Few boats are built today that will withstand many years of punishment from blue water cruising. Lyle Hess designed boats just for that purpose. His designs have been proven by Lin and Larry Pardey aboard Seraffyn and Teleisin and the many Bristol Channel Cutter owners who have ventured across the oceans. Everything about the Bristol Channel Cutter’s design exudes seaworthiness. Not only is she stouthearted but will surprise most with her sailing performance both in light and heavy airs.
Take careful note of her lines and how the water will flow undisturbed from her stem to the transom. The flat buttocks and flatness of the hull at the stem prevent her from squatting as she reaches hull speed.
The generous sail area and long water line give her remarkable speeds in even light airs. Large headsails may be carried due to the long “J” measurement created by the bowsprit. Combined with the staysail, slot effect is exceptional providing excellent windward ability.
Her spiritual aunts, 24-foot Seraffyn (1969 to 1980) and 29-foot Taleisin (1983 to the present), both also from the Hess’s board and from similar models, logged many tens of thousands of blue water miles. These included an 11-year circumnavigation for Seraffyn and some 40,000 miles and five passages of the Tasman Sea for Taleisin through 1994.
A BCC was first overall in the 1978 Newport to Ensenada Race and first in class in the 1979 running. A BCC named Xiphias logged a 13-year, two-ocean, 50,000-mile odyssey, during the 1980s and 1990s. It sailed 3,150 nautical miles from Dana Point, California, to Nuku Hiva, Marquesas, in 22 days, 10 hours, averaging 140 miles per day, with a best day’s run of 180 miles, on a 26’3′ waterline.
The accommodation of the BCC is so intricately laid out that most owners find that even the smallest modifications have implications elsewhere below. Sea berths abound, and stowage is everywhere. One owner catalogs 44 different stowage areas. Fuel and water tanks are below the waterline for low center of gravity.
The BCC’s fine entry and maximum beam well aft combine for good windward performance. Her flat run aft enhances speed and adds buoyancy in following seas. The angle of her quarter-beam buttock (23 at the transom) gives her stiffness under a press of sail.
Much has been written about the Bristol Channel Cutter from the Sam L. Morse Company, and we will let these articles speak for themselves: