New owner with lots of questions

Hi all, I recently bought the “Morning Star” which is an owner finished BCC #16. The boat is now in a yard in Anacortes WA and I will be going there in 2 weeks to fit out for the trip to my home in Homer Alaska. I hope I don’t overload the forum as my questions come up but since my shake down cruise is somewhat long I want to get everything set up as well as I can. The previous owner apparently didn’t use the boat much so I’m going in blind as far as the equipment goes. Here are a couple I’d really like some info on:

This one is for those who have small auxiliaries: The engine is a Vetus 16hp @3600 diesel w/2:1 reduction. She has a 13x8 2 blade prop. I’d like to replace that with a 3 blade. Does anyone have any useful info on prop types and sizes with a small engine like this? Is the expense of a Max-prop or other feathering prop worth it on a full keel boat like this? Anyone have fuel consumption figures? Any real-world experiences would be much appreciated.

There will be a lot of motoring time going up the Inside Passage so I’m also curious as to other owner experiences with different models of tillerpilots. I got a Navico 1800 with her but I’m not sure it’s working very well.

She also has a Navik self-steering vane installed. Anyone used one on a BCC?

Would like to know of experiences and sail combinations when heaving to. My main has 2 reefs and a friend is loaning me a 58 sq. ft. storm jib for the trip. (The Gulf crossing has never treated me well on 2 previous trips).

Anchoring: In previous trips I’ve had to flog around at anchor in semi-protected spots in gales for several days running. I have a chain bobstay which gives me some worry of chafe. Solutions?

Hope I didn’t overload on my first post :wink:
The boat is still on the web at
It’s the 1980 one

Thanks much for any info,
Ron Downing
1247 Bay Ave. Homer, Alaska 99603

Ron: not sure i have answers for your questions but while your boat is in Anacortes you might like to see mine:Sentient. It is moored at Skyline. I am far along in refitting the boat which I acquired two years ago in Seattle. Replaced my 18 hspwr Volvo Penta with a new Yanmar 29 hspwr, rebuilt the gallery, replaced the electronics, instruments, etc.

Plan to head to Desolation Sound this summer. Do hope you can tell us about your trip north after you take the boat to Alaska.

Safe trip and hope our paths cross,

Richard Smith


On your way to Desolation Sound, drop by Campbell River. There should be a BCC anchored just across from Campbell River on Quadra Island. BCC is ‘Bristol Cream’. I once owned the boat but the new owner, Norris Weimer, has her moored there. Watch the tides by Campbell River.



Hi Richard, You bet I’ll look in on you in Skyline Marina when I get there next week, should be there the 15th or 16th. Looking over your work would be a great source of ideas I’m sure. I just have 3 weeks to do whatever I can to make her as good as I can. Morning Star is in the Cap Sante North Yard, I’m not even sure if they’ll let me work on it there. If not I’ll have to slap on a new prop and hailing port decal and rig the mast and finish up in the water.
One question, what prop did you have on your 18hp and what speed did you get with it?
I plan to head out around June 10 and probably let the weather decide whether to go via Campbell River or the scenic route to the east.
By the time I do the 1700 miles home I should be able to answer my own questions above (reinvent the wheel as usual) and I’ll try to transcribe the best of the horrors and joys of the trip on a web page for those interested in the route. It’s a beautiful part of the world.
As I was typing I saw the post come in from Denis Ripley, I got an email from Norris Weimer and hope to have a visit on the way by myself, he’s moored in Gowlland Harbour.

Ron Downing
1247 Bay Ave. Homer, Alaska 99603

Sentient Wrote:

Plan to head to Desolation Sound this summer.

Hi Richard -

As Ron and Denis mentioned, our BBC is based near
Desolation Sound and we would love to meet up with
any BCC which sails up here!

My e-mail address is

Cheers -
- Norris


I have seen Morning Star. She is a beautiful boat with a new engine.

Last July I bought a BCC in Seattle, sailed the San Juans and some of the Canadian Gulf Islands, and then sailed her down the West Coast to San Diego during the Autumn and Winter. I have wrestled with some of the same questions you have and have some thoughts.

