Fuel Tank Replacement

Fellow BCC Sailors,

I just pumped 10 gallons of diesel out of my bilge. It looks as though the old aluminum 27 gal. fuel tank may have a leak. It sits in the after part of the bilge, under the engine. (Ugh!) Thus it is often in contact with salt water.

Does anyone know how to acquire a new BCC fuel tank? Who is the contractor for SL Morse, and is he still in business? Where does Morse place their fuel tanks?

S/v Destarte’ (formerly Mintaka II, formerly Tyree) is a 1981 Vancouver built 28’ BCC. The engine and tank were apparently added about 10 years after manufacture of the boat, so may or may not be standard gear.

Thanks for any advice or help. I am currently in La Paz, by the way.

Jerry Murphy
s/v Destarte’

The information that I have is that they were supplied by Berry Marine Tanks.
There appear to be 3 sizes:
15 gallon
32 gallon
42 gallon

764 Newton Way, Costa Mesa, CA, 92627. Contact. Tel: (949) 722-7797

The standard tank was 25 gallons. Later it was increased to 30 I think. The tank is installed immediately aft of the engine right against the lazerette bulkhead.

Ron Thompson

Hi Jerry, didn’t I last see Mintaka II in Bay of Islands, NZ circa 1999 ?

John Cole is correct about the Sam Morse built BCC’s are equiped with an aluminum fuel tank constructed on order from Berry Tanks.

It would seem that you have a custom set up tank in the bilge, because standard tanks from Morse were mounted forward of the lasserette bulkhead, behind the engine, and over the shaft stuffing box.

There is a reason that boatbuilders use aluminum, it has something to do with USCG regs.

I like the idea of a removable tank especially if it sits in the deep bilge, but aluminum down there might as you found out, not be a good choice of material.

The aluminum tanks Morse installed, can not be removed until the engine is first removed. I guess I am speaking of using a tank made of Monel (very expensive) for deep bilge, diesel fuel, tank installation.

After reading the forum, here, I surmize that the Morse Co., can not any longer help you .

For a temporary repair,in Baja, I would remove the tank if it was easy, then open it up,(like, remove the top) assess if fixing/re-welding it would work, if not, maybe remove the baffles, and as a short time quick fix, insert inside a bladder tank from Vetus Mfg., or more local US supplier.

While in Oz, I installed a PVC custom made 24 gallon water tank in that deep bilge location on my BCC “Calliste”.


My tank (hull 118) is aft of the engine as others have described.  The spec sheet in 2001 said it was a 32 gallon tank.  I drained it last winter to check for gunk and, from dead empty it holds 29.5 gallons to about the base of the filler neck.  For what it's worth, I have averaged .45 gal/hr over the last 5 years.  Fixed, 3-blade prop...running 2400-2750 RPM which gives me 5.7 to 6.2 kts in calm water.

                                     Whitewings III

Thanks John, Ron, and Douglas.

I have now removed the stainless steel aft water tank from under the galley-chart table area. This enabled me to remove the aluminum fuel tank without removing the engine, by sliding it forward to come out the same hole as the water tank. So far I have not been able to get it out the companionway hatch, so it is sitting in my galley. The tank is 30 inches tall plus appendages.

The source of the leak is now apparent. There are areas of pitting corrosion in the welds along the bottom seam and around an unused drain plug. Other than that, the tank appears in good condition. I am now considering my options including repairing the tank, having a new one made out of metal or fiberglass, or installing a bladder, although the last seems more of a temporary fix, and I would prefer a more permanent one.

Interestingly, the black fungus that has been growing wildly in my bilge, feeding off the diesel, was caked most thickly around the area of the leak. Perhaps this is a clue to finding diesel leaks.

The location of the tank in the Morse built boats seems problematic, for how would one inspect and tighten the shaft seal (stuffingbox)?

