What are the changes you have made compared to a stock 26M?
Wow, this is going to take a while! I guess the easiest way will be to start at the bottom of the keel, yes I did say keel, and work our way up from there.
As many of you know, the Pearl has a 430# lead bulb hanging on the bottom of a dramatically reinforced daggerboard. The daggerboard weighs 77#, so the total package is just over 500#. The skins of the board are double the normal thickness, and the internal reinforcement is 38 layers of 6" wide unidirectional glass, rather than the standard tapered 5 layer 3" unidirectional reinforcements. We also had to put aluminum blocks in the mold before we sprayed the Gel Coat so that we had molded in recesses at the bottom for the keel hanger brackets, and at the top for the keel lifting hardware. We later tested the board to over 1000# of lateral load, without any signs of stress at all (except for my stress as we were pulling on it with a huge forklift!). The keel is lifted using a ball bearing 6 to 1 block and tackle in a heavy box over the daggerboard opening in the deck, which then leads back to the Starboard sheet winch. We have upgraded the winches to Lewmar 14 AST self tailing winches for convenience while handling the jib, but mostly to make the task of pulling up a 500# keel easier. After some initial challenges with excessive movement fore and aft as the boat went through waves, and an inconvenient system for locking the keel up or down, we now have the keel working well.
The hull structure is not significantly different than stock, we removed a little glass just above the waterline in the forward sections, but since we were planning on putting a 70HP engine on the Pearl (like most of our standard boats), we didn't want to lighten things up too much.
We built the boat without the standard 300# of fixed ballast in the bottom of the water tank. With 500# of keel weight, it was unnecessary and we were trying to remove enough weight from the basic boat to offset the weight added by the keel.
With the added load of 500# pulling around on the daggerboard trunk, and without the reinforcement of the fixed ballast around the trunk, we significantly reinforced the trunk, especially in the area of the ballast tank top, as this is where the top of the daggerboard is when the keel is down.
We have lightened interior parts as much as possible, the galley layup was lightened by about 8#, and after the boat arrived in Seattle, we replaced the head bulkheads and some other plywood parts with a lightweight composite material covered in real Teak veneer, this, combined with leaving off the head door, saved 23#.
I have installed 6 recessed halogen lights with dimmers into the upper liner as the main cabin lights, this was possible because I installed the wiring for them hidden in the upper liner before it was bonded to the deck.
As part of our goal to have real cruising comfort we installed a 15" LCD TV with built in DVD player and satellite TV receiver. Cheryl wanted a great stereo, which was accomplished with a Clarion CMD 4 deck driving 6.5" component speakers and 2 10" subwoofers through a pair of 600 watt amps. The result is awesome, with the credit for the design of the stereo system going to Brian, our shop manager and audio specialist. Give us a call to arrange to have your boat Brianized with a cool stereo!
We worked really hard to take weight out of the deck. All of the hatches are lighter than standard layup, the cockpit seat backs are lighter than normal, and some reinforcements have been reduced or relocated to areas where we knew we would be adding custom hardware. The upper liner in the center area of the boat is also thinner than standard. All of these things combined to save over 80#.
The only change to the steering system of the boat is the addition of our adjustable rudder crossbar, this allows precise adjustment of the rudders to be sure they are exactly parallel to each other, Cheryl seems pretty happy with the steering and rudder feel, and if she thinks it's OK it must be good! Of course we also have our Custom Steering system so we can easily disconnect the engine while sailing, this is just so important for both steering feel and safety.
On deck we left off the stock bow cleats and replaced them with pop up recessed cleats that are out of the way when not in use (not spinnaker rippers).
During assembly MacGregor installed a custom bow chainplate that I had made ahead of time. The custom chainplate has a 2" ring welded in it with the attachment for the headstay on top, this allows the retractable bowsprit to pass through the ring.
Oh, the bowsprit. She has a retractable bowsprit that extends almost 5' past the bow. The boat end of the pole attaches to a traveler track that runs across the boat just aft of the anchor locker, this allows us to articulate the tip of the pole to windward to improve our downwind sailing angles. This setup lets us fly spinnakers up to 750 sq. ft., although the kite we settled on is about 600 sq. ft., we thought it might be smart to start with less than double the area of the stock sail!
To improve headstay tension upwind, and help support the loads of the huge kite downwind, we have added running backstays on the mast. They are 7/32" Amsteel line and run from the upper shroud attachment points to the genoa tracks with 3 to 1 blocks for tensioning.
We have added a Stainless Steel thrust bearing at the bottom of the mast to make rotation easier and smoother. We have also installed a system that allows us to adjust how much the mast rotates, and to help it rotate if vang loads keep it from rotating.
The boom has been modified to give an internal lead for the boom vang, as well as an internal 4 to1 cunningham, this custom boom is actually a leftover from our earlier experiments on our demo boat.
I worked really hard to reduce weight aloft as much as possible, as this really helps stability. We replaced the cable shrouds with Samson Validator 12 line. The Val 12 is almost twice as strong as the cable, and has only a tiny bit more stretch. I spliced the line directly to the fittings on the mast to eliminate the weight of the shackles. We left the foam out of the mast to save weight and sealed all of the fittings watertight instead. This may seem a little extreme, but weight reduction starts with grams, becomes ounces, and then pounds. All in all, I was able to get almost 10# out of the rigging.
We chose to go with UK Diamond Tape Drive Kevlar and Carbon sails, they give really good performance, hold up well for race sails, look hot, and aren't nearly as expensive as some other high end sails. Also Cheryl needed sails that were black and this was as close as we could come except for the spinnaker which is black with a pink star.
I told you this would take a while, but I think that about covers the significant modifications we have done .
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