Design Date Bristol Channel Cutter

SLM hung it shingle out in 1975.

Does anyone know when the date the fist boat slid down the ways and/or the initial design date?

We are entering the Hospice Turkey Shoot Regatta for boat designs 25 years or older - Oct 10th - 12th. This is a fun regatta and I do not know if the crew is joining me to race or drink Iduna’s rum.

Cheers,

Rod

Hello Rod,

I was in the race last year along with Jeremy and Nica. I don’t know if they will be there this year. It’s a great time.

Best
Mark
SV “Lightfoot”

Hull # 002, Vixen, was registered in 1976, but it is possible that she was not launched until the following year.

I have no information on hull # 001

John:

Thanks, I suspect the first boat was commissioned in 1975. The BCC was designed in the 1950’s for wood construction for Hale Field. Field thought 28 ft was too costly. Hess designed a gaff-rigged 24 ft version - Renegade. Seraffyn is a marconi-rigged version of Renegade.

The BCC has a lineage dating back to the English Pilot Cutter, circa 1900. Hess changed very little about the design other than tightening up the garboards aft, flattening the quarter-bean buttock and adding tumblehome above the quarter-beam bottock section.

When you sail a Bristol Channel Cutter you are sailing back in time to the days when Westernmen worked the storm ridden approaches to the English Channel. What you sail is a legend.

Further reading: http://www.boats.com/news-reviews/article/hesss-bristol-channel-cutter

Fair Winds Shipmates,

Rod
BCC IDUNA

John,
I currently own hull 001. Her name is Fritha and she is listed on the BCC
site. She was completed in June 1978. The original owner was Fuller. As I
understand from Larry Pardey, Fuller completed the boat. I think he did a
fine job. It was originally built engineless but the second owner had a
Perkins Perama installed in 1991.

Doug Beu
s/v Fritha

----- Original Message -----
From: “BCC Forums” bccforums@samlmorse.com
To: bccforum@samlmorse.com
Sent: Friday, September 12, 2008 11:08 AM
Subject: [BCC Forum Post] John Cole: Re: Design Date Bristol Channel Cutter

Doug:

Do know when Fritha’s keel was laid?

Rod

Rod,
According to the Hull Number it was laid in April 1976. I understand that
many BCC’s had that same date.

Doug

----- Original Message -----
From: “BCC Forums” bccforums@samlmorse.com
To: bccforum@samlmorse.com
Sent: Friday, September 12, 2008 4:15 PM
Subject: [BCC Forum Post] IDUNA: Re: [BCC Forum Post] John Cole: Re: Design
Date Bristol Channel Cutter

Great picture of Iduna Rod! One of the best I think.

Bryon & Maria

I do beg your pardon! Yes, Fritha was laid down in April 1976 along with three other vessels.

As far as I can determine, the first vessel to be completed by SLM, and on the water, was hull # 002,

However, Please remember that all this data is more than 30 years old, and much of the original data was retained on the back of cigarette packets or beer coasters!

Actually, my father and I sailed a wooden vessel designed in 1808 and built in 1950 called a Brixham Waterbug. The vessel was ± 24 feet, with the wineglass transom, and had a substantial Thames measurement tonnage for its waterline length.

This vessel constantly exceeded its “hull speed” as the beam of the vessel, combined with the transom design created a formidable waterline length when heeled.

The boat was a wooden vessel, clinker built, and would regularly exceed 6 knots, not too shabby for a 21’ waterline.

As far as I can determine, it was a pleasure vessel created from the design of the original Brixham (Devon, England) Water Bugs which were working vessels, and, were, at that time, a standard for seaworthiness in extreme conditions.

There are many “Channel Cutters”, and Lyle Hess copied and then improved on the lines.

There was the Bristol Channel Pilot Cutter, built to the orders of a Bristol Channel Pilot, to place him aboard an incoming vessel. In those days, competition was rife, so the first pilot to arrive got the job. Hence the speed and seaworthiness of the vessel. There are less than a dozen original Bristol Channel Pilot Cutters surviving today. The original Channel Cutters were approximately 28 tons displacement, which allowed considerable room for contraband cargoes. (Who would EVER suspect a pilot?) Neither the Bristol Channel or the English Channel are easy waters, but the Bristolians had the advantage of being ably to rely on a significant incoming and outgoing tide - they could not sail against it, but they could probably make 10 knots sailing with the tide.

The English Channel Cutters, although designed to do the same work, were different beasts. They shared a heritage with the Brixham Water Bug, and several other clever designs. The boat had to be small, extremely seaworthy (The English Channel can make the Atlantic look as if it is having a "bad hair day!), fast, but have enough below deck stowage to hide a considerable amount of contraband, or possibly cargoes… Again, the need for speed was paramount, and this led to the “wineglass transom”, whereby the greater the list, the greater the waterline length. Typically, the cutters in the English Channel were smaller, so that they could avoid detection from the “Revenue Men”.

However, the French also had their versions, most notably the “Havre Cutter”. These vessels were traditionally much larger, up to 56 tons displacement, but were considerably faster than any boat England used for a similar purpose.

