Some boats impress me with their saucy looks, some with their accommodating interiors, but rarely do I see a boat that combines the two. This Islander Freeport reminded me of my mother-in-law. She is such a rare combination of beauty, elegance, charm and utility that it’s hard to imagine who might have come up with such a design. Surely this boat could not be the work of only one designer? And if so, who could it possibly be?
If you guessed ‘Bob Perry’, you would be correct. I do not even pretend to know exactly what makes a Perry design scream his name. Sometimes it might start with one of those graceful canoe sterns, but that’s no guarantee. When I entered the salon on this boat I thought “how Perry-esque’ this feels”. Then I began the research for this article and, ‘Bingo!’. You see, I am learning here! I started looking at and writing about boats in order to learn about them, so it must be working. Hey, it worked in college…. why mess with a good system?
This Islander Freeport 36 was built by Islander Yachts in 1978, a great vintage year if there ever was one. This is the decade that saw production of so many great old boats, like our Cal 34, and was before all these good builders started going out of business in the early 80’s. One hopes that might mean it’s before they started cutting corners, trying to save money on the boats going out to sea. By the way, be sure you do not confuse this boat with the other Islander 36, which is completely different.
Starting with the ‘beauty, elegance, and charm’ aspect of this boat, let’s talk about the fact that this has a ‘deck salon’. To be frank, I don’t know why this has some kind of special name. I suspect it has more to do with recent marketing by other boat manufacturers trying to look like they’ve invented a new concept in boat design when they haven’t. What this means is that this boat offers a raised coach roof with large port lights. You see? That’s been around pretty much forever.
This absolutely makes the salon an inviting place for lounging, dining, and visiting and allows for plenty of natural daylight. If you are a tall person, you probably will not bump your head or have to stoop. Backs will be saved. As long as it doesn’t make the lines of the boat look clunky, then I like a salon with plenty of head room. More charm is added when you consider the dotted swiss curtains and matching pull-down window shades. I have not seen any like this on another vessel, and they are pretty much perfect from a decor/function standpoint. These blinds and curtains are to boat decor what ‘comfort heels’ are to high heeled shoes. Kudos to whoever chose those. The port lights do not open, so you’ll want to have the companionway doors and the forward hatch open on a warm day.
Settees on this boat are wide enough to be comfortable, and there is a fold-down dining table. I couldn’t figure out how to deploy that table, but I’m sure there is some little trick that I simply missed. As usual, it is the smaller details in the design that make the interior stand apart from other boats. To access the storage behind the cushions on the settees, one has to remove only the lower part of the cushion, for instance. That adds convenience that only someone who has had to haul cushions around a small cabin can appreciate.
Engine access is through the sole in the salon, and I found the panels easy to remove. Engine access was very good. Mike would have been pleased.
Another nice convenience is the use of small, folding tables that easily and quickly stow out of the way when not needed. The galley has two of these on the end of the counter top and it’s just a great idea! Who doesn’t always need just that much more counter space to put supplies when cooking? Add a pull-out cutting board and you are set!
Although at home I like to say that I have a kitchen only because it came with the house, on a boat I do love a nice galley that makes preparing meals less of a chore. Even the yellow counter tops are attractive, offering a nice warm glow in the sunlight. Using colors like yellow in the interior of a boat makes the boat feel more open and adds light rather than the shadow of dark wood. There is a built-in place for a small trash bag to the left of the sink, and there is built in storage for dishware. I was glad to see this evidence of being on a boat because this salon was beginning to feel more like a tiny house than anything else.
Where this boat has the most charm is in its layout. Although this entire interior is designed to appeal to the feminine in all of us, it’s the captain’s quarters that really take the cake. My mother-in-law would be so pleased with this cabin, which is really like a proper bedroom.
