Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Story of our ‘Wylo II’ Design Yacht, Kallisto

1. About the design
2. Construction of Kallisto
3. Crusing Kallisto
4. Why sell Kallisto

Dolphins playing alongside

1.  About the Design
The ‘Wylo II’ design is Englishman Nick Skeate’s creation.  In the 1970s Nick and his wife lost Wylo, their original 28’ yacht on Fiji’s Astrolabe Reef.   Back on shore in New Zealand they needed a replacement boat. Not finding the right one on the second hand market, and nothing if not resourceful, Nick decided to design and build one himself.  Nick says of the design process:
First of all we, my wife Dorothy and I, had to decide to what sort of use our next boat, already referred to as Wylo II, would be put. There seemed to be four basic requirements:
  • a permanent home for two.
  • ocean cruising from New Zealand to Europe at least.
  • cruising the European Canals.
  • sailing far up estuaries, rivers and creeks (a fascination).
Wylo II  a 32' gaff rigged cutter was the eventual result of their efforts.  An amalgam of lots of ideas it is perhaps easiest to see the inspiration of Maurice Griffiths in Wylo II's hull shape and deck layout.  Built in steel for strength and ease of construction, she is long keeled, with a transom hung rudder.  Shallow drafted, she has a centerboard for windward work.  The centerboard is un-ballasted and designed to break-off in a serious grounding.  The mast is deck mounted and, by an ingenious system, can be easily and quickly raised or lowered.  The interior is surprisingly spacious and the 6ft of headroom extends over 18 feet of cabin sole.  
Nick Skeates boat Wylo II
Nick has gone on to sail Wylo II many thousands of miles, including at least three circumnavigations, and still today he continues exploring the world’s oceans in her.  He says of his design:

“Wylo II” is a pure cruising boat.  She owes no allegiance to fashion or racing fads: she is shaped by the requirements of seaworthiness, speed on passage, comfort, and ease of handling.

Her hull design incorporates the latest techniques for building a fair hull in 1/8" plating, making troublesome filler unnecessary. The softened double chines have led several people to believe that she is round bilged. I was pleased to discover that the hull form is certainly not slower than a round bilge hull as proved on many passages.

Friends who have come sailing with us often remark how nicely balanced she is on the helm, a product of the balanced hull form and correctly placed rig. I have been very happy with the gaff rig and regard it as the best rig for a real cruising boat, and the easiest rig to work at sea.

Nick’s infectious enthusiasm for Wylo II, along together with its quickly growing track record has caught the imagination of many other yachties.  So Nick started selling his design and at last count (2005) over 30 have been built.  A web site is maintained by a group of Wylo II sailors and builders as a forum for sharing thoughts and ideas.   Other Wylo II designs have also gone on to do some impressive sailing, including over-wintering in Antarctica and Greenland and doubling both the southern capes.  As a class they have justifiably earned the nickname ‘land rovers of the sea’.
Tai Taki, a Wylo II design
General stats on Wylo II
  • Length on deck 32’
  • Length on waterline 28’
  • Beam 10’
  • Sail area 680 sq ft
  • Design displacement 6.3 tons
  • Draft (board up) 3’ 3”
  • Draft (board down) 6’ 3”

2.  Construction of Kallisto
Sometime in 1998 I finally got around to asking Vicki (my partner of then some eight years) if she was interested in having children.  With the definitive  “NO” in hand I put to her what was REALLY on my mind – would she like to build a boat?  With a positive response in hand I immediately purchased plans (set #104) from Nick.

Choosing to build the Wylo II design had been easy.  I’d seen two in the Pacific many years earlier when cruising a Contessa 26 and liked the design – bigger, dryer than a folk boat – therefore gotta be good!  In the Contessa 26 I had traversed the canals of France from Calais to Marseille and knew I wanted to go back and explore some more.  Like Nick I also liked messing about in rivers and estuaries – so shallow draft was an important criterion.  I had also been particularly impressed by the roominess of what is after all a comparatively small boat as well as its general practicality and affordability. So with plans in hand Vicki and I commenced work on our new yacht towards the end of 1998. 