It has to be remembered that all these cutters were designed and built at a time when England, as normal, was at war with France, but the doughty sailors didn’t allow that to interfere with everyday business.

.

John:

Thank you for giving us a better sense of the lineage of the Bristol Channel Cutter. The time you spent with your father sailing the Bixham Waterbug must have been wonderful times.

Based on my research to date, the BCC design is based on the Itchen Ferry smacks and Falmouth quay punts of 19th century England.

If you love old gaffers, Classic Boat Magazine produced a video title “Working Gaffers.” The video features 12 boats, such as the Itchen Ferries, Essex Smacks, Thames Bawleys, Galway Hookers, Morecambe Bay Prawners, Falmouth Oyster Dredges and Bristol Channel Pilot Cutters. http://www.classicboat.co.uk/cb/readers_services.html
If you decide to order a video, order a VHS copy not a PAL copy.

Rod

Rod, To my knowledge, everyone is correct.

Lyle actually designed a 28 foot boat for Hail Field back in the 60,s. When Hail saw the plans he said the boat was too big so Lyle designed another boat that was 24 feet long. This became Renegade. It also was the same plans sold to the Pardey’s. Years later, 1973/4. Sam Morse wanted to build a boat to compete with the Westsail 32. He first searched in Oxnard where they were building the Dreadnaught 32 (copy of the Tahiti Catch). The owner (name slips my mind) told Sam that he was aware of a 28 foot boat designed by Lyle Hess. Sam approached Lyle. Lyle showed Sam the original design for Hail Field. Sam loved it and bought the rights to build. To my knowledge, he laid the first hull in 74. All the hulls up to 1977 were kit boats. In 1976 he got his frist order for a completed BCC from an Australian Doctor. It was christened Kikorangi. While Kikorangi was under construction, I ordered Xiphias, hull number 37, completed in 1977.

Roger

Rod: Hi!

The February 1977 issue of Cruising World has an article “Down the Ways” about the history of Sam L Morse Co. That issue also has an article about Lyle C. Hess (the article on Mr Hess can be found on the Nor’Sea yachts website).

If you (or anyone else) are close to a good library, I’d be v grateful for a photocopy or scan of the “Down the Ways” article. I’ve searched for it, but not yet found it (hint: I think Library of Congress in DC has a copy).

Cheers

Bil

Roger:

Thank you for enlightening us about the history of the BCC and the Sam L Morse company. This history should never be lost.

I also need to thank you for helping me. Each time we take a reef or set the whisker pole I think of you and say to myself, “Thank you Roger.”

Your reefing system allows us to take a reef within 1 minute. It takes no effort to complete the task. Release the mainsail halyard, pull down the luff reefing line and cleat it. Once the main’s luff is tensioned, grab the three leech reefing lines and start pulling them in as far as one can, wrap the reefing line around the winch and crank the reef in, unwrap the line from the winch, cleat it and secure the other reefing lines - total control.

Setting the whisker pole with its toping lift and fore and aft guys is just as easy. If one has to make a fast jibe, I just follow your instructions, release the jib sheet from the whisker pole and make the jibe with pole in place - wonderful. Because the whisker pole’s piston is facing up instead of down, the jib sheet line pops free and one is ready to jibe - brilliant.

Thanks Roger for all your help,

Rod & Lenora
BCC IDUNA

Here is a historical pre-production letter from November, 1975 that I had in my boat file for hull #4, and posted in the gallery under Solita. I lost the picture of the plug that the letter talks about - at least it has vanished from my files.

Todd

nereus Wrote:

Rodger, Just to confirm those dates, i.e…“I ordered Xiphias, hull number 37, completed in 1977.”

We also ordered Waxwing, hull no. 22 in early '77 and picked up the bare hull from Sam in August. Goes to show how fast hull lay-up’s can be done in one year as opposed to completing interiors.

We met the owners of Kikorangi in San Francisco while still completing Waxwing. They were on their way to Canada after picking the boat up in Costa Mesa.

I don’t recall his or his wife’s name but his brother who was with them was Gregg. They were kind enough to take us out for a sail but seemed skidish about pressing on sail in the typical blustery conditions on S.F. bay. So we took the helm for an off the wind sleigh ride and pushed the knotmeter to a bit over eight and beat back at six knots.

It was this ride that pushed us to finish Waxwing ASAP by working on her every night and weekend for 14 months, including Christmas.

It worked out well, as we have now lived aboard for 28 years and loving it.

Stan and Barbara Roeder

WW tanbark reefed (Framed).JPG

nereus Wrote:

Rodger, Just to confirm those dates, i.e…“I ordered Xiphias, hull number 37, completed in 1977.”

We also ordered Waxwing, hull no. 22 in early '77 and picked up the bare hull from Sam in August. Goes to show how fast hull lay-up’s can be done in one year as opposed to completing interiors.

We met the owners of Kikorangi in San Francisco while still completing Waxwing. They were on their way to Canada after picking the boat up in Costa Mesa.

