“But I yearned for a real ski boat with a V8 power unit”
Memoir by John Barwick (absolute boating enthusiast)
John gave me a call the other day upon reading the article on GILFLITE published in Club Marine Magazine titled ‘Guts & Glory’. John lives up around Tamworth Qld area and simply put, he just wanted to pay homage to his beloved ski boat ‘The GILFLITE Integra’ and tell us how much he and his family had enjoyed their Integra over the years. Here’s his story and a few photo’s of “the good ‘ol days” …..
Hello again Paula,
I don’t know how it happened but I accidently phoned your father David yesterday and we had a great chat. I believe that call went for 20minutes or more. It was great talking to David as we had so much in common.
Now our boating and Gilflite story.
Soon after I left school in 1959 I became interested in boating and dreamt of building my own powerboat. After researching available plans I decided on a 14 foot ply runabout. I did build it and powered it with a new Ford Falcon 170 engine. I marinised it with a Hardman marine conversion. That boat served us well as a ski boat for many years. The boat was sold and we advanced in a big way in 1968 purchasing a Hammond craft fibreglass ski boat powered with a 308 ci Ford marine engine. That craft was sold around 1980 as our young family enjoyed boating and the next purchase was a Haines Hunter V17 half cab with a 175 hp Mercury outboard. The Haines served us well with the family boating on Keepit Dam near Tamworth. We used it as day boat just cruising about on Keepit and the Central Coast and the Hawkesbury River when on holidays. We also used it as a ski boat but I yearned for a real ski boat with a V8 power unit.
In 1988/89 I was buying boating magazines as though they were going out of fashion without much success trying to find my dream watercraft. Whilst travelling in Victoria I came across the Gilflite Integra in a magazine and wow I was hooked. It had such beautiful lines and I soft talked my wife into agreeing that this is our dream ski boat and it was powered by a 5.7 L V8 Mercury. We both agreed that this was the time for the Integra because our three kids were of skiing age and this was our entry into many years in a beautiful boat. Whilst we were in Vic we arranged a visit to David Gill’s factory to see the Gilflite. We ordered the boat without hesitation and the rest is history. Many years of fun on the water. The ski season opened on the long weekend in October with a Carnival and boat racing. We never raced but acted as the crash boat. The Integra was used in fresh water only and mainly on Keepit Dam. It was used to pull visiting exhibition skiers at the Keepit Carnivals. Many many fun years on the water. We loved that craft but family moved on and our interests changed and we sold the Integra and to the best of my knowledge still operates in the area. I was so proud of that Integra. It always drew attention wherever I put it into the water.
I may be a little hazy with the date 1988/89
Very Kind Regards
Thanks for getting in touch and sharing your memoirs with us John, it’s always great to hear that we are doing our job properly, and that is “making people feel good” after all, that’s what boating is all about. All the best, Paula
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