The site selected was Kings Wharf, a waterfront warehouse/dry-dock precinct on the Tamar River in Launceston, Tasmania.

By January’s end all the frames were built and standing up, and the chine bars, stringers and keel plate were attached – a definite boat shape had appeared. Things were going very fast indeed.  Once commenced, the plating also proceeded fast.

But in May Vicki decides it was NOW TIME to have that baby (crikey!!! – already too late to go for the 35 footer). June was a busy month, Vicki was now pregnant.

Rollover day arrived in October.  My day job was with a land management organization and big macho 4WD vehicles with winches were standard tools of trade.  Two are used to haul the boat over – with a local forklift to prevent it going to far. It worked perfectly.

Vicki busy grinding

The form of a boat emerges – very exciting.  She is now ready for plating.

Rolling over the now mostly plated hull. 
Note the 4WDs are to the left of the picture
Vicki, just prior to Christmas 1999.  Looks like its now my project from this point forward.  It’s a good job the boat’s nearly finished huh!??

In March I became the proud father of son Zeke.

By September the hull is fully welded, the ballast is in, tags for the fit out are welded in place, tanks are complete, rudder welded and engine and stern tube fitted.

The boat almost ready for launching! Note centerboard and top half of case on the far left

Dad and the boy take some time out.

Early in the year the steel work received its final sand blasting and comprehensive paint job, followed by the installation of the laminated deck beams, laying of the Celery Top Pine deck and fitting of hatches.
In April Vicki announces that we can’t just have one child!  I kept busy and by June the hull and decks were complete and Vicki was pregnant again.  Damn!

The finished hull has been built strictly to Nick’s design and specifications. All I had to do now was fit it out – it will not be long now!  But in November my employer transfered me to the south end of Tasmania – so we have the boat trucked to Vicki’s parent’s farm at Kettering, just south of Hobart.  Having trucked the boat south all work on it halts.  I needed to urgently expand our very tiny Hobart house to accommodate a growing family! 

Goodbye Kings Wharf, Launceston;
Hello Vicki’s parent’s farm at Kettering (south of Hobart)
In February our beautiful daughter Nina was born.  September saw work finally recommence on the fit-out

2003 - 2004
THE FIT-OUT CONTINUES….!!!!   Once the main components of the fit-out were in place insulation was sprayed into boat. At home I am also building the hollow Oregon (Douglas Fir) spars and lots of fittings.

Engine box in foreground
with L shaped galley behind

Dad and the boy hard at work.

Nina and Zeke masking up the aft cabin prior to spraying insulation.

In August the fit out is finished!!!!!  Unbelievable. 

Nick, in his plans, makes some suggestions for internal fit-out – but we decided to go our own way here, and are very pleased with the result.  Plywood was used for the bulkheads with linings and paneling being Macrocarpa Pine.  Benchtops and galley table are various Tasmanian woods including Huon Pine.  Exposed timber is balanced with white painted surfaces to keep the interior light and airy.

Another major milestone is also passed in August – Vicki’s PhD graduation.

The mast and deck fittings are still being fabricated – perhaps not entirely consistent with Nick Skeates specification, but I reckon the consistency level is around the 95% level (more about that later).

During the last quarter of 2005 Doctor Vicki turns her multi-skilled hands to sail making.  The gaffed main and working jib are exactly per Nicks specs.

View past galley of portside settee and drop leaf table over centerboard case.  The head is behind the bulkhead (can just see three hinges of head door).
Vicki becomes Doctor Vicki in August!
“But not the stethoscope kind” says Nina

Doc Vicki the sail maker
In January the boat is finally ready for launching!  It had been a wet winter so we had to wait a couple of months for the paddocks to dry out enough to get a crane and truck in.  It’s a bit of a nail biting day (too much to go wrong) – so I invite no one.  As she hits the water Zeke is six and Nina is four.  

