Which Island Packet?
I believe the newer Island Packets have a new rudder design slightly shallower than the keel, being that one of the companies prides is having ultimate protection of the rudder during a grounding.
I believe that the older models such as the 380 and the 400 have post rudders, which I would express concern for. That would be very bad luck to damage a rudder on a voyage.
Now, when you say distance cruising means being able to sail where you want in a wide range of conditions, I don''t think you give the Packet enough respect. After all, cruising isn''t about getting there. If I had wanted to get somewhere I would have become a powerboater. If you hear the weather is not going to be in your favor, you sail to port. If you can''t sail to port, you weather it out. Back to sailing ability, you can still sail on any point of the wind (less closer than about 45 degrees which is uncomfortable anyway.) You may not go the same speed or point anywhere near as well as a moderate displacment fin keeled boat, but you will still do maybe 5 knots instead of 8.
All in all, I guess I am a sap for the classic full keel. It just gives me a better sense of security. I respect your opinion also Jeff, being that you are a naval architect. You do have years of experience. I''m glad that you agreed with me on part of my letter. If the poster believes he wants an Island Packet, he is choosing the right boat of the two in the 380.