Bristol Channel Cutter "Waxwing"

This Bristol Channel Cutter 'Waxwing' is hull #22, and was layed up in 1977 by the Sam L. Morse yard in Costa Mesa, California.

She's currently berthed at Fairhope, Alabama, in Fly Creek Marina.

We bought the bare hull with deck and the two major bulkheads installed, and finished the rest ourselves, having additionally bought the black anodized mast and rudder from Sam.

'Waxwing' is the only Bristol Channel Cutter that we know of that has a forward cabin with queen sized bunk, head, and three personal lockers.

She is a true live-aboard, proven by our 38 years spent sailing the East and West coasts, the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean.

The interior woodwork is mahogany as are the three hatches. With the exception of the boomkin the exterior covering board, whale strakes and bulwarks are teak replaced in 1999.

The interior, including all lockers were just repainted in February.

The varnish on the Whalestrake has been removed and allowed to go grey like natural teak. The bulwarks have been primed and two finish coast of Brightside white applied. And the boomkin has been entirely replaced with mahogany.

No, this boat is not for dinking around the bay, or day sails. This is for the blue water sailor whose sense of adventure is kindled by an inner obsession to LIVE the dream.

The rigging and mast are in excellent shape. We re-rigged with all new shrouds and stays in 1999 when we added roller furling on the jib.

The original specs for the rig called for most 1/4 inch shrouds and stays, we went bigger and standardized it to 9/32 with StaLoc end fittings top and bottom, which means you can replace a wire anywhere with a hacksaw and two wrenches.

We installed a hand cranked Sabb 10 h.p. diesel after our trip from San Francisco to Slidell, La. but I put in an electric starter this year after straining my back. Hey! I'm 75. A lot of things don't work like they used to.


  • Anchors: 35 lb Delta; 40 lb Danforth; 35 lb fisherman. One all chain (5/16 high test), two chain/rope combo.
  • Broadwater four burner stove with oven and broiler.
  • Dometic refer: a/c dc propane
  • Garmin GPS, VHF, knotmeter, fathometer.
  • Tri-color masthead light.

Bristol Channel Cutter General Specification:
Underwater Profile: Long keel with Transom-hung Rudder
Rig: Cutter
Length Overall: 28'1" (8.6mm)
Waterline Length: 26'3" (8.0m)
Beam: 10'1" (3.1m)
Draft: 4'10" (1.5m)
Displacement: 14,000lb (6,350kg)
Ballast: 4,600lb (2,087kg)
Construction: GRP (fiberglass)
Ballast Type: Lead
Built by: Sam L Morse (USA)
Designed by: Lyle Hess
First Built: 1976
Last Built: 2007
Number Built: 127

Bristol Channel Cutter Published Design Ratios:
Sail Area/Displacement: 18.6
Ballast/Displacement: 32.9
Displacement/Length: 345
Comfort Ratio: 37.2
Capsize Screening Formula: 1.68

ASKING $22,000

Contact the owner, Stan Roeder at

More about the Bristol Channel Pilot Cutter (by

If you are looking for a sailing boat that combines beauty, performance and heritage, you might want to consider the Bristol Channel Pilot Cutter. This type of sailing boat was used until the early 20th century to deliver and collect pilots to and from merchant vessels using ports in the Bristol Channel, one of the most dangerous stretches of water in the world.

The pilots were skilled navigators who knew the local wind, tides and underwater hazards, and could guide the ships safely to their destinations. They worked individually, in competition with other pilots, and had to sail out to meet the incoming ships as far as possible. This required fast, sturdy and seaworthy boats that could handle any weather conditions.

The Bristol Channel Pilot Cutter was the result of this demand. It was a type of gaff-rigged cutter, with a single mast and a long bowsprit. It had a deep keel, a sharp bow and a wide stern. It was usually manned by a man and an apprentice, with one or sometimes two pilots on board. It could sail close to the wind, tack quickly and carry a lot of sail. It was also easy to handle and comfortable to live in.

The design of the Bristol Channel Pilot Cutter has been praised by many as the best sailing boat design ever. It has inspired many modern replicas and adaptations, such as the Bristol Channel Cutter designed by Lyle C Hess, which comes in various sizes from 22’ to 32’.

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May 02, 2023
by: Mark Swenson & Judy Gardiner

Stan & Barbara, Hopefully you guys remember us. We are still in Marathon and would love to reconnect. If this gets to you, our email is


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