Set Sail

Ask any two sailors the same question and you will get three answers. I used to be pretty opinionated about sails and setups. Not anymore. I’ll happily sail just about any boat with any type or combo of sails. Kim-Chi doesn’t know it yet but I have a brand new sailing dinghy waiting for her. It comes with a life vest and wetsuit because she can’t swim. One of my still unfulfilled dreams is to sail the Inside Passage on a 12’ open boat with no navigational equipment – making charts as I go, living off the beaches, being 100% inside of it. In the meantime, I get the joy of watching her learn on the sweetest dinghy ever.

Ooku has a wonderful set of sails. Hank-on, all beautiful, and all ready for anything. If she came with a furler I’d probably be as pleased as I am that she didn’t. A jib net is almost as handy and much more fun. There is something about flaking and stowing sails after the glorious sound of chain running out the pipe. It’s all so satisfying. I have to say, I love having all my lines led to the cockpit as much as I love standing flat-footed on the deck working the mast. In-mast furlers are great as are headsail furlers. I’m young enough and strong enough that for as long as I can, I’ll continue to use hank-on sails. I like the way they feel in my hands, the sound they make as they drop to the deck, and the way they smell after a wonderful day of sailing. There is just something I love so much about the simple mechanics of working the sails.

Ooku is my 12th and last boat spanning over 35 years. When I can no longer sail her with ease I’ll buy a dock and spend my final glide path telling sailing stories to anyone who will listen. I don’t really drink but I have every intention of becoming an alcoholic later on in life. A wide-brim hat, a bottle of Green Label, and my cane fishing pole is where you’ll find me in the end. For now I have the joy of being custodian of my dream boat. She is small and manageable. All her sails are the right size and relatively easy to manhandle. The head sails stow reasonably easily. There are enough squares to keep her moving and enough options for when the wind fills in properly.

When I can actually spend some time on Ooku I’ll go deeper into why I sold Sookie, why I bought a boat sight unseen, and why none of this matters. With only 117 BCC’s built, many are falling from grace. I can’t change the ways of the world but I can preserve what is, in my humble opinion, one of the most beautiful designs on earth. In my digging and rooting of boat history and maintenance, I stumbled across the Sampson boat company on YouTube. To whatever degree each and all of these old boats need love, there is the right person out there who is up to the task. I will spare no expense in keeping Ooku in Bristol condition.

6 thoughts on “Set Sail

    1. Alan, I am keenly interested in your perspective on the Catalina 36 as a finalist in your search. Based on your experience would you have sailed one from your home waters to, say, Hawaii and/or to the Caribbean? I really like this boat, but I see a lot of mixed reviews on it for bigger water. Everyone has an opinion and I am interested to know if you would have travelled far if you had found the space more appropriate for the two of you. Thanks, JEB

      Liked by 1 person

      1. This is my personal opinion and nothing more. I love the Cat 36 mark II. It has about the same displacement at my BCC but it’s a whole different beast. In a very well found boat Hawaii would be a safe easy trip as would the return. I think the same with the Caribbean. I wouldn’t do an open ended circumnavigation. I’ve never felt unsafe in the Cat but I don’t like bolt on keels. For local sailing they are fine, many of my friends have had navigation holidays and damn near totaled their boats. Some actually have sunk them. Nothing to hit between here and Hawaii. I also would worry about the steering system if I was using the boat day in and day out for years on end. They are solid purpose built boats but even with their offshore rating wouldn’t want to be caught in a 100 year storm in one. Actually I wouldn’t enjoy that in any boat. The Cat will out sail my boat in all conditions. It has a great shower, plenty of space for a water maker and lots of big tanks. It also has more wiggle room in the engine room and lots of space for friends. They are also almost no effort to maintain cosmetically. If you do your research everything that fails on these boats is aftermarket parts. Hatches, steering systems… to my knowledge the actual hull deck and rig don’t have any history of any issues. They are also really easy to dock in tight places and have open transoms so no water in cockpit issues. They have much better non skid than I do and giant comfy cockpits. It’s an easier boat to buy as there are lots of them and an easy boat to sell as everyone loves them. Take a look at sailing the red thread on YouTube and their blog. Their Catalina is on its second circumnavigation. My BCC hasn’t gone anywhere. Sure the Cat Morgan 44 is a much larger boat than the 36 but I doubt it’s any better built. Having said all this I could probably find 100 boats out cruising that I wouldn’t leave the bay in. We all have our comfort levels, I was trained traditionally so I love old boats with lots of wood. I like long keels and huge unbalanced rudders hung off the back. In the end, the Catalina was never designed for long distance cruising. You might look at capsize ratios, “comfort ratios” and range of positive stability.


  1. Good evening.
    Thinking of buying a falmouth cutter.
    Would love to chat with you. Please contact me when you can.
    Thanks kevin
    Ps enjoy your channel.

    Liked by 1 person

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