Blue Jacket 40: Performance Cruiser Kismet

Collaboration between Bob Johnson and Tim Jackett brings forth a performance cruiser sailboat design with unusual pedigree.

10th September 2013.
By Zuzana Prochazka

It’s not every day that you get a successful collaboration between two marine industry legends, but that’s exactly what happened to create the new Blue Jacket 40. Bob Johnson, founder and CEO of Island Packet yachts, contemplated moving away from the traditional designs of IP offshore cruisers because he realized the market was shifting. Sailors were opting for more performance-oriented boats that offered a good turn of speed, but still were solidly built and comfortable cruisers. Right about that time, Tim Jackett, designer and former CEO of Tartan and C&C, was setting up his own design firm. It was kismet, and the two created this new model from scratch.

sailing blue jackett 40

The Blue Jacket 40 performance cruiser shows its stuff under sail.

The Blue Jacket 40, or BJ 40, has vacuum-infused construction that results in a relatively light displacement of 16,500 pounds. The underbody is modern. Gone is the full keel and attached rudder of the traditional Island Packet models, replaced by a fin keel with a bulb and a deep spade rudder. The high aspect ratio, keel-stepped, fractional Solent rig caries a self-tacking jib on the Hoyt carbon boom, which can be sheeted in tight for good upwind performance. For off-the-wind sailing, a 150% genoa on a furler will do the job even if it does need to be furled up when tacking or gybing. Jackett even included Tartan’s signature pocket boom into which the fully-battened mainsail drops easily. This is a versatile rig that is powerful enough for the lightest of wind, but can still be managed easily by a cruising couple.

The model sports a nearly-plumb bow and a transom with two hinged doors that open to lead from the aft cockpit to the integral swim platform. Twin helms are separated by a center pedestal which can hold a chartplotter or attach to an optional drop-leaf table. The profile is low and sleek with moderate topsides, but still very traditional and American in its lines rather than angular and European-chic.

blue jactett 40 cabin

Below, the Island Packet influence is quite visible.

Down in the cabin, the saloon table folds up and onto the forward bulkhead, leaving the space between the two curved settees wide and open. The sole at the bottom of the companionway, and stretching to the galley and portside nav station, is IP’s low-maintenance non-skid. Grab rails abound.

The standard layout has three cabins and one head. The master is a regular v-berth configuration with an entry into the head. There’s a seat built into the shower side of the head and a folding door to separate the compartment, but it’s not really what you would call a separate shower stall. In the optional two-cabin layout, the starboard side aft cabin is replaced by an extended galley with plenty of stowage and a workshop of sorts. The galley is roomy and adds modern touches like vast Corian countertops and drawer refrigeration. Island Packet’s build quality and attention to detail is evident throughout, with solid wood furniture and a high-end finish.

Length 39’10″
Beam 12’4″
Draft (Shoal/Deep) 5’2″/7’5″
Sail Area 810 sq. ft.
Displacement 16,500 lbs
Fuel capacity 40 gal.
Water capacity 110 gal.

In his design notes, Tim Jackett summed it up thusly: “The design challenge presented was to create a yacht with a performance pedigree, one that could compete effectively in around-the-buoy and offshore races yet provide a level of comfort, build quality, and ease of use that would gratify the entire family.” Not just another cruiser-racer, the Blue Jacket 40 seems to have hit the mark.

Other Choices: A smaller performance cruiser of note is the DuFour Yachts 36P. The Marlow-Hunter 40 may also be of interest, and if German precision is something you appreciate, check out the Hanse 415.

For more information, visit Blue Jacket Yachts.

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About the author:

Zuzana Prochazka

Zuzana Prochazka is a writer and photographer who freelances for a dozen boating magazines and websites. A USCG 100 Ton Master, Zuzana has cruised, chartered and skippered flotillas in many parts of the world and serves as a presenter on charter destinations and topics. She is the Chair of the New Product Awards committee, judging innovative boats and gear at NMMA and NMEA shows, and currently serves as immediate past president of Boating Writers International. She contributes to and, and also blogs regularly on her boat review site,
Connect with Zuzana Prochazka on Google+

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