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post #4 of Old 08-16-2001
Posts: n/a
Purchasing through Charter Programs

Sorry, I just saw your question. While I am probably the wrong guy to ask about Island Packets, I would say that I would buy almost any equally priced (or even a little less expensive) sailboat before I''d buy an Island Packet. You need to understand where I am coming from though. I am very much a person who appreciates performance boats and really enjoys voyaging under sail. I have been known to go coastal cruising and not start the engine for a week at a time, sailing in and out of slips and on and off the anchor. Running the engine is the close to the last thing that I ever want to do. Yesterday, I bought a Farr 38 (11.6) which for myself,is my idea of a near perfect distance and coastal cruiser. Please take my comments in that context.

From my point of view, Island Packets make little sense for the way that most people say they want to use their boats. I have spent a lot of time watching them under way, talking to current and past owners, sailmakers, and talking to people who work in repair yards about them. The fact that they have achieved the kind of status that they have is a real mystery to me.

My biggest gripe with the Island Packets starts with how they sail. I have watched them in lighter winds, and I have watched them in higher winds. In light air, they don''t sail By that I mean winds under mayve 8 knots. On a boat that is intended to be sailed most of the time, 8 knots of air should be enough to achieve hull speed on a close reach. I have also been amazed that they don''t sail better in a stiff breeze. I have been negatively surprised by the amount of heel, leeway and their motion when things have gotten a bit brisk. They really do not seem to handle a chop very well and and seem to be surprising wet. To quote a local sailmaker who has spent a lot of time on IP''s as he has made a lot of sails for them and then usually gets asked to sail on the boats to explain why the performance isn''t better than it is, "They are trawlers for people who don''t want to admit they bought a trawler."

I think that is a little harsh, but I don''t care where I have been in recent years, on a nice sailing day you will see most of the boats out there sailing, except Island Packets which you much more typically see motoring with their mainsail up. This may say more about the type of people who buy IP''s than the boat (i.e. If you are a dyed-in-the-wool, never crank up the noisemaker type, you probably would not buy an IP) While the newer larger IP''s appear to be greatly improved over earlier models, this still seems to be the case.

Beyond that are a lot of more subjective issues. I am a fan of more modern designs and also of genuine traditional designs. I have owned a 1939 Stadel Cutter and a Folkboat, and routinely sail and race on traditional water craft. Its something I get a kick out of. I really admire and like to think that I understand traditional water craft. One thing the IP is not is a traditional offshore craft. When you look at the designs for older work boats their lines have evolved over long periods of time into a carefully modeled hull form that are well suited to thier environment. When I stand below an IP I see none of that careful modeling that results in a seakindly, well balanced design.

Then there is the rudder design which for the most part is a post hung spade rudder with a token SS strap at the bottom. While I personally have zero problem with a well engineered spade rudder, this wolf in sheeps clothing apparently is a problem to the repair yards. In talking to a couple owners and the boat yard folks who work on these that SS strap is often an annual maintenance repair. That is not my idea of an offshore boat detail.

I could go on but I need to get into the office. I''ll try to put more up on this later.


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