Contessa 26 outside By  Judith Wright Chopra
I chose a downright Contessa day to sail the 26 for this review. Lake Ontario in mid-September was releasing the frustrations of airless August, and at the docks and moorings of the Boulevard Club in Toronto, yachts were being tossed and caught on their lines like bucking broncos.
Soon, motoring out beyond the breakwater, the heavy motion eased and as we hoisted sails smartly, in spite of the wild activity beneath us, it ceased altogether. We were no longer climbing the faces of waves and sliding down their backs; we were slicing through them-carving a path smoothly and powerfully. It was a lively illustration of a vessel at its best, demonstrating the features that distinguish it from the crowd. The Contessa 26 is built to track in heavy weather; to make light work of ocean sailing; to be seaworthy and stable under any conditions. Sailors who make those demands on their boats have made it a classic. J.J. Taylor and Sons Ltd. have built 316 Contessa 26s in Canada. The Taylor company has been building boats in Canada since 1904, including the World War II Fairmile minesweepers. 

Designed by David Sadler, the two Contessa molds, the 26 and the 32, were brought to Canada in the early 1970s. Although J.J. Taylor ownership has changed hands since then, eight of the original 10 craftsmen in the shop have stayed, building the same boats in substantially the same way, with a few significant
improvements in their features. J. Taylor's owner since 1979, Gary Bannister, has involved Contessa owners in design improvements. Recently, he invited Contessa 32 owners and prospective buyers to the Rexdale, Ontario, plant to see a mock-up lofting of the company's next model, a 36. Designer Dieter Empacher returned to his Marblehead, Massachusetts, studio with their comments and suggestions to incorporate in the new design.

Contessa 26 InsideThe 26's full-keel modified folkboat design has been updated and adjusted in the past two years, largely following the recommendations of owners, but its integrity has not been compromised. The new features on the latest edition of the J.J. Taylor Contessa 26 are a good example of the type of changes the design has undergone. The deck was redesigned in 1983 to allow the maximum five feet, eight inches of head room to extend farther into the cabin and to make room for an anchor locker in the bow. The headliner was also altered to allow easier access to the genoa track through- bolts. The 1984 26, built on a new interior mold after February , has shelves set into the V berth wider counters in the galley ( which also makes room for the gimbaled stove option) and the pipes leading from the head to the holding tank are covered.

These and other small adjustments are important enough improvements in an already well-loved design that two Contessa 26 owners have ordered new 26s for this season. Not willing to change designs or Jose any of the sailing and construction features of their first 26s, they have chosen to opt for the new features available on the 1984 boat. Says Jack Hernick of Toronto, "It's the safest boat I could have on Lake On­tario or the Atlantic. With a roller-furl­ing jib I can singlehand my present boat in a 20-knot blow. The new boat, with the lead keel (earlier 26s had cast-iron keels), will be even stiffer. Now I can have more headroom, an anchor locker and a bigger engine." (Hemick has chosen a Bukh eight hp engine option, although the standard engine is a Faryman seven hp. J.J. Taylor is currently trying out both as alternatives to the original British Petter engine which some owners found difficult to main­tain.) 

Contessa 26 OutsideHeadroom is mentioned with some frequency when discussing the 26 it. Doesn't have comfortable standing headroom for anyone over five foot seven. What it does feature belowdecks, however, are compact accommodations appropriate for a narrow-beamed boat and suitable for sailors who plan to sail a lot as opposed to entertaining and long-term living aboard. 
A fairly standard arrangement is found below. Quarterberths are located to port and starboard, and owners re­port that adults-even those who don't have headroom-find them adequate for a good night's sleep. Behind the pad­ded, angled backrests ( quite narrow but, again, not designed for entertaining aboard) are shelves and Jockers with sliding doors. In the main saloon area, the large opening hatch is a new feature for light and ventilation. 
Moving forward, the galley, with stainless steel sink, freshwater pump and optional two-burner stove, is to port. The sink is narrow, but deep enough to be practical, and one of the 26's two opening ports is sensibly located above the counter. To starboard a chart table tops the foam-insulated icebox. A shelf large enough to hold navigation tools, books and charts is tucked into the hull next to the table, and the second opening port is located above the shelf. 

