'Amigo', A Much Improved Contessa 26 Cutter/Sloop
by Michael Scott
(Cape Hatteras, NC USA)
This 1978, Canada built, Contessa 26 has been greatly modified by me, a professional boat builder and life-long waterman, with survival in all circumstances in mind.
The hull and bulkheads have been substantially reinforced, the entire bow area has been reworked to accommodate a stout double roller anchor fitting, attachment for an inner forestay, a Sampson post, heavy bow eye, and reinforcement to withstand a major head-on collision.
The original 2 pintle and gudgin sets have been doubled to 4 and the alignment is so good you can move the rudder easily with one finger. The lower rudder pintle is protected by an overlapping extension of the keel and the rudder shape has been rounded up to make entanglements with rudder, or rudder damage from grounding, impossible.
The fiberglass thickness on the bottom of the keel has been increased by 1/2” and the entire stem and most of the keel is covered by brass.
The wooden rub rail has been replaced by ½” of solid FRP and covered with ¾” half oval SS moulding. The wooden cabin top grab rails have been replaced by aluminum ones and an additional center grab rail has been installed – very useful and much safer.
A 2 part mast pulpit has been installed, again very useful and much safer. New, stout bow and stern rails, well engineered trim tab/windvane self-steering, new life lines, all new standing rigging on movable inner forestay, 2 running backs and back stay. All other standing rigging has low use and exposure hours.
All running rigging is new except main sheet. Rudder head has been reinforced, 2 storage boxes/steps built in to cockpit area, all new 'bin boards' (1st class, stout, awlgripped) with 2nd set of spares, for companionway.
2 new manual bilge pumps and 1 automatic plumbed in (she does not leak a drop). Scupper drains increased to 1.5 inch with new thru hulls and hoses.
Recently rewired with LED tricolor mast head running/anchor light, LED interior lights, spotlight, phone and equipment charger outlet, depth gauge, VHF radio, GPS, and AM/FM CD player/radio, two 44 watt turn/tilt solar panels and smart charge controller.
Large fold up chart table with bench for heeling. New roachless, triple reef main, new storm sail for inner forestay, 4 headsails in good to great condition, all hank on. 1 spare main with battens in good condition. One yulo sculling oar with mounting socket and oar lock, one 2 piece aluminum 'shove stick' to push bow around in case of grounding to sail off, one oversized whisker pole, one inflatable kayak, lifejackets, throw ring, fenders, foldup bicycle, small cook stove, one 5 hp, LP gas fired, long shaft (25”) Tohatsu saildrive outboard motor for propulsion with lift rig and track to raise and lower, 2 small LP bottles. 3 anchors, 100 ft of BBB chain, 300’ of ½” anchor line, 100 ft of 7/16” and 100 ft of 3/8”, new manual anchor windless for rope and chain.
Boat was in my shop for 3 years and completely repaired, primed and painted with alwgrip and still looks like new. When not in use she spends most of her time in my shop. This is a one of a kind boat, tough, safe, well thought out and has all the features of a serious cruising boat for one person or 2 'lovers'. I have many videos available of her in action, especially the self steering rig. I have bumped bottom many times, twice very seriously, and always got her off, unharmed, totally on my own. These boats can be found much cheaper, but none come close to the thoughtful, thorough, durable rebuild of this one.
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