Islander 39

Home Professionally Built Boats Islander 39

The islander 39 was specially designed as an eco charter catamaran for warm climates.

A sailor of a certain age will know that with wooden hull(s), canvas sails, natural fibre ropes, at one time, all sailboats were ‘Eco Craft’. Sailors of that era adapted themselves to sailing and living aboard their simple boats.

The Islander 39 is designed to encourage Modern sailors to personally adapt themselves to sailing a simple boat, rather than using large amounts of Energy to adapt the boat to the ‘needs’ of affluent Urban Man.

This design is only available professionally built by Andy Smith Boatworks.


The Islander 39 is built professionally in strip-planking or double diagonal plywood and epoxy. Using renewable timber as the main boatbuilding material is more eco-friendly than building completely in oil-based composites. Her masts are wood and rigging simple, using the minimum of high-tech, high-carbon footprint, fittings and hardware. Rope is used in many places instead or stainless steel, as is common for all Wharram designs. With the worldwide push to reduce the use of fossil oils, the possibility of making epoxy resin from sugar, or plant based oils may be explored.

Building Method Ply/Glass/Epoxy/Laminate
Length Overall 39' 11.88 m
Beam Overall 20' 4" 6.20 m
Beam of each hull 5' 3"1.60 m
Waterline length 33' 2"
10.10 m
Draft @ 4000kg 2' 10" 0.86 m
Sleeping capacity 4 flexi-space double cabins
Displacement (Light) 6600lbs 3000kg
Displacement (Fully laden) 11000lbs 5000kg
Hull WL length/beam ratio 11 : 1
Wingsail Rig (Total) 295 sqft 27.5 sqm
Main 333 sqft 30.25 sqm
Genoa 235 sqft 21.42 sqm
Mizzen 106 sqft 9.65 sqm


The boat is designed to be sailed and rarely motored, saving on fossil fuels. Her hullshape is slim with low wave and skin drag, low freeboard means low windage and hence better windward sailing and reduced fuel consumption when the (auxiliary) motor is used.

We chose the Wharram Wing Sail Yawl rig as its small mizzen can be used to assist in manoeuvring under sail, allowing Eco-sailors to avoid using the engine as much as possible.

The single centrally placed 9.9hp 4-stroke outboard motor is there to be used only in calms to get back in time for the end of the charter, or to get into places where sailing is impossible.

The anchor is lifted traditionally by sailing or motoring over the anchor to ‘break it out’. It can then be easily lifted by hand without the need of an anchor winch.


The lay-out of the Islander 39 is designed specially for charter use in a warm climate. The four simple ‘flexispace’ cabins in the hulls provide each couple with a private space. Half of each cabin is open to the fresh air, ideal in the tropics or hot Mediterranean weather; they are like a room with a balcony for secluded naked sunbathing. On a hot night one can sleep in the semi open, enjoying the stars overhead.

By using the bamboo sunblinds, natural airflow is encouraged. A waterproof cover is there for wet weather. For safety the cabin floors are sealed and self-draining. Large watertight hatches in these floors give access to huge storage lockers, one for bedding and personal possessions, the other for water storage, wetsuits or diving kit.

Water is carried on board in portable jerrycans, allowing them to be refilled anywhere and transported by dinghy.


The open sided deckpod, with ample seating for the crew of 8, has a simple but spacious galley in which several people can prepare food together, while enjoying a glass of wine. The cooker is screened from wind; roll-up side screens protect the crew from sun, wind or rain. The roof top is used for solar panels that will provide all the electrical needs, which are again encouraged to be kept simple.

There are two heads compartments, perhaps using composting toilets. Showers should be taken on deck, the platform hatch is a ‘well’ for raising buckets of seawater. Washing up is also done on deck (using seawater when possible), plenty of space to splash and the platform slats double as a built-in draining rack! Cooking and washing up out in the open as a social activity is far more congenial than in a cramped hot galley down below.

Low Tech Maintenance

The boat can be maintained without modern marina facilities. The small mizzen mast can be used as sheer-pole to lower the main mast, which is set in a tabernacle. The use of wood and rope wherever possible makes repairs and maintenance easy, also in remote areas where importing spares can be a nightmare.

Contact Andy Smith Boatworks

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