There’s a guy in Anguilla building robot boats, and it may revolutionize sailing for women

 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!
The read model on the Island Boys website shows the basic idea. There are 4 floats in the corners that are shaped so waves you can around them, which makes for even more stable boat than a catamaran.
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.
I really think it will feel closer to a regular home than to a normal sailboat. So I think women can feel like “nesting” and not “camping”.
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.
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I’m sailing to Haiti on a relief boat. Here’s why.

UPDATE: Guys, I wrote this post before I knew that the trip was going to be $1000 more than I had budgeted. Fuel is expensive and boats are incredibly pricey to maintain, so I know this happens, but it means I’m kind, of um, desperate.

I leave in seven days, my flight is already booked, and the awesome folks at the Haiti tourism board has been incredible in arranging a tour program for me. They need all the help I can give them in spreading the word about the great things that are going in this country. I’ve set up a Go Fund Me page. I have never done crowdfunding before and I didn’t intend to start now, but it’s my last resort before canceling the trip.

As a travel writer and blogger, I’m supposed to be requesting press trips to try out new hotels and asking for sponsored posts. Instead I’m hopping on a relief yacht sponsored by the International Rescue Group and sailing into the poorest country of the world to hand out medical supplies, clothing, toys, and water–which I can’t even afford.

Why?

Haiti and the Caribbean Still Need Help–and it’s Our Fault. Here’s why:
1. It’s been five years since the devastating earthquake hit Haiti, one of the world’s poorest countries, killing 200,000 people. A disaster of such magnitude would be hard-hit for any country, but for an already-impoverished nation, it’s going to take much longer than that.

2. The media has forgotten Haiti–which is why we can’t. The media tends to report on the latest disaster of the moment, turning their attention away from those that dominated the headlines just a year ago. Just because you don’t hear about something anymore, doesn’t mean it goes away.

3. Although the physical rebuilding has begun, disease is still rampant. Haiti is one of the few countries in the world that still suffers from cholera, According to CNN, it has now infected upward of 700,000 people, and has claimed the lives of nearly 10,000. And it may be that we’re to blame.

According to the AP, peacekeeping troops from Nepal carried strains of the disease with them, contaminating a large portion of Haiti’s drinking water. The U.N has denied any wrongdoing, and in January, a U.S. judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by human rights groups seeking compensation for the victims.

This is the last thing this country needs is for the U.N to dodge responsibility for this mess. While there may be no legal redress for this anytime soon, our crew on the Tandemeer is bringing clean drinking water and medical supplies to do what we can to combat this.

4. Even when people get their basic needs met, their emotional needs are still there. Toys, books and other supplies are needed for children. These kids need a chance to be kids, and sailing on Tandemeer we can help them do that! For example,  in Haiti, IRG partnerned with organization Zoe’s Dolls to distribute dolls to 40 girls.

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5. Education! Kids can’t learn if they’re struggling with basic needs, let alone afford school books or uniforms. IRG has partnered with Little Footprints, Big Steps to help the neediest children in Haiti get a good education and a chance at life.

6. As someone who writes about travel, I don’t always have to be the one who’s running off to the it-destination of the moment to party with the beautiful people and tell you where to drink sophisticated cocktails and be seen. Of course, that’s where the money is, so I tend to forget that.

But the truth, greatest travel experience of all time was on a 100-square mile island in the middle of the Atlantic with no tourist industry to speak of–and it was because of the people. The guy at the bar who saw me across the room and beckoned me in and made me feel at home.

While I’m there, I’ll also be in contact with the Haiti tourism board in order to hopefully see the brighter future of Haiti, one where economic prosperity will attract people from around the world, because they want to be there.

There are people in these regions who struggle with issues I can never hope to understand, but I will watch and listen and try. And that’s why I’m sailing to Haiti

 

Due to a last-minute price increase (and the sudden loss of another source of funding) I need to raise $1400 to go on this trip, so I’m turning to Go Fund Me. I will be so grateful for anything you can offer me. Continue to follow along here as I set off on my trip!

Thank you so much!