A Columbia Page

by Myrmade

Table of Contents - Columbia Challenger Info. - Columbia 24 Info. - Columbia 26 Info. - Columbia Links - Other Sailing Links - Back to "This Sailing Page"

This site has no affiliation with any manufacturer of sailboats. The contents provided in the reviews sections below or in letters to this page are the opinions of those who wrote them and not the opinions of the author of these pages.


Columbia Challenger

Columbia Contender

Columbia 24

Columbia 26

Columbia 26 MK II

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Columbia Challenger Information

Owner Reviews of The Columbia 24 Challenger:

These reviews were obtained from owners of Columbia Challengers during 1998/1999. If you have additional comments about the Columbia Challenger, Contender, or Columbia 26, or Columbia 26 MKII, please send them my way.

1. From: K.N.

Two things you might want to watch out for. The bulkhead tends to rot where the chainplates attach. Enough rot and your mast comes down. Also, look for cracks in the tabernacle (interior arch above passage to the v-berth).Other than that, great boat!

2. From D. L.

You have made a great choice! Oh course, I'm partial to the Challenger 24... I believe its the best of the Columbias.

As for the boat..... Columbia used all wood for the interior of the Challenger until 66 or 67... they then started doing everything in fiberglass and laminants down below except for the bulkheads. In my humble opinion, the wood version is better. I have seen a Challenger up here 67 model that really looked tacky inside.

The Galley was an option, so I'm not surprised if the one you are looking at does not have one. We like ours, it doesn't take up that much space below for the convenience. The hull is bullet proof... really! You will be able to prep and repaint to a beautiful finish. I have just completed the hull last Sept. using Interlux 1-part poly... I experienced some blistering, but I believe it was because I have the boat tarped and moisture got trapped against the paint. I'm repainting the interior now... plus varnishing all interior wood and applying Cetol to all exterior wood. I have rebuilt both lazerett hatches. Yes, the upper shroud chain plates will leak. My had sometime in the past and have been rebedded, but the stains remain. No wood damage... do check closely.

Yes, replace all through hulls if they are suspect. Mine are original, but still sound. My marine head had been removed and the fittings capped off. I use a porta-potty. We are presently remaking the v-berth cushions. If you replace the standing rigging, go slightly larger in diam. if you can. Mine is that way (don't know the size) and am glad for it. I have double lowers and single uppers..good combo. Also, my running rigging is all rope... I would suggest it if you now have wire halyards (you will need to replace the mast head sheaves if you change from wire to rope).

The Challenger is one awesome boat... hull speed is close to 6 kts and she will do it without strain. She is stable and seakindly, alot of boat for her size. She does not point high into the wind as a San Juan 24. Her best performance is on a broad reach. I am always amazed that I can overtake larger boats that I have no business passing. The cockpit is large and dry. Her best heel angle is 15 deg. The boat is very hard to knock down (I've never tried) and is somewhat overpowered when both main and 150 are up. I love the raised deck design on this boat. Easy to work sail, etc. We will be cruising our Challenger starting this summer.

No standing headroom below makes for tight quarters, but is really much like camping for two people. We found her very comfortable and slept in the quarter berths last summer. With the refit, I'm really doing alot extra to make her beautiful inside (more for my first mate).... new lighting, deck beams, paint, etc. I built a hatch for the chain locker up forward... gives the v-berth a nice look. I forgot to tell you that the motor well on our boat is now capped off with a stock, removable plug that is bolted in place. There is no drainage into the bilge, so any water that gets in there has to be bailed out by hand. You will find that the lazerett covers will leak. Design problem. The drainage grooves on either side of the hatch are too shallow and water will overflow into the lockers. My lockers drain into the bilge. I'm going to try a rubber strip around the rim to help prevent water coming in. You could tap a hole on either side of the channel and run tubing down to the base of the cockpit.

