If you need room to swing a cat (or two) on passage the Island Packet 350 is rock steady and roomy enough, writes Rupert Holmes
This Florida-based yard has produced a range of distinctive long keel serious cruising designs for more than 40 years. These are quality yachts, with a high level of standard equipment and a great deal of attention to detail.
The Island Packet 350 was launched in 1996, with the first examples arriving in the UK soon afterwards via importer Opal Marine.
When you step on board a combination of the wide beam that’s carried well forward and the visual extension of the deck into the fixed bowsprit immediately creates the impression of a larger boat.
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Once under way this is reinforced by the gentle motion of a heavy displacement long keel design and the boat’s impressive stiffness under sail.
Despite a shallow draught of only 1.3m (4ft 3in) this is achieved through a healthy ballast ratio of almost 50%, along with the high form stability generated by the wide beam.
While this is not a boat that’s designed to get to the windward mark first in a race, the powerful rig means that, once cracked off the wind, a decent breeze will see it ploughing along near hull speed.
On the downside it’s more difficult to manoeuvre in tight spaces than a short-keel design and sheet loads are higher than for a lighter boat.
Below decks the feeling of space is further reinforced. There are two generous double cabins, along with plenty of headroom, a large heads compartment and a mammoth galley.
In keeping with a boat designed with long distance cruising in mind stowage volumes are excellent.
Island Packet 350 specification
LOA: 10.6m/ 34ft 8in
LWL: 8.9m / 29ft 4in
Beam: 3.7m / 12ft 0in
Draught: 1.3m / 4ft 3in
Displacement: 7,250kg / 16,000lb
Ballast: 3,400kg /7,500lb
Sail area: 67m2 / 725sqft
Current market value: £80,000-£95,000 / $110,000-$130,000