A Performance Cruiser from Island Packet

There’s a distinctly sporty look to the latest boat from Island Packet Yachts.

With its twin wheels, fin keel, spade rudder and lofty rig, the Blue Jacket 40 marks a new direction for the Florida company, which has been building its line of distinctive-looking long-keeled bluewater cruisers for more than 30 years.

The Blue Jacket 40 is a collaboration between Tim Jackett, best known for his long association with Tartan and C&C Yachts, and Island Packet founder Bob Johnson. It heralds a significant tilt in philosophy for Island Packet, whose boats have achieved cult status among their loyal owners.

However, says Johnson, the new boat does not signal a shift in emphasis away from the conservative ivory-colored cruising boats that have proved so popular for so long. (More than 2,500 Johnson designs launched in all.) Instead, he says, the two lines will complement each other.

Tim Jackett also has more than 2,500 boats to his name, so considerable collective experience has gone into the Blue Jacket. The boat is almost entirely a Jackett design, with input from Johnson and the IPY team on layout and engineering. The tooling for large components was done at Jackett’s Ohio base, and the hull and deck plugs arrived at Island Packet’s Largo, Florida, facility in August. Jackett, Johnson and the rest of the IPY team then mocked up the interior, kicking around the final details of the layout, before commencing construction on the hull liner that carries bases for the furniture and stiffens the boat.

Not only is the concept new for Island Packet, so is the build process. Island Packet hulls have always been fine examples of the laminator’s art, beautifully laid-up solid fiberglass moldings. The Blue Jacket, though, will have a resin-infused, foam-cored hull and deck, a technique new to Island Packet that may someday find its way onto the company’s other boats. That aside, Island Packet cognoscenti will certainly recognize many aspects of the Blue Jacket’s interior styling and cabinetry—for instance, the fold-down saloon table that’s been an Island Packet fixture for decades.

In true Island Packet fashion, the Blue Jacket 40 has a twin headsail rig. There’s a self-tacking jib set on the familiar Island Packet Hoyt jib boom, although instead of a traditional cutter rig with a high-cut yankee headsail, the Blue Jacket carries a lightweight furling reacher. The hull has broad, powerful stern sections that promise plenty of power, and there’s a choice of deep (7ft 5in) and shoal (5ft 2in) keels.

Hull #1 is expected to splash in December. Johnson and Jackett expect it to be the forerunner of a new range that will eventually include several models.

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