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The Humble Albin Vega 27 Has a Storied History

We recently spotted an Albin Vega 27 in our Classy Classifieds, reminding us of the many great adventures people have taken on what may now look like a relatively nondescript 27-ft sloop. But never underestimate what small boats with adventurous skippers can do. We first remember the Vega 27 as the boat that 22-year-old John Neal of Mahina Expeditions sailed for a 15,000-mile circumnavigation of the Pacific in 1974 — the same year the boat in our classifieds was built. John chronicled his adventures in the Log of the Mahina, and since then has gone on to sail another 400,000 miles.

Almost 40 years later, Matt Rutherford, at about age 31, did a solo circumnavigation of the Americas starting in the Chesapeake on a 1969 Vega 27. It was an epic 27,000-mile, 309-day solo circumnavigation, taking him over the Americas via the Northwest Passage and south from Alaska past San Francisco and around Cape Horn before returning to Chesapeake Bay. Yes, all that on a sister ship to the boat pictured below. Matt also has gone on to sail many thousands of miles and continues to sail to protect the oceans with his Ocean Research Project.

Vega 27
The simple, stout and adventurous Vega 27.
© 2022 Classifieds

If you’ve been around sailing for a while we suspect you remember these very popular cruisers built in Sweden from the late ’60s until 1979, when the final, 3,450th boat was built. Most former Vega owners recognize the boat anywhere, even while passing one parked by a tree in a front yard on the highway, while traveling at 70 mph. This actually was the case when one of our editors was heading to Tahoe for a weekend.

“There we were, cruising along, singing out loud in (or out of) tune with the radio when all of a sudden Jay slams on the brakes while gibbering on about something random. He had seen an Albin Vega on the roadside, with a For Sale sign attached. What else would a supportive spouse do but say, ‘Go back; take a look?'”

Albin Vega
It appears that once you’ve sailed a Vega, the boat stays in your heart forever.
© 2022 Jay Grant

“With quickened pulses, we both scanned the highway in each direction, hoping our car’s turning circle was small enough for a quick whip around before the next truck or SUV came lumbering around the not-distant-enough bend. Thankfully we survived the U-turn and pulled up in a stranger’s driveway. ‘We sailed around Greece on one of these,’ he said. ‘My mom, my dad, my brother and I.’

“The boys were around 10 and 13 years old, and the memories of that extended sailing voyage have stayed with them. Whenever there is a photo, or even a mention of a Vega, my husband’s eyes light up and he investigates its history. ‘Each Vega had its own sail number, and my brother and I have been trying to remember ours,’ he added.”

Dawn Treader is secured at a dock as a passing cruise ship makes its way through the channel.
© 2022 Grant Family

“The boat we saw on the roadside had clearly been out of the water for some time, and was in need of TLC, but nonetheless, it was a nostalgic moment. ‘So, do you want to call the phone number and ask about it?’ I said. ‘No,’ Jay replied quietly, ‘I just wanted to look.’

“I expect he spent the remainder of the drive up the mountain reliving those carefree days aboard Dawn Treader.

In the early 1970s, the two youngest Grant boys and their parents sailed throughout the Ionian and Aegean seas aboard their 27-ft Albin Vega, Dawn Treader.
© 2022 Grant Family

We’re not suggesting you buy a Vega to do a circumnavigation of the Pacific or of the Americas — that kind of heritage could be a little intimidating. Though it’s also reassuring. However, if you’re looking for a capable boat at a reasonable price to circumnavigate Angel Island, or Decker Island in the Delta, this boat might make sense. One of the great aspects of browsing the Classifieds is the hidden pedigree and history of some boats that might escape the casual glance.


  1. EP 2 years ago

    That one. That boat is exactly what, for so long, I was seeking. Trailer it to the Sea of Cortez. Tabernacle the mast and berth it in Santa Cruz harbor. Sail it off a morning in Monterey. Sail it anywhere. Sail it everywhere, to anywhere. Circumnavigate all my dreams.

    Of course by now I have a bigger boat, and projects, so many projects…

  2. Jeff Gable 2 years ago

    Hi John, My partner Deb and I stumbled on to Mahina via a craigslist ad up here in the San Juan Islands.Saying she needed some work is an understatement. She was on a trailer which meant we could tow her home to the shop and I was aware of John Neal’s history with the boat as well as other adventures in other Vegas. We talked ourselves into it and have been rebuilding her for several months now. Every piece of wood was missing or bad and she was full of water and soggy boat junk. We will have replaced everything but the hull I suppose in the end and added a new Beta engine as well, but crawling in, out, under, and over the Vega will bring one under her spell. I have restored a Pacific Dolphin, a Ranger 26 and a Rhodes Vangaurd only to sell them off and do it again. The Mahina, at last, feels like true love Regards Jeff Gable and Deb Taylor

    • John Arndt 2 years ago

      Jeff and Deb – thanks for the note and great to hear Mahina and all your other restorations are bringing a second life to deserving boats. We never like thinking about the alternative future for those boats and are glad to hear they’re providing more sailing days to new owners. We’d love to share some photos and more of the restoration of the Mahina whenever you’re ready. Good luck with the project and we salute your efforts.

  3. John Neal 2 years ago

    I can’t wait to see the rebirth of Mahina! I hope Deb and Jeff have many grand adventures aboard her. Sounds like she’ll stronger and better than ever when they’re finished with the refit.

  4. Dave Proctor 11 months ago

    We are the proud owners of our restored Vega No. 1030 called Vegabond. (1971). Indeed yesterday we were sailing along the coast of Spain with the air temp in the 80s and a wonderful 10 to 12 knots of wind. Absolute joy and she sailed wonderfully.

  5. Raphael 11 months ago

    Currently refitting Vega #1742 “Altair” in Vancouver, BC since end of 2021. Got it off the docks and sailing in the Straight of Georgia summer of 2022. A previous owner had took this boat to Mexico and Hawaii prior, so looking forward to attempting similar.

    • Anna 7 months ago

      I used to own Altair, sold it in 1997. Richard Chudley, RFC Marine, was the Dealer for these & imported all the Vegas, Viggins & Albin Motor Sailboats in Canada. I believe he still lives in Victoria.

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