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By Greg Nicoll

Jackett & Johnson Create The Performance Cruiser

Canadian Yachting Magazine was invited to be one of the first publications to test sail the Blue Jacket 40, the first in a new series of performance cruising sailboats designed by Tim Jackett in collaboration with Bob Johnson, CEO and Chief Designer at Island Packet Yachts. 

On a stunning April afternoon, we sailed down the Manatee River out into Tampa Bay in a 12-14 knot breeze with a full main and a Quantum “screacher” maintaining 6.5 to 7 knots in what might be called a fairly close tack. On board with the Canadian Yachting team were Bill Bolin, VP of Island Packet, Steve McPherson, President of Navy Point Yacht Sales, Peter Leubner, VP of Sales at Navy Point in Sackets Harbor, New York and Shawn Bannon, Director of Sales at Navy Point in Port Credit, Ontario.

A cruising sailboat, you say? It’s a sturdy, well appointed vessel that delivers comfort and security with a small crew. Alternatively, a performance sailboat is when you feel the rush accelerating both upwind and downwind, with the ability to tweak out every bit of speed from the boat. Tim Jackett and Bob Johnson, with over 30 years each of building winning boat designs and15 Boat of the Year award winning designs between them, have married their individual strengths to create the Blue Jacket 40, a bold and important evolution in the performance cruising sailboat market.

Island Packet, (IP) with 2500 yachts built and sold, has an amazing record of quality boats and satisfied customers. For some time they have been considering an expansion of their market into a sportier boat, but with the IP quality and feel. The opportunity presented itself when Tim started his own independent design office after many years as head designer with C&C / Tartan Yachts, and was contacted by his friend Bob Johnson, who had long admired and respected Tim’s designs. Tim was quick to realize the great opportunity to work on this new project with Bob and the Island Packet Team. Bob made it clear from our initial conversation that the BJ 40 was Tim’s design with Bob in a supporting role.

Cruising boats such as the IP, built to their customer’s requests, are sturdy and stiff to handle weather that can occur during long passages, whereas performance boats need to be light, nimble and tough. To meet this complex union, Tim started by selecting a one piece hull moulded out of vinyl-ester resin infusion technology, supported by quadraxial E-glass and Divinycell® foam core for better-quality strength. This combination added stiffness while greatly reducing the overall weight. Additional features include freedom from decay, greater insulation and resistance to osmotic blisters plus a 10 year guarantee against blistering.  The deck is a one-piece mould also using vinyl ester resin with quadraxial and biaxial E-glass. In a departure for Johnson, who has made a name for himself designing boats with full keels, the Blue Jacket 40 has a fin keel and balanced spade rudder. Of course, this configuration is stock and trade for Jackett.

The Canadian component to the Blue Jacket is the lead/antimony alloy lead keel cast in NACA foil shape from Mars Keel of Burlington, Ontario. The keel is held firmly in place with 10 stainless steel j-bolts. There are two keel options: the standard deep keel with a draft of 2.20 m and the optional shoal keel with a 1.56 metre draft. Both keels are faired and finished with epoxy coating.

The Solent rig style, with a fully battened main, a Hoyt Boom® self tending working jib and the 150% masthead reacher (both on Harken furling systems) makes for easy sail management on a short handed cruise, or a single or doubled handed race. 

The mainsail is effortlessly stored in the custom e-glass carbon fibre pocket boom with integral sail cover and lazy jacks. This allows for a full roach, high performance, fully battened mainsail that can be hoisted with the standard electric halyard winch and the Harken Battcar system. The double set of reefing lines lead aft to the cockpit and the mid-boom sheeting placement allows for a wide open cockpit for enjoyable cruising and dodger/bimini installation. On our down wind sail back to port, the Hoyt Boom® held its position and sail shape exceptionally well and gibing became a non-issue. The Hoyt system allows for self-vanging of the headsail and the double ended jib sheet leads aft to the Harken 50.2 STC chrome radial cockpit winches (electric winches are optional).

Tim chose the Edson® twin steering stations with stainless steel vinyl covered destroyer style wheels and twin mounted binnacle mounted compasses. The twin wheels allow crew easy entry from the transom gate and optimum view of the sails from either the windward or leeward rail when heading to weather.  For most racers, the years have taught us to adjust to the deck and cockpit layout and make the best of it. Not so on the BJ 40. The six-foot cockpit seats have ergonomically shaped back rests that serve the ardent racer or book reading cruiser equally well.

There are 2500 Island Packets out there cruising the world, many belong to IP Clubs or associations. Much like motorcycle riders that wave or nod to share their passion to fellow riders, so do Island Packet owners. Many of the first Island Packet owners that have come onboard the BJ 40 view the top sides of this new beast with a little reservation. However, when getting down below they have been heard to say, “Wow, it really is an IP!”

The history of superb craftsmanship and attention to detail that are the hallmarks of a Bob Johnson boat, are definitely alive and well on the BJ40. Elegant, functional and thoughtful designs are clearly evident in either the standard 3 cabin or the optional 2 cabin versions. The cabin is very spacious, airy and you get the feeling of openness with the many sturdy and seaworthy windows lining both sides.

A host of light fixtures throughout the yacht range from dimmable indirect LED strip lights for a soft ambiance in the living areas, to courtesy lights with a companionway control switch and strategically placed reading lamps. Much care has been given to selecting the sapele hardwoods, veneers and high pressure laminates for the bulkheads, cabinetwork and trim. The expert woodworking skills from decades of yacht building are shown beautifully in the solid, raised panel doors thorough the cabin. Custom to most IP yachts, is the large hinged table that services both settees. When not being used for a gourmet feast, it folds up easily against the bulkhead creating optimal space for quiet lounging and entertaining several close friends.

Whether charging down the Rhumbline, or gunk holing in your favourite cove, the galley is an essential part of the day’s enjoyment. The large wrap around galley with premium solid acrylic countertops and integral fiddles makes preparing and serving food a breeze. A well thought out galley plan utilizing space to the max combines a large under counter stainless steel refrigerator/freezer drawer, microwave and a two burner LPG stove/oven with sealed cook top, that are first rate.

If you are looking for a boat that has met the design challenge of combining a yacht with a performance pedigree to both compete effectively around the buoys or meet the demand of offshore racing, and that still offers quality and comfort for enjoyable family cruising, this is a boat that should be seriously considered.


Specifications
Length overall: 39’10” / 12.14 m
Waterline length: 35’0” / 10.67 m
Beam: 12’4” / 3.76 m
Draft: 7’5” / 2.29 m
5’ 2” / 1.56 m shoal draft option
Displacement: 16,500 lbs / 7484 kg
Sail area: 810 ft.² / 75.25 m²
Power: 40 hp diesel
Fuel capacity: 40 gal / 151 L
Water capacity: 110 gal / 417 L
Holding capacity: 25 gal / 80 L

Boat supplied by: Blue Jacket Yachts, www.bluejacketyachts.com and Navy Point Yacht Sales, http://navypointyachtsales.com

Photo captions
Photo 1: For some time, they had been considering an expansion of their market into a sportier boat, but with the IP quality and feel.
Photo 2: The large wrap around galley with premium solid acrylic countertops and integral fiddles makes preparing and serving food a breeze.
Photo 3: Those who have lived with one have been heard to say, "Wow, it really is an IP!"