macgregor 65

Discussion in 'Sailboats' started by mar68, Jul 2, 2008.

  1. mar68
    Joined: Jul 2008
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    mar68 Junior Member

    Hello all.
    I am new to this forum and ask for your advice on the macgregor 65.
    I intend to sail the east coast of australia and perhaps sail the south pacific islands with my wife and two kids.
    I have always liked quick boats feel the macgregor offers what I am looking for in a yacht. Its also within my budget and offers alot for the money.
    I am not interested in racing it just safe family cruising.
    I welcome any comments.

  2. Crag Cay
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    Crag Cay Senior Member

    Hi Mar, welcome to the forum.

    You probably couldn't have posted anything more likely to cop you a load of grief on here - so zip up your flak jacket, turn your ******** filter up to 'max', and sit back. With care you might be able to gain something constructive.

    For every gram of knowledge, most sailors like to dilute it with a kilogram of prejudice. There are certain beliefs that many support as 'gospel' irrespective of any scientific justification or experience. You'll come under fire from the following fundamentalist 'creeds':

    1. Light displacement has no place offshore. 'Colin Archer' alone knew the path to righteousness.
    2. Glassfibre is unsuitable for venturing near coral. Only steel is the one true way.
    3. If you love your wife and children, it's better to sell your soul to the devil than venture out of the marina in anything less than a custom built, triple watertight bulkheaded, cutter rigged, long keel battleship with 2 life rafts and an escape module.
    4. MacGreggor make the Mac26 and therefore everything they touch is utter cack.

    But as in all things, nothing is perfect, you have to weight up the pros and cons, evaluate the risks versus the benefits and make a choice. The essential start point is to be realistic about your plans: Are you really going to head for the islands? How much of your time is going to be sailing as opposed to enjoying just being somewhere?

    Most family ventures fail because of either overcrowding on board (cabin fever), boredom in port and on passage, or fear. Of these, fear is the biggest issue. Do your whole family like the MacGreggor? Do they like the size, the motion, or does the size of the sails and rig intimidate them, etc. If it's to be a successful family adventure, the whole family must be 'on board' with your decisions.

    However size and space do really help with livability. Everyone needs elbow room to avoid cabin fever. There's also more space to carry toys for the majority of time when you are stopped; An extra dinghy, windsurfer, etc. It all helps. Size really is a big benefit with this.

    If you do like the size of a boat like this, do some research about light displacement. Check out the Dashew's sites and other people who have actually done it. When you're comparing stories and experiences make sure you compare 'displacement for like displacement', not LOA.

    There's also quite a few Mac65 owners on the web, including a load with a huge number of miles under their keels: Ask them specifics about the boat. How are they holding up? What are the systems like to live with? What issues have they had? The weren't built like brick **** houses, so checkout their track record.

    Also check out things like haulage costs, marina berths, the costs of sails, insurance etc. Big boats can come with big bills.

    I've seen families complete successful trips in all sorts of boats. There has been little correlation between type of boat and success. However the ones that have gone well are the ones that get all the pieces of the puzzle in place and work hard to keep them there. I wouldn't choose a Mac65 to go upwind, non stop around the world, but a big lightweight boat or multihull would be on my list for a family trip such as yours. I would then do a lot of real research into that specific with people who know.
    3 people like this.
  3. mar68
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    mar68 Junior Member

    Thanks Craig.

