Author Topic: Com-Pac 19 GOB Review article.  (Read 8223 times)

Offline HenryC

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Com-Pac 19 GOB Review article.
« on: June 14, 2014, 11:40:06 PM »
I found this while backing up my is my review of the CP19 I wrote for Good Old Boat magazine and which appeared in the Sep/Oct 2009 issue.  (Man, was it that long ago?).  You may recall I got in touch with you guys back then while I was doing the research for this article, and you were very helpful.  I decided to stick around, even though I've never owned a Com-Pac myself.

Anyway, I thought you might like to scan through it.  It was never anthologized by GOB in one of their downloads, so unless you keep your old issues, here;s your chance to look it over again. Unfortunately, the illustrations for the article do not survive.

Com-Pac 19 Review Article
Henry Cordova
Second draft 4/17/08

In 1974, the Hutchins Company found a market niche relatively unpopulated by competitors and filled it with a trailerable, well designed, solidly built and beautifully finished miniyacht. The Com-Pac 16 might be the minimum small boat for camping and gunkholing, but it still had enough reserve capacity to actually travel to interesting places and stay out of trouble.  It was a boat for the weekend explorer, the adventurous couple and the small family ready to try more than just a day on the lake. This basic concept became the guiding philosophy of subsequent Hutchins boats and was fully realized by the hull lines of legendary designer Clark Mills of Optimist pram fame. In 1979, Hutchins introduced another trailerable boat based on the same concept and general design, the Clark Mills-drawn Com-Pac 23.

The obvious market gap between these two offerings was filled in 1982 by the Com-Pac 19.  The CP 19 was also successful, with a production run of 624 hulls over the next 20 years, until damage to the tooling finally put an end to the model run. It's designer, Robert K Johnson of Island Packet Yachts, went on to design the CP 27 in 1985, Hutchins' entry into the coastal cruiser market. The CP 19's basic philosophy and superficial resemblance to the 16 and 23  is obvious to the casual observer, but Johnson brought many of his own ideas to the Hutchins concept.  Still, it is safe to consider the 19 as an affirmation of the mission of its predecessors.  The boat was a pocket cruiser capable of getting into shallow water but still able to handle some coastal voyaging.  It was not a blue water vessel, nor could it be called a high performance boat, but it was stout, dependable, and comfortable.  It was also reasonably priced: base price on a 1984 CP 19/2 was $8495. Base price for a 2001 19/XL was $16,395. The price of a used boat today will depend on its age, model, equipment, condition, and the vagaries of the market.  A quick survey on the internet classifieds revealed boats for sale at prices between $3750 and $7000, with a median figure of $5150.

Johnson took the Hutchins specifications to fill the gap between the CP 16 and 23 and added some of his own touches.  A sharper bow with a finer entry than the Mills designs yields better windward performance and a flatter bottom with a more rounded bilge results in a roomier interior for its size than one might expect, a more balanced helm and higher initial stability. The 19 sails better on an even keel than it does with its lee rail in the water and it does not roll as violently under the effect of a stiff breeze or transfer of mass on deck. This resistance to rocking means it is friendlier and feels more stable to new sailors and is more comfortable lying at anchor.

Just as in the earlier Com-Pac designs, the CP 19 is kept upright by an integral molded keel ballasted with concrete. Four custom orders were produced by Hutchins with keel/centerboards, but the vast majority of the boats came off the line equipped with keels.  Two boats were fitted with inboard diesel auxiliaries at customer request, but most of the CP 19s are powered by outboards.  All 19s have an external cast aluminum rudder with tiller steering. Although the rudder does not extend below the keel, it can be kicked up to prevent damage in the event of grounding.  Where the Hutchins and Johnson philosophies really coincide is in the overall shape and character of the boat: she is all curves and grace, with a traditional look and a well-balanced shape.  The boat has a wide beam, high freeboard, modest overhangs and a jaunty sheer.  She looks terrific and bigger than her size, both inside and out.


