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Which Island Packet?
My opinion is about as opposite as it gets with the resident expert here.
For the Bahamas and Florida I''d go with the shallow draft. The difference means more anchorages, safer anchorages, no surge anchorages, shaving big sailing miles off by cutting across banks, sailing in smooth protected water instead of open rough water, getting into marinas, etc. You can visit a lot of places with the deeper draft and a lot more with the shallower draft. When hurricane season comes around you will pray for every inch of draft you can save.
Compared to full keels, most fin keels are nervous nellies sailing or at anchor. They like to snag anchor lines when using two rodes in a current (normal in the islands). They are a constant source of problems. Fins are good for picking your way through coral heads and docking but it stops there for me. I don''t like having to correct the helm everytime a wave decides to push the boat one way or another. Downwind in big following seas is a workout compared to full keels...it''s all about fatique. Windvanes don''t like following seas and that problem is greatly magnified with fin keels. Skegs don''t help a lot either. Sensitivity is a good thing for day sailing and racing but not for cruising.
You can go to the SSCA (Seven Seas Cruising Association)meet every year in Melbourne, Florida for a good idea of what seasoned cruisers prefer in a boat. They come from all over the world and the last 5-6 years showed 300+ boats anchored off in attendance for the week long event. You can divide the groups into two types..."very experienced" and "others". Very experienced are generally sailing traditional full keel, moderate to heavy displacement boats. These are sailors with life long sailing backgrounds and it "suggests" what their opinion is on the best boat for cruising. For what it''s worth, I''ve lived aboard, cruised, raced and owned multiple types of sailboats over the past 40+ yrs...and have the same opinion.
With that said, the IPs have a good rep here in Florida. They are made for local conditions and do it nicely.