Island Packet 440
by BWS Staff
Blue Water Sailing
Getting underway offered little relief from the heat of the day as we headed out of Newport Harbor, R.I., and shaped for the Cape Cod Canal and Hingham, Mass., beyond. Though this two-day sail started light, by the end we saw 20 to 25 knots with higher gusts and had a chance to see the IP 440 perform in a full range of conditions.
Bob Johnson and the Island Packet design team have been leaders in the realm of full-keel cruising boats since the late 1970s, during which time they have refined the balance of comfort, seaworthiness, simplicity and safety in boats built with the liveaboard couple in mind. The newest addition to the line, the aft-cockpit IP 440, is the culmination of these perennial efforts and promises years of comfortable cruising and secure ocean crossings.
The full foil keel paired with a large rudder allows Island Packets to track well while maintaining maneuverability. Even with her moderate windage, the IP 440 tracked straight in reverse with a light breeze on the beam. Once the rudder grabbed, she circled in 1.25 boat lengths to both port and starboard, and within her own boat length when making forward way. We found while backing that once she committed to a side, it took some distance to reverse the turn, which is why many owners opt for the optional bow thruster. However, this isn't to say that the bow thruster is necessary, and we watched a thrusterless IP 485 easily come alongside when we overnighted in Onset, Mass.
In a true test of the IP 440's power and maneuverability, we found ourselves rescuing a 32-foot cruiser who had run out of fuel short of the harbor entrance in Hingham. In 20 to 25 knots, we maneuvered alongside, using the thruster to hold our position as we secured lines and fenders. With wind on the beam, we towed them alongside through the narrow channel leading into the harbor and then onto the maintenance dock with the wind blowing us off. Most owners won't have to put their own boats through the same test, but it is reassuring to know that should the situation arise, the 440 can take on the task without hesitation.
But the breeze didn't pick up until the second day, and we still had the light stuff to contend with. We rolled out the main, high-clewed 110-percent genoa and staysail and made four knots through the water with eight knots of apparent wind at 60 degrees. All sails are roller furling, and the main features in-mast furling with lines led to the cockpit. The staysail is rigged to a Hoyt self-tacking boom. With an autopilot engaged, it would be easy for a single watchstander to set or shorten sail, especially if they had upgraded to the electric winch package. Two sets of Spinlock line clutches kept the furling lines on the cabintop organized, and fairleads were in all the right places. Our only complaint was the angle of the cam cleats for the traveler. The downward angle necessitated reaching awkwardly forward and getting close to the cams. However, Bill Bolin of Island Packet explained, "We changed the leads to the downward angle to make them more easily tripped in the event of poorly timed weather helm." True to their intention, it was easy to quickly release the traveler and bear down when a gust drove us up.
As we cracked off the wind, the apparent wind decreased, as did our speed. These are the times when most cruisers start the engine, but we still sailed comfortably though the water, making shy of three knots in just six knots apparent with the wind abaft abeam. The momentum and large rudder allowed the IP 440 to tack and jibe easily, even in the light wind.
We woke up early to transit the Cape Cod Canal with a favorable current. Water swirled past the entrance buoys as we got into the canal, and the IP 440 handled herself well through the eddies and boils created by the ripping current.
Gray clouds on the other side of the Canal forebode the blustery day that was ahead of us. While others in our convoy opted to set only their large genoa, we set full sail with ease. In 20 knots true on a broad reach, we settled in at 7.5 knots. Preceding the rain we saw 25- to 30-knot gusts that allotted an extra knot of boat speed. We were pushing hard with full sail up in this breeze. With the apparent wind angle of 120 degrees and a slight following sea, she had a tendency to drive up in the puffs, but by muscling the wheel over, the large rudder brought her back down. In these conditions, the versatility of the cutter sail plan with all lines led to the cockpit proved the perfect rig. We oversheeted the staysail to keep pressure forward and bring the helm back to balance. Rolling up some mainsail would have also taken pressure off the helm, but we were having too much fun under full sail.
The cockpit is spacious enough to comfortably sit six forward of the wheel, but still incorporates enough edges and handles so there is always something to brace against in rougher weather. Handrails on the cabintop run all the way forward, but the 440 is designed so that there should be little need to leave the cockpit in rough weather.
Island Packet has invested much effort in ensuring the integrity of their hulls and deck, and confidently guarantees their boats with a three-year "stem to stern" warranty and 10-year warranties covering osmotic blistering and deck degradation. The hull is one piece, and the ballast for the keel is lowered into matching cavities. The hull is constructed of triaxial fiberglass and finished with their proprietary gelcoat called Polyclad. The deck is made of both biaxial and triaxial fiberglass with a proprietary core, called PolyCore, which Island Packet guarantees against rot and delamination for the warranty period.
In the galley, heads and nav station, teak soles were replaced with the same slip resistant pattern from the deck making these areas secure in a seaway. The sole itself is screwed to the grid below, and 11 removable sections allow access to storage spaces under the sole and the deep bilge. These sections provided access to all of the sea cocks as well as the main bilge area. The bilge pump is in the bottom of a narrow sump in the deepest section of the bilge. For access, Island Packet devised a stainless steel strap; by unscrewing the strap from the stringer, you can pull the whole bilge pump and switch up to sole level for servicing.
The forward-facing nav desk can accommodate two, and like so many things on the 440, is the culmination of years of fine-tuning. At rest, the desk is on an angle but can be positioned horizontally, and to our surprise lacked fiddles. "We installed fiddles for many years, but the British market convinced us we were doing a disservice by limiting the use of parallel rules on a chart," Bolin explained. "We eliminated the fiddles and use plastic â€˜picnic cloth clips' when we use paper charts." Like the bilge pump access, simply smart, and in this age of electronic navigation, it is probably the perfect solution.
Comfortable floating home
Island Packets are designed for comfortable onboard living, which is reflected in the saloon and two sleeping cabins. Both cabins feature double island berths, meaning there is access on three sides, preventing the need for someone to climb over a sleeping body when getting up at night. The island berths are accomplished by positioning them at an angle to the foreand- aft line of the boat, which would take some getting used to in the motion of a seaway.
The forward cabin will be the owner's cabin. It is well lit, has a hanging locker to port, a shelf locker to starboard and drawer under the berth. There is a huge private head, including a separate shower with seat. The cockpit takes away some of the headroom over the berth in the aft cabin, but by sleeping with my head outboard it was hardly an inconvenience. There is a hanging locker, shelf locker and drawer under the berth as well as a large storage area under the end of the bunk. The adjoining head will be the main head underway as it has access through the cabin and at the base of the companionway.
With a D/L of 259, the IP 440 is a moderate-displacement cruiser with high directional stability. She maneuvers with intention, and trimmed properly will track well with a balanced helm. The conservative sail plan is easily managed and adjusted, allowing us to comfortably carry full sail when others had to reef.
From the secure cockpit and manageable sail plan to the seakindly galley and convertible main saloon, the IP 440 is built to take care of her crew at sea and provide a comfortable floating home in port. If ready for the island lifestyle and cruising pace of life, the new IP 440 is sure to deliver you in safety and comfort.