FCC vs Nor'sea 27?

Hiya folks,

I’m starting to seriously look around at Hess boats in the price range that I normally see FCC’s and Nor’sea27’s in, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a comparison between the two. They’re of similar displacement, but of course the FCC carrries it on a smaller waterline and beam.

What I’m chiefly interested in is sailing qualities (especially engineless sailing), and build quality, but any observations are welcome!

Thanks much!


Jason, I used to own a Nor’sea, and sailed ONCE on an Falmouth Cutter. I really can’t comment on the Falmouth Cutter, altho I did have a great sail aboard her that day, and loved the boat. Gary might have some comments about the FC, and I can answer any questions about the Nor’sea for you.

Arrrrgh! I sailed my FCC against 2 Nor’seas in my 16 years aboard and walked away from them. But then it could have been their skills also. I also beat a Hershoff H28 in a classics race once. They are a great sailing boat.

That said, the Nor’sea is a good boat also. Better than most in that size range. I thnk in the end just look at what appeals to you most. You can’t go wrong with either. IF you choose the Northsea, just don’t race a Falmouth. :sunglasses:

A note about engineless. My falmouth orginally had an engine and I sailed here for about a year that way. But I took the engine out for more water tankage, storage space. Also fiberglassed up the aperture … Wow! what a diference. Particularly in light air.


Thanks guys!

I don’t have any specific questions, but I have been looking at boats for a while now, and these two Hess designs seem somewhat similar in their “vital statistics”… I just wondered how they compared “in the flesh”.

For anyone that’s interested, btw, I have put together a little spreadsheet of some numbers on various boats…

http://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=pr_OEgflZSRJY67WOtiovSQ&hl=en This link should work to see it.

Hypo, That was a bit of work looking up all those numbers. Bet you enjoyed doing it though.

I can attest to the excellent sailing qualities of the Falmouth, besides being fast for her size. So far I think she is a better sailor than the BCC (a close call though). But I have just recently realized mine is over rig w/ to much weight aloft. That really hurts a vessels sailing qualities. See my posts on “my dream rigging”.

Enjoy the quest of a new ride!!


ps…if you get a Falmouth you can hang out with all of us :smiley:

One thing I should have mentioned, which is what I tell everyone who asks me why I sold such a great boat as the Nor’sea is that…

The Nor’sea is, like every boat, a compromise in some regard. The Nor’sea makes a rather large compromise IMO in that she is a trailerable. I didn’t want or need the trailerability. I would have preferred her to have the 10’ beam that Lyle initially designer her to have.

One reason I did choose the Nor’sea over the FC was that I wanted a bit more room, as my initial intent was to live aboard. The aft cabin was appealing and offered alot of storage. In reality, the aft cabin was a pain in the winter months, but while sailing it provides the ULTIMATE perch for sitting and steering with a clear comfortable view of everything… and that’s worth alot IMO. The other reason i chose a Nor’sea was at the time, there was a beautiful, fully outfitted Nor’sea available, but few to none FC’s available, and I was in a “now or never” frame of mind. Right now there seem to be a fair amount of very nice FC’s up for sale.

Anyway, perhaps that’s useful info…perhaps not!

Gary, you say “mine is over rig w/ too much weight aloft” - do you mean your boat in particular or BCC’s in general?


It was a bit of work, but I just added them as I found them. If there was a boat I was interested in comparing at all, I’d look up the info and add it to the spreadsheet… it’s nice to have all the info in one place.


That’s indeed useful information. What did you feel was the downside for the N27 having only an 8’ beam? Was it purely an interior volume issue?

I guess one of my concerns is that I’ve seen lots of reviews by knowledgeable people saying that they would be fine taking an FCC out for long-distance blue water cruising, but not very much saying that about the NorSea 27. It led me to wonder if A) it was fine for that, but nobody thought it was really exceptional, or B) it was designed as a very capable coastal cruiser, and not really appropriate for sea use.



8’ beam is small inside, however VERY cozy. You run out of headroom once forward of the galley, and have to hunch over… not a huge deal for me, only 5’10". Downside for me mainly was deck space, side decks are narrow, the stantions are inboard of the caprail, and angle inward slightly as they rise, it is impossible to go forward without rubbing your thighs hard against the lifelines, and wacking your forehead on the shrouds.

Whether or not the 8’ beam played any roll in the boat healing easily, I don’t know. I assume so, but I recall looking at the numbers, the BCC and the Nor’sea heel specs are about the same. (I forget what that statistic is called and where I saw it). She did seem to go over fairly easily, but stayed there, nice and steady… not a big deal, except for your day sail guests.

Plenty of Nor’seas have gone long distances. Have you found their websites and the Nor’sea Yahoo group?


As you well know, boats are compromises. One of our cruising friends owned a Nor’sea 27 for 16 years and made many crossing of the Gulf of Mexico. My wife served as crew aboard their boat in a race between Galveston and Port Aransas, Texas. They broad reached in strong winds and made 150 nm in 24 hours (best passage made by Gus). Lenora’s comments about the boat are as follows,

Difficult to enter and exit the aft cabin,

Narrow side decks,

Small galley area,

Comfortable ride,

Nice handling characteristics,

Well protected cockpit.

