REVIEW: MAXUM 26600 SE

By: David Lockwood, Photography by: John Ford


Although it could be legally towed, the Maxum 26600 SE is more likely to be found stowed at marinas than in garages. It is, however, a pocket cruiser worthy of our waterways, writes David Lockwood

The Big Mac approach to boat building adopted by the multinationals seeks to engage the masses. That means mass appeal, safe design, and nothing too creative. I was therefore suprised after setting eyes on Maxum’s new 26600 SE. Launched this year after its designers returned to the drawing board, the production boat challenges conventional wisdom. Contemporary lines hide an especially voluminous interior and there is some fresh thinking including – a new one on me. It’s what's known as Active Seating. Move over Homer Simpson. Bring on the fat belts and pilates. Well, not quite. There will be more on the seating in due course.
Despite being made in America – aren't most boats these days? – Maxum's pocket cruiser deserves a place on our waterways. Measuring 27ft overall and including spacious accommodation for four, a moulded head with hot shower and electric loo, microwave oven and, yes, two fridges, this is exactly the kind of pocket cruiser that trailerboaters will consider upgrading to. It has more comforts for spending more than a day aboard.
Providing you pick your anchorages, your biggest problem with the 26600 SE might be staying awake on the water. With all the aforesaid features you need to think of the 26600 SE as weekender for two, plus two kids if you have them. Spend Saturday night aboard and, if not tied to a marina tapped into its shorepower supply, then anchored in a quiet bay somewhere.
To this end, I would fit the boat with an aftermarket invertor to convert its separate 12V house battery supply to 240V power for brief use of appliances (read toaster at breakfast) and the microwave oven (for reheating dinner). In fact, I would add a third battery for this very purpose. But, really, nothing else is needed to complete this floating apartment. And, with an upgraded big-block V8 petrol MerCruiser motor, the 26600 SE is not going to hang around.

MAXI MAXUM TRAILERBOAT
Though it is destined to be stowed at marinas and in dry-stack boat racks — such as those that grace the shores of Port Phillip Bay, Akuna Bay, and Runaway Bay — the 26600 SE has a handy 2.59m beam that means it can be legally towed, albeit with a permit of some kind in most states. I'm told it will tip the scales at 3,800kg on road, so it's definitely F250 or Range Rover territory. And you will need to take it easy and swing wide on those corners until you are comfortable with towing the big rig.
Had I towed it through Sydney’s suburbs to the boat ramp, my adventure would have begun the moment the trailer kissed the tow bar. Thankfully, the boat arrived at a local wharf and, sidling up to the jetty, I leapt aboard and sauntered up the flat foredeck, which was covered in non-skid, before opening the windscreen and negotiating the moulded stairs in the cabin door to the cockpit.
With a one-piece bowrail and moulded tow rails, the 26600 SE has good access across its bow. But, with an optional windlass fitted, there is no need to go forward to drop the anchor. Press a button at the groovy low-glare grey and metallic dash and the anchor heads below. Thus, the only time you will need to head forward is to tie a mooring line or perhaps sit on the flat foredeck with a cold drink in hand.
Besides the usual spread of Faria engine gauges for the big-block MerCruiser, I found an optional stereo remote, controls for the windscreen wipers and trim tabs, woodgrain tilt adjustable wheel and matching woodgrain trim on the modern dash. Incidentally, the supplied trim tabs are a necessity on a boat like this, with such a big portside co-pilot lounge that, when loaded, could lead to a trim imbalance. It was also great to see a full breaker panel rather than fuses at the dash.
The windscreen, held up by stainless steel supports, is a new rakish design that complements the boat's racy engine vents and modern sculptured side panels, which help conceal its surprising volume. You wouldn't know there was an aft cabin with a big double bed and an easily convertible dinette in the bow that creates another double bed, and headroom inside, unlike so many boats in the entry-level cruiser class.

CABIN COMFORTS
The fact that the 26600 SE has headroom around the landing area in the saloon, before the port-side galley, is a key selling point. But sit around the dinette in the bow and you also derive a terrific sense of space. Again, this is refreshing compared to some low-profile, more sports-orientated cruisers. It's also indicative of Maxum's full-beam forward, maxi-volume approach to hull design.
Among the amenities at the port-side galley are a single-burner electric stove and microwave oven. As I said, an invertor is needed to use them away from the dock. The counters were an upmarket solid Corian-like material, while the stainless steel sink had a trendy mixer with pullout spray rinser so you can fill a pot with water prior to cooking the pasta.
Food prep space is boosted via a plastic, slide-out extension at the end of the counter. It’s a clever touch that underscores the fact there is scope for innovation on a small boat. Meantime, the sub-counter bar fridge with freezer tray is big enough to carry a weekend worth of grub and/or bait. Storage for appliances, pots and pans, and pantry space was adequate. Opening portlights and an overhead hatch provide ventilation.
Hot water comes courtesy of an accumulator tank, a heat exchanger on the engine, and 240V shorepower. Besides the galley, there’s hot water in the starboard head, along with a moulded sink with pullout shower rose and wall attachment. There's not a lot of room to shower and you have to straddle the (upgraded electric) loo. But with a more practical hot/cold shower in the cockpit you'll rarely use the internal unit anyway.
As mentioned, the dinette in the bow is roomy. There’s a dedicated area for mounting the LCD television/DVD player within view and sub-seat storage space for safety gear. Drop the table and you have a double bed. The lounge backrests double as the infill cushions, thereby reducing clutter. The upgraded fabrics had a smart, executive look.
The aft cabin might appear stifling for some, but at least there's room to sit-up near the bed head, which is flanked by reading lights, and there are two opening hatches for ventilation. Best you consider it a kids’ cabin/rumpus room. Put it all together and you get a lot of comforts in the cabin for your cash. But for all that, the 26600 SE is even smarter outdoors.

