High-end Carolina builder brings a unique solution to Chesapeake Bay conditions.
There are plenty of 23- to 41-foot Regulators running on the Chesapeake, thanks to the brand’s excellent Lou Codega designs, the meticulous construction and production processes that Joan and Owen Maxwell have built into Regulator Marine, and the solid sales and service capabilities offered by Virginia- and Maryland-based Bluewater Marine. That said, there are some places in our Bay where those supremely seaworthy deep-V “offshore life” hulls out of their element—such as the skinny marsh guts of Tangier Sound and the grass flats of Mobjack Bay.
LOA: 26′ 9″
Beam: 9′ 3″
Draft: 14″ (engine up)
Transom Deadrise: 17°
Weight: 5,900 lbs.
Max HP: 300
Fuel Capacity: 107 gal
Bluewater Yacht Sales
But now there is a Regulator for those places too, and it suits virtually everywhere in the Chesapeake and its tidal rivers. Meet the company’s new 26XO (XO stands for “crossover”), a go-almost-anywhere, do-everything boat. Lou Codega designed it, of course, but this hull has a shallower deadrise (17 degrees) than its 24-degree sisters and a broad, nine-foot, three-inch beam, which make it steady as a rock for casting from its bow and stern casting platforms or slipping from the stern swim platform to ride a tube. With its standard Yamaha F300 tilted up, the hull draws only 14 inches—not quite flats-skiff-shallow, but enough for working the Susquehanna and Fisherman’s Island flats with this model’s optional 36-volt, bow-mount Minn Kota Ulterra Riptide electric trolling motor. She could even search for largemouth bass around the Upper Bay grass beds or the cypress trees along Virginia’s lovely Chickahominy River. There’s plenty of storage for gear, including horizontal and vertical rod racks and holders.
Codega designed a pocket under the transom to provide a solid stream of water to the prop, even with its standard hydraulic jackplate raised a full four inches. We experienced how that pocket and jackplate work together in the mouth of the Chowan River at Edenton with Codega at the helm and the company’s senior director/engineering, David Clubbs, aboard. This boat is quite at home in shallow water.
But true to its brand, the 26XO can also handle rough water just fine—especially the kind of short, choppy seas that frequently appear out of the south on hot afternoons. We tested that capability on a fishing trip at the mouth of Eastern Bay in June, where a fresh 12- to 15-knot breeze bucked a strong ebb current. With six of us aboard, four working jigs, it was easy to keep out of each other’s way, while the Minn Kota held us over schooling rockfish that we could see on the standard 16-inch Garmin GPSMAP 8616 XSV chartplotter/sounder. With Regulator’s customer service chief, Al Partin, at the helm, the 26XO was comfortable and dry running into or with the seas at about 26 knots. That speed is right in the middle of the boat’s sweet range of 4,000 to 4,500 rpm. Top speed with five batteries (for the trolling motor and other systems) and three people aboard on the Chowan River was 38 knots at 5,700 rpm.
Codega sweats the details in every hull he designs, to get the right blend of shapes: transition in deadrise going forward from 17-degree transom to sharp bow entry; lifting strake width, length, and position (the 26XO has two running along each side of its bottom); and chine width. Hull strength, power (the F300 is the only engine available), and weight distribution are all part of his performance mix. The heft of Regulator’s stout construction system helps the hull shoulder seas aside. While the 26XO might not be a good choice to run fifty miles offshore in the Atlantic to the Baltimore Canyon, it’s certainly capable of running safely with relative comfort through any nasty sea conditions within reason that the open Chesapeake might present, whether around the pilings of the Bay Bridge, off the mouth of the Potomac, or at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel.
A word about that sophisticated construction: We were able to witness the process on the Edenton visit. A key point is the precision with which Regulator’s lamination crews lay up each hull in its carefully prepared mold; dry-fit an engineered stringer grid to ensure a close fit; set the grid in with sophisticated adhesive to cure; fill any voids with closed-cell foam; then add a liner and deck cap, while the hull remains in the mold to keep it true to the design. Add precise installation of wiring, plumbing, and mechanical components, followed by meticulous quality control, and the result is an heirloom-quality boat with lovely lines.
Besides fishing and tubing, what other uses might a water-loving family put this crossover Regulator to around the Chesapeake? First off, it offers a lot of seating. With cushions in place, the bow’s port and starboard forward seats have flip-up backs that turn them into lounges. There’s comfort and room for two on the cushions forward of the console and again at the helm. The stern deck offers flip-up, cushioned seating for three or four and excellent access to boat systems beneath the center seat. The hardtop provides secure handholds for folks who stand, while its wraparound safety glass windshield protects from wind and spray. With abundant storage space for food and fluids and a head available in a bright, ventilated, stand-up space under the console, the 26XO could serve extended sunset picnics or even race committee duty. An adventurous couple might even cruise the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail in it, stopping each night at inns and B&Bs in our Bay’s river towns. Imagine.
Base price for Regulator’s versatile 26XO is $134,995. Figure about $15,000 more for useful options like the bow-mount electric motor with batteries and onboard charger, a T-top rocket launcher, a watersports tow-bar, and a head with holding tank and electric pump-out in the console.