Anderson 26

The Anderson 26 signified Anderson Rigden & Perkin’s wish to develop further into leisure boats, after the success of the Anderson 22 which was still selling well.

The yard had mainly built traditional working craft since 1917, with the odd classic 1960’s wooden cruiser / racer yacht, and in the 1970’s their bread and butter was in making high quality grp launches for Royal Navy warships, but possibly by 1980 they sensed that was coming to an end, or at least that they were too reliant on the MOD.

They had made a brief, it has to be said disastrous attempt at a larger boat a couple of years before with a design by Andrew Stuart who working with the nearby Zygal Boats was responsible for the very racy and moderately well selling Limbo 21.

Stuart must have been having an off day, or was badly briefed, as the ‘ A Three-Oh ‘ appealed to no-one, especially at the yard; she fell over before launch so was regarded ‘ unlucky ‘ by the workforce and so it proved, commercially at least.

She was a 30′ flush deck fin keeler, with no special features to mark her out against a market full of 30’ fin keelers, and was frankly ugly.  One complete boat was made and is still around, but the project was quietly dropped; I don’t think the boat was promoted at all sales wise.

For the next project, the Anderson 26, things were taken much more seriously, and Andersons wisely returned to Oliver Lee, who had designed the 22.

It is perhaps significant that on the largest internet sailing forum in the UK – – there is a  ‘community site’ dedicated to ‘ The Genius Of Oliver Lee ‘ – the only designer whose creations have inspired such a thing.

All Anderson 22 owners were sent a detailed questionnaire as to what they might look for in a bigger boat.

More importantly as this was just after the 1979 Fastnet Disaster when 19 people died, 5 boats sank and a lot suffered catastrophic B1 & B2 ( 90 degree mast on water or complete 360 degree roll, respectively ) knockdowns  the findings of the inquiry and report was a strong  input to the design. As some of the Fastnet boats – notably the wide and it could be said slightly lightly ballasted OOD34’s – had stayed inverted when rolled, it was felt that a relatively narrow beam boat with a deep keel and decent ballast ratio was the way to go, for safety, punchy seagoing windward performance and as a predicted trend in being commercially attractive.

As she was to be a lift keeler like the 22, this necessitated a relatively high coachroof to accomodate the raised keel, but also meant a buoyant coachroof to aid righting in the event of inversion – in the same way that Arun class lifeboats have high coachroofs.

The Anderson 22 uses the same buoyant coachroof design philosophy, which some people mistake as a quest for headroom; but knowing what I do of Oliver Lee he couldn’t have cared less about that !

The 26 is also equipped with bulwarks on the side decks,  twin, decent sized forward mooring cleats, a large anchor locker and other touches all giving her a feeling of being a high quality boat a lot larger than 26’.

As lift keels for boats over about 25′ become serious engineering projects, she has a different approach to the 22.  While the 22 benefits from having the ballast on the end of the keel for maximum effect, that is already slightly hard work to raise with the manual winch.

The 26 has the ballast in a fixed longitudinal stub, with a relatively light vertical lift keel, mainly for grip when sailing to windward, going through it.  This does mean the 26 will not turn on a sixpence like the 22, but  gives more longitudinal steering stability.  It also allows the luxury of an electric winch to raise and lower the keel; there is a manual backup if required.

Sadly the Anderson 26 never got the chance to prove herself, Anderson Rigden & Perkins lost the MOD contract and folded in 1982.  About 12  A26’s were built by Andersons, then a few more by nearby Conyer Marine.  They soon folded too as the recession hit, and the A26 moulds went to a boatbuilders in the West Country.  That place was in trouble also, and suffered one of those fires which suddenly seem to spontaneously happen at businesses in such times.

The moulds were destroyed, so sadly unlike the 22 there is no chance of more Anderson 26’s.

Those 16 or so that are around are highly thought of by experienced owners, one has made regular trips to the Azores and another does well in club races off the East Coast; her owner is a boatbuilder himself and comments how impressed he is by her build quality.

I have been on a few and found the boat deceptively fast, she has quite a big 7/8ths rig and will take other boats by surprise.  One thing I noticed on an example I sailed was a lack of backing pads under the shrouds and stanchions; I don’t know if she was an Anderson or Conyer boat but it’s something to watch, though easily put right. Though there was the option of an outboard well, all the boats built have inboards.

One unusual feature is the integral grounding legs.  These run in tubes from bilge to deckhead on each side, and can be manually raised and lowered from on deck.  They have small foot pads which are shaped to fair in flush with the hull when raised.

The thing which worried me and and the owners I have spoken to is that should a leg dig in to soft mud it could put a horrible load on the hull threatening all sorts of damage; as I understand it the legs are not now used in practice much for drying out but are very handy when the boat is ashore for the winter etc.

The A26 is also ‘ unsinkable ‘ with foam buoyancy throughout.

Anyone looking for a high quality fast, seaworthy cruiser should seek one out and give her a try, she is a bit of a wolf in sheep’s clothing; ignore the silly Portsmouth Yardstick rating, that merely shows that this sort of boat doesn’t take part in the type of races where results are sent to the RYA.

This is a serious passage maker for smaller crews, tough, fast, seaworthy and seakindly without being extreme in any way.

Original Andersons memo sent to Anderson 22 owners before launch of the 26;


Anderson 26 Original Brochure