Douglass, that probably was Mintaka II you saw in the Bay of Islands in 1999. I have heard that the second owner, Gary Alpaugh, sailed her from Victoria BC to New Zealand at least once and possibly several times. There are over 34,000 miles on the impeller log. He sold the boat in about 2002 and, I think and had owned her for about 15 years. (I am 4th owner.) I saw the pictures of Mintaka II on this website earlier in the week, and they are definitely of my boat.

Thanks to all for the advice.


PS. If one is to be stuck somewhere, La Paz in the Springtime is surely a nice place to be. J.

Thanks, Tom.

Does your tank sit on the floor timber located just forward of the lazarette? How do you inspect and tighten your shaft seal? How do you crawl back behind the engine if the space forward of the lazarette is blocked by tank?

Finally, do you use a Yanmar 3YM30? Your fuel numbers sound similar to my own with the new engine I installed in October. I replaced the 15 year old 2GM20 with a new 3YM30. I use a 15 inch Maxprop.



There is pleanty of room behind the engine.  I can get my whole body between the rear of the engine and the fuel tank.  I use the PYI shaft seal...nothing but cobwebs in my bilge....and I know..."Just wait until the bellows fails!!".  I inspect it frequently.  But good space to service the gearbox etc.

I have the 3GM30F. Going out tomorrow to finish a varnish project and will tell you exactly how the tank is mounted then. Feel free to write me directly...whitewings@charter.net


Hi, Tom,

I’m curious about how you went about draining your fuel tank. Can you describe what you found and how you cleaned it out?


Tom Unruh


Tom, I pumped out my tank using the electric lift pump. There was no line to drain the tank from below, so I pumped through the engine pickup. The tank did come out, diagonally, through the forward hatch.

The tank is now at Custom Fabrication and Metal Shop in La Paz. They weld aluminum and say a fix should be no problema. I am going to cut off 5 inches from the bottom to raise the metal above potential water in the bilge. It sits only about an inch off the keelson; too close. This will cost me about 4 out of 27 gallons: worth it not to have all 27 in the bilge. CFMS will re-weld, etch, ZnCrO3, prime and Imron paint the tank.

I noticed that there are no limber holes in the fuel tank supports, so dirty bilge water collects between them and presumably rests against the bottom of the tank. (The aft water tank had nice limber holes and was about 3 inches off the keelson, so a better situation.) I am considering installing a sump and pump out line from the bottom of the fuel tank to facilitate tank cleaning.

Fix in progress!

s/v Destarte’


 I drained my fuel tank with one of those Jabsco oil change pumps which I borrowed from our local yard.  The pump and the 5 gal bucket were vile so I thoroughly cleaned the pump and got a new, white bucket from the hardware store.  I fabricated a probe from copper tubing to get to the bottom of the tank through the filler neck w/vinyl hose from that to the bucket.  Worked fine.

All I found were some aluminum shavings…probably from installing the hoses etc. No water or sludge. Was tempted to install a drain cock at the leading edge of the tank while I had it empty but figured I would need to weld in a spud to accept a threaded drain…which would be terribly dangerous without removing and steaming the tank. I also believe that the Coast Guard prohibits drains in fuel tanks.

For what it's worth, I was horrified to find the the O-rings supplied by ABI did not stand proud above the filler neck.  I was only getting a bronze on bronze seal.  After getting more from ABI (also too thin) I finally found some at a NAPA store.  Part number 727-2226.  They fit great and are thick enough to actually make a seal.

 Where in the world are you these days?

                                 Whitewings III

Hey, thanks for that!

That’s a good point about the o-ring. I’ll add that to the List as there is more and bigger salt water in our future! (though it will be a trick to find here in Oz, might be easier to have the home team mail a couple from the States!),

We’re in Scarborough, Queensland, getting Galatea ready to leave. Starting in May, we plan to mostly daysail up the east coast, then point the bowsprit westward toward home and sail offshore over the Top End of Oz to Darwin, then to Cocos Keeling, Rodriguez Isl., Mauritius, and Reunion on the way to South Africa and the Cape of Good Hope. We want to round the Cape by New Years, and be on our way to Trinidad by February. So it will be a year of many miles, and hopefully good times.