    Yes, I have seen some of the keyboard warriors at work. Thanks for the warning.
    I can quote C.A Marchaj or L. Francis Herreshoff with the best of em!
    Wonder how much sailing they have really done.
    Fortunatly my father was a long keel heavy boat guy, until he wrestled his S&S39 in a big following sea complaining all the way from Fremantle to Kalbarri Western Australia. ( Ive grown up with the Freo Doctor) mind you the S&S39 is a delight upwind.
    I have an engineering and design background and have penned the odd boat when I was younger & have always wanted to build one of my designs. Cost unfortunatly excludes this. I favour easily driven forms so the Mac concept appeals to me greatly. Length will also make a light boat more comfortable.
    Done alot of skiff racing so surfing (and leaping) waves is second nature to me.
    I like the Macgregor my wife loves it my kids love boats full stop. Wife is still learning on my Status 580 day sailer and very keen and realistic about the whole thing. Were looking at a 2 year plan before we set off too far.
    I am redoing my navigation course & my wife is doing her yachtmasters and refreshing her diving ticket.
    So lets sort the **** from the clay :)

  4. multihullsailor
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    multihullsailor Junior Member

  5. rwatson
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    rwatson Senior Member

    Hi Mar68

    I do agree with CC about the inbuilt prejudices about 'non proper' boats. I am an ex Mac owner, so I have noticed some really funny things said about them.

    I know nothing about the Mac65 per se, but after having read a lot of stories about taking families for around the world cruises - I wouldnt take them out in the open sea in anything less than steel. Its purely a survival thing, hulls versus coral and rocks.

    A steel boat doesnt have to be a plodder when its over 50 ft+ , you can get a decent days run from a well designed hull. There are a lot of cruising stories on the internet, and in all the sailing yacht magazines that have lead me to this conclusion.

    A recent informal survey of cruising hulls on the pacific noted that about 65% were steel, around 30% were fibreglass , so it seems to be a fairly widely held opinion.

    Just my 2 cents worth. I hope you have a great trip whatever you end up with.
  6. Elandra65
    Joined: Jul 2008
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    Elandra65 New Member


    Hi Mark,

    I am new to this forum and hope I can answer some of your questions.

    I feel I could almost write a book about what you are going through as I have just been through the process.

    In short I owned an S&S39 for about 8 years before I bought a Mac65 overseas in 2004. I then spent about 6 months sorting it out before spending 2 years sailing it with my wife and 4 children through SE Asia and eventually back to Australia via Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and New Guinea. I have unfortunately sold it now purely due to family reasons.

    You will find a lot of opinions about this boat mostly from people who only have opinions to offer. If you want proper information seek out owners and preferably ex-owners who have nothing to lose by being honest. That is the conclusion I came to after about 2 years of my own research before I bought the boat.

    I have not the time right now to be detailed about this and you may not even be looking for one of these boats anymore. If you are please contact me to let me know and I'll provide a lot more information.

    however in short:


    A stongly built boat, at least in my opinion. That refers to the pilothouse post 1989 models only. The earlier models were much more lightly built and I have no experience of these except to say that I believe they have given all of the 65s a chequered reputation. The S&S39 was (mine anyway) a piece of crap in comparison.

    No core material to be concerned with, therefore no rot problems. Although see cons.

    There doesn't appear to be an osmosis problem with these boats in general.

    Great rig design and easy to sail. The headsails were easier to grind in than my S&S 39. The self tacking staysail makes life easy but also adds little horsepower.

    Great off the wind and directional very stable. Much much easier than the S&S 39. The steering is just over 1 turn lock to lock so is very fast to react. Being a balanced rudder it is also easy to hold. In comparison the S&S 39 was 3 turns lock to lock and a real handful to hold if the rig is not balanced just right in strong conditions.

    It is quite fast but not as fast as the brochures and blurb suggests. However my boat was stacked full of gear and was overweight so it could of been faster. 8 to 9 knots is easy but over 11 knots requires lots lots more horsepower.

    Very little pitching. This is one of its best features. It has a long waterline(almost exactly double the S&S 39) which makes a huge difference to comfort. I have been in seas that would make life absolutely miserable in the S&S 39 but in the Mac were no problem.

    Easy to look after. Being all glass there is no wood to bother with and a washdown and an occasional polish is all that is needed. that goes for the inside as well. My wife particularly liked this feature inside.

    Good cockpit design and lots of room.

