The real question would be "How important is sailing to you?" because if sailing is important then an IP is probably the wrong way to go. Living with their poor sailing ability is not so much about speed, but about how much of the time you are willing to motor, or motor sail in proportion tp just plain voyage under sail. Based on my experience sailing on them and around them, below 10 knots they are basically a motorboat with a mast. While you may be able to sail at windspeeds below 10 knots, the boat speed is so slow that you probably wouldn't sail if you had to get somewhere in a reasonable period of time.
And once the wind blows enough that they can be sailed, my experience with these boats is that have an absolutely terrible VMG because they not only point poorly (mostly because of their rig geometry more than their keel), and have a comparatively slow speed through the water, but also make a huge amount of leeway, at least as compared to boats with more efficient keel configurations.
But even reaching in a stiff breeze, thier high drag and inefficient sail plans means they are very slow as compared to similar displacement boats with similar LOA's.
The big surprise is how poorly they sail in heavy going. When you have that much drag, and that inefficient a sail plan, and low density ballast in a shoal draft encapsulated keel, it is hard to carry sufficient sail area to sail well. We ended up reefing early to balance the helm and of course that killed both speed and motion comfort. While thier motion is slow and therefore comfortable for some, to me they rolled and pitched through very wide angles, at least as compared to the boats that I am used to sailing.
To me, Island Packets make great live aboards if sailing is a low priority. There are people for whom sailing ability is not important. They are comfortable with motoring or motorsailing when they need to get somewhere. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Speaking for myself, their sailing performance would be totally unacceptable to me under any circumstance, and I know that I sometimes take a friends don't let friends buy Island Packets attitude at times, but in reality, there is no one universally correct answer on any of these questions. I would suggest that you charter one and sail the daylights out of it because in reality the only person who can answer this question is you.
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Curmudgeon at Large- and rhinestone in the rough, sailing my Farr 11.6 on the Chesapeake Bay
Last edited by Jeff_H; 12-31-2010 at 04:42 PM.