Construction methods on all Com-Pac yachts are fairly standardized. There is no fancy high-tech engineering here, just straightforward industry-accepted boatbuilding techniques and materials. The hull is built using the "hand-layup" method, where woven fiberglass cloth is manually  placed on a mold.  The factory gel-coat finish is NPG (neo-pentyl glycol). The deck is not cored with balsa or plywood, but composed of a silicon dioxide microballoon-in-polyester resin core fiberglass sandwich which is impervious to rot.  It will last as long as the fiberglass does. The deck-hull attachment is by means of the  "outside flange" system, where the hull and deck edges flare outboard of the hull, parallel to the water's surface. The flanges are separated by marine sealant and pressed together with rivets; the outside of the assembly protected from the elements by a synthetic rub rail running along the entire length of the hull-deck seam.  Inside, a wooden batten running along the join covers the seam, secured by screws that penetrate through the batten into the sealant filling of the hull flange sandwich. All deck hardware is through-bolted to reinforced pads embedded in the core deck material.

In 1985, the 19/2 was introduced, equipped with a bowsprit, slightly more sail area and stainless steel rails in place of the original aluminum.  An overhead liner was added to the interior and the mahogany interior trim replaced with teak. In 1988, the 19/3 was introduced. The major change with this model was a fabric covering for the hull interior which replaced the original paint.  The final iteration, the 19/XL in 1992,  featured a full interior fiberglass hull liner and a teak and holly sole. Occasionally one may hear about the "CP 20", which was not a separate model but the name given to this boat in Europe where it was quite popular. 

The boat is ballasted with 800 pounds of concrete placed inside a molded keel; the keel is an integral part of the hull, not bolted on.  The keel cavity also serves as a sump and any stray water getting into the boat will wind up there so it can be pumped overboard through a manual pump with a handle in the cockpit.  The bilge and pump intake hose may be inspected by lifting a sole panel just forward of the companionway ladder.  This hose leads to a pump on the port side lazarette bulkhead and water is discharged through an opening in the transom well above the waterline. Other through-hulls in the transom include accommodation for the outboard motor wiring harness/fuel line and two cockpit drains.

Because of its construction and simplicity the CP19 is a relatively maintenance-free boat, but the usual cautions do apply and the boat's age and history should be determined and a good lookover carried out prior to purchase.  A visual inspection of the deck fittings and rig for wear and corrosion, and the hull, for cracks and blemishes, should be undertaken. It is also wise to check the bilge sump through the access port in the cabin sole.  Although spray, rain and condensation can enter any boat, a hard grounding can conceivably cause a hairline crack in the keel channel and that is where all the water will collect.


A masthead rig replaces the 7/8ths headsail of the CP 16, and two additional shrouds fastened just below the spreaders lead from chain plates set exactly athwart the mast.  A backstay adds additional support to a mast stepped on the cabin roof while a compression post below deck helps support the vertical strain on the rig. The boat is easily maneuvered on and off a trailer; it may be  an awkward operation to single-handedly raise and lower the mast--but it is a snap for two. The initial design carried 188 square feet of sail, almost equally divided between main and headsail. Later variants, the Com-pac 19/2, 19/3, and the 19/XL were fitted with a bobstayed bowsprit and slightly more sail area (98 square feet in the main, and 98 square feet in the 110% jib. . Another difference between older and newer models involves the reefing arrangements.  Older boats had roller reefing, later variants were equipped with slab reefing. Some owners have reported that reefing underway is difficult due to poor design of the reefing hook. It would be prudent to drill this evolution thoroughly, or to improvise a work-around; one owner uses a stainless steel ring in the mainsail grommet to fasten the reefing hook to. Another suggestion is fitting the hook with a locking pin.

There are no surprises in the rig, either.  A straightforward jib and mainsail provide the power, and the boat is designed for an optional 155% genoa (one of the factory options was genoa tracks and cars). Other factory options include sheet winches and a halyard winch mounted on the mast. Standing rigging is 5/32" stainless steel wire. The boat tested was equipped with a topping lift. Control of the boom is through blocks mounted on the transom. 

Deck hardware for the CP 19 is adequate for sail and line handling. At the bow, just aft of  the bowsprit, is a single bronze cleat and two bronze fairleads to guide the anchor line.  A sealable chrome fitting on the foredeck allows the rode to deploy from the chain locker in the forepeak.  Two other cleats and fairleads amidships handle the jib sheets, and two more on the outboard sides of the transom aid in docking.  The boat tested for this report was also equipped with a traveler just aft of the companionway hatch. A stern pulpit, stanchions and lifelines, and a swim ladder were also available as factory options and were present on the test boat.