    Easy boat to move about inside in a seaway. Due to its narrow beam there is always something to hold onto.

    Great motor sailer due to large engine, fine entry and narrow beam. It will go through just about any seaway at speed.


    Not the fastest yacht upwind. I think the S&S 39 is faster at high angles.

    A lot more tender than the S&S 39. This is not necessary a bad thing but forces you to sail change earlier. However it does not break gear the way the S&S 39 did.

    A small boat for a 65 footer. I think it is more comparable to a 45 to 50 footer.

    Having no core in the hull or deck means that in the tropics it can get quite hot inside and also cold in the winter in Australia.

    The boat gets its good performance from its shape much more so than its construction. It is a low tech version of the Santa Cruz and Dashew design boats that are much superior in terms of construction and comparitively much lighter. This means it has to work harder to get the performance benefits.

    Bad bilge drainage. Due to shallow bilges and no particular low spot it is very difficult to pump the boat dry. Any reasonable amount of water finds its way onto the sole which can be messy.

    Low headroom in the v-berth cabin. This is exacerbated by the stupid sharp edges on the internal hatch coaming which are a real safety hazard. I think though they could be rounded off without too much problem.

    Silly main companionway hatch design that is great for directing large volumes of water inside when you take a wave over the deck and the hatch is partly open. It acts as a scoop.

    Internal linings which look good and are fast to build but would be a real problem in case a hull puncture as you cannot get to much of the hull sides and bottom. I know many boats are built this way nowadays but nonetheless it is a real issue. Luckily we never had to test this!

    Some of the fitout is flimsy and can be broken.

    Many of the boats are typically american which means they are chockablock with all sorts of gear such as airconditioners, generators, electric toilets, inverters, water makers etc etc etc. This sounds great until the poor subsequent owner comes along and has to maintain all this mostly worn out gear.

    Most of the problems I had with the boat were to do with the boat systems and not so much the boat itself. I think the design of the boat is generally excellent and a credit to Roger Macgregor.

    It is not a boat you want to leave tied up to a Marina. As it is very long it cost lots to pen as you pay by the metre. Hauling the boat has the same issues. Maybe that is why so many of them are used for bluewater cruisers. It is rare to find one without a HF radio and radar.

    In summary you can't beat it for the value. If I can't afford a Sundeer 60 in 5years time I will look seriously at buying another, stripping all the crap out of it, simplify it and go cruising for another 10 years.

    The above is just a quick list off the top of my head and I could add volumes to it so let me know if you are still interested.


  7. chowdan
    Joined: Jul 2008
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    chowdan 1980 PAC41 Liveaboard

    Hey Mar68,

    I am new here as well:) But I live in the Fiji Islands and have sailed around a bit. I would not consider myself as a "professional that knows what he is doing" but i do know my way around these waters and i do know how to sail. If you plan on coming down to Fiji I would recommend you study the charts for Fiji waters and make sure you know them VERY VERY well! I have seen many ships/yachts go down here due to hitting the reef. If I was you I would make sure you feel confident about your yacht(meaning you feel confident you and you family can handle her in very reefy waters)

    I do love the area around here and Fiji is one of the MUST see places. It is a very very very beautiful area but it comes with consequences like everything in this world.

    I wish i could say something about macgregor's but i have no experience what so ever with them other than thinking they are very beautiful looking yachts:p

    anyways hopeyou find what you are looking for from the people on here.

    Kind Regards,
  8. mar68
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    mar68 Junior Member

    Thankyou for the replies gentlemen.
    Andrew, I am still interested so any more info will be greatly appreciated.
    Was your 39 originally built by Prestige Yachts?