My 28’ BCC, DESTARTE’, has a Yanmar 2GM20F 18 hp engine which was fitted with a 3 bladed 15 x 7 inch prop. I changed this for a used 3 bladed, 15 inch Max Prop and am delighted. One gets less drag sailing, more power and less prop walk in reverse, and one can reset the pitch during yard periods.

I initially set the pitch at 8.1 inches. This gave me 5.2 knots at 2700 RPM with 0.4 GPH or 4.7 knots at 2400 RPM with 1/3 GPH. However, I think she was over-propped as the engine began to smoke at 3000 RPM and she should have been able to do 3600 like yours. During the last yard period I reset the prop to 7.1 inch pitch. This has increased RPM and I think will increase power but possibly at the expense of some increased fuel consumption. Not enough data to tell you how well this is working yet.

We had to heave-to in a clear air gale all night off the coast of Cape Blanco, Oregon. We dropped the storm “jib,” flown on the forestay, centerlined the triple reefed main and tied the tiller alee. I was delighted with her sea keeping qualities as she settled right down about 60 degrees off the wind. Waves broke ahead of and behind us, but none on us. We drifted downwind at about 1.2 knots in the 40 knot winds and teen-something seas. Our set was not perfect as we tended to sail a little forward, though not quite out of, our slick, and a better angle to the wind would have been 50 degrees according to some authors. I attribute these to excessive windage forward, and moved the tender from the foredeck to amidships and took the whisker pole down from the shrouds to lay it along the rail to reduce windage.

My advice to you is to put in a third set of reef points and cringles. We spent 3 of the 5 days from Neah Bay to Crescent City under triple reefed main and storm jib, doing 5+ knots. Our problem downwind in the gales was too much weather helm, which overstressed the Monitor wind vane. I would not have wanted more main, and even less so going upwind.

I installed a Raymarine Tillermaster ST4000+ GP in Eureka. It works well but will sometimes become confused when motorsailing if the boat is not well balanced. A strong gust will increase weather helm and the boat will overcompensate and head backwards. Other than this, it works well. I am told the GP version is built much tougher than the regular ST4000+.

For anchoring, Destarte’ has a snubber line rove through a block at the tip of the bowprit and thence to a Sampson Post. It worked well in the San Juans, but I have not tried it anchoring in a storm yet. The only problem was that the chain-hook sometimes popped off the anchor chain. Without the snubber, the anchor chain does rub on the bobstay and makes an alarming noise.

Hope these comments are of some use to you. Good luck on your voyage North’ard.

Jerry Murphy
(formerly Tyree, formerly Mintaka II)
currently lying San Diego

My cranse iron has an extra hole on the lower blade, forward of where the bob stay attaches. Like Jerry, I run a snubber through a 1200 pound working load block mounted on the cranse iron. The snubber is 1/2 inch triple braid and I just use a rolling hitch to attach it to my chain and the bitter end cleats to a bow cleat. Have noticed no problem with chafe (rarely have spent the night in more than about 20 Kts. and then in well protected anchorages) and don’t have a chain hook to drop off and make everything real noisy in the middle of the night. I store the snubber with an end on each samson post when not in use.


Jerry & Tom,
Thanks so much for the really useful info. Jerry your experience with heaving to has confirmed me in wanting to get the third reef sewn in into the main and was happy to hear she laid well that way. Takes a load off my mind.

The prop situation is still a bit of a concern. With 2 more HP than me you were turning a 15x7 and it sounds like that may be good on your Maxprop too. I contacted a couple places concerning the Maxprop and standard 3 blade and received recommendations of 13x7, 13x8 and 13x9. It would seem to me I could manage a 14" if you aren’t doing bad with 15x7. I guess I’ll call and see what they think. If I can come up with the dough for a Maxprop I’d at least want to get the right diameter the first time.

My ground tackle I’m still mulling over too. What you both describe sounds easy and effective for a chain rode. Once I leave SE AK I’ll need one long rode with 600’ of nylon and I’ve thought of merely coiling it and lashing it down around the forward scuttle and leading the end through a block as you describe on the cranse iron so its ready for use. Maybe I should get a wire bobstay made up that I could put a small piece of tubing on which would roll with the rub. I suppose a less elegant solution for the trip would be to slip a hunk of pvc pipe over the bobstay. All I know for sure is I wouldn’t sleep too well with a nylon rode rubbing on chain. Decisions decisions.