Behind the main bulkhead to port is a hanging locker, and to starboard is the enclosed head with a folding teak door and deck vent. The 26's forecabin con­tains the familiar V berth with cushion insert and opening hatch and, in the 1984 models, shelves built into the inte­rior liner. All of these interior fittings are well-finished, made of quality ma­terials that will take wear and yet be easy to maintain. Under the V berth and saloon sole are the holding and water tanks, and access to the hull. The 1984 26 includes a teak and holly floor-a big improve­ment, Hernick says, on those awkward pieces of carpet he used on his first Contessa. In general, the boat has just enough teak to create an impression of warmth without making the interior seem closed in and without requiring owners to spend more time maintaining woodwork than they do sailing.  Richard Herring, whose 26 Judy Bannister ( J.J. Taylor’s marketing  manager) and I sailed that Blustery September day, has the 26 owner’s characteristic loyalty to the design. Although nothing about the Contessa suggests racing or speed as a design priority, Herring says he found that in light air, with a super-light 170-per drifter, he could frequently take 1st or 2nd in his harbor City Yacht Club races on Georgian Bay. Learning to maneuver the 26 under motor posed a problem for one owner I spoke to, who commented that he avoided reverse whenever possible. The tortuous maneuvering required when docking and picking up our mooring on the day I sailed the Contessa, however revealed no such difficulty. Gary Bannister explained that the size of the 26’s rudder requires hemsmen to perfect a delicate technique, learning to make just the right adjustment without sending the vessel in the wrong direction. 

Contessa 26 OutsideWith ocean sailing as its designer's priority, the 26's through-hull fittings are all bronze; its hand laid-up fiberglass construction exceeds Lloyd's spec­ifications; and its hull-deck joint is riv­eted every inch with stainless steel pop rivets. These features, J.J. Taylor says, make saltwater corrosion and holes in the hull less likely, and combined with the boat's quality of finish are the rea­sons most owners say they buy Contessa’s more for the way they are built than for any other single factor. In the cockpit, which is where Contessa 26 sailors expect to spend most of their time aboard, there's comfortable seating for four or five adults, more lockers for stowage and, for the short­handed sailor, halyards led aft. Teak grab rails, double lifelines and double­railed stern pushpit and bow pulpit attest to the fact that the boat's emphasis is on heavy weather safety. The Contessa 26 standard price doesn't include some of the features a cruising family or couple will require, such as the stove and dinette which are optional. With those exceptions, the standard boat (at $30,900 or $33,900 including sails two headsails, mainsail and mainsail cover docklines, fenders, anchor, rode and chain) would require little or no change and has complete standing and running rigging, including internal halyards, split backstay, Merri­man toggled turnbuckles, mainsheet blocks and genoa cars. 

This Contessa has inspired fierce loy­alty in owners who appreciate its pri­mary design features of strength and stability-and particularly among men and women who want a boat they can single-hand. It is also a graceful boat with a pedigree: in England it is known as the training vessel of the Royal Ma­rines and as an OSTAR competitor. Those who put a premium on a vessel that will allow them to sail anywhere, in any weather, will know they have found their boat.

Caption: When the wind and waves send racer/cruisers looking for shelter, that's Contessa weather.
 
Originally published in Canadian Yachting’s April 1984 issue. 
 
Specifications:
Sail
LOA...............25 ft 6 in              
LWL................21 ft              
Beam..............7 ft 6 in            
Draft................4 ft                  
Displacement ..........5,400 LBS
Ballast.................2,300 ft 
Sail Area..............304 ft2
Tankage:
Water...................30 gal 
Head....................20 gal
Engine..................Faryman 7- hp single- cylinder diesel 
Head.....................Brydon
Model...................Contessa 26
Model Year............1984
 
 
 

Related Articles

CY Virtual Video Boat Tours

Virtual Boat ToursWe all love boats and nothing can break us up! So, what better way to spend our time than looking at interesting boats and going aboard in a virtual ride or tour. We have asked our friends at various dealers and manufacturers to help us assemble a one-stop online resource to experience some of the most interesting boats on the market today. Where the CY Team has done a review, we connect you to that expert viewpoint. If you can’t go boating, you can almost experience the thrill via your screen. Not quite the same, but we hope you enjoy our fine tour collection.

 

Read more about the CY Virtual Boat Tours....................

 

 

 

Neptunus 750 Enclosed FlybridgeBy Andy Adams

In the February 2020 issue of Canadian Yachting magazine, we featured our review of the Neptunus 750 Flybridge, the company’s flagship yacht. The boat had been bought by a gentleman from Newfoundland and we reviewed it just before it was to be delivered.