  9. sonosail
    Joined: Mar 2008
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    sonosail SONOSAIL

    I don't want to get into the heavy vs. light displacement debate.
    I can tell you, the pilot house models, (built after 1989) were designed as long distance cruisers, have a very enthisiastic following, and have safely and successfully cruised all over the world. They WERE built in the same factory as the other smaller Macgregors, (which WERE built to a price and certainly NOT for long distance cruising), but the comparison should end there.
    The biggest problem is when you approach land. You have this long skinny pointy boat that does have a fairly deep draft. If you have to keep it somewhere between voyages, it's going to cost you, depending on your own personal circustances, (like if you have you have your own dock that can accomodate a boat of this length and depth).
    If I were doing some long distance cruising, and I didn't have to pay the dock fees, the 65 would certainly be on my short list.
  10. RonR
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    RonR Junior Member

    Hey Andrew,

    Nicely balanced critique. Sounds like youv'e 'been there, done that'.

  11. Elandra65
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    Elandra65 New Member

    Hello Mark,

    Apologies for not responding sooner. I have been away from the internet for a while due to work commitments. However I have managed to find some information I put together about the Macgregor 65 in regard to its good and bad points.

    To answer your last question, the S&S 39 was built by Prestige. I hope your fathers vessel was far better than mine.

    It appears that I have covered most of the things I like about the Macgregor 65. I did find a list of issues that would relate to this design in general, several that would relate to the majority and some that probably related to my specific vessel.

    These are:

    The storage on these vessels as standard is very limited. Although the brochure shows space under settees and bunks the space available is very limited due to the low seat heights and shallow bilges. These areas are also subject to bilge water so are not suitable for goods that have to stay dry. The only bulk storage on the standard boat is under the vee berth and under the aft master berth. The very aft cabin is quite large and useful but only if it does not have to used for accommodation. It then acts just as a large lazarette. The anchor locker although fairly large gets very wet and is therefore only suitable for ground tackle and a couple of water jugs etc. There are several hanging lockers in the boat and these are OK for clothes etc, however they are not partitioned as standard. There is no storage available at all above decks in the form of cockpit lockers etc and this is a real pain. Many boats try to get around the storage issue by converting the forward passageway settee into a storage unit. My particular boat had many additional storage areas such as the above mentioned in the passageway, lockers built on top of the aft cabin berths, all the hanging lockers partitioned, lockers built over the master cabin settee, and numerous other soft lockers etc and there was hardly enough for comfortable bluewater cruising. The galley has limited storage and there is not even a set of drawers in which to put cutlery. Bulk food storage is non existent and is an exercise in ingenuity. We ended up utilizing the forward head to store most of our provisions for an extended voyage. There is also no dedicated storage for sails and as these are large will not physically fit anywhere out of the way. I ended up with no spare sails and relied on all the sails being roller furled covered by the boom sail cover when not in use which is not an ideal situation. However I carried six people plus all their gear so this did contribute to the storage problem. If you don’t need the aft cabin as accommodation and don’t fill under the berths with systems you will probably be OK.

    As this is an American boat any AC electrical systems will be 110v. This is a real PITA outside the US due to the difficulty and expense in sourcing parts for the AC systems. Also any plug in appliances such as microwaves, electric kettles, toasters etc etc have to be 110v and cannot be realistically sourced outside the US. Who is going to import a toaster from the US! Even with a step down transformer which I had the 60 to 50 Hz can be a problem as many 60Hz motors don’t like running at 50 Hz and may burn out. Depending upon your AC systems converting to 240v can be relatively easy and cheap or very expensive. Mine was in the latter so I didn’t bother but it caused problems.

    For some reason all the AC wiring in the vessel was tinned boat cable but all the DC wiring was untinned and I believe substandard. I guess this was because the AC cable had to be installed to a standard but the DC didn’t. My boat was about 13 years old and the untinned DC cable gave me many problems due to corrosion, particularly in the terminals.

    Many of these boats are filled with systems such as Air cons, watermakers HWS, electric toilets, etc. etc These are generally installed under the bunks and settees and take valuable space. They are also in a damp area, difficult to get at and make trouble shooting and servicing difficult.