A fore-to-aft look below reveals a bare-bones yet roomy and efficient cabin, beginning with a chain locker in the forepeak.  A hatch above the V-berth provides foredeck access and ventilation and the berth itself, although compact, is comfortable for two children or one adult.  In practice however, it will probably be used primarily for stowage on anything longer than an overnighter.  A notch in the V-berth, where the mast compression post is located, can hold an optional galley with a small sink and folding table. Two small storage lockers are located under the cushions at the aft end of the V-berth, port and starboard.  One of the shortcomings of this boat is a lack of storage; there simply is no room to spare.  In spite of this, the cabin is roomy for a boat this size.  It is more than adequate for two adults willing to rough it on a fairly long cruise, or for three or even four for a weekend or overnighter.  But the supplies needed for any sort of extended trip will need to be stored in containers scattered about the cabin, or in netting strung along the cabin sides.  Illumination below is provided by four sturdy brass portlights and by a light fixture on the overhead.

The optional chemical toilet is stowed beneath the companionway ladder, which can be folded out and up so the head can be deployed for action with some privacy.  (The ladder covers the companionway entrance.) The electrical control panel is located directly above the void where the toilet is secured when not is use. Two quarter berths along the port and starboard sides double as benches, they do not have any storage below. From the aft end of each berth it is possible to reach into the cockpit lazarettes which are also accessible from hatches on the cockpit benches.  The lazarettes are quite roomy and provide more than enough space for the usual deck gear, such as life vests, boathooks, spare line, tool kits and spare parts. Both the battery and bilge pump are in these lazarettes, the former to starboard, the latter to port. 

In a 19 foot boat, much time is spent in the cockpit and this boat has a roomy one for its size, 
with comfortable seating for four. With an improvised awning or boom tent, it would make an extended stay at anchor or dockside quite civilized.  The Com-Pac 19 has its practical space limitations, of course, but it is a roomy and comfortable boat for its size. In spite of it's lack of internal storage, there is plenty of room to carry cargo in containers, particularly if the V-berth is free.


The CP 19 is designed as a trailerable sailboat, and performance under tow and during launching and recovery is a fundamental consideration.  Prospective buyers should make it a point to ensure that the vehicle they plan to haul their boat is up to the task and that the trailer is adequate. Although the factory towing gear is perfectly suited for the job, it should be kept in mind that a used boat may not be mated to the same trailer it was sold with and that maintenance on the trailer over the years may not have been conscientious.  The new owner should also give some thought as to where he or she plans to launch and that the ramp can accommodate boat, trailer and vehicle.

Under power at low speeds, the boat can be a bit awkward due its relatively long keel so it may be necessary to employ both rudder and engine when backing down in tight quarters.  As in any unfamiliar boat, some practice maneuvers in a protected marina under various wind conditions are prudent until a new skipper becomes familiar with the boat's idiosyncracies. A four to six horsepower motor is recommended.

My test sail was conducted in Clearwater, Florida in light winds, and it was necessary to fly a 155% genoa to get the boat moving adequately.  At low speeds, the boat maintained steerageway even when barely moving.  Although it tracked well downwind, one should resist the temptation to use excessive rudder, which appears to prevent the boat from acquiring too much forward momentum.  Tacking and jibing at low speeds was acceptable, although a bit slow. Although light air performance was adequate with the wind on the beam or quarter, making headway was difficult close to windward.  This is not a high performance boat. 

Under brisker conditions, the boat comes alive.  Reports from skippers are very positive, and the boat thrives on all points of sail. The weakest appears to be downwind; the CP 19 does not track well under these conditions and requires constant attention to the tiller (although rig upgrades such as whisker poles and boom vangs reportedly help and an after-market foil rudder is popular with some owners).  But at higher wind speeds, performance improves substantially and the boat feels safe and stable. It rides flat and resists heeling, indeed, it sails better if kept relatively flat. At wind speeds over 12 knots, or when overpowered, the boat tends to respond more by developing weather helm than by heeling and for this reason sailors often delay reefing longer than they should.  This tendency to round up can be partially compensated for by using the outhaul to flatten the mainsail as much as possible (or by replacing old, worn-out sails!).  The boat reportedly does not develop lee helm under any circumstances.

The CP 19 is a very good rough water boat, it heaves-to easily, sails well when reefed, is resistant to broaching, and jibes well under any conditions.  Tacking is relatively slow but deliberate. One owner with considerable rough weather experience reported he had never been knocked down, although this is a condition which should nonetheless be avoided.  The CP 19's abrupt turn of bilge and flat bottom has high initial stability but once rolled over completely, it may have some difficulty recovering. Hull speed appears to be a bit over 5 and a half knots. The general consensus among owners seems to be that the CP 19 is a superior sailer compared to most other boats in her class.