ACTIVE SEATING
As much as this is a cabin cruiser and maxi trailerboat, it was designed to be an entertainer by day. There are two different seating options: the standard layout includes a three-quarter length aft lounge with lunch table and starboard-side transom door; the option is for a split aft-lounge with a centre transom door and no table. The latter layout is promoted with the optional waketower as more a watersport boat than a family weekender.
For cruising with the clan and kicking back in the cockpit you can't beat the standard seating arrangement. Why? Simply, you get more seats and more of that so-called Active Seating. What you’ve been waiting for, right? The aft lounge can be used four ways: as a seat for up to three people when cruising; as part of a lunch setting around the table; as a sunpad for a couple when the backrest is folded inboard; and as an aft-facing seat for sundowners or watching the kiddies splash about when the seat base and backrest are slid inboard.
Whichever way you choose to use it, that aft lounge creates a separate seating area to the Active Seating zone at the helm. Once anchored, you can swing the double helm (love) seat from its transverse position to a longitudinal position, where it faces the co-pilot lounge, which is big enough to seat three people or act as a daybed. Configured this way you create a social setting shaded under the boat's canopy where you can do lunch on your lap with good views extending out the deep side windscreen panes.
Nearby amenities to this Active Seating will help insure you stay put – a sink with a sliding cutting board lid for food-prep and an optional cockpit fridge. Storage space is the only thing that's light on in the cockpit, with some room under the helm seat and rear lounge, but neither area has a moulded insert and there's less room than that on other cruisers. As to be expected, however, the transom is deep enough to function as a play area, with swim ladder the hot/cold handheld shower, and easy-to-reach cleats and deck fillers.
There was nothing out of the ordinary about the engine installation or engineering, with good servicing room around the single V8 petrol motor. The engine room is accessed by pressing a button that raises the bonnet on a hydraulic gas strut. I could reach the house and engine-start batteries for servicing (they need distilled water once a month), the hot-water service, engine oil and cooling system, the 76lt water tank and holding tank. The latter should see you through a weekend if you're careful.

ECONOMICAL
As you might expect, there’s something to crow about this boat’s performance. But it’s not so much the speed and the amenable nature of the 320hp V8 that impressed. This was an especially quiet inboard-powered cruiser with plenty of acceleration and no harsh roar. That’s mainly due to the exhaust set-up of the Bravo II sterndrive leg. Fully trimmed in and with the trims tabs engaged to just button the bow to the water, the 26600 SE travels in a dignified manner — or what I call a family cruise — at 23kts at 3200rpm and it was just as delightful at 27kts at 3500rpm.
Above these speeds the boat leapt around somewhat if you trimmed the leg up and removed the trim tabs to try to gain maximum efficiency and speed. But with a touch of leg trim and tab there was still a pleasant fast cruise of 33.6kts at 4500rpm. Top speed was 36.5kts. But in today's world, it’s the fact that the boat performs so well at economical cruise settings that matters.
Then, once the anchor takes hold and the engine is silenced, there's that social cockpit arrangement to enjoy and, later, the big-hearted cabin to savour. But Active Seating? The way I see it, it’s for nothing more than catching rays and zeds and kicking back with family and friends for long lunches and, later, dinner.
Add a maxi tow vehicle and the coast is your oyster.

WHAT WE LIKED
Smart convertible or Active (cockpit) Seating
New styling is contemporary and creative
Spacious cabin and cockpit loaded with amenities
Appealing electric loo in moulded head
Good finish and attention to detail
Runs well when the bow is trimmed in and kept in contact with the water
Very at comfortable cruise speeds
Everything you need for spending a weekend away
Good value compared to other American 26ft pocket cruisers

NOT SO MUCH
Would require a maxi-4WD to tow
Needs an invertor and spare battery for away-from-dock 240V power for the galley and appliances
Blocky appearance from some angles
Needs more cockpit storage
Actuator and rams that lift the engine room lid are slow
More grabrails are needed in the cockpit for passengers

 

Specifications: Maxum 26600 SE

HOW MUCH?
Price as tested: $124,690 w/ MerCruiser 320hp 6.2lt MPI petrol inboard, options, safety gear and registrations.
Options fitted: Upgraded motor (std in USA w/ 250hp 5.7lt MerCruiser), bimini, cockpit cover, cockpit fridge, windlass, electric head, delivery and more.

GENERAL
Material: GRP with bonded grid stringer system
Length overall: 8.23m
Beam: 2.59m
Weight: Approx 3,122kg (dry w/base motor), 3,800kg on road

CAPACITIES
Berths: 4
Fuel capacity: 322lt
Passengers: 10-12
Water capacity: 76lt
Holding tank: 76lt
Rec/max HP: 320
Rec/min HP: 250

ENGINE
Make/model: MerCruiser 6.2lt MPI
Type: Multipoint injected V8 petrol inboard motor
Weight: 451kg
Rated hp: 320h
Displacement: 6.2lt
Drive: Bravo II sterndrive
Propeller: Alloy

SUPPLIED BY
Avante Marine,
210 Silverwater Road,
Silverwater, NSW.
Phone: (02) 9737 0727
Web: www.avantemarine.com; www.maxumboats.com

Originalyl published in TrailerBoat #206

 


Want the latest stories delivered straight to your inbox? Sign up for the free TradeBoats e-newsletter.