    My boat had over 20 thru hulls to service all the various systems. Of course it was impractical to turn all these off when leaving the boat so I had to live with the anxiety of a hose failing when away. Some of the thru hulls were located in difficult to get at areas quite often with supplies covering them up. Most of the valves were made of Marelon which is supposed to be a high quality valve. I had many handles break on these and had to replace quite a few. They are also very expensive and even the new ones became stiff after short time. I came to conclusion they are garbage and will not buy another one.

    The hull-deck joint on my boat leaked and I had to remove the toerail, epoxy glass over the flange joint and remove and rebed every bolt. Although this sounds like a major job it wasn’t that much of a project.

    My boat had factory davits which I believe are fitted to many of these boats. Although they are useful in calm waters I don’t like carrying a dinghy under these in rougher seas as there is not much clearance . We took quite a bit of water at times in the form of spray and I can imagine a larger wave filling the dinghy and taking it and the davits with it in more extreme conditions.

    The standard engine fitted is rather large and I think bigger than required. If you start using a significant portion of the power available you really start paying for it in fuel consumption. They are great motorsailers though. The other issue is that for maximum range you tend to motor at low speeds 6-7 knots. This means the engine is lightly loaded which is not good for a diesel motor and could lead to glazing etc. My engine was 200hp and twice the power needed.

    The aft cabin suffers from insufficient ventilation in tropical climates. Electric fans are essential.

    The light fittings installed look good but are inefficient and have sharp edges which are dangerous. They used a metal light fitting with exposed halogen globes which are easily touched by hand when groping for the light at night or in a seaway. The globes are easily broken and give a nasty burn when they are touched. They use about 2 amps each when on and you need quite a few to get enough decent light so therefore the power draw is substantial.

    The modular construction of the vessel incorporates large pieces of finished furniture, cabin sole, headliner etc. Because of the nature of this type of construction precision fitting cannot be obtained and therefore there are sizeable gaps where the pieces meet. Some of these gaps are filled with black foam rubber extrusions which are supposed to neaten the appearance. However several gaps are left without treatment and it is quite easy to lose a small part etc under the cabin sole. A large part of the hull is inaccessible so it maybe gone for good.

    The ports fitted to my vessel were lewmar ports and I believe they were used as standard. From memory there were about 17 of them. I think all of them leaked at one time or another and several had to be modified due to faulty seals joining the extrusion which led to leaks inside. Maybe the top of the line Lewmar ports are OK but the series I had were pretty awful. Locating new seals was difficult and the price outrageous. I wouldn’t have anything less than full cast and framed ports in any other boat I ever have. Leaks can be very expensive!

    The engine exhaust location at the side can be a problem. If the vessel leans for any prolonged period of time seawater can find its way into the engine with expensive results. I think exhaust outlets belong on the centerline at the transom.

    If it sounds like I am condemning the Boat it is not my intention. Many of the above issues would relate to most boats to some degree and most of the problems I had were related to the systems which will vary from one boat to another.

    As I previously said I wouldn't hesitate to buy another one and modify it for my intentions.




    Thanks for the comment RonR. I just wish that I had done more of the been there done that!
  12. mar68
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    mar68 Junior Member

    Thanks Andrew.
    My father bought his 39 hull & deck and fitted it out to his spec. It was above average compared to other 39's Ive seen. Never, no matter how hard it blew did we ever wet the leeward rail on that thing, man it was a stiff boat.

    Youve given me alot to consider. The DC wiring was the factory stuff I take it.
    So a rewire, replumb, new hatches, windows and thats not adding any wear and tear items that may need attention or replacement.
    Refiting a 65 which in here in Aus. could cost 100k+ would that be a realisic figure??.
    I have to weigh this up and compare the cost of a new (slightly smaller) boat vs a refit on a 65. A dilema many people go through I am sure.
    Ive been eyeing the Hanse 530e & the new Dufour 525 both expensive!!!
    The layout on the 65 appeals greatly and could be prettied up alot cosmetically.

