Saturday, 31 January 2009

The Clipper Ship Wylo

A painting by James Brereton.

WYLO Clipper Ship from 1869

We may as well feature this Wylo too,a well known and fast sailing vessel I note,the reason for yachts being named the same,is starting to make some sense now.


Composite tea clipper built in 1869 by Robert Steele & Co., Greenock, as Yard No. 174. Dimensions: 192'9"×32'1"×20'2" and tonnage: 829 GRT, 799½ NRT, and 766 2/3 tons under deck.
1869 April 15
Launched at the shipyard of Robert Steele & Co., Greenock, for Killick, Martin & Co., London. Captain Henry Wray Browne late of the same owner's tea clipper Challenge.

Ariel a Wylo 2

The Race,painter,Dawson,Montegue.

The 'other' Arial,in a race from China to Enland.

Ariel was a clipper ship famous for making fast voyages between China and England in the late 1860s.

Ariel was a full rigged ship of 853 tons net register, measuring 197.4 feet x 33.9 feet x 21 feet. She was designed by William Rennie, and built in 1865 by Robert Steele & Co., Greenock for Shaw, Lowther & Maxton of London. Like most tea clippers she was composite built, of timber planking over iron frames.

Ariel is most famous for almost winning The Great Tea Race of 1866, an unofficial race between Foochow, China and London with the first tea crop of the 1866 season. Premium prices were paid for the first consignment to reach London. The clipper Fiery Cross left Foochow on 29 May and Ariel, Taeping and Serica on the 30th. On 6 September Taeping docked twenty minutes ahead of Ariel, and about two hours ahead of Serica. Fiery Cross and Taitsing arrived two days later.

This is Ariel moored on the HBYC marina in Hout Bay Harbour,when considered against the design of the original Wylo,which is also said to be 32ft long on deck,its easy to se how Nick Skeates took the basic origins of design from Frank Wightmans Wylo,then expanded on it making it a much larger boat at the beam and far less quirky at the ends,the front well at the bow is still there though,thats a safe work space I think.

Wylo,the original that Frank Wightman owned and lived on

TBA Logo, Founder Member.

Edited August 13th 2015.

This was taken from (traditional boat Asscociation)

Frank Wightman’s classics “The Wind is free”, 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.

Chris Sutton of Durbans Point Yacht Club has just sent me this information on Frank Wightman (thanks chris)

There are 3 books that feature a South African yacht named Wylo.

Wylo was built in Cape Town by Frank Wightman. He sailed her to the Caribbean and shipped her back to Cape Town on a ship. The first 2 books are autobiographies. Thereafter Frank lived on Wylo, anchored in Kraal Baai ( near Langebaan ).

The third is Frank's biography, written by Lawrence G Greene.

Wylo is currently under restoration in Hout Bay. Go to the following website for pics and info.

Chris Sutton
obo the PYC Keeler Committee

"There is nothing - absolutely nothing half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats."

Ian and Cathy are cruising visitors to Hout Bay and the HBYC marina, they own a steel Wylo 2 named Ariel, they are on a circumnavigation and are heading west soon to continue their voyage via the West Indies and then on to Falmouth, England.

Wylo has been glass sheathed to protect her planking,she appears to be very sound viewed from the outside, a coat or two of paints would transform her appearance.

South Africas most famous yacht?

Much has been said about Nick Skeates Wylo 2 design, well this is the very original wood plank construction Wylo that started it all,Frank Wightman wrote The Wind Is Free on this boat, was that in 1934? I believe Frank wrote a second book also, he cruised the boat as far as Trinidad.The boat is part restored by Henry Nelson,it sits in his front garden,as it has for very many years, when Henry will continue with Wylos restoration we have no idea but as she is now she is safe enough for future generations to view and consider Wylos past.

His books are still around,a search on Google reveals a number of offers, England, Austrailia, USA, Canada.

Author Name: WIGHTMAN, Frank A. Mariners Library, 34) YOUNG, Graham

Title: Wylo Sails Again. 1st ML no dj.

Publisher: Rupert Hart-Davis, London, 1957,

Seller ID: 68512

WIGHTMAN, Frank A. Wylo Sails Again. With photographs by Graham Young. L.: Rupert Hart-Davis, 1957. First Mariners Library Printing. Pp. (5),6-239,(1)+ 4 p. of plates. Mariners Library, No. 34. Toy 1076: "Wightman's books ma ke excellent reading." The author's account of his re-purchasing of his prized yacht, that he had begrudgingly sold to return to South Africa, and thesubsequent journey he undertakes on said yacht, the Wylo. Slightly cocked, else vg. 25.00


Price = 25.00 CDN

My thanks to Getaway Magazine for this report of Frank Wightman.