Performance under sail is excellent, in fact, it may be too good!  The CP 19 is a sturdy, well designed and constructed boat, and it carries out its design function as an overnighter/weekender with plenty of reserve capability to handle emergencies and unexpected conditions. But it is a small, shoal draft vessel and it's stability and solidity may tempt the inexperienced or overly bold skipper to push it too far. It is suitable for all waters, but its virtues are particularly worthwhile for Florida sailors.

There are owner's websites where towing, maintenance and performance considerations are addressed, and the manufacturer has an excellent record of providing advice and spare parts to used boat owners.  R.F. Burgess'  book, Handbook of Trailer Sailing, is also an invaluable source of information for the CP 19 and other comparable boats. The CP 16 and 19 are discussed at length in the Handbook, Mr Burgess owned both!. These are resources which should be taken advantage of.

Com-Pac 19

Designer: Robert K.  Johnson
LOD: 20.1 ft
LWL: 16.3 ft
LOA: 20.1 ft
Beam: 7.0 ft
Draft: 2.0 ft
Disp: 2000 lbs
Ballast: 800 lbs
Sail Area: 196.0 sq ft
Mast: 25.0 ft AWL
Engine: 6 hp Outboard
D/LWL: 206
SA/D: 19.8
PHRF: 280

Production History

Com-Pac 19     1982 - 1985 hull#  001 - 265
Com-Pac 19/2  1985 - 1988 hull#  266 - 442
Com-Pac 19/3  1988 - 1992 hull#  443 - 550
Com-Pac 19XL 1992 - 2002 hull#  551- 624


Hutchins Company website:  http://www/

Com-Pac Yacht Owners Association:

Yahoo Com-Pac Group:

Handbook of Trailer Sailing, Robert F Burgess
Dodd, Mead & Co. New York, NY
ISBN 0-396-08303-X

I wish to thank Dan and Laurie Snook of Clearwater Florida for allowing me to sail and photograph their Com-Pac 19, See (sic) Snook, for this review.  I also wish to thank Gerry Hutchins of The Hutchins Company, Robert K. Johnson, NA, of Island Packet Yachts, Mr Jeff Tsai, Mr Jonathan Eisenberg and Robert F Burgess for their kind assistance with the preparation of this review.
« Last Edit: October 29, 2016, 03:31:25 PM by Tim Gardner »

Offline n e o s o u l

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Re: Com-Pac 19 GOB Review article.
« Reply #1 on: June 16, 2014, 11:54:01 AM »
That was very thoughtful! I am a new owner and I enjoyed reading about my CP-19 and having this info handy. It very much underscores why I purchased this boat.
Thanks! Neo
n e o s o u l
'Macushla', 1985 CP 19/2 Hull #282.
Peconic Bay - Southold, NY
neosoul AKA Neo

Offline Salty19

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Re: Com-Pac 19 GOB Review article.
« Reply #2 on: June 18, 2014, 02:31:44 PM »

Just wanted to thank you for the excellent article as well as your numerous contributions not only to this forum over the years, but to the nautical world as a whole!   THANK YOU!!!!

"Island Time" 1998 Com-pac 19XL # 603

Offline HenryC

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Re: Com-Pac 19 GOB Review article.
« Reply #3 on: June 18, 2014, 07:42:40 PM »
You're very welcome, Salty.  Its been my pleasure.  I've always felt a bit out of place here since I've never owned a ComPac, and have only sailed aboard them a few times.  In spite of that, you folks here have been very hospitable to me and have welcomed me here. I have enjoyed posting here and talking to you guys. I am very fond of these boats, and I have great respect for the manufacturers and their product.

I just got my copies of the Jul/Aug issue of Good Old Boat, and my latest article "Sextant Reflections" is there, with the usual excellent illustrations by Mr Fritz Seegers. It should hit the newsstands any day now.

A catalog of my published work, as well as a few links to some of my online articles can be found here: 

If you see something  there you might like to look over but is not online, drop me a line and if I've got a copy of it I'll post it.  My work for GOB and Florida Wildlife is now under my copyright control, so I am free to reproduce it.

Thanks for having me.
Henry Cordova