Regardless of these comments many a great passage has been and is made aboard Nor’sea 27’s. Ellen and Ed Zacho built their Nor’sea 27 in the 1980’s, sailed her to the Bahamas, the Caribbean Islands and are now sailing Entr’Acte around the world -http://www.enezacko.com/ .

The FCC 22 is a great sailing boat. I think she sails better than the BCC. Its side decks are wider than the Nor’sea’s. It does have a very functional interior but it is small. The boat is well proven as a passagemaker as is the Nor’sea 27.

Which boat, the Nor’sea 27 or the FFC 22? You need to look physically look at both boats and think about how you plan to use the boat. Do you plan to go cruising within two years or just like the idea of living on a boat. Most live-aboards I know seldom go sailing because it takes too much time to put all the “stuff” they collect for comfortable living away.

Good Luck,


P.S. If you have not, post a question on the FCC 22 forum at this website. Hopefully, you have contacted the Nor’sea users group.


I’ve looked at the Nor’sea group in the past, but liked the format here on the SamMorse forum. :slight_smile: (It’s amazing how much the format presentation affects your view of the discussion, isn’t it? For example, I like reading Small Craft Advisor, but can’t stand the format of their message board, so I never go there.)

Thanks for the details on the Nor’sea.


You’re absolutely correct in matching the intended use to the boat. As I’m landlocked in Alberta right now, it’s highly doubtful that I would be cruising within a couple of years, but I would like to dip my toes into it. The tentative plan is to buy a boat, move to somewhere on the coast where I can have a home port and learn the boat, then extend my cruising range incrementally to match my comfort level. (I’ve read stories about people who just buy a boat and GO, and it seems like they have problems related to not knowing their boat very well… I don’t want to do that.) Living aboard the boat is a good way to save money, but I have seen the “liveaboard syndrome” in person, and realize that that can be a problem.

I guess I’ve read a lot of the Pardey’s works, and like the concept of a simple boat that can take you places, especially from a maintenance standpoint. At the same time, I like a certain amount of convenience and think that with modern lighting options it’s not necessary to go as far as having nothing but oil lamps inside the boat. I’d like something small enough to single hand, comfortable to sail in heavier weather shorthanded, and simple enough to maintain myself. From articles I’ve read, the biggest maintenance headache on a boat is the engine and the paraphenalia that it gathers (refrigeration, electric windlasses, etc), so I’ve been thinking that an engineless boat would better fit my (admittedly novice) ideal.

If I really had my “druthers”, I’d rather be looking at BCC’s, but honestly they’re pretty darn pricey these days. The Norsea and FCC are more in my “range”, along with quite a few other cruising boats like the Westsail 32, Pacific Seacraft 25, Flicka, etc… but I think the Hess boats are easily the most beautiful of the bunch, and that matters to me too. I really don’t give a damn about having a perfect yard at my house, but I really desire a boat that’s lovely to look at. If I had unlimited funds, I would consider having Nigel Irens design me a Westernman 30, but unless the lottery plays out properly, that’s just not going to happen. :slight_smile:

Sorry for the rambling, but I think most of you probably understand where I’m coming from more than my normal audience of prairie dwellers.

Cheers. :slight_smile:



I lived in Medicine Hat, Alberta when we immigrated to Canada from England. It was 1950. At the time, the town was a cow, oil and railroad town. The people were great and I enjoyed our stay there. Winters were brutal.

We also read all the “stuff” the Pardey’s wrote, etc but now we have second thoughts about their philosophy. We admire them for what they have achieved and they are wonderful people to meet. We also try to follow the KISS principle but SSB, radar, GPS and VHF are nice and contribute to the safety of the boat. The Dickinson P900 heater is also nice. You will need a heater in Canada. Your comment about not having an engine in a boat is interesting. We would have a difficult time sculling our BCC IDUNA, especially in adverse conditions. The word from cruisers we meet is L&L do occasionally request a tow into and out of harbors from cruisers in the anchorage. My opinion is most engine problems are a result of poor maintenance or an old worn out engine. The light from kerosene lanterns is very romantic at dinner or when enjoying a glass of wine while listening to jazz but we would have a difficult time reading in their light. IDUNA is fitted with several beautiful kerosene lanterns, but electric lights are better for reading and navigation. I question L&L claim their kerosene navigation lights meet the 1 nm standard. As I stated before, we respect and admire L&L but do not agree with all their philosophy. They are phenomenal sailor and seamen. We are good sailors but will never reach their level of perfection. They have inspired many sailors to go cruising and given us many good ideas and stories. We thank them for these. Also, they are out there doing it while most of us, type of this stupid keyboard and will never go cruising.

