Just Launched – Island Packet 32

Originally published in SAIL Magazine, 1989

Just Launched – Island Packet 32

by Tom Dove

Island Packet has been building a reputation on its modern full-keel yachts for ten years. The newest model, the Island Packet 32, continues the company’s tradition of solid, spacious, well-detailed cruising vessels with good speed and easy handling.

It is clear that this boat was designed by people with lots of cruising experience. Parts that must be strong are overbuilt – the overhead grab rails can easily support the weight of a large man, for example. Spring line cleats are in the right spots and places where docklines would chafe on the rubrail are protected by stainless steel guard strips. All drawers and doors have positive latches. Such detailing will delight discriminating cruisers.

The interior has plenty of space, thanks to the long waterline and a hull shape that carries its beam well i├żnto the ends. The galley is efficient and has provisions for keeping the cook in place while preparing meals underway. The nav table folds down to improve access to the large aft berth and a seat slides out from the bunk to provide a home for the navigator. The aft berth is enclosed with a privacy curtain.

The hull is a solid glass layup while the deck is cored with closed-cell foam with aluminum backing plates drilled and tapped wherever deck hardware is mounted. The glass work is better than average production boat quality and particular attention has been paid to hull blister prevention. The company has its own blister research laboratory and the boat is waranteed for ten years against blistering.

The cutter rig gives plenty of options for varying wind conditions. In light air, the large area of the main, genoa and staysail are welcome, while stronger winds call for first dropping the staysail, then reefing the main and finally sailing under main and staysail. The crew of a cutter can create a balanced rig for almost any wind strength.

In winds of five knots and less on the Chesapeake Bay, our test boat slid along steadily at about half the wind velocity. The company says that ratio continues in breezes up to 12-15 knots, where the 32 reaches its hull speed. The boat tacked easily despite an overtightened rack-and-pinion steering (adjustable) and she tracked beautifully.

This good light-air performance should convince sailors that “full keel” does not necessarily mean “slow”. The Island Packet 32 has a fine entry and sharp bilges combined with a hydrodynamic keel and the combination works.

The Yanmar diesel and three-bladed prop on our test boat gave positive control, but skippers who want optimum performance under sail may prefer a feathering prop. A bit more sound insulation in the engine compartment would also be welcome. Access to mechanical systems is good, with filters and shutoffs in easy reach.

People who buy Island Packet yachts often trade up to larger Island Packets. This kind of loyalty indicates a high degree of owner satisfaction; one of the best recommendations a vessel can have.

The price of the Island Packet 32 with a substantial standard equipment list is $89,950. Island Packet Yachts, 1979 Wild Acres Road, Largo, FL. (813) 535-6431.

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