Tom Unruh

The fuel tank is not under the engine in any BCC we’ve ever seen. Of the 50 we have seen and 36 sold and about 20 sailed, no problem ever with the fuel tank. The BCC has about the best fuel tank arrangement of any boat including boats that sell for millions. The shaft seal is just beneath the tank and if sloppy owners let it leak, you can get a wet environment down there. But NO, it is not in the bilge and it remains very, very good as far a fuel tank arrangements can be. Take care of you boat.


Well, Kate. You haven?t seen them all, yet.

Regarding bilges, one might say that a little moisture, as inside a woman?s panties, is common and not necessarily a bad thing. The moisture is associated with the slats being keep swollen. Tightness down there is generally considered good. And as the shaft rotates, some moisture is required to lubricate the shaft. A little water will often drip out during motion, but no one complains. Although one hears reports of the ?dry bilge? one wonders how much these vessels are being used. (Dripless rubber seals excepted. :slight_smile: ) Of course, too much water is not good, as we are reminded from time to time: corrosion, staining and funky smells can occur. One generally then avoids sailing her until the bilge is pumped and the leak staunched. One of the best ways to take care of your vessel is to use her, and use her well. With this use will come, one hopes, a little moisture, but in the end, everyone will be satisfied.

Well, an update: The old tank has had the bottom 5 inches cut off it and a new bottom has been heliarc-welded in place. The loss of 4 gallons still gives Destarte? 23 nominal gallons of diesel, excluding Jerry cans on deck. Getting the tank back in place, in the bilge, under the engine, proved challenging. The boat must have shifted her conformation a little when the tank was out, so that the repaired tank would not easily fit back in place. To get leverage on the aft portion of the tank required a car jack, blocks of wood, and a person crawling through the lazarette into the engine compartment to place everything. All was done gingerly with no great stresses, and the tank is now back under the engine, but resting upon taller wooden blocks. The voyage may continue.

By the way, I was wrong that there were no limber holes in the old blocks. They were there but hopeless plugged after 15 years of inaccessibility. They are now clean, but their inaccessibility due to all the tankage down there raises the question of how to keep them free of debris.

While wrestling with this problem, I called Berry Steel in Costa Mesa who said they could make me a tank like Morse used, and I may do that in the future as a second tank. Tom on White Wings sent me pictures of his installation so I can see now how it works. It is neat, and apparently he can still crawl into the shaft alley along the side of the engine opposite the quarterberth. I noticed in Marty Chinn?s drawings for IDUNA on an old posting that there are two fuel tanks drawn in, one forward of the lazarette above the shaft and another below the engine in the bilge.

The downside for me to the tank in front of the lazarette is that it will make access to the shaft tough because, Destarte? having two quarterberths, access alongside the engine is limited. Nevertheless I will consider it at next refit.

Meanwhile I am reminded that Destarte? is first and foremost a Sail Boat and that the engine is principally for docking or traversing dangerous capes in flat calm conditions, or reaching that virgin anchorage before sunset in light air. Destarte? had no engine for her first 10 years of swimming, and BCCs have circumnavigated without internal combustion power. So, enough on the engine and time to resume exploration of the Sea of Cortez!

Thanks to all for the help. This string is now closed/

s/v Destarte? (nee Mintaka II, nee Tyree)

Hi Jerry, just an after thought, my first keel boat was a Pacific Seacraft, Orion 27.
This boat had a deep bilge aluminum fuel tank like yours, but it was supported off the keelson by a 2" pvc thickwall pipe laid for and aft, thus creating the necessary limber hole/gallery, under and supporting, the tank.

Gosh, you must have had fun creativily writing that first paragraph in your reply above, I haven’t laughed so hard, in many a moon, thanks.



You’re welcome! Couldn’t resist indulging in the old sailors’ tradition of the double entendre, especially amid a dirty job like plumbing, tankage, etc. If one person laughed, I am happy.

All the best.


haha – that is funny, i’ll never look in my bilge again without a smile… nice work Jerry!