Another thing to look at is the rudder post, where it comes up in the cockpit. My post has play, side to side. Its a two-fold problem. There is a nut on the top of the casing which must be removed. Flax is then packed in around the shaft. The other thing is the bolt that goes through the back side of the tiller fork. Mine has play side to side from wear. I will have to pull the pin and insert shims. Our boat has stanchions and lifelines, with both stern and bow pulpit. We really like that.... gives one a more secure feeling.

A point I wanted to mentioned is concerning jib sheet winch location. Mine are currently located on the deck to either side of the companion way hatch. Location is fine for 110 working jib, but when you go to the 150 jinny, the sheet lines run aft almost to the stern bulkhead and then forward to the winch... this causes a pinch point at the cabin bulkhead and unless you install a stainless rub strake on the top edge of the bulkhead, the sheet line will rub a groove in your fiberglass. It was pretty obvious to me that the P.O. rarely used the 150... probably too much power. Well, I use it and its like kicking in the afterburners! I saw one Challenger that had those winches mounted on wood boxes inside the cockpit. Also, I'm thinking about going to one size larger on my sheet winches.... I think I have #8's and they do work ok.. but are single speed and sometimes it gets a bit tough winching in. However, the prices for new are $$$.

Advice About The Outboard Well

1. Put it in the well

From: D. T.

Remove the transom mount. It will rip the fiberglass unless you build it in VERY well with fiberglass mat and plywood. A 5hp nissan or evinrude would fit the well and is plenty of power. I had a 9.9 Johnson on the transom...but only because I had the moter when I bought the boat, and was going to sea in her so I wanted the extra power and charging ability.

I had only hand held electronics because the boat was just a temporary vessel for me. I got her just for the trip. She is a very capable cruiser for whatever waters you want to ply and I would take mine anywhere in the world without hesitation were it not for her small size.

The largest problem with the well mounted engine is it will starve for air and run poorly or die, even with vent cowls. The water entry is no big deal. It doesn't flow into the bilge or cabin and will drain out quickly when you stop mooving. There are built in drain holes on the sides, or should be.

The challenger is a heavy beast and takes good wind to sail. She loves 25 to 30 knots. I rarely reefed, except in winds over 30 knots. With those kinds of wind, a small prop hanging in the water might only take off a half knot. Unless you are racing that is no big deal.

She will be a much prettier vessel with the outboard in the well. Her stern is wonderful and the outboard just takes away from her lines.

2. A two cycle 9.9 hp in the well

From: L O.

About motor size, I first borrowed a 15 hp Susuki or Yamaha. We had to throttle it way back, far too much horsepower for the hull. Next was a 9.9 Nissan I believe. It was just about right. You'll need to pull the motor up and out while under sail. Or find a way to place a rubber boot around the engine and seal it to the hull. Other wise the sea come up and in while under sail. Both motors were 2 cycle long shafts. Both motors provided plenty of steam. A four stoke Honda would be too large for the compartment. Good Luck!! Any information or better ideas you come up with, I would gladly love to hear about!!

3. A 2 cycle 7hp for the well, but keep it on the transom

From: K. N.

We bought the boat the boat because we liked it, not so much because of the engine arrangement. The size and the price were right for our first boat.

We happen to have a mid-1970's 7 HP, I think it is a Yamaha. It is very basic, not even an alternator or starter or anything.

It is mounted on the forward lip of the engine well with its regular outboard clamps, although the previous owner of the boat added shims of wood to tip the motor forward (top of the engine forward, prop toward the back) but we never figured out why and left it as it was.

A standard throttle/shift linkage is attached and mounted inside the cockpit. The handle of the outboard has been removed. A breather hatch immediately forward of the engine allows pull starting and choke operation.

The advantage of such an arrangement is a cleaner looking boat. An inboard without the cost. The engine is also protected from the elements. Also, it leaves a nice clean transom for your boat name art.