Down the paddock....!
up the road....

....  and gently into the drink – and yes it floated

Our first sea trial, March 2006,
note the poorly set main

Christening Day:  May 2, 2006.  Following extensive
speechifying, cut short when a boarding party of under
7 year-olds threatened violence, the boat is named Kallisto
3.  Cruising Kallisto
In October 2009 we sailed Kallisto across Bass Strait and up to Sydney.  Its magnificent harbours’ including Port Hacking, Port Jackson and Broken Bay and myriad visitor attractions kept us busy for the whole of the summer.

The kids are so excited as we sail up Port Jackson

Zeke and Nina at the National Maritime Museum. 
Where else do you take a boating family?

2010  Off to New Zealand
A big year for us and Kallisto!  We undertake to sail a loop out into the Pacific and back.  Before departure we did a quick scrub of the boat, drying out on a friendly beach in the Hawkesbury River. Then we we’re off, starting with a Tasman Sea crossing to Opua, New Zealand.  The 1200 odd nautical miles took us 13 days, including several days of beating to windward. Slow work, but I was gratified to find out that at least it was possible.

A quick scrub up before setting out across the Tasman.  We have learnt to love our drying out legs, having used them many times now.

Our Pacific loop
Dad and the kids making sail

You could spend years investigating all the cruising possibilities in New Zealand – but we were on a mission, so after a bit of boat maintenance and a quick look around the Bay of Islands we were off again.   This next passage northeast to Tonga, was of similar length to our last and again took us 13 days.  It again included quite a bit of windward sailing and some quite stiff breezes, but Kallisto handled it beautifully. In all we spent nearly three months in Tonga, sailing practically the length of the archipelago having some wonderful experiences.

Kallisto lying in the boat harbour, Nuku’alofa.

Nina under the ancient
Ha’amonga, Tongatapu

One of the myriad ‘motu’ in Tonga’s Ha’apia Group

Sailing into Neiafu, in Tonga’s northern Vava’u Group

Nina swimming in ‘Swallows Cave’

From Tonga it was all downhill sailing, back down the trades.  Our next passage, from Neiafu to Savusavu, Fiji, took us 3 days to run down the 420nautical miles, and included out best days run of 133 nautical miles.  We spent about 2 months exploring just a small fraction of this vast and fascinating archipelago. 

Inside the reef on Vanau Levu, Kallisto in far background

A village on Sawa-I-Lau in the Yasawas

Market in the city of Lambasa

Hindu temple, Nadi

Our next passage of the 530 nautical miles from Lautoka to Port Vila, Vanuatu took us four days and included a new day run record of 137 nautical miles.  With the sailing season running short after only a few days in port we set off again for the southern Vanuatan island of Tanna to see an active volcano. 

The 130 nautical mile passage was made in the company of another Wylo II, Australian registered Allagai, sailed by our good friends Ben and Abi.  Tanna is dead to windward of Vila so it was an excellent opportunity to compare the windward performance of our two boats.  Allagai’s sail plan is exactly per Nick’s specification while I have installed a Wickham Martin type furler on the bowsprit and deploy, depending on conditions, one of three jibs: a big light weight drifter; a ‘working jib’ about equal in area to the two sails it replaces; or a tiny ‘spit fire’ for heavy weather windward work.  To maintain luff tension I have set the system up with suitable fore and back stay tensioners.  I am pleased to say that the system works and on the wind we consistently sail faster and higher than Allagai.

Kallisto and Allagai sailing in company in Tonga – note our ‘working jib’ with luff extending from bowsprit to masthead
Kallisto at anchor, as
seen from Allagai’s deck

The ‘Cascades’ near Vila


A village at Port Resolution Tanna, probably
little different from when Cook saw and named it.