We learned later that the boat did not leave immediately after delivery. The story is that the new owner reconsidered the beautiful big open flying bridge layout. 

Read More

Destinations

  • Prev
On Friday, April 2 at 7 pm ET on TVO and streaming anytime after that on tvo.org and the TVO ...
Salt Spring Island, the largest among the Gulf Islands, has a certain mystique—much of it having to ...
Located in Lake Huron, the internationally significant Manitoulin Island is the largest freshwater ...
In Part I, Sheryl Shard ended the story at June and the start of Hurricane Season when they were ...
You likely aren’t quite ready to travel yet, but we have our fingers crossed that we can all fly ...
Ontario’s best-kept secret, the Trent-Severn Waterway National Historic site holds the key to ...
Located on the sunny south shore of the harbour, the Marina is on pilings over the water, offering ...
The approach to the Chemainus Municipal Dock from Stuart Channel is straightforward and is ...
I leaned my head back into the water and floated easily. Having spent my childhood playing in ...
History: right after gym and just before chemistry class. Fifty minutes of naming the prime ...

View of Ganges HarbourText and Photos by Marianne Scott

Salt Spring Island, the largest among the Gulf Islands, has a certain mystique—much of it having to do with locally produced food. It started thousands of years ago when the Coast Salish First Nations used the Island as a summer camp, collecting wild foods while also processing the abundant sea food for winter sustenance.

In the 19th century, five main groups settled here and began farming: Northern Europeans—some of whom had abandoned gold rush dreams; Hawaiians brought here by Vancouver Island’s second governor, James Douglas...

Read More

Lifestyle

  • Prev
As a life-long marine journalist, it has often occurred to me, that it’s a big ...
Here’s a dramatic photo of the Week from Jansin Ozkur. “Walking along the lake Ontario, noticed the ...
At the end of summer 2020, amid all the restrictions, we were able to shoot our film, Generations ...
Last issue, Mike Wheatstone, our Boat Nerd started a conversation about solar power. While many of ...
Oak Bay Marina achieves eco-certification in Clean Marine BC, which helps boating facilities to ...
OK, stop the presses. This photo just came in from Beacon Bay. Clearly those folks know how to get ...
Back in the day, the publisher of a magazine would receive a bound copy of the year’s monthly ...
Boaters on BC’s West Coast have heard the story of the garbage pickers of the Marine debris removal ...
Skipper John “Drew” Plominski is hoping that lightning doesn’t strike twice. Plominski, whose boat ...
The Association provides a forum for exchanging information, tips and access an advocate on behalf ...

National Invasive Species Awareness WeekThis week, Feb. 22-26, is National Invasive Species Awareness Week and the American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC) released an animated video to raise awareness about the threat Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) pose to the boating industry and what manufacturers can do to limit the spread.

AIS can damage ecosystems and negatively impact fishing and the future of the boating lifestyle. Boat access to many aquatic resources has been limited due to AIS concerns and AIS infestation can result in serious damage to boats and their components. Invasive plant life can foul propellers,

Read More

A Freedom Boat Club StafferAs a life-long marine journalist, it has often occurred to me, that it’s a big leap to lay out the cash, (especially for those with no previous boating experience), to try it out. How does someone even know that they will like boating it if they haven’t tried it? 

Well, joining a boat club, or a yacht club that has boats available for members to use, can get you started without the big financial commitment and with the support of the club’s education and resources. Try before you buy.


Read More

DIY & How to

  • Prev
Insurance may not be exciting but it is important. Check at launch. We all know we need to spend ...
Before you launch: Inspect all around the hose clamps for rust and replace as necessary. Double ...
Slovenian manufacturer, Elan, has introduced the concept of regenerative electrical auxiliary power ...
There is nothing worse than your boat trailer breaking down while on the way to a great weekend. ...
When the boat is in the water, It’s easy to take for granted the parts of the boat that are under ...
The COVID-19 pandemic has created unexpected changes in our lives, impacting everything from ...
Boating boomed in 2020, with scads of first-time boat buyers chasing respite from the pandemic. Now ...
For anyone cruising on a boat that will be away from the dock for any appreciable time keeping the ...
Styles, shapes, pitch and diameter of props are widely discussed on online boating forums, YouTube ...
There’s nothing worse than wondering how much fuel you have on board. You’re left wondering how ...

So You Want to be a Better BoaterBy Amy Hogue

The COVID-19 pandemic has created unexpected changes in our lives, impacting everything from boating to vacations and these trends look to continue into the future.