Many Columbia Challenger owners chose to convert to your present arrangement (transonm mount) and glass over the engine well. The problem is a terrible lack of maneuverability. Without being able to swivel the engine, you are dependent on the rudder for steerage. Assuming you have the speed for rudder authority. So it's only a problem steering when you are going slow, like out of or into a slip. (!) And even with some speed, steerage in reverse is practically nil. For this reason alone, we strongly considered converting to a transom mount.

Also, the engine well picks up quite a bit of water when underway, particularly in following seas. Now it can only fill up so much -- to the top of the well entry, to be exact. This amounts to quite a bit of weight aft and contributes to our boat's tendency to look a little butt heavy. When under sail, this amount of water makes quite a bit of noise sloshing back and forth. We will be adding a bilge pump back there for use while under sail.

I would not un-convert your boat if I were you. The look is nice but the water and lack of steering more than make up for that.

We did try the first season a number of rubber inner tube segments taped to the sides of the motor well and the motor itself. The suggestion of the template is interesting, I wonder how he modified it to allow the telltale stream to drain.

We use a 7HP 2 cycle with no problem. It is also a long shaft outboard, but I am not sure that matters.

4. A Four Stroke on the Transom

From: M. D.

My decisions were based around my selection of a Honda 8hp 4-stroke as auxillary weapon of choice. I also looked at the old style (2-stroke) Johnson 6, but actually got a better price on the Honda at that time (1992, I think). The boat originally had a Johnson 6 (a Jurassic edition that worked 1 in 10 times, so something had to be done soon as I was not too fond of skulling). My original idea was to put the Honda into the well - but all attempts failed! (I had measured the head of the motor, but it was actually the size of the lower unit that prevented the installation). I reluctantly bought a outboard bracket and hung the 90lb Honda off the transom. This weight well aft actually did very little to the balance of the boat - I had figured the nose would begin to point skyward - but not much really changed. So why did I glass in the well? With either engine, underway the well would constantly fill and presented both a bother to pump out and seemed to be a drag on boat speed. I'm not sure if glassing it in contributed to LWL (probably not), but it certainly contributed to my peace of mind. Now, I don't have to hear the slosh of water, see my gas cans floating on their side, or man the pumps several times per day sail. I had the job done by the Navy sailing folks at the former Long Beach sailing facility - I was having some other glass work done at the time - and they did a tremendous job! The key for me was the extra hp - pushes the boat extremely well, but doesn't completely over-do it, and gas mileage is also quite good (I hate to admit it because I much prefer to sail, but there was that summer trip with no wind when I motored the entire distance of 45 nautical miles on three gallons of gas). The key to motor performance is buying the right motor bracket (for the incline transom) and placing it correctly so that the propellor (long shaft motor essential!) is kept in the water even as the boat pitches when going to weather.

Good Luck! If I had to do it again, I think I would still glass the transom in, but if your boat's original equipment included the "plug" for the well, it alone might suffice to keep water out of the area. When I glassed my boat, there was no one to tell me that a plug was original equipment, and no place to go for plans for one.... I only found out about the plugs several years later!

5. Another Four Stroke onThe Transom

From D.L.

Lets talk about that motor well and the outboard question. The C24's were designed to accept an outboard in the well, but you are correct, as the 4-strokes came along, they became too big to fit into the well. Also, a major concern has been 1.) ventilation and 2.) water coming into the well from a following sea. You can successfully place a motor in the well by stepping down in motor size 6-8 hp, adding ventilation via two air scoops, one facing forward, the other facing aft and attaching a flex hose to the intake of the forward facing scoop that extends down close to the bottom of the well and attaching a shorter flex hose to the exhaust scoop that faces aft. Royces book on sailing shows this example on the Challenger he had to get air into the well. The well can be sealed around the shaft with a wheel barrow inner tube placed around the motor lower unit and inflated to seal the opening. You will also have to provide a tube to the outside to handle the water jet from your motor. My Challenger has a wood hatch plate that is covering a rectangular opening on the forward side of the well that would give access to the motor from the cockpit. The smaller the motor, the lighter it will be. Eric, our web creator, uses his well on his C24 and pulls the motor everytime he starts sailing and puts it in one of the cockpit lockers. I have thought about stepping down in motor size and doing just what I dialoged above. Reason is, my 9.9 is one heavy dude, mounted way back off the stern, is a bear to raise and lower, effects boat trim. On the other hand, it is quiet and I can get the thing out of the water to reduce drag. The boat sails just fine with this arraignment and I am glad to have the extra hp to deal with the nasty currents and wave conditions up here. My controls are remote to the cockpit and that helps. One of the biggest concerns that I have is that my wife cannot lift or drop the motor or even pull the cord to start should I ever fall overboard. Bottom line.... use the well, buy a 6-8 hp motor. If you leave the motor in the water, it will cut your speed a few knots, plus the maintenance factor. I have been told that 6 hp is optimum for the boat. (consider a 4-stroke.. quieter and less smoke)