I don’t recall his or his wife’s name but his brother who was with them was Gregg. They were kind enough to take us out for a sail but seemed skidish about pressing on sail in the typical blustery conditions on S.F. bay. So we took the helm for an off the wind sleigh ride and pushed the knotmeter to a bit over eight and beat back at six knots.

It was this ride that pushed us to finish Waxwing ASAP by working on her every night and weekend for 14 months, including Christmas.

It worked out well, as we have now lived aboard for 28 years and loving it.

Stan and Barbara Roeder

nereus Wrote:

Rodger, Just to confirm those dates, i.e…“I ordered Xiphias, hull number 37, completed in 1977.”

We also ordered Waxwing, hull no. 22 in early '77 and picked up the bare hull from Sam in August. Goes to show how fast hull lay-up’s can be done in one year as opposed to completing interiors.

We met the owners of Kikorangi in San Francisco while still completing Waxwing. They were on their way to Canada after picking the boat up in Costa Mesa.

I don’t recall his or his wife’s name but his brother who was with them was Gregg. They were kind enough to take us out for a sail but seemed skidish about pressing on sail in the typical blustery conditions on S.F. bay. So we took the helm for an off the wind sleigh ride and pushed the knotmeter to a bit over eight and beat back at six knots.

It was this ride that pushed us to finish Waxwing ASAP by working on her every night and weekend for 14 months, including Christmas.

It worked out well, as we have now lived aboard for 28 years and loving it.

Stan and Barbara Roeder

I fell in love with the BCC the moment I saw the pic of the plug in Crusing World febuary 1977 issue. Since my Photography studio was located only blocks away, I promply beat feet over to the yard. Next day I told my best buddy, Mike Anderson about it and we went back again to oh and ah.

At that time Fritha was being built. I watched her go together for months, but was disappionted I didn’t get to see an interior in her. I probably was a bit of a PITA for Sam, but we went on to be good friends, and I shot some photpgraphy of the boat for them. Both Sam and Betty were some of the nicest people I have ever met. Its amazing that Sam was a “power boater” that decided to build a sailboat and he selelcted such a great design.

Just another historical note. Bruce Myers built the plug for the BCC. He is famous for the old Dune buggy bodies “Myers Manx” for volkswagens.

Stan, I remember Kikorangi, I think she was the first to have teak decks. The couple that owned her were great. He was a doctor if my memeory serves me.

Gary

Happy 2009!

I have photocopied the “Down the Ways: Sam L Morse Co” article from Cruising World, February 1977. I’ll scan it and, in the next few days or so, upload it as a *.pdf.

Now I’m after another article, one that gives Hale Field’s side of the story of the design of Renegade (which of course leads eventually to the design of the BCC).

That article is:

Chris Caswell, “Hale Field and Fram”, in Sea (Inland edition), Vol 69, (don’t know which month) 1977, pp 91-93.

I’ve not read the article - the only copy of which I know for sure is in the library of the University of Michigan. The Library of Congress in Washington DC and the National Library of Australia both start their holdings of Sea (Inland edition) from Vol. 70, in 1978. And no library in Malaysia holds a copy.

But I found two tiny fragments of Chris Caswell’s article on Google Books.

Caswell (who started as a boating journalist and then went on to do other things in the boating world), was of course writing about Hale Field’s voyages with Fram. On page 91 he quotes Hale Field talking about how he worked with Lyle Hess to come up with Renegade.

In the quote, Hale Field says: “In 1950 we’d had our children and we thought it would be nice to have a boat again. I got together with Lyle Hess, a really good boat designer, and we thought that a boat based on actual use would be nice. So we cast about and found the old Itchen Ferry cutters of England. Of course, they were fishing …”

That’s the end of that fragment.

Caswell continues:
"Launched as Renegade in 1950, she had single sawn frames of hackmattack every third frame. As a result, she’s kept her shape after 26 years, although a lot of the credit goes to Lyle Hess and Roy Barto who built her.

“Renegade, still sailing in Southern California, is a traditional cutter, 24 1/2 feet on deck. Larry and Lin Pardey, saw her, liked her lines, and built a sister ship which, named Seraffyn, is famous for …”

Hale’s ‘Roy Barto’ is Lyle’s partner in the LA Boatyard, referred to as Roy Barteau or Barteaux in other sources.

Caswell’s ‘hackmattack’ is written as hackmatack in other sources, variously described as a poplar (Populus balsamifera) or a larch (Larix larcinia).

Hale Field contributed to several boat designs. He’s credited as sole designer of a few. And he’s a co-designer or major influence of several others. In the quote from Hale, his use of ‘we’ shifts meaning: first ‘we’ refers clearly to Hale and his wife; second and third ‘we’ seem to be Lyle and Hale. The use of ‘we’ sure raises questions about who - Lyle or Hale - first mentioned the Itchen Ferry cutters.

I would be grateful to hear from anyone who has a copy of the 1977 Sea (Inland edition). Or anyone who has access to the copy at U of Michigan (which is the copy that Google Books scanned to give those two fragments) or any other library copy.

Cheers

Bil