Islander 48

I thought I would start off the year with a new column that goes more to the root of my original idea for Boat de Jour. Namely, writing about sailboats and more particularly, sailboats which have caught my eye for whatever reason. Hopefully, you’ll enjoy reading these as much as I enjoy presenting them. So here goes.

1985 Islander 48

Designer: Ted Brewer 


LOA: 48′

Beam: 13’10”

LWL: 37

Maximum Draft: 5’10.5″

Displacement: 29,125

Ballast: 11,000

Bridge Clearance: 61


Engine Brand: Pathfinder

Engine(s) HP: 85

Cruising Speed: 7

Maximum Speed: 8.5


Fresh Water Tanks: 255

Fuel Tanks: 100

Holding Tanks: 40

The other day I was looking at sailboats on the Internet and found this beauty at . She is an 1985 Islander 48, which the current owner is offering for sale at the above link. This is an Islander Yachts sailboat which I did not even know existed. I immediately fell in a deep, deep love at first sight. The more I studied her the more I wanted her. To my eye, Ted Brewer nailed it on this one. The long graceful sheer, the low angled coach-roof, the overhangs. Beautiful! According to the write up there were only three of these models built by Islander Yachts, which made my wife want one even more. Mr. Brewer originally designed this as a long distance passage maker. One of the very interesting things about this sailboat that captivated me was that the companionway entered the master suite rather than the main saloon as in the typical setup. While one may move through to the saloon from the master suite, the main entrance is from another hatch on the top of the coach-roof. This puts you by the galley as can be seen in the photo. In the photo you can also see the access to the master suite on the starboard side of the ladder. To me, the galley looks very functional as well as beautiful.

Moving on to the navigation station, you will find a nicely laid out area which seems to have room for two on the seating. Lots of room for charts, lots of room for electronics and very nice joinery here as well as the rest of the craft. The electric panel looks like it could be a little tough to gain access to the rear of it as it seems to be built into a cubby.

The main saloon looks to have traditional styling with opposing settees, port and starboard. The table is of the permanent centered variety with drop down sides. The only thing I don’t like is that the keel stepped mast goes through the table using up some valuable real estate. However, with the slightly forward positioning of the the saloon there is no other option and as such is a compromise I certainly could live with. More warm teak which is typical of all Islander Yachts, including our own Islander 28, gives the saloon a very inviting atmosphere. There is no separating bulkhead between the galley and the saloon, so the galley slave can feel like they are a part of the goings on in the saloon too. One difficulty with this design is the distance from the galley to the cockpit. Not so easy to get some cool drinks while under sail with this set up, of course a cooler in the cockpit would take care of this and save ice in the main icebox. This particular Islander 48 comes with a refrigerator/freezer of course, but a closed lid saves energy in any case.

Next up is where I do all my serious thinking, the head. Come to think of it I guess my head is where I do all my thinking. Sorry. Anyway, the Islander 48 comes with two heads both of which have showers, very nice. The aft head comes complete with a separate shower stall, the forward head a curtain for privacy. Ample storage is provided in the heads as well.

The v-berth looks to be of typical design with very nice use of teak throughout and a goodly amount of storage. In this design I’m guessing this would be the guest’s quarters typically. Under the filler cushion is a hand bilge pump as well.

The master suite is really above par in the Islander 48. There is a Pullman style berth to port and an in-suite settee to starboard. The aft head is accessed easily from here as well. There seems to be lots of storage and a very comforting use of space and lighting. There seems to be ample ventilation as well with four opening portlights and two opening hatches and of course the companionway all within the master suite. You may close off the Pullman berth with nice louvered doors if making the bed isn’t on the agenda for the day as well.

The cockpit has sort of a T design with cockpit lockers on both port and starboard sides as well as an actual lazarette at the helmsman position. There looks to be two cockpit drains which also look to be very small. They drain below the waterline it appears as well. As you can see there are four winches two of which are self-tailing. You can also see that the Islander 48 has a nice narrow booty, which I tend to like on my boats.

Above decks, there is a generous, yet judicial amount of teak. From the teak topped combings to the teak bulwarks. The Islander 48 has the same eyebrow as our smaller Islander 28 and also teak hand rails along the entire length of the cabin trunk. For safety there is a double life line and a substantial bow pulpit as well as a nice stern rail. The latter also including a stainless steel boarding ladder accessible through a split stern rail, something missing on our sailboat, we have to climb over the stern rail from our ladder. I counted seven opening hatches, three dorades, ten opening portlights and two deadlights. Plenty of ventilation and lighting, although I would love to see a butterfly hatch, a la Baba 40, above the saloon table. That could be pushing the boundaries of traditionalism perhaps.

Below the waterline there is low-aspect fin keel and a skeg-hung rudder. The propeller shaft comes directly out of the aft end of the keel. The rudder is supported by the lower portion of the skeg as well as the rudder stock. The draft is 5′ 10.5”, which is pretty shallow in my estimation for a sailboat of this length and should provide all the benefits of a shallow draft where that is desirable. Our Islander 28 has a draft which is 5 feet even. The ballast to displacement ratio is just slightly under 38%.

In conclusion I can say this Islander 48 represents a tremendously beautiful older cruiser that I could totally envision spending my life aboard. Definitely as a live aboard, certainly as a head-towards-the-edge-of-the-chart cruiser and perhaps a nice charter sailboat. The admiral and I could take folks out for a wondrous day or more on the water, return to port, set anchor and enjoy all the things which a life on the water offers. Ah, how I love to dream!


Images and information provided from, and, thank you.