Islander 28

Islander 28 Sail Plan
LOA 27’11”

LWL 23’1″

Beam 9’10.5″

Draft 5’0″

Displacement 7000 lbs

Ballast 3000 lbs

Vertical Clearance 41’0″

Ballast/D 43

D/L 255

Fuel 20 gal.

Water 24 gal.

Designer Robert H. Perry

Our 1976 Islander 28 is our fourth sailboat which we have now owned and sailed. We purchased her in the fall of 2010 and the very end of the sailing season in Minnesota. We were fortunate enough to take her out one time before we closed the deal, I say fortunate because Minnesota winters are long and our one sail had to sustain us through the entire winter as we anxiously awaited spring. Talk about hard waiting!

Buffing Islander 28

Robert H. Perry designed the Islander 28, along with the 26, 32 and 34, for Islander in the early seventies. To our heavily biased eye, the 28 is the prettiest of the three. She exhibits a nice sheer line with the coach roof line returning at an opposing angle as it moves forward. These lines combined with the slightly reversed transom lend a feeling of speed and beauty to our eyes. As for speed we have not been disappointed here either. She points high and covers the water much faster than our last three sailboats. Even in light airs we continue to be impressed. We can’t wait to see how she performs with a new suite of sails in the not too distant future we hope.

The cockpit seems roomy enough for two people, four starts to feel a bit crowded to us. We are still learning where to put folks. We did add some extra seating this spring with the addition of a pair of Stearnperch seats from Zarcor and those are the favorite spots for everyone on board. Moving forward, one of the previous owners upgraded the genoa winches to Barient 25’s and moved them aft and added a pair of Barient 16’s to either side of the companion way for halyard raising and main sheet duties. Obviously all lines were ran aft to the cockpit at some point as well. There is a quite roomy storage locker on the port side which I have personally spent many a happy hour inside of.

The boom has mid-boom sheeting which if you read any of Mr. Perry’s articles in Sailing Magazine, you know he no longer favors. This puts the traveler in front of the companion way, which is where I prefer it for aesthetic reasons. I can see the value of end-boom sheeting however when trying to get the best sail shape. We have tiller steering which seems to us to be the smart way to go with a sailboat of this size. We prefer to have the immediate feedback which we get from a tiller as well as the extra room it provides when flipped up at the end of the day, this is a very welcome feature as well.

The Islander 28 has a very large companion way, which I do not mind at all. We are sailing on inland lakes, namely Lake Pepin and although the book, Chapman Piloting and Seamanship specifically mentions Lake Pepin by name as a body of water in which “sizable seas” may develop, we do not anticipate being boarded by following seas on this sailing venue. Thus we are not worried about the size of the companion way being a detriment. There is always a hatch board that can be added too. Moving below decks via the substantial steps which serve as the access to the motor, one is struck by a spectacularly gorgeous interior, OK perhaps some of my bias is speaking again, but look at the photos. Beautiful!


The galley is immediately to port at the bottom of the steps. There you find a two burner stove, which we upgraded to a non-pressurized alcohol stove from Origo. A deep and large icebox and a single stainless steel sink with a cold water faucet which now has pressurized water thanks to the previous owner. No blowing out our knees trying to keep water flowing while doing the dishes for us. There is ample storage in the galley area to store loads of food and whatnot. There is a louvered cabinet under the sink and drawers under the stove. Access to the galley sink through-hull fitting is easy to reach under the sink. Plus sliding door storage behind the icebox and stove. The electrical panel is also situated behind the sink, which is not necessarily my first choice, but there is good access to the backside of the panel from the cockpit storage locker.


Moving forward on the port side from the galley you find a settee which doubles as a single berth. Also nice storage facilities behind and below the cushions along with a shelf which goes the entire length of the settee. Some more joinery work along this shelf would have a been welcomed feature. As it is we have a microwave oven mounted in this space near the galley. Next up is a small hanging locker with a small work area on top and another louvered cabinet for more storage. I suppose one could use this space for navigational duties, but not very well. Our rain gear fits nicely in the hanging locker which drains to the bilge. Directly across is the head. A small but perfectly functional space. There is a stainless sink, a marine toilet and plenty more storage behind the head itself and below the sink. Ours has a large mirror above the sink. There are three pull out drawers and sliding door cabinets, along with another louvered door for easy access to the sink drain and head through-hull fittings.