In summer 2020, those trends were seen in the unprecedented numbers of boaters flocking to marinas and boat launches seeking a COVID-friendly vacation on the water. While the waterways were more crowded than ever before, the boaters you were likely to encounter weren’t necessarily in the know for boating etiquette, or marine know-how.

 

Read More

 

  

ask andrew bilge pumps 1 400By Andrew McDonald

One of the items that gets taken for granted during the spring prep work is the bilge pumping system; it’s one of those on-board features that many of us assume is in working order….until something goes wrong.

Water can get into your boat in a variety of ways: a leaking shaft-seal (stuffing box), ripped or torn bellows, a leaking through-hull, a leaking tank aboard, windows, hatches and deck fittings that aren’t sealed - the list goes on. The catch-22 when considering maintenance in the pre-season, is that you may not know where a leak may start or develop until the boat is in the water and only then do you find that water is getting inside.

Read More

 

  

Marine Products

  • Prev
The YETI Tundra 65 is their most versatile cooler, just as adept at keeping your catch cold as it ...
A good night’s sleep on the boat is a great pleasure indeed and custom bedding from SeaSwag ...
When bright white light is needed on board, a compact Sea Hawk-350 LED Light Bar from Hella marine ...
First time in many years I was lucky enough to test both the GMC Canyon and the Chevrolet Colorado ...
Unlike cars and homes, boats can be difficult spaces in which to create a quality listening ...
Premium Lithium Power Anywhere, Anytime. Expion360 produces advanced premium lithium batteries for ...
Yamaha Motor Canada has launched an upgraded 4.2-litre V MAX SHO® outboard, offering a full 40 ...
Holidays are perfect times for daydreaming and anyone who loves boating, will love ...
Bringing back a boat's showroom shine is fast and easy with the award-winning World's Best Dual ...

News

  • Prev
According to the Nova Scotia Tourism website, Theodore Tugboat began his travels in 1989, created ...
On Monday, March 29th, fire broke out in a group of power boats stored on the hard and still under ...
On April 1st, 2021, Wright’s Marina joined two other small, independent facilities: Hindson Marina ...
Our new feature is CYOB’s look at boats and food – two words that are almost synonyms! That’s a lot ...
This Maritime Radio ONLINE SELF-STUDY program is a completely integrated version of Canadian Power ...
Finding the right PFD can seem like a daunting task and extends beyond finding one that fits and ...
I start off my column by saying Wow!!  What a market! I have never seen such panic buying in ...
Yanmar Holdings has entered into a collaboration with design house “fragment design”, headed by ...
From January 25 - March 31, Parks Canada is asking the public to read its Draft Management ...
As the most innovative family-run boatyard in Europe, time and again Frauscher's premium ...

invasive species video 400AIS can damage ecosystems and negatively impact fishing and the future of the boating lifestyle. Boat access to many aquatic resources has been limited due to AIS concerns and AIS infestation can result in serious damage to boats and their components. Invasive plant life can foul propellers, jam impellors and cause bilge pump failure. Mussels can attach to boats and negatively affect performance, attach to engines causing component failure, and obstruct water lines causing system failure.

Read more....

 

 

fibreglass recycling part2 400 By Jay Weaver

Interest in finding alternative uses for used fiberglass can spark creativity and innovation. For example, a partnership involving the US, Ireland, and Northern Ireland Universities called Re-wind developed some interesting civil engineering project ideas for reusing and repurposing fiberglass blades. These include using decommissioned blades in civil engineering projects as part of powerline structures or towers, or roofs for emergency or affordable housing. In Northern Ireland, Re-wind is also considering piloting them for use in pedestrian bridges along greenways.

Read More about Fiberglass recycling....

 

 

Theodore TugboatAccording to the Nova Scotia Tourism website, Theodore Tugboat began his travels in 1989, created by Cochran Entertainment, with master model maker Fred Allen, as a children's television series inspired by the Halifax Waterfront and the stories Andrew Cochran would tell his son at bedtime. The CBC television program Theodore Tugboat ran from 1993 to 2001.

A working replica of Theodore, named "Theodore Too" was built in Dayspring, Nova Scotia. Designed by Fred Allen and Marius Lengkeek, the tug was launched on April 19, 2000 at the Snyder Shipyard. After a successful tour of several North America ports, it made its home in Halifax. 

Read More