When Emmanuel Flatten began looking for a cruising sailboat, he had no idea he’d end up with a 25-footer — and a Hall of Famer, at that. The vision was to own a comfortable, safe, motorsailing cruiser for seasonal island hopping, and he says he’d been looking at boats in the 30-foot range, including a trimaran. The size and price, however, kept getting in the way.
“The idea of paying hefty slip fees every month was also discouraging,” says Flatten, a 28-year-old Comfort, Texas, computer consultant. “So I started researching trailerable boats in my area.”
Enter the MacGregor 25, a trailerable cruising sloop designed for two that seemed a perfect fit. “I began madly researching anything MacGregor and was pleased with what I read,” says Flatten. “[The] safe, easy, tough little island-hopper came to mind over and over.”
About a year ago, Flatten found a 1983 MacGregor 25 for sale in Dallas. He drove 300 miles to look at it, and, “She followed us home,” says Flatten. In fact, he and his wife, Amy, just had to stop at a lake on the way home and launch their new prize.
Flatten paid $3,500 for the MacGregor, which included an 8-hp outboard, a heavyduty trailer and a set of sails. “I thought it was a steal,” he says.
The layout also helped sell the couple on the boat. “I loved the idea of camping on the water, and the cabin is spacious,” says Flatten. “MacGregor’s pop-top really got me. I am 6 feet tall and don’t much like crouching all the time.” Safety features such as foam flotation and the ability to self-right helped seal the deal.
Designed in 1973 by small-boat maven Roger MacGregor, the 25-footer has proven to be a successful design. Innovations included a retracting keel, pop-up rudder, that pop-up cabin top and an easy mast-stepping system, all of which enhanced its trailer-cruiser mission. The MacGregor 25 was in production for 14 years, with 7,000 boats sold. It was inducted into the American Sailboat Hall of Fame in 2000 for “fostering new enjoyment and growth in the sport of sailing through excellent design.”
The foredeck is large, lifelines and shrouds offer hand holds, and the cockpit is spacious. “The swing keel makes running aground an inconvenience rather than a disaster, allowing the wayward sailor to crank it up and sail back on course,” says Flatten.
The Flattens have been busy making modifications inside and out to add cruising comforts and needed storage. They tore out the head compartment’s forward bulkhead to expand the V-berth to a full 6 feet by 8 feet. They built a cockpit lazarette for the fuel tank and other gear, and added a bowsprit (with a mermaid figurehead) that keeps the anchor and rode ready for use.
The couple plan to take the boat — renamed Comfort Rose — to Florida to cruise the coast and the Bahamas this spring. “I believe we are right on schedule and will be fully prepared for our vision of the Bahamas in May,” says Flatten. “And, of course, the ability to hop over to the nearest lake for the weekend will continue to occupy much of our spare time.”
Flatten, who says he’s been sailing since he was a teen, relishes being on the water, away from the hustle and bustle, moving only as fast as the wind allows. “You can’t rush the wind,” he says. “To me, the sailboat represents the spirit of freedom, mobility and simplicity of life. This is my first boat, and I was pleased to see that it’s in the Hall of Fame. Looks like I made the right choice.”
The MacGregor 25 rides an all-fiberglass hull with an unusual shape. The tall bow and moderate entry give way to a long, flat underbody designed to deliver enough sailing speed for surfing and planing. The 625- pound retracting keel — cranked up and down with a handle in the cabin — provides stability and upwind performance. There’s also a pop-up rudder. With its simple sloop rig, the MacGregor 25 can be handled by one person and is a good boat for those getting started in sailing. A genoa and spinnaker are available for advanced sailors, and the boat is often raced in PHRF fleets (rating 96).
Below, the 25-footer can sleep four in separate semiprivate areas, and there’s an enclosed head compartment. The master cabin is the forward V-berth. There’s a long settee to port, extending into the main part of the cabin. Across from it is a dining table with bench seats. The small galley area is conveniently placed at the foot of the companionway, to port, and there are storage areas in the quarter berths beneath the cockpit.
On deck, the cockpit can seat six. There’s tiller steering, and sail-trimming lines are led aft for easy handling. The narrow side decks are ringed by lifelines, and there’s a bow pulpit for anchoring and headsail work.
Because so many MacGregor 25s have been sold over the years, they’re easily found in the classifieds and on the Internet. They’re not confined to a region or two, either, but can be found from eastern Canada to the American Southwest. Moderately priced when new, used versions generally fetch around $5,000 (less for some older boats and those needing work) to around $10,000 for later or upgraded models. A sampling of boats found on the Web includes a “well taken care of” model in Nova Scotia, vintage 1984, priced at $9,000 (U.S.) with many extras, including genoa and spinnaker, 8-hp outboard and trailer. A 1983 model used extensively for round-thebuoys racing was selling in Oregon for $7,995. Equipment included a 9.9-hp outboard with low hours and a trailer. A 1980 model in Washington, “in great shape,” was selling for $7,000, including a 9.4-hp 4-stroke outboard, mainsail, jib, genoa and spinnaker, as well as upgrades to the cabin interior, standing rigging and trailer. In Missouri, a “clean family cruiser” was selling for $5,900 with a full set of sails (including genoa, jib and spinnaker), a 9.9-hp outboard and a trailer.
Steve Knauth is a contributing writer for Soundings Magazine. This article originally appeared in the March 2007 issue.