Forward again is the v-berth. It feels a little on the short side, the port side being the shorter due to the nav station slash hanging locker. Early on in the spring we both slept relatively comfortably there, but as the nights grew warmer the space seemed a wee bit crowded. The cushions are in three sections to access more storage below the v-berth and provide a filler to extend the sleeping area over the three pull out drawers. At the very front there is access via a pull out panel to the wiring and such.

Moving aft now past the head we return to the starboard side settee which pulls out for a double berth. There is also a rather unique table which folds up and slides out of the way on the bulkhead here. More storage behind the back cushion and some under the bottom cushion. The fresh water tank is located under the settee as well. Originally Islander Yachts used a flexible bladder for the holding tank which was located in this space as well, further limiting the storage space on the starboard side. Again, there is a shelf the entire length of the settee for additional storage. The way the double berth apparatus folds under the seating makes for a rather lumpy sitting experience.

Further starboard aft is the rear quarter berth, or torpedo tube as we lovingly refer to it. This is where our holding tank now resides along with a clever built in for the VHF radio, stereo and the now defunct LORAN. If I can ever figure out what to fill in the space with, I will remove the obsolete WWII era technology. This berth seems perfectly comfortable to me when the night temperatures cool down, 90 degrees, not so much. Overall though, a nice big space situated handily by the radio and the companionway for a nice sea berth.

Under sail the Islander 28 handles like a dream. We have yet to find any weather she doesn’t like. Light air, fine, heavy air, fine too. We find she likes to be reefed somewhere on the near side of 15 knots, maybe a little earlier if the winds are fickle or gusty. This is with old sails mind you, new sails should make a difference here I would think. Maybe a nice suite of Marathon 3DL’s from North Sails would work. Are you listening North Sails, a nice write up in the blog might be in it for you. North are you there? For reefing, we have single line reefing which works for us. We also have the Lazy Jack system which make life quite a bit easier when its time to end the days sail.

I have read from others that they felt the Islander 28 was too tender. Tenderness was in response to the IOR rules of the day and is to be expected in a dish shaped hull such as well. I will say that once she gets to 20 degrees, she settles in nicely with almost no weather helm. Compared to our last boat, a Precision 23 trailer sailor, the Islander is stiff as a board. I suppose it depends on what one is used to. The ballast to weight ration for the 28 is almost 43% and a five foot draft, not the only factor to be sure, but a lot of bona fide blue-water sailboats do not have a ratio this high. We have, in the past, been a little heal shy, but this boat inspires so much confidence we no longer worry, say, when we have water rushing past the portlights. Way past the 15 degrees of heal she seams happiest at to be sure, but not scary in the least.

Her sail plan balances easily for easy upwind sailing. We have a 135% genoa and this is where most of the power comes from, also typical of IOR boats of the day. Downwind the tiller needs more attention, but she handles predictably and reliably and in around 25 knots of wind, is my favorite point of sail. We have yet to experience any arm wrenching weather helm. I don’t think we will either. The main sail is a high aspect sail measuring 145 square feet. The 135% genoa is the head sail we use most, and is amazingly simple to use with the furling unit. Love roller furling! I believe the genoa is somewhere in the neighborhood of 291 square feet. This combination gives a total of 436 square feet of sail which puts us at the cruiser-racer level and a SA/D of 19.06.

Profile and Deck Plan

As an aside, we purchased a set of line drawings directly from the designer for a very reasonable price. I have the sail plan and the profile and deck plan drawings hanging on the wall in my den. Very nice to have those. Plans are available by contacting Robert H. Perry at

So far we have been very pleased with this Robert H. Perry cruiser-race of the 70’s. Thanks Bob!

PS. There is a great new Islander group forming on eBoatCards, definitely check this out.