  13. Elandra65
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    Elandra65 New Member

    Hello Mark,

    I have been told the S&S 39 varied a lot with regard build specifications and that the later boats were lighter. I had a copy of some plans with layup details and mine was thinner in the laminate and balsa core. I had a stringer that cracked and a turning block pulled out of the coaming which didn't did give me much confidence. I have come to the conclusion that a lot of boat builders, particularly small ones cannot be trusted to adhere to construction specifications and If I was building from the start would definitely have a boat built to survey with core samples etc etc. Yes the S&S 39 is a very stiff boat hence the tendency to break gear in a blow.

    With regard a refit 100k should be heaps for a Mac 65. If you did the work yourself it would be much less. That's assuming the boat is reasonable to start with. I am sure the wiring on the vessel I had was standard.

    You took me by suprise regarding your potential boat choices as I had no idea what budget you were in. For the money you are talking about you have many choices. The Hanse and Dufour are quite different boats and much bigger in terms of actual boat than the Mac65. The interior on those will make the Mac 65 seem like a closet in terms of size. The quality of the internal fitout will also be in another dimension. If I had that sort of budget and had serious bluewater cruising in mind I would be looking at a Sundeer 60or 64 or a maybe a Deerfoot if you like high performance cruising. They are much more serious cruisers with a greater emphasis on safety, performance, storage etc etc.

    How many Mac 65s have you looked at?


  14. mar68
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    mar68 Junior Member

    Hi Andrew

    Firstly I must explain the budget situation. Based on my current financial model I should be able to buy a Mac or similar priced boat in 12-18months. However an investment looks as though it may ripen in a big way, if so (fingers x'ed) then it opens my choices up to a new 50+ footer. So its a two level thing and its nice to look at beautiful new boats :)
    There are two Mac's on the market ranging from $235k US to $299k US. They look quite good, as usual there loaded with gear. Ones in europe the other in the BVI. Never seen one in the flesh. My father looked over one in Melbourne for sale about 5 years ago and was impressed.
    Hanse are big $$, but supposed to be very well made. Dufour supposed to be the beefier of the french prod. boats.
    Seen some older Deerfoots for sale but not impressed with the layouts. I will look at the Sundeer's. Any other light & quick brands worth looking at?
    A Mac is still the prime candidate.


  15. Elandra65
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    Elandra65 New Member

    Hello Mark,

    It's nice to have choices.

    I'd suggest looking at a few and also getting a sail on one even if you have to pay for it before you make a definite decision to go that direction. It is very hard to gauge things from photos and brochures.

    There are a few for sale at the moment and several that have been on the market for at least a year. In 2004 you could buy a Mac 65 pilothouse model as low as 140k US. But of course our dollar was only about 62c. I don't know why but the price has increased steadily in that time.

    I know what you mean by the layout in the deerfoot and sundeers. However Dashews philosophy has always been to optimise the layout for a couple with limited facilities for occasional guests. I have come to the conclusion that their layout is definitely the best for this situation and my next boat will be very similar. It might look boring but it works very well for passagemaking and at anchor.

    With regard other light and quick brands. That is a difficult question if keeping to the budget you suggest. There are many boats like this designed and built in New Zealand such as "Bakewell-White" "Warwick" etc but the budget is in another order. There are very few designers that design boats like this. Dashew, Macgregor, Chuck Paine, the Hunter 54,one of Perrys design and of course Australias Joe Adams and Graham Radford are about all I can think of.

    If you want to build a new boat the moulds for the Adams 15.2/Mcintyre55 are for sale on Boatpoint at the moment. Don Mcintyre has them for sale. If they were closer to WA and I wasn't concerned about a divorce (boat building is a real strain) I would seriously consider doing this myself as I think this is a great design.

    Regards Andrew
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