Join Date: Feb 2000
Location: Annapolis, Md
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Quoting from my comments comparing a Benteau 411 to the Island Packet:
"I have always thought that Island Packets are way over priced and way over sold; very often (but not always) to people who are entering the sport. (I base that comment on conversations that I have had with past and present Island Packet owners at boat shows. I am always amazed how many say that an IP was their first boat.)
Island Packets have never made any sense at all for the way most of us use our boats on the U.S.Atlantic coast. They are not good as light to moderate air sailers (the predominant summer condition on the mid U.S. Atlantic Coast) and they don''t seem to be great heavy weather boats either. The 380 really lacks a lot of the key components that I would look for in an offshore cruiser (seaberths for instance). For that matter, I have never been all that impressed with the build quality of the Island Packets(but some people are) because of such items as iron ballast in concrete (recently changed to lead in polyester resin which is slightly better), or the post mounted rudder masquerading as a keel hung rudder with a rather flimsey strap at it''s bottom to mention a couple deal buster kind of issues. I do think some of their details are quite nice for liveaboard types.
To me, it comes down to your goals for buying a sailboat (and people buy sailboats for a lot of reasons most of which are equally valid with each other). If you are just buying a boat to live on and you really do not care how well the boat sails or how much time you will spend motoring, then the Island Packet might work for you.
But if you are buying a sailboat because you really want to sail well and want to be able to voyage from place to place driven on the force of the wind, then there are much better sailing boats out there for the same dollars.
IP are designed around the idea (directly or indirectly) that there is merit to craming a lot of room and weight into a short hull. Based on my 37 years of sailing experience there is no excuse and no real advantage to that approach to yacht design other than perhaps a concern with slip fees.
Island Packets seem to offer a lot room in a short package but what real good is that? None that I know of.
When dealing with wind and wave, a finer hull actually does better. Nothing succeeds like length(read both the Fastnet and Sidney Hobart disaster reports). Stubby is wet and feel greater impacts from each wave.
As I have said many times, weight in and of itself does nothing good for a boat. It does not make it strong, or stable, or comfortable in a seaway. It does not give a boat the ability to survive a big storm or an unexpected visit to the beach.
Heavier boats, that are not carefully modeled, (and in my opinion the IP''s are not all that well modeled) require more sail area to drive their greater drag through the water. In my experience, this means more physical strength is required to sail them and as a result, if you try to sail them well, they wear you out sooner.
Then there is motion at sea. There are two factors that lead to uncomfortable motion, roll angle and roll speed. Navy studies suggest that both have equal impact on the comfort of people onboard boats. IP salesmen make a strong point about its slow roll rate but from observation, they seem to roll through much wider roll angles than other boats around them. I have sailed up behind them and really studied them on windier days (you rarely see them sailing in normal conditions) and they are making lots of leeway and seemed to be heeled more acutely than other cruising boats around them. Looking at rudder angles and at the owner''s faces, they seem to be fighting for control when a true offshore boat should not be.
I know that there are a fair number of IP''s out there cruising and that there are IP owners who like their boat. (Most people do like their boats.) I also know that a lot of these boats are sold to people with big dreams, some who never really learn to sail the boats or become prematurely convinced that sailing is a lot more difficult than it really is. To these people (and I have met quite a few of them) their Island Packet was a graveyard of dreams. As I have said before, from my observations, in the long run, I think you would be better off buying a trawler if you are going to cruise the U.S. Mid-Atlantic coast, than an IP since you will probably spend less time motoring."