Most, if not all, of the reason why I delayed so long in getting started on a 26 was my desire to get standing headroom, which in my case, would be 6 feet. I have a sketch of the 26, stretched to 28, and it does open the boat up a lot, but even at that, headroom was only going to be 5'9". Better than 5', but still a compromise if the goal was 6'. Seems to me like we had to go up to 30 feet or more to get that full 6' of headroom in this design. Interesting that in a number of other, shallow draft, sharpie type boats, you had to go up to the 40 foot plus range to get there. In full keel boats of this size, many do have the headroom, but only get there by building the sole down into the keel, such that you walk through a funnel and stand on a narrow plank on the cabin sole.
So in the end, once I concluded that I could live with 5' of headroom, most of my objections went away. In all other aspects, it would have been the same boat, only bigger, which also means more expensive and more difficult to build. I don't know if 26 feet was picked at random, but that size is a good fit to common materials, and makes economic use of plywood sheets and can utilize smaller scantlings for just about everything. Going to 28 feet would not have doubled my cost, but would have been significantly higher.
I've lived with a small ballasted centerboard boat for nearly 12 years. Given a choice of the benefits of shallow draft and a fixed keel, I would (did) chose the shallow draft. I've always thought it amusing to see the bigger keel boats with 5' of draft or more listed as "shoal draft" boats. I think those are the ones I've seen motoring through the narrow marked channels so as to not run aground (or the one's hailing Sea Tow because they did run aground). They are also the ones forced to anchor in the crowded, deep water anchorages. I've been able to motor past them to the shallower areas that are more protected.......from the wind and boats that start dragging anchors when the wind pipes up in the middle of the night.
As for the 5' of headroom, there are tons of well regarded boats that do not have even that, including my current boat. What it does have is standing headroom in the companionway and in my layout, I tried to cluster as much as possible in those 4 or 5 square feet under the open hatch. The galley is there and for a single hander, a person could eat simple meals off the bridge deck.
I also think I'll be able to trailer this boat with my Tundra pickup.
One of my few remaining issues is with the outboard motor. Not the motor as much as it's location. As designed, it situated in the aft end of the cockpit, centered in a well and lifts vertically with a tackle arrangement. I don't mind the outboard.......it's what I know and have come to prefer. It is darned handy to have right there in the cockpit where you can get to the controls, including the motor tiller. That means a boat that is highly maneuverable and will likely spin around in not much more than it's own length. Compared to a diesel, it will be cheaper, lighter, and easier to maintain and when underway, the prop can be lifted to eliminate the drag, plus that control issue. The primary downside is I would much prefer to see it tilt on it's own bracket, vs. riding a car up and down, but there isn't enough room between the aft cockpit bulkhead and the transom to get the prop to clear. I noticed that Wayne offset his and let the prop and skeg raise through a slot in the transom. Another option may be to offset it slightly to starboard and cut a slot in the aft cockpit bulkhead to move it forward enough for the tip of the skeg to clear the transom. That has the extra benefit of moving the motor controls over the centerline. I don't know if it makes any difference to have the prop wash on the centerline or slightly offset. My current boat has motor mount in a cutout of the transom itself and the prop and rudder run side by side. It causes no problems at all. Anyway, this is to all be decided and whatever the outcome, will be something I can live with.
Anyway, that was all part of my thought process. Time to get going on it (which to some degree, I have). Outside of cutting out some parts, not much is going to happen around here until the weather warms up.