IN THEIR WORDS
Boaters are drawn to the water by myriad passions: the lure of adventure, the quest for camaraderie, the search for solitude. For Kai Meckeler, it’s all about the fishing and always has been.
“I used to drive my father crazy,” says Meckeler, who is 41 and runs a small construction company in his hometown of Annandale, N.J. “We’d be out on the family sailboat, and I’d have the fishing rod out. I’ve always loved fishing.”
His Regulator 26 center console is versatile, roomy enough for friends, has a great ride, and seems to thrive on hard use. “We do whatever we want with it,” Meckeler says. “We use it for diving and catching lobsters, we spearfish, we go inshore fishing for fluke and bass.”
Best of all, they go offshore after tuna, “just like the big guys,” he says. “Here I am, going out to the canyons in a 26-foot boat, and I’m passing the 38-footers and the
40-footers. On our fourth trip, I landed a 150-pound big-eye tuna. It was 5 feet long. That was a dream come true.”
Meckeler bought his 2000 Regulator about a year ago for around $70,000. Introduced by a husband-wife boatbuilding team in 1988, the boat has become an acknowledged classic in its field. In fact, it’s described in the Powerboat Guide as “a no-compromise, all-weather trailerable fishing platform … [with] quality construction and drop-dead good looks”.
That’s just what Meckeler was looking for when he decided he needed his own boat again. He’d been out of boating for a while, busy running his company. Then he joined a New Jersey fishing club. “That’s when I started thinking about getting a boat again,” he says.
Meckeler did his homework, then went to boat shows, looking for a center console. “New boats were out of my range in the size I was looking for, so I concentrated on used ones,” he says. “A friend asked me if I’d looked at Regulators yet. He knew about a used one, and we went down and took a ride in it.”
That was all it took. One ride. “I was so impressed,” Meckeler says. “I didn’t know too much about Regulator, but the ride was enough to convince me this was the boat I was looking for. And I’ll tell you, I’ve been out in 6- to 8-foot seas in this boat, 100 miles offshore. I wouldn’t trade this boat for anything.”
The boat was located in New Jersey and was in excellent shape, with minimal signs of wear and tear. The owner also had a complete service record. Like many center consoles, Meckeler’s twin-outboard Regulator has a T-top with an electronics box, and his array includes a GPS/chart plotter, fishfinder, Northstar radar, and a VHF radio. He has a three-sided enclosure for the helm, and it’s come in handy more than once, says Meckeler. “It’s very easy to set up and use,” he says. “We’re usually in the spray and wind, so it’s a nice place to get into and out of the weather.” There’s also standing headroom in the console compartment, which has a head as well as room for dry storage.
For now, Meckeler is focused on fishing and goes as often as he can. But he hopes to find the time next season to take it easy, maybe just cruise around in his Regulator, taking in the sunset. But rest assured, he’ll have a fishing rod close at hand.
Though he loves his 26, Meckeler says there’s another boat in his future. “You know, I’m going to keep this boat for at least a couple of seasons,” he says. “Then I’m going to get a 32 Regulator.”
Bred for the offshore waters off its home state of North Carolina, the Regulator 26 rides a deep-vee hull with a sharp 48-degree entry and 24 degrees of deadrise. The fiberglass hull is stiffened by Regulator’s proprietary one-piece grillage system at the transom. The high, flared bow sheds water, and the freeboard is carried well aft to a broad transom deep enough for bait wells.
The center console (with a compartment that has 6 feet of headroom and a head) is placed slightly abaft amidships, and various seating options are available, including a cushioned double seat or leaning post with rocket launchers. The large fiberglass dash is laid out for instrumentation and is well-protected by the aluminum-frame windscreen with side hand-holds. An optional fiberglass T-top includes an overhead electronics box and outrigger bases.
Fishing features and equipment run the gamut, from raw-water washdown to in-deck locking rod storage. Wells and storage abound, including a 700-quart wet/dry box forward in the sole, with a 136-quart fish box on each side, and a 32-gallon live well in the cockpit sole. The transom holds a 16-gallon live well with a pair of 17-gallon bait boxes.
Typical propulsion is a pair of 225- or 250-hp outboards. Options include custom hull color, curtain enclosure, 16-foot outriggers, 54-gallon auxiliary fuel tank, and a 54-gallon freshwater tank with a washdown connection.
With more than 1,000 boats sold, the Regulator 26 is readily available in the used-boat market. Searching the Internet turned up such listings as the following: a 1993 model in Maryland with a pair of 200-hp 2-stroke outboards, T-top, console enclosure, coaming bolsters, double seat with rod holders, radar, fishfinder, GPS/plotter, and VHF for $42,900; a 1997 model in New York with twin 225-hp outboards, T-top, freshwater tank, forward console seat, and cockpit coaming bolsters for $58,995; a 1998 boat in Florida with a “Fighting Lady” yellow hull, twin 225-hp outboards, radar, GPS/chart plotter, fishfinder and autopilot for $64,700; and a 2000 model in Massachusetts with a light blue hull, twin 250-hp outboards, GPS/chart plotter, fishfinder, radar and autopilot for $75,900.
Regulator Marine of Edenton, N.C., was founded by Owen and Joan Maxwell in 1988, and the fishing-friendly 26 was the company’s first boat. Designer Lou Codega based it on the Maxwells’ vision of a solid, offshore-capable, well-equipped midsize fishing machine. The boat was an instant hit, spreading beyond its Carolina home waters to markets from New England to Florida.
More than 1,000 Regulator 26s have been sold, and it remains a member of the builder’s fleet of sportfishing boats from 23 to 32 feet. Codega designs all of the boats in the Regulator line, and the company is still run by the Maxwells.
The Regulator 26FS is a family-oriented version of the boat, with cushioned seating forward, a bench seat aft, additional storage and wraparound coaming bolsters. There was also a Regulator 26 express, which debuted in 1993 and had a small galley and V-berth in a cuddy cabin.