There are other good boats in your price range, such as the Shannon 28, Camper Nickolson 31 and the Dana 24. http://video.google.com/videosearch?q=Dana+24&hl=en&emb=0# . The above are well built boats but you will need light air sails with the Dana and Camper Nickolson 31 (under canvased). Sailors do live aboard the Flicka 20 but it is small and slow compared to the FC 22, Dana 24, etc.

One last comment, fast boats make fast passages and reduce you exposure time to adverse weather. The Flicka will average about 80 nm per day verses a 100 nm for the FC or Nor’sea 27. On a thousand miles voyage, the Flicka will require 12 to 13 days to make the passage, whereas the FCC and Nor’sea 27 will require 10 days or less under favorable conditions.

It’s all a compromise.

This is my last posting on this thread.



As I’m landlocked in Alberta
right now, it’s highly doubtful that I would be
cruising within a couple of years, but I would
like to dip my toes into it. The tentative plan
is to buy a boat, move to somewhere on the coast
where I can have a home port and learn the boat,

Lots of boats here in BC have “Edmonton” on their

From articles I’ve read, the biggest maintenance
headache on a boat is the engine and the
paraphenalia that it gathers (refrigeration,
electric windlasses, etc), so I’ve been thinking
that an engineless boat would better fit my
(admittedly novice) ideal.

A properly maintained engine is not a maintenance
headache. BC is not the place for an engineless
sailboat. BC has plenty of doldrom-like weather and
lots of currents. The engine is also handy when things

  • Norris

Thanks for the input, Rod. I agree fully that the Pardey’s stated philosophy goes somewhat beyond what I would be comfortable with. Everyone has to find a level of technology on their boat that they’re comfortable with. I guess I’d like to start with a pretty pure sailing machine, and then add systems after determining that the expected benefits outweigh the detriments. (Not that I would instantly rip an engine out, mind you, but I would try to sail without out it as much as possible to see how feasible it would be for me.)

I think the Pardey’s level of technology (as expressed in the “Seraffyn’s Adventures” series made sense for the time, but it’s now possible to have all LED lighting systems that use very little power, and communications and navigation devices have greatly increased in reliability and decreased in power usage. It would make zero sense to me to go out without at the very least a handheld GPS and mounted VHS radio. At the same time, alternative power generation has improved so that as long as you don’t have (or use) lots of high-draw devices, you can keep up with your electrical needs without an engine.

In my opinion, this means that you can keep to the KISS philosophy while enjoying greater comfort (and safety) than was possible 40 years ago. I think that with the continued advances in alternate power generation (especially solar), battery technology, and motor efficiency, we’ll see all-electric auxiliary power mature as a technology within the next decade or two…

Point is very well made that a faster boat will be exposed to less danger over a long passage. Thanks again for the input.


I’m originally from the Florida gulf coast, and I imagine that that’s where I’ll end up starting off; I think it would be safer (albeit duller) to learn to sail in an area of light tides, warm weather, and sandy bottoms. :slight_smile:



I was talking about my BCC being over rigged. It has 5/16 wire on all the stays/shrouds with wire splicing around solid bronze thimbles. yes, It does give one a secure feeling, but it really hurts the sailing qualitys of the boat. Its a LOT of extra weight aloft.

When I had my Falmouth I wanted 316 wire. So I got the Dyform and stayed at the same size. That is the reason I figure the wire was done up with 5/16 becuase of the loss of strength with 316.

I’m not saying people shouldn’t go this route (5/16) but I can’t wait to get this new synthetic rig on and cut out 70lbs.

See my post on “my dream rigging” … don’t want to hijack this thread.

One point to make if you are considering a Dana 24. I was really interested in that boat and did a lot of research (reviews, owners groups, talking to owners, etc.) and I think the boat is nicely built and well designed (love the cockpit, rig layout, interior, etc.). However, there is a nagging question that I have never been able to get a straight answer to that is kind of a deal breaker for me if I were to do extended cruising in a Dana (or maybe any cruising). After talking to owners no one seems able to get the boat to hove to. There is a whole section and article posting on the Yahoo owners group regarding heaving to in a Dana, including comments from the designer on how to do it, but I have never heard first hand knowledge of someone actually being able to pull it off. Not sure if that is due to the cutaway forefoot but for me anyway it was something to think about. My understanding is that a BCC, Nor Sea, and a FC hove to like a duck; although I have no first hand knowledge of trying it on those boats.

One other point. I have read all the Pardey books as well and I believe that on their current boat they actually have electric lighting for reading and use solar panels to charge the battery. I personally would love to have the open space without a motor but I wouldnt want to go sailing without one. However, if you are interested in sculling check out the Oar club web site. THere are guys there that row their boats. http://www.oarclub.org/

Also, if you want some interesting non LL info on the KISS approach check out Atom voyages. Nice site with good info on modifications to add water tight bulkheads, engineless travel, etc.


Good luck and enjoy the search!


I found heaving to on the Nor’sea little more tricky than anticipated. I only had the opportunity to try once, without success. It was tough to keep the bow up high enough, which I think is due to cut away forefoot as you mention Kevin. It’s fully doable on a Nor’sea, folks have proven that.