Thanks again for the input, being new to this boat the benefit of other’s experience is worth its weight in gold.

Ron Downing


 Wow!  Where do you anchor that you would need 600' of rode?   I can imagine all sorts of problems with 600' of line on deck in a major seaway.  I have hull 118 and don't know how different the chain locker and hawse pipe layout was on the earlier boats but I carry 120' of 5/16 HT chain with 120' of 9/16 triple braid spliced to it in a locker behind my head in the bow.  I probably could easily get another 100' of either chain or line rode in there.  My rode then exits via my windlass and runs out over my bow rollers (I have the stock ones at the gammon iron and the really useful pair on my sprit)  All I run through the block on the cranse iron is the snubber (about 20-25')  I run out almost all the desired rode then attach the snubber with a rolling hitch and let out more rode until the knot is near the block and there is a slight bit of slack in the rode.  All the load is on the snubber with the rode in a chain stop as back up if the snubber fails.

For the first three years I use mostly line with 30’ of chain. I changed to more chain because I sleep better and rarely get into the line portion now but it’s there for storm situations.
You might try tracking down Roger Olson’s book, Set your Sails for Adventure??, it is sitting on the self in my boat and I’m not certain of the title but it was available on Most of his advice is terrific and usually based on his years with BCC’s (He owned Sam Morse Co. when I bought my boat) The snubber, block, rode arrangement is something I learned from his boat.


The full title of Roger Olson’s book is “Plot Your Course To Adventure: How To Be A Successful Cruiser”. If you search the net, including the website of the book’s publisher ( you may find prices better than at Amazon. His technical advice chapters are well worth the entry price. I’m sorry to have missed Roger’s seminars at Annapolis last year.

To get to back to some of Ron’s questions:

  1. As with Jerry, on Zygote we make extensive use of a Raymarine ST4000+ GP tiller pilot (AFAIK, the + indicates that the ST4000+ has more grunt than the ST4000 and the GP indicates it has some parts made in metal rather than just high tech plastic). On our most recent voyage (4K nm from Penang, Malaysia, to Cairns, Australia) the tiller pilot steered most of the way.

Zygote has her tiller pilot connected to a SeaTalk electronic nav network, so the tiller pilot can read compass heading, GPS, wind, and water speed data, and can interface with our Raymarine electronic radar/charter. That means that the tiller pilot can be used as a standalone (ie just steering to a magnetic heading or to the apparent wind) if the nav network is down (which it never has been) or can do much more sophisticated steering (meaning that it can steer to maintain a constant COG from an initial waypoint, or to maintain a constant track between two waypoints, including making corrections for a tidal set).

Zygote has marks on her cockpit sole to show when the tiller is 3, 6, and 9 degrees off center. I find that a useful indication, when using the tiller pilot, of when weather helm is too much (and so an indication of when to reef the main or ease its sheets; I tolerate up to 6 degrees of weather helm, but reef the main at greater tiller angles).

Quite a few solo circumnav boats use similar tiller pilots. And most of them carry at least one spare tiller arm (ie the linear drive) and one spare control head (Zygote also carries a spare of each - remember in electronic nav that its not if they fail, just a question of when. We’ve had failures of each).

  1. As with Tom’s WWII, Zygote uses a forward anchor roller (ie forward on the bowsprit). The only time I’ve seen the anchor chain foul the bobstay is when weighing anchor. Zygote also uses much the same arrangement for a snubbing line as Tom has described. Zygote’s operating rule is always to use a snubbing line on a chain rode.

If I was in the US today, I’d be v keen to try some of Yale Cordage’s brait line as a snubbing line (and as anchor hawser too; Zygote has her bower anchor on 300’ of chain and a secondary bow anchor on a long length of laid nylon, with a chain pendant). If half of Yale Cordage’s hype for brait is true, it would be neat for anchoring (see for YC’s hype about the shock absorbency and easy stowage of brait).