A hiding place from the world
March 07 2008
By Justin Fox, Getaway Magazine

"This is it," thought Frank, as he nosed Wylo round a headland and into the seclusion of Kraal Bay. The anchor splashed over the bows and his yacht came to rest. The scent of spring flowers wafted off the land, ostriches stood watching from the beach. Frank knew immediately he was falling in love. "May I live to be a hundred," he prayed. "May I always return here. This will be my hiding place from the world."

From the 1940s to the 1960s, the naturalist, sailor, hermit and writer Frank Wightman moored his 10-metre yawl in Kraal Bay... and dropped out. He fully embraced the lagoon's wiles and ways. "In this life of beauty and tranquillity, my senses became too acute for city life," he was later to write in his book. But it is through Lawrence Green's biography, A Giant In Hiding, that Frank is remembered.k, The Wind Is Free.

He explored the peninsula and its beaches, coming to know the land intimately. He found Strandloper middens and flint harpoons from their hunting exploits. He discovered graves, too, men buried with their bows and arrows, skinning blades and fish spears. He even found a mammoth tooth.

Everywhere, he uncovered vestiges of earlier inhabitants. He searched for the remains of the Khoi who'd made a home beside his anchorage and whose kraal had been stocked with cattle and fat-tailed sheep. He found the wreck of a sunken vessel that he surmised to be the remains of the Bruydegom, one of Jan van Riebeeck's ships.

'Important watering point for the sailing ships' Travel writer Lawrence Green used to visit Frank and wrote an evocative biography, A Giant in Hiding, about the man and his relationship with the lagoon. Even before reading the book, it had long been a fantasy of mine to "do a Frank Wightman" - pack it all in, find an old fisherman's cottage on the lagoon and drop out. Inspired by the biography, I went looking for traces of Frank up the West Coast.

We were on a tandem windsurfer, tacking upwind through the channel between Schaapen Island and Langebaan. It was a strange sensation: two people and two sails on one big board, but my friend Luke Stevens and I were getting the hang of it, sort of. Kite-surfers, also sailing from our base at the Cape Sports Centre, tore past us like demented marionettes.

The sun dipped over Postberg and the southeaster was working up a short chop that came over the board's stubby nose. Along the shore were rows of Langebaan homes, cottages that harked back to a time before electricity and water, when locals made a living from the bounty of the lagoon. There were bobbing fishing bakkies, Hobie Cats drawn up on the sand and children walking dogs between coves.

Sure, the hills were alive with millionaire homes sprouting like weeds and altering the town's character, but the old houses along the shore still evoked the past.

South of Langebaan and abutting the West Coast National Park fence is the farm Oesterval. It was here that Frank Wightman spent the last years of his life after he'd sold Wylo. It's one of the oldest farms in the district, a cluster of lovely Cape Dutch houses on the lagoon shore.

'The din made by man to live in a city is monstrous' Oesterval is private property, but I had a loose connection and we climbed over the fence to have a peek. We met Dan Bull at her cottage and she showed us round, filling us in on two-and-a-half centuries of history.

"The farm dates back to 1723 and there was a garrison stationed here for some time. You see, it was an important watering point for the sailing ships. We have the best waterhole, Gietingmelkfontein, in the area.

"The lagoon was an active corner of the colony. You know, the French established an outpost here in 1632 and as early as 1660 there were VOC troops garrisoned on Constable Hill. Two rajahs from Ternate and Tidor were banished by the Batavian government and spent some time on the farm in the 18th century."

We wandered among Oesterval's lime-washed houses with gables, buttressed walls, sash windows and courtyards. There was a cannon pointing at the lagoon, an old anchor, the ship's bell of the Thermopylae, wrecked off Mouille Point in 1899, and, in one waterfront building, the room where Frank spent his last years. Creaky yellowwood floors, his bed, a chart of the Cape and a door that opened on to the lagoon's fringing salt marsh. Frank's presence seemed to linger.

Lawrence Green tells of visiting Oesterval during his friend's last months: "The night was alive with the whicker of wings. In the far distance, across the swirling waters of the lagoon, the sea beaches lay dreaming. Over the beaches there would be a snowstorm of seabirds filling the sky with chimes. Frank told me he would hold on to that vision until the runner with the bony face reached out to touch him on the shoulder."

In the farm's tiny graveyard, I found Frank's tombstone with a brass plaque bearing an image of his boat at sea, flying fish leaping from a swell in the foreground.

A cold front was pouring over Postberg and Constable Hill when my windsurfing buddy and I arrived. I imagined Frank making regular crossings of the lagoon in his dory for groceries and post, often rowing kilometres into a howling southeaster or pelting westerly.

