By Jack Hornor
Revised by BoatUS editors in October 2012
Driven by consumer demands, there have been plenty of attempts over the years at putting a big boat in a small package. Most end up as downright ugly examples of the larger vessels they are trying to emulate. The Com-Pac 27, from Hutchins Co. Inc, falls somewhere between traditional and contemporary in style and seems to have avoided the pitfalls of other misguided attempts. While her look may not be to everyone&s liking, the design is well proportioned and without exaggerated features that result in a cartoon-like appearance.
The Com-Pac 27 was introduced in 1986 and remains in production today. Bob Johnson, founder and chief designer of Island Packet Yachts designed the 27 for Hutchins Co. Inc, and the similarities to Island Packet's 27-footer are apparent. Both boats have an identical 24& 3& waterline length, although the Com-Pac is a foot narrower, nine inches longer on deck and 2,000 lbs. lighter.
The Com-Pac 27 has a nearly three-foot-long bowsprit, which results in an overall length of 29' 7". This is important in that, for dockage and storage, she will be considered a 30-footer by most marine facilities and a slip charged accordingly.
Hutchins uses a subcontractor to mold the hulls and decks of the Com-Pac 27. Assembly and systems installations are completed at Hutchins' facility in Clearwater, FL. Hulls are constructed of solid fiberglass laminate while the decks and superstructure are constructed with a foam core in areas that require added stiffness. In 1994, Hutchins began using vinylester resin in the outer layers of the hull to aid in preventing osmotic blistering. The deck and hull are joined on an outward flange with mechanical fasteners and then finished with a vinyl rub rail over the flange. The attachment is reinforced on the inside with a layer of fiberglass cloth and resin.
Hutchins makes limited use of molded fiberglass interior liners, and for the most part, the hull is strengthened with plywood frames and bulkheads tabbed in place with fiberglass cloth and resin. Access for inspection, service and repair is better than with most production boats. The quality of construction and finish is above average, although not without some common problems. One weak point is the spade rudder, which is built with a foam core and fiberglass outer skins. Most Com-Pac 27s more than 10 years old will have delaminated rudders if some remedial action has not been taken. That&s the bad news, but the good news is that replacement rudders are available from Hutchins at reasonable prices. Ordering and installing a new rudder is usually less expensive than repairing the old one and typically costs less than $1,000. On pre-1994 models, some degree of osmotic blistering is typical below the waterline, although this is not a condition unique to the Com-Pac 27.
The deck arrangement of the Com-Pac 27 is well laid out. And, although there is no anchor locker forward, the bowsprit provides a convenient location for anchor storage. Side decks are wide and rigging shrouds are led to chain plates on the hull side so there are no obstructions moving about. Two large deck hatches and six or eight (depending on year) opening ports are standard equipment. Early models have cast bronze hardware while more recent models have stainless steel, but in either case, high quality materials are used. The cockpit is nearly seven feet long, wheel steering is standard, and there are two huge cockpit seat lockers that provide outstanding storage and access.
Interior accommodations are impressive for a 27-footer. There is a large V-berth forward followed by opposing settees in the main saloon. The two areas are separated by a full bulkhead from the centerline to the port hull side and a partial starboard bulkhead. This arrangement is less private than a doorway but opens up the interior and makes for a roomier appearing boat. There is a well-equipped galley aft and to port, although the icebox is poorly insulated and adjacent to the engine, which cuts its efficiency even more. A fully enclosed head is aft to starboard and includes a shower. The standard 50-gallon fresh water supply is well above average for a boat this size and pressure water was standard equipment.
From 1986 until 1992, a 10-hp Universal Marine diesel engine was standard equipment. This engine is suitable for most conditions but insufficient when operating in strong winds or choppy seas. In 1993, the 18-hp Westerbeke diesel engine became the standard and is a considerable improvement over the smaller Universal model. The 13-gallon fuel capacity is marginal and limits cruising under power to less than 100 miles. Access for service and maintenance of the machinery is excellent.
There will be no mistaking the Com-Pac 27 for a "racer cruiser" although most owners are satisfied with her sailing performance, particularly when not sailing close to the wind. The sail area/displacement ratio is a modest 15.4, although the standard 135% roller furling genoa adds needed sail area. The outboard rigging shrouds and genoa track do not allow for close sheeting angles and windward performance suffers.
New Com-Pac 27s are bit expensive for a boat of this size and type, although used models are affordable and offer well above-average quality and cruising comfort for sailors who rank these qualities high.
Naval architect Jack Hornor was the principal surveyor and designer for Marine Survey & Design, Co., based in Annapolis, MD. He was on the boards of the American Boat and Yacht Council, the National Association of Marine Surveyors, and the Society of Boat and Yacht Designers. He and his wife sailed their Catalina 42, Legacy, based on Maryland's Eastern Shore.