  1. Instead of having a third reef in the main, Zygote has 2 reefs in the main and a trysail, mounted on a separate mast track, which lives in a deck bag so it’s ready to hoist. Her trysail is flown with the boom live, ie we drop the main and lash it securely to the boom, and fly a loose-footed trysail on the boom. The advantage (compared to a third reef in the main) is that we’re using 9 oz fabric (trysail) not 8 oz fabric in 30+ knots. The advantage (compared to a ‘conventional’ trysail that doesn’t use the boom and instead uses its own sheets) is the ease of trimming using the standard mainsheet and vang. The disadvantages have to do with the extra investment in sails and mast track, and the need to be able to drop the main fast and deploy the trysail. I took Lyle Hess’s advice, that we should be able to put in a reef quickly and efficiently, to heart: before setting out on a voyage, all hands including me practice until we can put in a reef in the dark with no fuss and no dramas. Reef early and be slow to shake out a reef.

As with the snubbing line arrangement, I learned about this style of trysail from Roger Olson (and it works - on our last voyage we sailed under trysail an astonishing proportion of time, as we were belted by unseasonal squalls that came in what I called the ‘Goldilocks’ pattern: first came baby brother squall around 20 knots, then an hour later we dealt with big brother squall (up to 40 knots), and finally, another hour or so later, big daddy himself (when we were usually running under storm jib alone, calculating how long we could be pushed in this direction at 7 knots before running onto a coral reef).

  1. Zygote breaks with conventional wisdom on a parachute/drag anchor. We don’t carry one. If we have the sea room, we prefer to run. If not, we’ll heave to. But then we’ve largely sailed in the tropics and have no experience in the nasty stuff of the high latitudes Ron will be facing.


Bil (who doesn’t know where Homer is but notes that the Aleutians are taking hits from a swarm of earthquakes today).

I think you’re right about carrying the line on deck, another crazy notion, and if I find the windlass works well I might just try a chain rode for the shallows. I know 600’ sounds like a lot but up here if you’re in 50’ of water you’re usually looking around for rocks. Also everything within 50 miles of my home port we get 30’ tides at the springs. As an example on my first trip up in early April ‘85 in my 26’ Contessa we got lucky and made it nearly to Cape St. Elias in fair weather when we heard a forecast for 60kts easterly so we picked our way into Controller Bay and spent 4 miserable days at anchor, probably only 3 or 4 foot chop in shallow water but made me real glad my dear old mom sewed me some lee cloths for the berths. When it finally abated they called for another storm right behind it so we said no more of this and crept out through a small pass to the west side of Wingham Island thinking having the high island right off our bow would help. There was a fleet of big crabbers already there hiding out and as close as we dared get to the island was still a bit over 200’ deep but we held with 600’ of nylon and 30’ of chain on a 16lb Bruce. On my second trip, bringing my 30 twin engine charter boat up I got blown into the same miserable bay and received the same treatment. As an extreme example, for 20 years I used to charter fish halibut out of Homer into the Gulf and carried over 1200’ of rode. We pulled that by snapping a caribiner with a bouy attached onto the rode and running up wind till it slid down to the anchor, then stop and just haul slack line as we blew down towards it. I wish I could do that on a sailboat, since my 61 year old back is not as reliable as when it was 40. Since I’ll be crossing the Gulf in July this time I actually have high hopes for a much more pleasant cruise (at least no snow) but i want to be ready for a repeat engagement.
I’ll definitely order up that book, as you can tell I’m thirsty for all I can learn. I’ve been wanting a BCC since I visited Morse’s shop in about 1980 and now they (and I) finally got old enough I could afford one.

I think I downloaded a watch manual from an old post with Zygote’s name on it which I have devoured with great interest, if that was you thanks! Sounds like that GP is a tough cookie, I’ll see what they cost when I get down to Washington. Amazing how my savings have taken flight lately.
And yes earthquakes are a regular feature here. The game is when one goes off everyone makes there guess on the Richter number. I was here for the 9.2 in 1964 and I will bear witness that when one of those comes to San Francisco it will be something to see. And Bil since I think everyone should know where Homer is (and put it on their itinerary) I’'ve attached a chart. Thanks again guys the info and advice is much apreciated.