John martino, annapolis school of seamanship and annapolis yacht         management
The following review was written by John Martino and prepared by the marketing department of Chesapeake Bay Magazine. Mr. Martino is the founder and president of Annapolis Yacht Management and Annapolis School of Seamanship. He develops and teaches hands-on training courses for recreational boaters and professional mariners, and offers yacht delivery and onboard training services for powerboaters as well as sailors.

FEBRUARY 2012

   
LOA rigged  30' 1"
Bridge Clearance  9" 1'
Beam 8' 6" Draft 28"          
Fuel 80 gal Water 40 gal
Weight (dry) 5,900 lbs        
Engine Yamar 4BY2 180hp
Base Price $139,937         

Cruising is all about having the freedom to go where you want in relative comfort. For my generation, it also means having to balance time on the water with all the other scheduling involved in raising a family and building a career.  Until we're ready to launch into retirement, our cruising is limited to the windows of opportunity that are available: a weekend here, an afternoon there, a ten-day stretch once a year. The boat we want has to be versatile, commodious and innovative. The Cutwater 26 could be just the ticket.

Family cruising might involve a weeklong stint of gunkholing, complete with a pair of mountain bikes, a Nettle Net® for swimming, a kayak and/or a paddleboard, so good storage capacity is a must. It could just as often be an overnight run up to Baltimore for dinner out and an Orioles game, so give us more than 8 knots of speed without busting the college fund. Maybe we'd trailer the boat to Cleveland for a family visit to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and a cruise around Lake Erie, so make sure there's room for the kids.

This list of requirements may sound impossible but Cutwater Boats has endeavored to solve the dilemma. This family-owned, American company is based in the Pacific Northwest and is the same outfit that builds Ranger Tugs. While the Tugs and the Cutwater are both on-the-mark pocket cruisers, the Cutwater design places more emphasis on performance. I took a ride on the Cutwater 26 with Mark Schulstad, of Cutwater Marine Sales in Grasonville, Md., and had a great time imagining the possibilities.

Above the waterline, the 26 is a blend of traditional DownEast styling with a twist of modern comfort. Below the waterline she is all 21st century and offers performance-oriented design not normally found in cruising boats. The stepped hull combined with tapered intake tunnels gives plenty of lift while directing a clean even flow of water to the propeller. A skeg protects the prop and offers improved tracking. She gets on plane easily, moves along smoothly and does not require constant steering to maintain a straight course. When you are ready to turn she responds well. Visibility from the helm is very good.

The Cutwater's deck layout is practical and offers a good blend of seating and storage, including an SUV-style roof rack arrangement that allows you to bring the bikes and kayaks.

Below she has an open and airy interior with plenty of creature comforts and versatile seating.  While it may be wasted on me, the extended headroom in the cabin is certain to make the taller folks out there much more comfortable.  The large cabin windows, foredeck hatches and overhead hatches in the main cabin all open to provide ventilation on those gorgeous days while buttoning her up to provide protection from the elements when needed.

The forward cabin serves as the master but also converts to a seating area for four people with a table. A second cabin is nestled below the dinette and offers a 7-foot long double bunk. For additional sleeping accommodations the dinette converts to a third bunk. Flipping hinged seats and raising and lowering tables to arrange the cabin layout into various configurations reminded me of the efficiency and versatility of a Swiss Army knife. McGuyver would be proud!

The Cutwater 26 is an affordable, versatile cruiser.  Whether you're headed for a day trip on the Chesapeake Bay or an extended adventure, the Cutwater's comfort, style and innovative features will make the journey as enjoyable as the destination. Have a look at one at the 2012 Baltimore Boat Show.