Vincent Cate and his three sons have dubbed themselves the Island Boys. They sound like a boy band, but they’re actually a father-son team of boat designers living on the Caribbean island of Anguilla, and they may just change how we sail. Inspired by the Dashews, the supercouple of boat designers, he’s on a mission to build a better boat.
Vincent recently came to me for advice about why more women aren’t into sailing and if maybe a better designed boat might help?
My answer? Absolutely!
Let’s face it, as much as we talk about the romance of the sea, sailboats are just horrible to live in most of the time. Toilets you can’t flush properly and a frequent lack of hot showers; lack of laundry facilities, and getting really, really, really hot. When I’m on a smaller boat, I tend to feel like I’m constantly in the way of someone or something. My dream is to live on a boat full-time, but the more cramped the quarters are, the less appealing it is.
Women like adventure as much as men, and we aren’t complainers. For me, personally, I don’t like feeling useless or like I’m in the way, and on a small, cramped boat, that happens all the time.
Seasickness is a big issue too, especially on monohulls. (No, it doesn’t effect women more than men–women are just less likely to put up with it). Catamarans are much better, but even they’re not perfect. Vincent says he has a solution: a solar-powered robotic boat, that people will be able to live on full-time for next to nothing. Yes, please!
Here is video showing model and some future ideas:
I had to ask him a few questions about this (not so) farfetched plan, and what it’s like to work with those four charming sons of his.
What gave you the idea to start designing solar boats?
When I was around 12 I had a little electric boat. I took out the 2 AA batteries and connected a small solar panel up with alegator clips. It went fine across the pool. I said, some day I will build a big solar boat.
So I have been thinking about it for a long time. I am 52 now.
How did the boys get involved?
The boys like doing something interesting and this is interesting. The older two are home schooled, so the programming of this was a home school assignment really.
What’s the appeal of this kind of boat? How does it improve on current designs?
I think it will sell because solar does not cost anything to operate (so much cheaper than power boat) and is simple to operate (does not require the skill level that sailing does).
The boat will be very roomy and stable. It can be roomy because we are above the water so space is sort of easier. Having the right shape floats spaced far apart makes for a very gentle motion. This makes the boat safer and less trouble with seasickness.
I think with lots of electricity we won’t worry about running the watermaker or water heater and with lots of room we can have a real shower. Real beds, real fridge, laundry, etc.
Many people when sailing like to take a break in a hotel. With this boat I don’t think there would be much desire to switch to a hotel.
I live on a Caribbean island, Anguilla. A nice house next to the ocean costs a lot. If I can make floating houses that cost less, I think I can sell them. A boat gets a great view. Also, you don’t have to pay property tax. So if we can get the stability and costs, it should be good.
Not only will these boats be comfortable, roomy, and technologically advanced, but they’ll also be cheap to operate! Sounds like a win to me.
Cate has a crowdfunding campaign going on now, and adds in recent years there’s been a rush to snatch up the “.ai” domains assigned to Anguilla. Whether these are actually Artificial Intelligence researchers or just sci-fi nerds, it’s putting money in Cate’s pocket, which means these solar boats may become a reality sooner than later. And then I’m moving in.