned about the resulting damage. One would be truly hard-pressed to do much to the forward end of a 26’s keel, even at top speed. When I purchased my boat, it was clear that someone had indeed found such a rock, at a decent speed; the resulting damage was little more than a slight dent-shaped gouge. I think perhaps the best thing one can do with a boat new to them is go run it aground, it reminds you that unless you’re in heavy seas, it is generally not a very serious problem. These lovely boats can take far more than we all dare to give them, I’m sure.

    Mike Yelland—I’m not so worried about rocks or grounding, but floating stuff we always hear about. I thunked into something like a 2×4 this summer – no biggie but there are a lot of flotsam out there they say. 1” rubber strips covered with glass should do it.
    Roger Myerscough—Well it seems that this has to be confession time! I received my comeuppance about five years ago when I motored L’Epice at full speed into a rock. As someone who is paid good money not to do this kind of thing this was an occasion of utmost shame and I slunk into the marina under cover of darkness and the haul out and repair was conducted under a cloak of anonymity and disguise! L’Epice, however, did not let me down and the damage was confined to a fist sized gouge at the bottom leading edge of the keel which was just ground out, dried and filled with epoxy, glass etc. This was a really full speed collision with that rock, the boat came to a “grinding halt” and the whole rig shook, so I think that the minimal damage that occurred was a testament to the integrity of, at least, that part of the vessels construction.

    I did the gelcoat peeling routine last year. I opted to have the job done for me for two reasons, lack of time due to work and also because I thought that if I did ever come to sell the boat a professional job may be a little more desirable to a prospective purchaser. There was actually a third reason – laziness! But the first two make a better story! I did however go a little cheap and have the job done by a guy who I have known for many years rather than by one of the established boatyards in the area. This person has been doing the job for many years and I had seen examples of his work, in addition he had just bought a gelcoat peeler and all his previous jobs had been done by grinding/blasting. I also opted to do the job before it was REALLY REQUIRED inasmuch as she had a good number of small blisters all over the hull but it was nothing like as bad as some hulls that I have seen. The work was as follows:

    1. Gelcoat and first skinout peeled.
    2. Hull completely dried. The moisture readings were very low almost as soon as the hull was peeled, an indication that the blistering had not penetrated too far. However we had six weeks of drying – outside and in glorious weather.
    3. A layer of mat and Vinylester 411 Resin 4 Complete fairing of hull with Duratec Vinylester Putty 5 3 Coats of Duratec Vinylester epoxy primer 2 coats Bottom Paint.

    The guy that did the job commented to me and to another CO26 owner at a separate time on the high quality of the lay-up and showed me the differences between L’Epice’s lay-up and that of a couple of other boats that he was doing. He also gave me a five year guarantee and I don’t think he’s left the country yet! Total cost $4300 CDN. I am very pleased with the result, he did a superb job of fairing the hull and I believe, rightly or wrongly that she is a stronger boat than when we started out.

    Contessa 26 Tabernacle

    by Steve Stewart

    Here are the pictures of the mast base and bow roller I worked up. The perforated plate is one of those off the shelf items. I made a cut out to fit the mast base tennon. The plate is secured to the base with 10-24 screws and threads tapped into the mast base. The placement of the strap eyes is very critical in order to allow the foot of the tennon to clear the aft lip of the mortise in the cabin top when the mast is tilted forward. The straps are secured to the cabin top with 1” long #10 sheet metal screws. I established the positions by assembling the mast base and perf. plate without the mast. This allowed me to rock it around to locate the positions of the straps. I use the boom as a lever to raise and lower the rig. The bow roller is a Super Bow Roller available from West Marine. The bracket to fix it to the bow pulpit was home make out of 1/4” aluminum. The roller allows me to raise and lower the mast by myself even though I must stop and go forward to lift the steaming light over the roller at one point in the process.

    Groop Questions and Steve’s Answers:

    #1: it appears that you are using the same stainless base as is sold for Catalina 22 refits???

    Answer: No, It is larger. The C22 uses a smaller plate with 4 holes to the side. I looked on the Web for a source for the plates but had no luck. They are available from Svenson’s Boat Works in Alameda, Ca. But I don’t know how much they cost.

    #2: What holds the mast to the boat as it is raised into position…where is the hinge?....certainly the tennon alone would slip out of the mortise as shallow angles in the process…..

    Answer: If you look carefully at the pictures you will notice that the two shackles form the hinge.

