Balboa 26 Used Boat Test
Designed by Lyle Hess, this unsung, affordable pocket cruiser offers a big bang for the buck. Capable of trailering to windward and skimming through shallow water, it offers all the versatility of today’s trailer sailers at one-tenth of the price. The swing-keel hinge pin and rigging deserve a close look, however, and a cosmetic makeover can require some serious sweat equity.
As with all of Lyle Hess designs, the Balboa 26 statistics reveal the underpinnings of a seaworthy coastal cruiser. The Balboa's 3,600-pound displacement includes 1,200 pounds of ballast, by no means a lead mine, but the B26's 8-foot beam was carried well aft, and its reasonably full sections contributed form stability and helped make the little sloop a seakindly performer. With 293 square feet of working sail area, the B26 is close in potential performance to the Excalibur 26, Cal 25, and Columbia 26, all vaunted designs of the same era.