You can take a performance target and define it with numbers. You can identify a series of interior accommodation components and lay them out. You can even break down the design into labor and materials for costing purposes. Those are the easy parts of establishing a new design.

The Island Packet 35 at anchor.

The Island Packet 35 at anchor.

The toughest part of the project is pinning down the style of the new boat. You can draw several boats that will all satisfy the same performance, comfort and cost requirements and they may all look very different.

Targeting the style of the new boat requires targeting the style of the owner. I ask clients, "How do you want to look when you are out on the water?" One guy may want to look like a pirate. Yet another may enjoy the clean, sterile, high-tech look. Boats are toys — serious toys, but still toys, things we have fun with. At least they should be.

I have always hated the expression "a serious cruising boat." Cruising can get serious in a hurry if you have a bad boat, but with a good boat under you, cruising should be lighthearted and fun. Part of that fun is painting a picture of what you think is a handsome boat on the water, then painting yourself into the cockpit.

Style should exist on the periphery of safety and comfort and never in its place. ("I don't care how much windage it is, I want a poop deck.") The Island Packet line of designs by Bob Johnson certainly has a style that is appreciated by a lot of sailors. This style can be characterized as wholesome, traditional and salty. Johnson's Island Packets provide safe and seaworthy boats for people interested more in comfort than knots made good to weather. But here I want to say something about full keel boats.

The modern full keel boat is really a hybrid of modern canoe body forms combined with a long keel shape usually utilizing decent foils. I have surprised myself with some of my own full keel design. You approach the design job knowing that you are not optimizing speed, but still you do your best to tie all the elements together, paying as small a price as possible for the wetted surface and aspect ratio problems of a long keel. By using the tricks you have learned with more contemporary designs, you can develop a good performing yacht. Ten years ago Chuck Paine said to me, "You'd be surprised."

Today I can count a dozen full keel designs in my own library, and I am surprised. I was also surprised a month ago when Tim called early Monday morning to tell me he had taken a first in class and first overall in Saturday's singlehanded race. Then Sunday he took first in class in the Jack and Jill race. Tim sails a 30,000-pound, 40-foot full keel cruiser with a hanked genoa. I think we were both surprised.

The Island Packet 35 has a generous spring to the sheer, a short spoon bow and a chopped off transom with very little camber. The bowsprit-platform nicely extends the sheerline making the boat appear longer and lower than it really is. You have your choice of the shoal keel or the even shallower draft keel with centerboard. I can't see any advantage to the centerboard model unless having nine inches less draft is critical to you. The D/L ratio of this design is 246. All full keel designs are not heavy. This one is moderate.

The cutter rig has become the option of reefing the main, dropping the yankee and powering to weather under the mini-masthead rig with the staysail. I'm not crazy about booms on staysails. With no overlap, they are not hard to sheet in and the boom does get in the way. I will guess that with the bowsprit, the IP 35 has a nicely balanced helm. The mast has single spreaders which are all you need when the chainplates are out at the sheer. Some of you will say that there are no runners for the staysail. This is true, but if you have a stout mast section, you can get by without running backstays. The SA/D ratio is 16.1 using 100 percent of the foretriangle as is customary, and not both the staysail and yankee.

Before you get into this interior, pinch yourself and remind yourself that you are looking at a 35-footer. The full hull lines of the 35 let the designer push the interior components into the ends and really load this boat with accommodations. The drawings are very easy to read so I'll let you walk yourself through. I can't see anything that's missing. There are tanks for 85 gallons of water and 28 gallons of fuel.

The Island Packet combines contemporary hull design with the forgiveness of a long keel to give the owner an easily handled yacht that takes care of itself with little helm assist. This is what a long keel boat should do.

Boat Specifications
Displacement12,900 lbs.
Ballast5,950 lbs.
Sail Area554 sq. ft.
SA/D ratio16.1
D/L ratio246
AuxiliaryYanmar 27 hp
Fuel28 gals.
Water85 gals.


SAILINGlogo-115This story originally appeared in Sailing Magazine, and is republished here by permission. Subscribe to Sailing.