    #3: When you raise the mast using the boom as a gin pole, how do you control the potential side to side sway as it is going up

    Answer: Two sets of guys are necessary. The first is set to the end of the boom to prevent it from falling off. The second set to the top of the mast or perhaps better to the spreaders to prevent the mast from yawing (I used two halyards). These must pivot at the hinge point of the mast. It is somewhat difficult to explain. The best thing I can recommend is to pick up a copy of “The Sailors Sketchbook” by Bruce Bingham N.A. published by Seven Seas Press, ISBN 0-915160-55-2. This is a wonderful book with great illustrations that explains all the complexities of rigging the guys and many other options for outfitting and decorating your “Yacht”. If it offered nothing else, it is great eye candy for a sailor. The author is the designer of the 20’ Flicka, that “little dutch shoe” as my wife calls it, made by Pacific Seacraft.

    Mast Tabernacle 1

    Mast Tabernacle 2

    Mast Tabernacle 3

    Refitting Birgitta - Part II

    By Nigel Charlesworth
    As one gets older so the letters on the dials have to get bigger.

    Birgitta came with a small barometer, an even smaller clock, a compass that had a bubble in it … and so it went on. All were ditched in the nearest dumpster along with a whole shack of other things including a Lavac-vac-less-less-is-less and a very dead gimbled cooker that shed rust over Mallaig kippers (another story).

    Big letters, consistancy and quality are what count when you are miles from anywhere – we’re talking both coastal and ocean sailing – If it’s there, it has to work and work and work. If it’s electronic then there has to be a backup.

    Today is today so let’s chuck the plastic sextant overboard and replace it with a Russian WWII brass one c/w H/W box (It’s a reserve item) ... The chart table needs a fixed GPS so lets install what the UK RNLI use (Royal National Lifeboat Institution – a charity of volunteers who man the lifeboat around our coastal waters at all times and in all conditions) – Furuno GP30 – Easy to use and BIG letters. A 6” diameter mechanical Barometer, a quartz clock – Plastimo. Why a barometer and clock? Because time and hectopascal differences tell you what’s going to happen next.
    For steering (and being an absolute nutter) I take great joy in single-handing … Plastimo Contest Compass because it has big numbers and is simply the best steering compass that I’ve come across for night helming (twin lights).

    For coastal sailing I ditched the Navico depth sounder and replaced it with a Nasa Clipper. Changing the transducer was a pain and back filling the void with one-part polysulfide sealant was another pain. Both are done and both work. (Having now got an accurate depth sounder with an alarm, I’ve run aground more times than ever I did when I didn’t have an alarm!).

    One of the problems we have in the UK is listening to the weather forecast. It is broadcast at 0535 and 0150 local time …. Alarm clocks always seem to fail for the first forecast because we are still supping ale at the 2nd forecast time – and we always miss it … so a Furuno Navtex (plus GPS repeater) was installed (Big letters too!) – Best Buy ***** (But see below).

    The chart table is important too, but the halogen light at night upset the helmsman’s vision in the cockpit so a gimbaled oil lamp was installed. At night it’s normally set on low and can be adjusted to chart visible quality – Trouble with halogen lights is that as they are dimmed so chart colors change, and that’s not a good thing!

    Alone is alone is alone. So we need something to help us steer both by the stars and the wind. A CO26 is one of a few boats that when the sails are balanced we can forget the tiller and steer by just adjusting the main sheet. So for motor sailing an Autohelm 800 was acquired and for proper sailing by the wind a Cap(e) Horn Windvane was installed. (The latter was after much research on other people’s boats … [Another story, because it was a toss up between Yves Gelenas’s Cap(e) Horn and Foerthmann’s ‘Pacific Lite’ – The final downwind tests put Pacific Lite into the trashcan ]) – The Cape Horn Windvane, which replaced my Bill Belcher wooden homemade wind vane is probably the best purchase that I have ever made for Birgitta apart from the above which are equally the best.

    The last item on this list is the Waeco Fridge/Freezer. It’s socket doubles with a cell phone recharger. The fridge/freezer only works when the engine is on as Birgitta’s sole power is an 85A/H single battery. Next year this will be doubled to 2×85A/H batteries linked by a Maplin ‘project’ ‘home made’ 3 stage 1, 2 or both smart battery charger.