"City routine, with the utter dependability of everything, draws the colour out of life," Frank told his biographer.

"The din made by man to live in a city is monstrous."

My last evening. The wind dropped and the sky was packed tight with stars, their pinprick lights mirrored in the water. It's on lagoon nights like these that Frank felt he "lived in the very temple of life".

Published by arrangement with Getaway magazine. For the full story, see the March edition of Getaway.

Friday, 30 January 2009

A Wooden Boat Publication post card

picture taken by William Thuss

This postcard was saved by myself for the past twenty years,I assume it was included in the Wooden Boat Magazines we buy from time to time? The balance of the picture is perfect,with the colour of the water fading into a slightly lighter blue sky in such a way that its hardly noticable,the picture is almost still life but the inclusion of the man walking up the bridge and the yellow waterproofs he is wearing,adds balance to the two wooden boat craft,the photographer,William Thuss is highly commended!

The featured boats are Syrinx,a Lyle Hess cutter and Jesse,a Joel White/Herreshoff Catspaw dinghy in the morning calm at Woodenboat,Naskeag Point,Maine,USA.

My thanks to Woodenboat Publications Inc.1989.


Thursday, 29 January 2009

Work in progress,Rudders and a Keel Foil

Sigma Coatings epoxy based primer spray coat,the mix is four parts of base to one part of cure agent,this paint sticks to just about anything,including steel and alloy,both of which must be sand blasted first to remove mill scale.

Mike doing the final hand sanding.

We have now completed another set of Didi Mini Transat (cruise) rudders and also a drop keel foil for the Didi mini cruise version of this boat,we are about to spray all of them today with Sigma Paints epoxy based etch primer in green,they are then ready for the customer to do final finishing and to paint with what ever top coat he may want.

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Optimist class dinghies now being cut

The kit we have just cut and have ready for collection,will go to a local builder but the next kit will go to a customer in Spain and by air freight,this makes Spain country number twenty (20) we have exported to from Cape Town.

One of our Optimist kits built and sailing,I like the choice to leave the inside of the boat natural,then paint and decorate the outside.

Our kit to the Optimist class dinghy

What the boat consists of:
Marine Grade Ockume plys to BS1088 standard
2 x 4mm x 72mm x 2300mm (3-ply stringers)
1 x 4mm x 182mm x 2300mm (3-ply hog)
1 x 6mm x 1220mm x 2500mm (5-ply plywood)
1½ x 12mm x 1220mm x 2500 (7-ply plywood)
½ x 9mm x 1220mm x 1220mm (5-ply exterior grade hardboard to make spacer bulkheads)

The CNC machine work to cut the above plys to the right shapes; (Hull sides, stern, bow, bottom panel including the daggerboard panel, mast bulkhead and thwart, canter bulkhead and daggerboard case sides, two dummy spacer bulkheads, templates to shape the Meranti wood parts for the floatation, kicking strap mount blocks, corners to stiffen the hull with and the rudder and daggerboard.)

Meranti wood machined and planed all round;
6 x 16mm x 35mm x 2400mm
2 x 20mm x 25mm x 2400mm
1 x 16mm x 150mm x 1800mm
2 x 27mm x 50mm x 400mm
1 x 60mm x 100mm x 180mm

Cross rail stiffeners; (removed when the hull is built)
1 x 22mm x 44mm x 380mm
1 x 22mm x 44mm x 700mm
1 x 22mm x 44mm x 830mm

Cleats 22mm x 22mm
Resolution Epoxy.3kgs
Graded Teak Wood Flour ½ kg

Open topped ship in Durban harbour moves a mobile crane

A Steve McCurrach picture

Last Thursday (22 January) Ports & Ships featured an aerial photograph of the port taken by Steve McCurrach, which included a glimpse of a blue mobile crane standing at the corner of G berth at the Durban City Terminal.

Steve McCurrach is able to update this report with the news that shortly afterwards the MACS line vessel BLACK RHINO arrived and loaded the crane for a destination north of Durban.

Odd shipping movement news

Picture by Aad Noorland

Picture by Ian Shiffman

I could see this barge tied up in the Cape Town harbour as I drove past on my way to work what it was I could only guess at the time,this was published.

The barge SAINTY 8 with a cargo of of smaller vessels stacked one on top of the othe and side by sider, all bound for the Dutch port of Rotterdam and eventual use on the rivers of Europe. The two vessels put into Cape Town last week for bunkers and supplies. Picture by Aad Noorland

Didi mini transat building

Turn over time must be party time!

This is a 'Sister Ship' Warlock,one of our own in house builds.

Team work by a large group of students went well,they will have all learnt valuable multi tasks as they worked.

