The Origin of Callisto

Original interior
Original galley
Launch day – Waipu River

The Origin Of Callisto

Today woodys we get to go on a virtual trip back in time – to the early 1970’s and finish off in 2022.The hero of todays story is Callisto, the 50’ sport cruiser that Jack Barrott built in Waipu, Northland over 3 years in the late 1960’s > early 1970’s.
Firstly some background on Barrott – his family owned a saw mill and native forests in Northland (back in the days when you were allowed to do that). During this time the Ministry of Works had a wee problem – a giant kauri tree – named ‘Packwood’ was about to fall over and block the main road north, on the Brynderwyn Hills, so the decision was made to fell it – Barrott’s mill was the obvious choice. So this giant kauri and other trees from their private native forests provided the timber for the construction of Callisto.

In the early 1960’s well visiting the USA, Barrott came across the latest motorboat designs in Florida – known as Sportfishing boats – he liked what he saw and made a half-model and drawings, which he showed Whangarei boat builder Alan Orams, who then drew full plans and would help Barrott during the building process. The backbone and frames were in fact constructed at the Orams yard, then transported to Waipu for assembly in Barrott’s shed. Construction is very traditional, with kauri used for most of the structural members and exotic timbers else where. The 42’ keelson came from one solid kauri log, as did the floors, ribs, hull and deck beams.

The design of Callisto with its flybridge, as compared to the traditional sedan top launches of the time, was years ahead of the market and even today, 50 yrs later, she is still a looker amongst a marina of white plastic boats. Post launching Callisto spent approx. 15 years moored in and around Whangarei Harbour – her next owner was a Bob Doughty, who changed her name to – Challenger’ in c.1987. Fast forward to 2002 and she changed hands again – this time to Steve and Elizabeth Cowie – who quickly changed her name back to Callisto (fyi – Callisto is the 3rd moon of Jupiter). The Cowe’s undertook an extensive refit that included modernising her interior. A bonus was that Steve Cowie was fully expecting to have to remove the 30 yearly twin Caterpillar 3160 – 10.5L, 210hp, non-turbocharged engines, that had never had the heads off. When inspected by Cat technicians they were found to be in top condition and given a clean bill of health. In fact they remain in the boat today. Being semi-displacement Callisto cruises at 10>12 knots and tops out at 14. 

Callisto passed thru several sets of hands – the trial looks something like this (if I have it wrong, let me know) – Jack Barrott > Bob Doughty > Ken Carter > Steve Cowie > Kurt Settle and in 2018 ownership went to the 3 Forsyth brothers (Kent, Rhys and Tobias) and their families who share the use, costs and maintenance but mainly the love of being out on the water in Callisto, She gets used extensively around the gulf and most summers to the Bay of Islands but with more farther afield adventures definitely in the long term plans.

Callisto has just completed a 3 1/2 week full hull repaint in the shed Pine Harbour Boat painters, The result of the finish achieved being simply magnificent with the quality of workmanship second to none. Whilst in the shed the brothers made the most of things with an additional kauri knee fitted to the duck-board, teak cockpit re-caulk and tidy up and some new bronze rudders cast at the Foundry in Silverdale.
As I say often – some boats are lucky in they owners – Callisto is one of them 🙂

Do People Still Tune Into waitematawoodys Over The Holidays ?


Short answer – YES, in fact these holidays more than ever. On Jan 4th we hit a record for the highest number of individuals ever logging on in a 24hr period. Other than Xmas day, every day was bigger than the average (normal) daily viewing. Thanks for the support, seeing the above skyscapers makes the effort of doing a daily story worthwhile. Best Regards Alan Houghton 

3 thoughts on “The Origin of Callisto

  1. Amazing catalogue of photos Alan.
    The thought is just academic but Imagine if you were allowed to cut down a Kauri tree of that quality in todays market, transport it, have it milled, pay for boat builders labour, plus marine engineers to produce this boat, along with all the machinery etc. into a turn key vessel?
    You wouldn’t get much (if any) change out of $1M would you?
    Beautiful vessel.

    Barrie – I would suspect closer to $2 million. Make the purchase price a bargain but the brothers had to ‘address’ a few issues. Alan H

    Like

  2. Amazing catalogue of photos Alan.
    The thought is just academic but Imagine if you were allowed to cut down a Kauri tree of that quality in todays market, transport it, have it milled, pay for boat builders labour, plus marine engineers to produce this boat, along with all the machinery etc. into a turn key vessel?
    You wouldn’t get much change out of $1M would you?
    Beautiful vessel.

    Like

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