6. Modifying the well for a larger engine with a tilt up feature

From: C. P.

When I purchased the boat it came with an older 6 hp Johnson long shaft which barely fit in the well. I decided to modify the well so I could tilt the motor up and to some day allow me to install a bigger (higher hp) motor. The mod worked to some extent. I was able to keep the motor out of the water while at anchor, but the lower unit would drag in anything but totally flat conditions while sailing. It actually created more drag tilted up than the down position. Part of the reason was the weight that the of the water that would come in though the well.

What make and model fit? Not sure, but the 6 hp Johnson was tight getting in and out. Don't think any of the newer motors would fit without modifying .

How do you deal with the problem of water entering the stern locker through the open well? I have heard of people using a wheel barrow inner tube around the lower unit of motor while in well and inflating to seal out water, it sound like that might work?

How much of a problem is water intrusion through the well? I don't think the water is that much of a big deal. I've sailed in all kinds of weather and it has not been a problem. I do have a 1 inch drain hole level with the floor which allows most of the water to drain while at anchor or stopped calm conditions. The rest of the water is removed with a sponge.

Do you leave your motor in the well while sailing? Yes

Does the motor shaft and or water in the locker significantly affect speed and control while sailing? I'm sure that having the motor in the water does create enough drag to effect speed but I do not think it cause any control problems.

Have you invented or have you heard of a system that permits the motor to be partially raised or completely removed from the well while under sail? No, I thought that my tilt mod would be the ticket but I was not able to get motor out of the water far enough.

IMO the best solution to this motor well problem. IS NOT TO USE THE WELL. Seal it up and use for gas cans and there is no worrying about it filling up with water. I know that you said you have a back problem but with the proper spring loaded mounting bracket lifting even a larger engine should take a minimal effort. Or if you wish to use the bracket you have you can rig up a couple of blocks to give you a mechanical advantage when lifting. The only other option that would be really handy is to have throttle and shifter controls in the cockpit. This is exactly what I intend to do in the near future.

IMO I would not use anything less than 6 hp motor especially in the open ocean in the area that you live. I enjoy sailing when it's really blowing and the Challenger sails perfectly in 20-25 knots with deep reefed main and storm jib hanked on. I have also been caught of guard by unexpected bad weather (easterly Santa Anna winds) and I like to be able to know that I could motor though it if I had to. Tres Amigos has a 15 hp Johnson electric start and alternator. It's a motor that I put together from two used Johnson's I picked up at a swap meet ($60 for both). A 9.9 and a 15 hp both had problems. The 15 had blown crank and piston and the 9.9 was missing transmission. They are essentially the same motor the only difference is the carburetor. I decided to rebuild the 15 hp and glad I did it will punch through just about anything.

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Columbia Contender Information

These reviews and links provide comments from Columbia Contender Owners. If you have additional comments about the Columbia Challenger, Contender, or Columbia 26, or Columbia 26 MKII, please send them my way.

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Columbia 24 Information

These reviews and links provide comments from Columbia 24 Owners. If you have additional comments about the Columbia Challenger, Contender, or Columbia 26, or Columbia 26 MKII, please send them my way.