    Last July in the middle of nowhere the switchboard caught fire when a wire fell out and shorted the battery across an unfused link. The switchboard was partially repaired in August and will be fully restored this coming winter. (A electrical circuit diagram in DXF format is available via email.)
    One of my recurring problems is anodes. The Yanmar 1GM10 has its own internal anode. The engine is attached to the gearbox, is linked to the propshaft and is attached to the bronze 13×12 Euro-prop. The whole is attached to an external zinc anode 2’ away from the prop. The engine zinc lasts about nine months and the external zinc fails after about 4 months as it gets encrusted in a 1/4” white crust … (Any clues?)
    Back to electrics, all joints which were previously twisted joints have been replaced with crimped joints within a heat shrink wrap – Sorry, forgot to say that all wires that were volt drop susceptible have been replaced with oversized tinned copper with just sufficient strands so that capillary action (and degradation) doesn’t occur.

    There are still a few electrical problems left that need expert help: the main isolator switch has a current leak; there appears to be tracking over its plastic surface caused by salt water contamination – Boeshield might be an answer, but then surface contamination might affect it too – Perhaps weekly cleaning and re-Boeshielding might be better.

    Yes, I’ve left out Radio. I’m still working out when is the best time to switch from VHF to DSC … Current thoughts are about purchasing an ICOM something because it has big numbers too.

    Lastly, backups: The only backups that I have are an alarm clock, a hand bearing compass, a lead-line and a Garmin 12 with 20 zillion AA batteries.

    Single handed sailing sorts you out. The above list of gadgetry is minimalistic. There’s no B&G wind whasits at the top of the mast, there is just an offset windex which is lit by night by either the tricolor or the all-round white. Tell tales are set on the capping shrouds as is a streamer set on the windvane.
    That’s it for now, Part III follows next week and will tell the story of how the mast was re-set and pre-bend brought into play …

    Refitting Birgitta - Part I

    By Nigel Charlesworth

    For those of you who don’t know me, I’m Nigel Charlesworth and I sail Birgitta out of the Menai Strait, Wales, UK. Birgitta was supposedly built in 1972 by Jeremy Rogers, but looking at Peter de Jersey’s owners list, I think that she may have been built in 1971 – but the build date doesn’t matter. I bought her in a fair state in the summer of 1997 for USD 9,500. (All prices are given in USD and the exchange rate used is 1.40) and sailed her till something broke. The summer sailing season was intended to act as a shakedown so that the winter’s projects could be carefully thought out …. Well, that was the plan. The task list grew as the years went by in spite of doing stacks each winter – and it’s still big, but now all that is left are mainly the cosmetics.

    Here’s a list of what has been done with prices:
    New prop shaft : 1” dia, USD 154 (includes VAT ie Sales Tax @ 17.5% – as do all prices). The prop shaft was replaced because it was worn at the Tufnol bearing and at the stuffing box (ie nut). Tufnol was used rather than a cutlass bearing because there wasn’t room to drill water inlet holes for the water lubrication required in a nitrile lined cutlass. It took time to locate the Tufnol manufacturer and then have the Tufnol turned to fit the housing. (Tufnol USD 14; Turning USD 7) – after 4 years there appears to be no wear to either the shaft or the housing. The stuffing box originally dripped when static at a rate of 1 drip per 5 seconds. When disassembled it was found that it had just two rings of whatever it was that was used. It was repacked with sooper-dooper Teflon compressible something. Four offset and mitred rings were used …. Now I can slacken the nut off till it almost falls off and it doesn’t drip anymore – This may be bad news as stuffing boxes are designed to drip, but the zinc-rich-saponified grease from the grease gun comes though just nicely.

    The rudder bearings were a disaster. There are two transom fittings, one at the top and the 2nd about 3’ down. The rudder bottom has a pintail which fits into a bronze keel housing. Everything was worn out – the bearer holes were oval: Deformed S/S nuts and bolts held the rudder strap gudgeons to the transom fittings. The pintail was rusting and exuding a kind of black paste – I won’t go into it now but the bottom of the rudder was cut into to reveal a bodged pintail made out of a mixture of metals and was corroding apace because of electrolysis … and the bottom of the rudder had polyester hydrolysis. To cut a long story short the top two nuts and bolts were replaced by a 316 S/S long bolt, washer and split pin; the fittings were re-sleeved with the correct bronze and a new bronze pintail turned and recast.

    The cockpit in 1997 drained into the bilge. The sole was raised 1” above sea-level with 2 persons in the cockpit and crossover drains from nylon ball valve interceptors leading to bronze seacocks were introduced.

    All the above now work perfectly.

    I’ve just completed the soundproofing of the engine housing (The engine is a noisy Yanmar 1GM10) – It’s now just audible – but still have a bit more work to do on this as I think that I can make it just about silent. I’m using a combination laminate of vinyl and cushion foam floor tiles for this because of what I’ve learned from specializing in acoustics over many years (Another long story!)

    Part 2 of many parts will follow