"Mid Size Power Boats" - Buyers' Guide by David Pascoe

Bertram 26.6 II
Sport Convertible

Bertram 26.6 II Sport Convertible

If you are anything of a traditionalist and you ever get the opportunity to buy one of these, you should not pass it by.  The 26.6 is the only outboard model that Bertram ever made. The 20 and 25 Bahia Mar and Moppies were either stern drives or inboards.

Now, why they call this a convertible is a bit of a mystery, because all other convertibles are flybridge sedans, but this is a cuddy cabin outboard. Well, it does have a convertible top. In any case, near as I can tell, they only made this boat for a couple of years, like around 1981 - 1984, so they are scarce, very scarce. In fact, the literature I have is contradictory as to when they were produced, and in all likelihood, it was more or less on a special order basis. "If you want one, we'll make it for you, but we don't keep them in stock," sort of thing.

So why would you want to buy one? Big, beamy (ten feet) and oh, my what a deep vee on this little beauty. And, of course, it is a Bertram with all that goes with that name. Like how about 16 years old and not one crack anywhere in hull or decks. Not one. Now, the protractor I used to measure the bottom angle isn't all that great, but I can say the deadrise comes in at closer to 30 degrees than 25. Sort of looks like an upside down Swiss chalet roof. Not designed to keep the snow off, but to slice through waves just as nice as can be, and there's not doubt about how well it does that. This boat is intended to go places fast in rough water without requiring a trip to the dentist or bone cruncher.

What, you're concerned about fuel ecomomy?  You are on the wrong page, friend. Go look at the sailboats or trawlers.

From the all stainless steel and chomed bronze hardware, to the sturdy painted aluminum windshield which has the original paint still holding on after sixteen years, its got quality written large all over it. Yeah, can you believe it? Painted aluminum that's not all blistered and corroded. That's because it was prepped right rather than just shooting paint onto a unprepared surface.

This is probably the first 26.2 II that I've ever seen, or at least noticed. It really struck me as a rather unusual boat. Or perhaps I shouldn't say unusual because back in the 60's and 70's there were a lot of boats like this built. So its unusual from the stand point that it was built in 1982. Its size is deceiving. While sitting next to a 27 Tiara, it looks much smaller while in fact the difference is only one foot. The cockpit is huge, and the freeboard quite high, though the cockpit at first glance does not look all that big because of the also very large motor well. Take a look at the above  photo. I mean, is this a motor well or what? Yeah it is, and that's because this is designed as an ocean boat. Yes, really, this is what an outboard ocean boat should look like. Especially when a fisherman is going to put that stern into the waves.

Bertram 26 Bertram 26

Well, folks, you gotta have some means of keeping the water out, and that's the way you do it. Of course its not convenient, but then neither is it going to the bottom like a stone thrown from a bridge when that unexpected wave comes along. I'll tell you about how a friend of mine lost his dog sometime, because it was being a nuisance so he locked the dog in the cabin. The boat took a wave over the stern and went down so fast, it took the dog with it.  With that in mind, if you're going out to sea, better do it in a boat that's designed for it. My friend's wasn't. Another odd thing is that the motor well is so deep or so high that the engines are amost hidden. Notice that the owner has dacron covers on each of them.

She weighs in at 5100 lbs. without engines, overall at least 6500 with, so she's barely a thousand pounds less than a 27 Tiara. That's why it isn't falling apart. A pair of 200 HP Yamahas push her along at a respectable 32 mph, but with that weight and deep vee, she's no speed demon. A pair of 225's would be a bit better by giving a lower cruising RPM and better fuel economy.

I especially like the open, uncluttered deck where there is almost no restriction on your ease of movement. The high gunwales are a bit problematic for a bill fisherman, but you can use a net or gaff for anything else. If you are a dedicated diver, then you are probably not going to like that motor well very much, as climbing over that in full gear would not be my idea of a fun thing to do. This boat is definitely not a diver's dream. So what is it really good for? Well, just fishing and as a basic utility boat. You will have no trouble with two, even three folding Pompantte deck chairs for taking friends for a ride. No aluminum beach chairs, please.

When you look at the size of the cuddy cabin is when you begin to realize that this boat is nearly 27 feet long. It is surprisingly large, so if you are young and adventurous, its not beyond the realm of taking a long trip in a small boat. The space is plenty large for overnighting, along with plenty of space for stowing gear. The high gunwales mean that you can enclose this boat and still have lots of head room without getting claustrophobia, or reducing visibility. In fact, with that high windshield, visibility with the top up is great. Drop the top and the cockpit suddenly seems huge with no motor boxes to get in the way.

You may not be thrilled with the all teak cockpit ceilings, but you'll notice from the photos that the owner has kept them up nice, even in the Florida sun and daily rains. You could  just as easily let them turn silver, but that nice accent would be lost.

As with so many of the small Bertrams, especially the 31, this is really an enthusiast's boat. If you're just looking for a good, all purpose boat, you can find a lot more suitable boats than this. It comes with only two pedastal seats. You buy one of these because of what it is, like an old sports car. This is the Corvette of small boats.   Its a pride of ownership thing which, unlike cars, there's a dearth of collectibles, at least in fiberglass boats. On the other hand, aside from the teak, there's not much to maintenance since boats of this size don't get much more basic than this one.

Its not hard to understand why Bertram didn't keep this one on the market very long. Its not for everybody. But if it fits your style, you'd be hard pressed to find anything better unless its custom built.

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Other high quality boats in this class:
  • Blackfin 27 outboard
  • 27 Tiara
  • Albermarle 26

Posted July 29, 1998

David Pascoe Power Boat Books

Buyers' Guide to Outboard Boats Surveying Fiberglass Power Boats (2E)

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David Pascoe - Biography

David Pascoe is a second generation marine surveyor in his family who began his surveying career at age 16 as an apprentice in 1965 as the era of wooden boats was drawing to a close.

Certified by the National Association of Marine Surveyors in 1972, he has conducted over 5,000 pre purchase surveys in addition to having conducted hundreds of boating accident investigations, including fires, sinkings, hull failures and machinery failure analysis.

Over forty years of knowledge and experience are brought to bear in following books. David Pascoe is the author of:

In addition to readers in the United States, boaters and boat industry professionals worldwide from nearly 80 countries have purchased David Pascoe's books, since introduction of his first book in 2001.

In 2012, David Pascoe has retired from marine surveying business at age 65.

On November 23rd, 2018, David Pascoe has passed away at age 71.

Biography - Long version

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David Pascoe's
Power Boat Books

Mid Size Power Boats Mid Size Power Boats
A Guide for Discriminating Buyers
Focuses exclusively cruiser class generally 30-55 feet
With discussions on the pros and cons of each type: Expresses, trawlers, motor yachts, multi purpose types, sportfishermen and sedan cruisers.
Buyers' Guide to Outboard Boats
Selecting and Evaluating New and Used Boats
Dedicated for offshore outboard boats
A hard and realistic look at the marine market place and delves into issues of boat quality and durability that most other marine writers are unwilling to touch.
Surveying Fiberglass Powewr Boats
Surveying Fiberglass Power Boats
2nd Edition
The Art of Pre-Purchase Survey The very first of its kind, this book provides the essentials that every novice needs to know, as well as a wealth of esoteric details.
Marine Investigations
Pleasure crafts investigations to court testimony The first and only book of its kind on the subject of investigating pleasure craft casualties and other issues.
Nearly 80 countries
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Last reviewed April 29, 2014.