1. Another Modification to the Outboard Well

From W.M.

I reconfigured a Columbia 24 motor well some years ago and am in the process of totally redoing a C-26 presently. See Columbia 26 below.

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Columbia 26 Information

These reviews and links provide comments from Columbia 26 owners. If you have additional comments about the Columbia Challenger, Contender, or Columbia 26, or Columbia 26 MKII, please send them my way.

1. From W. M. Columbia 26

I reconfigured a Columbia 24 motor well some years ago and am in the process of totally redoing a C-26 presently. I plan to duplicate what I did with the 24 on my 26 because it worked extremely well going in and out of Atlantic inlets, ocean sailing/motoring and trips to the Bahamas. I recommend using the long shaft motor and raising the mount of the well by about 1/2 the extra distance. That gives you a little more shaft in the water when you really want it (inlets, short steep seas, etc). The raised motor head also breathes better. Next I cut a triangular shaped opening out of the transom (about 8 inches up from the bottom of the transom) and epoxied in two fore-aft bulkheads on each side of the motor well back to the cut-out. This eliminated any water sloshing into the lazerette especially as it now had an exit. The additional benefit of the cut-out is that you can also tilt the motor up and keep it the barnacles off if you sail in salt water. You don't loose any strength because of the bulkheads. I was making a new lazerette hatch anyway so made it a little higher. You will have to make close measurements of everything first but this arrangement worked really well for me over several thousand miles.

W. M. was asked a series of questions. Those questions were:

1. What exactly do you mean by the phrase "raising the mount of the well by about 1/2 the extra distance?"

2. Do you have plans or photos of your well modifications?

3. What size outboard do you have in your well?

4. While you were enlarging the size of the well in the direction of the transom cut-out, did you also widen it transversely?

5. How exactly, and how high did you raise the hatch?

In response to the above questions, W.M. wrote:

Here are some answers that I hope will help with your questions.

1) By raising the mount of the well by about 1/2 the distance I meant that if a standard outboard shaft is 16" long and a long shaft is 21", you could raise the motor mount of the well by 2 1/2" to 3". The new made for sailboat outboards are now mostly coming in extra long 26" shafts. They may not work as well in the configuration of the C-24's or 26.

2) Sorry! I don't have any photo's or plans.

3) I had two motors for my 24. I used a Johnson 6 for quite a while and it worked great. I got a Yamaha 9.9 (four stroke) later because I thought I wanted the power and generating capability. It did keep my batteries up on the Bahama trips but the motor was major overkill and too heavy. I haven't purchased a motor for the C-26 yet.

4) I did't have to widen the well transversely because both motors fit nicely in the space between the two foward-aft bulkheads that were up against the outside edges of the well. The design in this area will depend on the motor chosen. I just saw a new Mercury 9.9 four stroke that looked so big I'm not sure it would even fit in my C-26 well at all.

5) I built the new hatch out of teak and will do the same on the current boat. The height of the hatch is determined by the height of the vertical sides of the hatch. Generally the vertical sides are 1 1/2" to 2" but if you need more height you can raise the vertical height to 4 or 5 inches. Hope this helps.

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Columbia 26 MKII Information

W. M. Columbia 26 MK II

These reviews and links provide comments from Columbia 26 MK II owners. If you have additional comments about the Columbia Challenger, Contender, or Columbia 26, or Columbia 26 MKII, please send them my way.

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Columbia Links

Columbia Sailing Yachts
Home of The Columbia Owner's Association
Columbia Owners Assn
Columbia Sailboat Model Specifications
Owner Registry - Columbia Yachts
Columbia Myths and Legends
One account of the formation of Columbia Yachts
Columbia Yachts E-Mail List
Columbia Contender Photos
Columbia's For Sale - Free Adds
Columbia 26 Mk2 Owner's Manual

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This page was created by myrmade@solopublications.com 1/19/00