NICK SKEATES ON WYLO II: The Ultimate Barebones Cruiser and his Ultimate Dirt Simple Boat

Nick Skeates

Dang it. I was going to write a post about the boats I test-sailed after the show in Annapolis, as has been my custom these past years, but I lost my freaking camera and have no pix for it. Ah, well. This gives me a chance to change the subject and point you at a fantastic viddy posted on Vimeo by Byrony Stokes a couple of months ago. About the intrepid Nick Skeates, a dumpster-diving barebones cruising legend and his tough-as-nails self-designed and self-built boat Wylo II.

Gypsea Stories: Wylo II from Bryony Stokes on Vimeo.

Though there are no definite landmarks in the background, my tingling spider sense told me while watching the viddy that it was probably shot on the Rio Guadiana, a favorite past cruising ground. And indeed, on pawing through the comments I see this is the case.

Amazingly, Nick has sold plans for a slightly upsized version of his boat to something like 140 different home-building sailors. As of 2013, at least, the boat was also being built on a production basis by Voyaging Yachts in the UK and was available in various states of construction.

Production Wylo

Rendering of a production Wylo, as “re-realized” by Whitehouse Yacht Design for Voyaging Yachts, which now, alas, seems defunct, or at least very inactive

The most renowned Wylo sailor, other than Nick, is certainly Trevor Robertson, who with his then-partner Annie Hill (formerly the bride of Pete Hill, of Badger fame) won the Cruising Club of America’s Blue Water Medal in 2009. Trevor’s Wylo, named Iron Bark, is believed to be the only vessel in history to have spent winters frozen into the ice in both the Arctic and Antarctic.

Iron Bark

Iron Bark, demonstrating one advantage of a steel hull

In any event, I urge you to watch Byrony’s excellent video, in which Nick expounds on his philosophy of cruising and gives a tour of his boat. Afterwards, you should also watch this one, starring a production-built Wylo, in which Nick provides the soundtrack, singing a tune and playing his ukulele.

Best line in the song (at 55 seconds): Freedom is just another word for being unemployed.

[As for those other boats: this year I test-sailed the X-Yachts Xp55, the Hanse 348, the Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 319, and the Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 410. Look for full reviews in future issues of SAIL Magazine.]

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3 Responses
  1. John S

    Charlie, I’m sorry you lost your camera. But I’m glad you did not post the pics of the new boats. They do nothing for me. But this was a real treat. Simple brings the greatest joy…for me anyway. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Gary Langrock

    That film should win an award if film awards were ever to mean something. What incredible insight Skeates has. Listening to his approach to life reminds me of how Dogen, as translated by Warner and his contemporaries, describe how actualize your life. This man knows first hand about the damage man has inflicted upon the earth. He tells us that it is not just about time we take notice and do something about it but it is high time (hope my paraphrase did not butcher the original).

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