What does it take to become the Volvo of cruising sailboats? Island Packet Yachts, which in its 20 years has seemed to course toward this destination, may have just arrived.
Being like Volvo may not have been the strategy of the Largo, FL builder, but providing safe travel without sacrificing comfort and style is. The new Island Packet 380 may represent the ultimate achievement of this goal.
The 380 was designed to be two things: a safe boat and a pleasurable boat. And while the 380 doesn't bristle with all the bells and whistles of the latest Volvo, it, too, has its innovations, though downplayed and folded into this easy-to-manage, go-anywhere sailboat.
The Island Packet 380
The Island Packet 380 starts at the point where the last-made Island Packet left of. The Island Packet 380 flaunts the new transom, first introduced on the 350 two years ago. It is hollowed out-to be a swim step-and shaped to a reverse counter-adding grace. But the bowsprit, a signature of the Island Packets, is much subdued on the 380 and re-functioned. The headstay is actually set at the stem. The bowsprit has no bobstay and, with double anchor rollers, its raison d'etre is an efficient anchoring platform.
Island Packet spends a lot of time and effort staying in touch with its hundreds of owners. The company finds out what has been successful in their boats, as well as what may need refinement. The new 380 hasn't been left out of the loop.
In fact, designer of the Island Packet line, Bob Johnson, who is also founder and president, declared "a new generation of Island Packet design" starting with this 39'7" overall cutter. Johnson may have overstated, because this boat still bears strong family resemblance to the respectable look of the Island Packets. To up the performance meter, the forward sections of the Island Packet 380 are slightly finer than past IPs; the keel and rudder shapes have also been sweetened toward the performance curve. The sailplan is slightly more powerful than that of earlier Island Packets. Yet these changes haven't taken any starch out of the Island Packet model of successful cruiser.
The Island Packet 380, as other Island Packets, features one-piece construction. Its keel is encapsulated within the hull, while the large rudder hangs in the ample protection of its long, foil-shaped keel. Island Packet likes to build its boats with thoroughness. Each lifeline stanchion, for
example, is held by four bolts that go through the teak cap rail, the fiberglass deck flange and a quarter-inch backing plate, then finished by aircraft-quality locknuts. The water, fuel and sewage tanks are made from high-quality 5052-H32 aluminum. The deck is cored with Island Packet's proprietary Polycore, a polyester, resin and micro-balloon mixture. It has a 10-year warranty against deck degradation. The hull is finished with IP's Polyclad two-gelcoat system, which is applied in high volume at low pressure (HVLP) with a 10-year warranty against blisters below the waterline for 10 years. The VHF mast and interior cable, refrigerator, speakers, and fans are factory prewired.
The Island Packet is a boat meant to be as easy as possible to sail while being comfortable. Every sail adjustment line, for example, leads back to the cockpit. Mainsail reefing lines No. 1 and 2 are adjusted in the cockpit as the halyard is eased. The self-tending staysail is adjustable in the cockpit. The mainsheet has a 5-to-1-purchase and its traveler a 4-to-1-purchase.
In spite of the shine of its wholesomeness, the Island Packet 380 has standard features like a microwave, gas-support locker struts, cockpit ice chest and color-coded lines. A few less obvious items are innovative additions such as: pull-out, fold-up drawer-type lavatory in the aft cabin; reefing lines that slip under the teak step at the cockpit gate when at the dock; slip-resistant sole below companionway; fold-down teak shower seat; and even a light and outboard-draining pump in the icebox.
The interior layout focuses around the forward master cabin where a queen-sized berth with nearly 270-degree access has been fitted. The cabin, which has 6'4" headroom, has ample storage, including the lift-up locker at the aft end of the berth, a vast compartment some 50 by 24 inches wide and nine inches deep.
The head, accessible from the main cabin and forward cabin, has a nifty fold-away shower door with fold-up teak shower seat.
The main cabin has a traditional layout with opposite-facing settees and a fold-down, bulkhead mounting, single-leaf table. The galley comes with double (one large, one small) sinks and sealed burner stove top for easier cleaning.
The double in the aft cabin is set athwartships to provide more headroom and dressing area without usurping too much cockpit locker volume.
The engine is a 50 horsepower Yanmar diesel with a cruising range of up to 600 miles at 2200 to 2500 rpms and steaming at seven knots. Access to the engine is from all four sides by way of removal of several access panels.
The Island Packet 380 is a shoal-draft cruiser with from 17.5 to 18.6 sail-area-to-displacement ratio. (This depends on whether counting the staysail in the working sail area.) The moderate-to-heavy-displacement hull carries some of its ample beam into forward sections. The displacement-length ratio is 286 on a 32-foot waterline. The new 380 also has a rub-strake of co-extruded vinyl (PVC) that is clear coated.
In all, the Island Packet 380 offers a cruising package of sound construction, updated underbody, easy-to-handle sail plan and well-thought-out cockpit and interior. As one final mention, Island Packet's safety considerations are worth note. The cockpit is seaworthy with deep, secure benchseats. The bulwarks are substantial where they need to be: standing five-plus inches forward and down to 3/4-inch astern for water to easily ship off. The bridgedeck is properly raised, the cockpit drains are two-inch in diameter, the companionway drop boards are secured with a pin lock, and the padeyes are large, while the standard mooring cleats are a massive 12-inch at the bow and stern and 10-inch amidships. "In all," Island Packet's Bill Bolin, director of sales and marketing, says, "we wanted to make it simple and safe." And so, it seems, they have.
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