Friday, 6 May 2011

Wylo a boat belonging to Frank Wightman

Frank was way before my time,his claim to fame was to drop out long before dropping out was fashionable,Frank did this on a very simple boat called Wylo,the original one is still in existance,its here in Hout Bay,a chap called Henry owns it,this is an extract from the TBA magazine:

Frank Wightman’s classics “The Wind is free” (1949?), and “Wylo Sails Again”, are in the National Library. Frank spent 20 years working alone in far-flung telegraph offices in order to spend the next 20 living as a recluse aboard “Wylo” at Kraal Bay, Saldanha. Lawrence Green’s last, evocative book “A Giant in Hiding” about Frank is a masterpiece. Such books will become Africana. Amazingly, “Wylo” has been found and is undergoing restoration in Hout Bay.

me again,

Wylo as a design was recognised as the classic it is,it may have a constuction design similar to Slocums boat,Spray,basically wide flat planks held together to keep the water out,its a simple single chined hull,yes its a box,nothing more really,just a lift each end,then we can call it a boat.

Then along comes Nick Skeates,he builds one too,he also calls it Wylo off
Nick sails,only to loose it on a reef on some pacific ocean island,Nick being who he is,decides to strip the boat,then build another but in steel, so along comes Wylo 2 but its really Wylo 3 if you follow? Here is a picture of it on the Hout Bay Yacht Clubs marina.Did I hear that Nick is on his fifth circumnavigation? I asked Nick if he was interested in a CKD kit to his design,he was far too busy and told me he has a large pile of unanswered mail from others wanting to build his Wylo copies,I believe some yards have been doing so? We could easily 'Kit Set' this design,in a more correct wood/epoxy if Nelson will allow me to take off the original boats lines?

This came in May 5th 2011,thanks John for the update.

Hi Roy

I just read your blog about the restoration of Wylo, Frank Wightman's boat which he built as a copy of Harry Pidgeon's boat, Islander, which I believe was built from plans printed in a magazine, probably the Rudder, since it is very similar to Thomas Flemming Day's designs, who was one of the Rudder's editors.

I went aboard Frank's Wylo when she was in Simonstown years ago as I grew up there and am very familiar with the Cape Peninsula. I also have what is to my knowledge the only copy in existence of Frank Wightman's second book, My Way Leads Me Seaward. All other references to that book, covering his voyage from Trinidad to New York, where Wylo was loaded aboard the Morgenster for the return to Cape Town, refer to it by a different title. Sadly my copy of The Wind is Free was never returned from a loan, but we're all guilty of such transgressions and one can only hope that it's gone to inspire a few other wannabees.

By strange fate, I also know Nick Skeates. Your comment that it is easy to see where he took the ideas for his design from Frank's Wylo couldn't be further from the truth, however unwittingly. Even the name didn't come from here, but was instead derived from Nick's first long distance boat, already called Wylo when he bought her, that was wrecked half way around his first circumnavigation (accompanied by his wife), which lead to him designing and building the Wylo 2 which he has now in New Zealand before continuing on his voyage. The full width cabin was, around that time, a trademark of Maurice Griffith's designs, from which, along with the UK east coaster's addiction to shoal draft, Nick drew inspiration. Copied might be a underestimating Nick's input into the process, for however offhand and laidback he might appear to be when one first encounters him, don't be fooled since he is extremely intelligent and, having just set off into his fourth circumnavigation, has a better idea than most of just exactly what is required of both vessel and crew to voyage on a ridiculously small income. Would that we could alter time and be present at a meeting of Frank and Nick to hear them comparing notes. Strange how such similar reasons for going to sea can draw such apparently different men.

Sadly,although I've got as far as living aboard, I'm still stuck in the UK by, as usual, shortage of sufficient funds. Wish I had a useful skill, instead of being an IT idiot, that could get some small employment on the way.

Please don't take the above as criticism of your excellent and very interesting site, as it is very easy to reach the same conclusion as you did. It would be great if you could post some of the restoration photos on your site.


John Dickinson

My mail to Justin Philips who is doing a blog on SA yachts:

Hello Justin,
Its great when these mails come in and John is correct,and long before Nicks Wylo,the original Wylo being a square rigger as far as I remember,still the Wylo that Ian and Cathy had here,which was built from Nicks plans, sure looked very similar above the water line,thats where my own assumption came from.There are pictures of Ian and Cathy,also Nick on my blog.

The Wylo is South Africas oldest sailing boat and its still here in Hout Bay,the Maritime Museum wanted me to to get it from owner Henry Nelson for them but nothing ever came of that,its up the valley past Custom Feeds if you want to view it,yet another boat for your blog!



1 comment:

  1. would it be most cost effective to build a wylo in plywood rather than steel?