Island Packet SP Cruiser

by George Day

Blue Water Sailing
September 2006


 

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In the past few years interest in motorsailers for extended cruising has seen a renaissance as sailors moving up in age and some new cruisers contemplate the pleasures of a truly comfortable doghouse from which to watch the world go by.

The new Island Packet SP Cruiser, at 41 feet overall, arrived on the market this summer and has already turned a lot of heads. Designer and Island Packet founder Bob Johnson created the SP Cruiser to provide trawler-like comfort and motoring capabilities with a sailing rig that will push the boat along nicely when the wind is right.

The hull design, with a traditional IP bow and a new "trawler" stern, has a full keel and attached rudder. The transom is broader than you will see on a sailboat to enhance motoring performance; it also provides an excellent swim platform aft accessed via a door in the transom.

Forward of the deckhouse, a large outside seating area has been molded into the deck, with high coamings to keep deck wash and spray off the sunbathers. Two can recline here or up to six can sit to enjoy the sunset.

Aesthetically, the deckhouse fits onto the hull pleasantly as it evokes motorsailers of yore. Inside, the main helm is on the centerline with a swiveling captain's chair and all instruments in full view forward of the wheel. A large deck hatch over the helmsman provides ventilation and light and allows the person at the wheel to keep an eye on mainsail trim. The L-shaped dinette in the deckhouse will inevitably be the spot where the crew spends the most time since it offers a 360- degree view. On passage, the settee is long enough to be a good sea berth for the off-watch.

The galley lies three steps down from the deckhouse. To port there is an expansive counter with a huge fridge beneath and the two-burner propane stove and oven forward. The galley sinks are positioned on the centerline in an island with ample storage beneath. The chart table to starboard will double as an onboard office and communications center.

The guest cabin to starboard has twin berths and plenty of space for hanging gear. The engine room is under the centerline berth so access to the filters, strainers and so forth will be excellent.

The master cabin forward sports a large walk-around double berth, two hanging lockers and plenty of drawer space. The head lies between the chart table and the forward cabin and has a separate shower stall.

Powered by a 100- horsepower diesel and carrying 215 gallons of fuel, the SP Cruiser has a range under power of 1,000 miles (700 miles at seven knots). With shoal draft and a 55-foot-tall mast, the boat will be at home in the Intracoastal Waterway while still being capable of making a comfortable offshore run to the Caribbean or Mexico.

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