Zensekai (zen's world under sail)

The sailing adventures of s/v Zen and crew

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Islander 29

On the request from an Anonymous commenter ;-) who asked about the Islander, since he was looking at one. I will post the following. As I found it hard to locate any info on them as well.
What I did was contact several owners from the Islander board (www.islandersailboats.com) and asked them their thoughts on the boat. All had positive things to say, and a few negative as well. The perfect boat, like a perfect mate is hard to find :-)

Here are some of their commmets:

"Thanks for the inquiry,,,,, I can't say enough about the Islander 29'. They're great boats!

My Islander, "Cimba", has been around the world once [west-about, previous owner], including a Cape Horn passage [albeit it was on a calm day], and down to Hawaii several times [again, previous owner].

They're sturdy as hell, have an easy motion, and are remarkably fast for a "cruising" boat. I regularly shut down Ericson 30's in light winds and choppy seas.

Let me know if you get serious about buying one and I'll point out the things you should look for. You should be able to get a good one for somewhere around $5,000 to $10,000 or so, depending on how its equipped."


"The one big objection to the Islander is the lack of room on deck for a hard dinghy. I have a 6' 8" Fatty Knees on the foredeck but it covers the forward hatch. So I have to drag sails through the cabin. If I put the dinghy on the cabin top, then I can't get in & out very easily.

Two other objections [you'll never find the "perfect" boat] are the narrow decks on each side which are obstructed by the chainplates & stays, and the overly large cockpit well, both of which are dangerous in a seaway. But other than that, they're a hell of a good boat.

Couple of things to pay attention to: the chainplates under the decks [side]. Water gets in there and corrosion is possible. Drop the rudder and check for corrosion on the shaft and pintles. And look for wood rot on the interior bulkheads up under the decks [decks leak and rainwater can soak the ply bulkheads leading to rot. Other than that, just look for the usual stuff.

There's a guy who lives up north near you but keeps his Islander down in Oxnard. It has a Monitor wind vane, etc, and I believe he's taken it to Hawaii."


"I've done no long passage or offshore sailing to date. But have been very happy with my boat in the various situations I've found myself in on the Chesapeake Bay, protected though it is. Shea's a heavy boat and seems to push well through small waves. The hull itself is sturdy (in those years the use as much as 1/4 inch of glass, so she doesn't " oil-can" when she runs aground I seem to have done this a bit, with no cosequence as most of the bay is mud. She's not very tender, and sails well in bigger wind. I've sailed in 25-30 knots, double reefed and she feels quite comfortable. The cabin is roomy, a little spartan, the head is cramped (I'm 6'3"). There seems adequate storage for weekend cruising. The former owner took her up and down the east coast many time, and my buddy who has lots of sailing experience says she could make a run to beumuda if the conditions were right. Her only drawbacks for offshore work is that the windows are far too big and so is the cockpit. I never expected to do anything quite so ambitious when I got the boat, but I've weathered a few squalls just fine. She seems fleet too, going 6.5 knots in moderate wind. I''ve been very happy so far. "


"I have never been disappointed that I bought my Islander. It was my first ocean going sail boat. Previously I had Coronado 15 that my son and I sailed for a couple of years. It was fun, and I learned a lot about sailing. The smaller the boat, the trickier they are to sail, so it was a learning experience. The 29 is a great boat. For years I sailed from Morro Bay to the Channel Islands, spending a couple of weeks, several times a year doing this. At some point I wondered about a Hawaii trip, and gradually prepared the boat for it. There wasn't much to do to it except add more gear. I had installed LORAN after some hairy thick fog experiences, a couple of extra sails and things like that. Like Trent, I thought the cockpit was large, and after listening to the arm chair sailors around me about being pooped and filling the cockpit, I made two 1 1/2" " drains in the cockpit. Despite a period of heavy following seas , the cockpit was filled just once, and that was from a rogue wave that took my self made dodger off, and smashed in the portside wooden spray shield. I have lots of advice should you ever want to test yourself for the trip. Have no fear about the I-29. It's a tank, despite its low freeboard and limited interior. "


"I29 is a fine older boat. It is sturdy as can be and sails and points well and is sea kindly. I don't go outside the gate that much any more but it would be fine for offshore once you get out of the potato patch. Long distance passages should be in warm water and in a boat with a shower in my opinion. The I 29 has a nice head but no shower and although you could shower from a porta-shower I prefer to swim then just hose off. That's why I like sailing in St. Lucia if there's a passage to do. "

That should be helpful to you or anyone else wanting some info on them.
The only real bummer for me with it has been the v-berth. Not really comfortable, low head room, bunk too high to sit on upright. Good for a closet and storage or for a kids room, but for an adult rather too cramped. However the rest of the boat has great room.

I may edit this and add more later but right now I'm loaded with a big work project so will be busy for the next week.

Fair winds, and ask away if you have any perticular questions.


  • At 3:36 PM, Blogger royalLD said…

    Another well put together write-up.
    The Islander 29 sounds like a well-found ship, capable of world cruising. When a vessel is able to give you the world, it is hard to ask much more from it.

  • At 4:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Thank you all for your comments, and Zen - thanks for the blog.

    I am currently rebuilding an 1967 Islander 29. The previous owner did not understand the word "upkeep" and let the boat sit with water up to the oil pan. So far, I have completely stripped and rebuilt the v-berth (and lowered it 4 inches), removed and replaced the bulkhead leading to the anchor locker, removed the head (haven't rebuilt it yet though), replaced the bulkhead holding the port side chain plate and removed the whole settee arrangement. I am planning on replacing the table arrangement with a single settee with a fold-down table from the bulkhead.

    I would appreciate any and all comments regarding "what you would change to make the islander perfect". Right now I am looking at water tanks to build the settee around as well as head arrangement.

    Also, I have looked at every Islander 29 and 30 boat listing for the past 6 months just trying to see pictures relating to what other people have done to their boats. I LOVE PICTURES, hence why I love your site, so many sailing pictures encouraging me to keep sanding and grinding. Please, keep posting pictures, I get so much relating to hardware arrangement and interior layout that I keep coming back.



  • At 7:31 PM, Anonymous Gilsoo said…

    I just bought an Islander 29 1967.
    It is in an awful mess due to total neglect ! The man that owned it died several years ago and his family did not take care of the boat.
    I am embarking on a total remake from top to bottom including the sails. If anyone has any info that would shorten the process I would like to hear from you.

  • At 7:32 PM, Anonymous Gilsoo said…

    I just bought an Islander 29 1967.
    It is in an awful mess due to total neglect ! The man that owned it died several years ago and his family did not take care of the boat.
    I am embarking on a total remake from top to bottom including the sails. If anyone has any info that would shorten the process I would like to hear from you.


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