A village on Tanna

The rim of Tanna’s amazing active volcano

New Caledonia
The French island of New Caledonia was our last ‘foreign’ destination, and what a fine note to finish our Pacific loop on.  Just two days (230 nautical miles) and an easy reach across from Tanna, New Caledonia is a ‘foodies’ paradise, as well as boasting some fine natural and cultural heritage attractions.

Mouthwatering display at a chocolotiere

Artful display at a boulangerie

Amazing architecture of the Tibjou Cultural Centre

We had a wonderful time on
hired scooters on Ile de Pins

Surreal scenery, Ile de Pins

The beautiful steel fabricated Amedee lighthouse at 56 meters tall (247 steps), is the second tallest lighthouse in the world.

Staircase inside the Amedee lighthouse, we climbed all 247 steps

We did the 800 nautical mile run back to Australia in about six and a half days, setting a new day run record of 143 nautical miles.  I figure we had considerable help from the current to achieve that.  Our port of entry was Bundaberg, and our timing was less than perfect, just in time for Christmas and a huge flood on the Burnett River. 

4.   Why Sell Kallisto?
Why sell Kallisto?  To be honest we would rather not - she is a great boat.  We are proud of having built her ourselves and we like how she works - she has kept our family safe and secure over a lot of sea miles now having performed well in a wide variety of conditions. 

You see this last year and a half has been a bit of a trial run for us.  Would we like the cruising lifestyle?  Would it suit the whole family?  Could we get on well together in a tight space?  Could we overcome the fear and the seasickness?  Could we survive home schooling?  The verdict has been overwhelmingly yes!  We`ve really enjoyed sailing the Pacific and want to keep going.  Next sailing season we will head up in to Southeast Asia and hope to eventually get to Europe. 

But the one problem with Kallisto in this grand plan is her size!  We have easily dined eight or more and slept six aboard, and reckon she is perfect for a family of four for summer vacations.  But as a permanent home for four she really is on the tight side.  We have come to feel a bit of personal space (and a reasonable amount of personal storage) for each of the children is important – and is only going to get more important as they get older.  So there you have it – sadly , but also gladly because with a bigger boat we will keep going – Kallisto is for sale.                


  1. What a beautiful boat, and a great story!
    I'mm glad David and Cate are serious about her.

  2. Congratulations Kallistos, for a great construction and sail modifications. If you are serious about selling, I would very much like to hear from you.


    Happy sailing,


  3. garry vicki

    Well long time no see hope things are okay, I have decided to retire in 2012. Sitting in Strahan managing a fire at Pieman Heads, we have had a wet summer but it is still abler to burn.

    So you are wanting a bigger boat hope things work out.
    Cheers Chrisa

  4. Hi Kallistos!

    Good luck with the new boat! Can you contact me with details of Kallisto. We are actively looking for our next boat and would appreciate a quick reply if possible. Thanks for the great blog! Rick and Jasna

  5. Hi guys,
    Great Wylo posting. I had the pleasure of sailing with Will of "Shandoo" a few years back. He bought her in Kiwi and we sailed to Good Hope together.

    I just returned from six months in Tassie. Is Kallisto still on the market?



  6. Vicki Gary
    Hope you are well I am elaving on the 30th marcvh and going to Sri lanka to see blue whales then off to the uk and the continent until end August I finish on the 2 November. Move back to Hobart glad to see that your travels are going okay

    Chris Arthur
    Parks Tas

    1. Vicki Gary
      Hope you are travelling okay I have nearly had 12 months of retirement planning on travelling next year going to Macquarie island then to Europe. Take care Chrisa

  7. i know this is an old thread but curious if the boat has been sold.

    1. Hi PawPah

      Yes the boat was sold before she was even advertised - went real quick!

      Cheers Gary

  8. What did you use as insulation on your boat? You mention spraying the insulation aren't you afraid of corrosion on the hull?

    Beautiful work, Wylo are one of my favourite boat. Great job.