Let's look at a different approach to the small cruising boat design problem. If you looked for the antithesis of the J Boats approach to cruising yachts, you wouldn't have to look any further than the Island Packet series. J Boats targets performance by using the racing pedigree of its other designs as a benchmark. Island Packet targets factors and features developed from its existing successful line of heavier, full-keeled cruisers.

A photograph of the Island Packet 350 sailboat.Designer Bob Johnson has given us some evolutionary changes in this newest Island Packet, starting with the transom. Aft swim steps or boarding platforms are here to stay, and they work best when combined with a reverse transom. The Island Packet line features boats with handsome, traditionally raked transoms that preclude molded-in platforms. The new boat tries to combine the traditional lines of an Island Packet with a reverse transom. While I question the aesthetic value of this, the extra length that the feature adds to the run of this full hull will enhance sailing ability and prove a very practical design feature.

If I use the approximate displacement of 16,000 pounds, the D/L of this boat is 283. Beam is more than ample at 12 feet and draft is a modest 4 feet 3 inches. You can further reduce the draft with the optional shoal keel and get 3 feet 6 inches.

Consider for a moment that this boat is 34 feet 8 inches on deck, which is about 2 feet longer than the J/32. Now look at the interior. You can see what the displacement and extra 2 feet of LOD can buy you. The Island Packet 350 has a big galley with a huge refer box. The main cabin is spacious and includes a sit-down chart table. There are two double berths and lots of hanging locker space. The single head is big enough to include a roomy space to shower. This head layout is far better than a tiny head area and a tiny separate shower area. Two couples could cruise in plenty of comfort on this boat. For a moderately-priced American production yacht, Island Packet's joinerwork is top quality.

This rig combines a lot of desirable cruising features, but whether or not it makes any sense to have a staysail on a boat this size is another thing. The reality is that most cruisers think they want a staysail for heavy-air sailing, but most sloop rigs don't leave room in the foretriangle for an effective staysail. The Island Packet 350 uses a bowsprit to stretch the foretriangle so that the staysail becomes a reasonably proportioned sail. Note that the Island Packet rig has evolved with the use of the Garry Hoyt-style staysail boom. This boom works well, as it provides a vanging vector to the staysail as it is eased. This makes for a very effective heavy-air reaching sail. The old-style jib-club arrangement would go almost straight up in the air as you eased the sheet. The SA/D of this design is 15.52.

I'm still struck by the beautiful way Island Packets are rigged and outfitted. They are handsome boats by any standard. They have established themselves as the standard for full-keeled cruising yachts.

With traditional design flair, here is a big small-cruiser.

Boat Specifications

Draft4'3", shoal 3'6";
Displacement16,000 lbs.;
Ballast7,500 lbs.;
Auxiliary27-horsepower FWC diesel;
Fuel50 gals.;
Water100 gals.


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