This is the popular ‘plan B’ model that offers captain’s quarters that most 36 foot boats only dream of having. Just ahead of the salon is the huge owner’s cabin with a generous double berth to port, complete with drawer storage underneath. I will admit it fully here: I want curtains on that berth. It would look like those glamorous beds you find in castles in Europe. I have a vision of artistically draped pale yellow mosquito netting that would brighten up this cabin and bring it together with the yellow in the galley. I’d use bedding the color of a pale blue robin’s egg with trim the color of whipped cream. Then I would add pillows made of kilim-style fabric with gold and blue undertones, perhaps with a little red as an accent. I would also add some of those to the blue settees to pull the yellow, blue and white together. It would just be, well, pretty. In fact, luscious! This is decidedly NOT a boring boat interior. No offense to Herreshoff, but pardon me while I swoon. You wouldn’t be able to pry me out of there with a crowbar.
To starboard there are double cedar lined hanging lockers, one deeper than the other due to the hull shape. This deeper one is the woman’s hanging locker, of course, and if both people are women, they will have to flip a coin for it unless they really get along. You know this is the woman’s hanging locker because of the shoe holder still present, left by the current owner. I admire a fellow woman who does not want to leave all her shoes behind. Another nice touch by the current owner. A bureau with drawers stands between the hanging lockers.
Further examination of the interior of the lockers revealed that this boat’s hull is insulated! This is a huge bonus that I should not fail to mention while I am distracted by beauty. Many fiberglass boats of this period were not insulated, much to the owner’s dismay during the cold winter months. Insulating after the interior is in place is just a pain in the hind end so believe me when I say it’s good that this is already done.There is nothing beautiful about condensation dripping down the interior of a boat hull. Take my word for it.
Along the same lines, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the zippered headliner. I’ve seen this done on the Pacific Seacraft yachts and it’s such a great idea for accessing hardware that is bolted through the cabin top. Nothing to unscrew, no panels to remove, just unzip the liner to check the connections and rebed if necessary.
The forward area of the boat is entirely given over to the head. That’s right. It’s huge. Actually, I would be dishonest if I didn’t admit that I cannot figure out why this head space has to be so big. But that’s simply personal preference. I would want some extra storage there. But I can see why one might expect to have a bathroom of elegant proportions to go along with that master cabin. Let’s just say that you will have plenty of room to shower. It’s a bit like a locker room. And there are two shelves to port that do make good extra storage. Just be sure that you use water proof containers since the shower is in all that open space. I thought tupperware-type containers with snapping lids would work just fine and be very convenient. The counter to starboard takes the full length of this cabin and I’m thinking this area would double as a nice workshop. Fortunately there is a hatch in this space so you can let all the steam escape.
I know I tend to get distracted by the visuals in a nicely designed interior, but moving to the exterior, this boat does not disappoint. It’s been set up to do long distance cruising, as is evident by the complete wind vane that I found on the bed below. There are 4 lazarettes with storage, one of which is a nicely done propane locker.
On top of the dodger, which needs new canvas, is a large solar charger. One of the nicest ideas I’ve seen is a fold down swim step on the stern which doubles as a place for the helmsman to steer. Winches are double speed and self-tailing.
More evidence that this boat was set up for serious cruising is the new Lewmar Anchor windlass with remote. It also has an autohelm that was new in 2011, a water maker, and a life raft. If all of these extras work, this adds quite a bit of value to the boat for the sailor who wants to sail long distances. There looks to be a full electronics package with this boat. I’m beginning to wish this boat had a second cabin, since that’s one of my requirements for our next boat. If it had just a bit more space there would be a sold sign hanging on it.
With a design provenance like Perry, you know this is a sweet sailing boat. This is a lot of boat in a 37.5 foot package and it’s no wonder that these are so popular. It’s evident that this boat has been loved, and that it has also been sailed. A good survey would point out what you’d need to do to bring this boat back to the excellent condition you’d want for serious cruising. This boat would be just perfect for a couple and it’s a lot of boat with a lot of good gear for the money. If you’re looking, I hope she’s still there for you!