The Island Packet 31, built by Island Packet Yachts designer Bob Johnson, was the most daring and successful of the Island Packet bloodline. Between 1983 and 1989, around 262 were manufactured, styled as a classic cruiser but with more than a hint of broad hulled ‘catboat’ in her appearance. She features the simplicity, large cabin, and shallow draught of catboats, which are utilized for transportation and fishing along the New England coast, as well as the wide ‘codhead’ hull.
For a 31-footer, the Bluewater Sailboat Island Packet 31 is not cheap. Her spacious interior and sturdy construction contribute significantly to her attraction, notwithstanding the good reputation that the Island Packet Yachts brand has established. Her odd shape may not appeal to everyone, yet she is regarded as a comfortable classic liveaboard yacht, particularly in shoal waters. Opinions differ on whether she is a true offshore cruiser.
After designing boats for other companies such as Irwin and Endeavour for several years, naval architect Bob Johnson decided to strike out on his own in 1979 in Largo, Florida, and began producing small boats under the firm name Traditional Watercraft Inc. He designed the Island Packet 26 in 1980 by altering outdated moulds from an out-of-business Bombay Yachts. The boat was a big success and was sold as the Mark I, Mark II, and eventually the Island Packet 27. In 1983, Bob took a risk and basically put the firm on the line by designing the Bluewater Island Packet 31 from scratch, at a period when many yacht manufacturers were struggling to stay in business.
His jump ended gracefully with 14 orders for the IP31 at the US Sailboat Show in Annapolis, kicking off a seven-year production cycle that ended in 1989 with the introduction of the Island Packet 32.
The Island Packet 31’s high resale value on the secondhand boat market reflects not only the yacht’s appeal, but also that of Island Packet Yachts. Island Packet has established a place among the best producers of cruising yachts over the years, not just for their proven designs, but also for what appears to be an exceptional level of customer care and support. No man with an Island Packet yacht seems to be an island.
Island Packet sells old designs combined with current construction processes, and while the IP31 is not a heavy boat, it has shown to be well-built over time. Island Packet coring the deck with its own unique product, Polycore, appears to have stood the test of time, with no reports of delamination. Although liners are employed for the interior, it is believed that they are installed wisely, allowing access to the bilges and other essential places.
Bob Johnson’s complete foiled keel, a trademark of Island Packets, is visible beneath the water. It’s essentially a fin keel that’s been stretched lengthwise fore and aft into a long keel to improve performance while maintaining a shallow draught. As a result, the draught is only 4′, and approximately 10% of 31’s were built with centerboards, lowering the draught to 3′ feet. The keel is not attached to the hull, but is an intrinsic component of it, and is, according to Bob Johnson, at the heart of an Island Packet.
The majority of Bluewater Sailboat Island Packet 31s have a double-headed sloop rig, while 10% have a plain sloop rig, which allegedly works well with a 150% genoa. An almost perpendicular stern, short overhangs, sweeping sheer, and a stubby bowsprit, as well as the broad beam she carries practically throughout, with her greatest 11′ 6″ beam forward of amidships, contribute to her unusual appearance. The smooth expanse of the cabin roof, full-length hand rails, and broad side decks make working on the deck safe and simple. The cockpit is spacious (almost 7ft) yet far too large for serious offshore sailing.
Inside, she’s light and airy, with the amenities of a much larger vessel. The folding door/fold-down chart table combo, which can be utilized to seal off the double quarter berth aft, is one of the ingenious features. Plenty of headroom above, a large head, many hanging lockers, and a full-size wrap-around Sailboats Galley round out the available space.
The Island Packet 31, like the catboat, is not known for her windward performance. Her odd volume distribution and huge wetted surface area were unsurprising. However, due to her low bowsprit, she can carry a reasonable amount of sail and, with her long waterline, she appears to be capable of reaching 6 knots. She’s a well-balanced Bluewater Sailboat, with strong directional stability, but she’s not particularly sensitive. Owners say she’s easy to single-hand and stiff enough to carry full sail in up to 20 knots. The performance of light air is unsatisfactory. Due to her wide roll angles, several owners report an unpleasant slow rolling motion under sail, especially in chop.
If you are interested in learning more about the specifications and details of a sailboat, we recommend visiting the page Bluewater Sailboat data. This page provides comprehensive information and is an excellent resource for anyone seeking detailed information about 1000+ sailboats.