The BCMS build of a Didi Mini Transat hull from CKD Boats show their success in the hull turning.

We have seen a lot of requests for this very popular design,a question often asked by the buyer is simply 'Can I build this boat,as I have no experiance in boat building' this word 'boat building' should be replaced with 'Kit Assembly'with your plans you find a very good builders guide from the designer Dudley Dix,a CD Rom from ourselves with lots of our own build pictures on,plus support from both Dudley and myself should you think your stuck at any stage.Basicaly you have to learn to do a number of tasks,cut plywood panels out with a Jig Saw,fit and remove Posi Drive Screws with a Power Driver,use a Belt Sander,mix glues and apply glass tapes and cloth,you will also have to master the use of a Level,this is not Rocket Science stuff and once each task has been mastered,its just a repeat job a number of times over.

The picture shows students at BCMCS,USA,they built one of our kits and did it very well,I suspect the boat was dry built any number of times,so each student could learn the skills that they could use later in life,once each had mastered each stage,they could glue the Stringers or Ply Panels on to the boat,then move on to the next stage,eventually any number of students would learn what would be usefull life skills.

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Yacht Noreine,a design by Johan Anker for Crown Prince Olaf of Norway

Crown Prince Olaf
Olympic medals won by Crown Prince Olaf Position Year Sport Event Country Result
1st place (gold medal winner) Amsterdam 1928 Sailing 6 Meter Class Norway

Time magazines front cover dated March 25th 1929 showing the Crown Prince Olaf and his Princess Martha.

Noreines basic dimensions are:
LOA 55ft Beam 11ft Draft 7'3" displacement 15 tons

Drawings by Johan Anker of the Crown Prince of Norway,the photo shows Johan and Crown Prince Olaph walking in the snow.

This boat was presented to me as a possible restoration project,this came about due to the rebuild we did of Astra,a Tumlaren 27,by Knud Reimers,thats a much smaller boat but the lines are not disimilar,Noreine was designed by Johan Anker for the Crown Prince Olaf of Norway,and the Tumlaren was designed in Sweden,so not a very large distance across the border.

Paper Jet kit build in progress

This is a kit collected just before we closed for the december holidays,the buyer has one of our Optimists built from a kit and wanted to be able to move up to a boat both he and his son can sail,the Paper Jet is the perfect answer of course,the variable rig options allow both father and his son to sail the boat when adjusted to their own sailing skills levels.

Monday, 26 January 2009

Didi Mini Transat kits

The support rings and lids they will support,we cut from what would otherwise be wasted materials,the two narrow long sections are part of the mast box we cut too,the ballast water tanks and bunks need extra plys,we supply those as well,its all part of our very complete kit.

Check out our extras with this kit,thats the plys and the cutting to form the bunk top which also has the inspection covers cut out,the other long panel is the front of the bunk,we use 'finger joints' to join the top tothe front,another first from CKD Boats.

We were the very first to cut this boat design and have done a great many of them since,we did of course build two and took the chance to develop the panels that make the inside of the boat,not just the bulkheads,hull skin and decks,so remember when you view our price on this boat,we supply a lot more material and CNC work than others do for the same design,Nashua says it right 'Saving you time,saving you money',imagine the amount of work setting out and cutting these inspection lid covers,openings and support rings,we supply you with this ready done,plus the mast step box too!

Moonchild,a Holman and Pye design

Left click on any image to view full size and see more detail, all pictures taken by Roy McBride with a Canon SLR FT camera fitted with a 200mm tele, lens.

The late Keith Fenn aboard his Moonchild tied up to the SBYC dock,which is just off the boats bow.

Moonchild has been in the cape for many years, memory tells me it arrived in Hout Bay Harbour from Knysna with a family of four on it, they prepared for a blue water cruise but never went.

Keith Fenn later bought the boat, the picture of Moonchild in the water and at the dock at Saldahna Bay Yacht Club, shows her as the boat was when Keith owned her.

He later came to grief at the False Bay Yacht Club, when he fell overboard and was drowned.

Keith and I knew each other well, we were even moored together in Rio de Janerio at the Marina Gloria, Brasil. He had cruised over with his wife Pat, they had a slow return voyage back to Cape Town, fifty two days I remember, it was a wet trip I think.  The boat as you see it stripped bare, is when Peter Thuinessen owned her (still does?) and at the Royal Cape Yacht Club facility at the Elliot Basin Stripped bare of her paints, she  shows you why we do not build boats like this any more,its just so labour intensive,you could build two of our Didi 38 kits in the time it takes to build this design!

November 26th 2015.

Some years later (many) the boat can now be found in the HBYC boat park, it is a sorry sight but quite repairable I think.