Energy & Sustainability


Excellent piece on KQED’s Quest on this most unusual boat, modelled after a water spider, by engineer Ugo Conti, and great footage of his boat in San Francisco Bay.

I enjoyed Conti’s quotes:

Because I get seasick, I suffer at sea. I think there has to be a better way. I want to fix that.

If I have a problem I tend to solve it with my engineering capabilities. I was born an engineer. I have to work with my hands. Most important. And then I have to make it. I can’t escape these new things. It’s actually a problem sometimes. You go into crazy things like this.

Somebody has an idea, and doesn’t have the money and doesn’t belong to a big company, he goes into the garage and makes it. So we go into the garage.

24 thoughts on “Ugo Conti’s Water Spider Boat

  1. Very elegant, cool and fast… on the back bay. How does this craft do in rough seas? I noticed that they did not take it out beyond the Golden Gate. I wonder if the high center of gravity would cause it to capsize in truly rough water (as the previous comment notes). I think 15-20 foot waves would be catastrophic.

    Nonetheless, a beautiful and unique craft.

  2. What do you do when your boat turns turtle? In a conventional boat you swim. In this boat you stand on the bottom of the boat. You still have all your gear, food, water, whereas in the conventional boat your gear is on the ocean floor. I’ll take the “have my gear” option, thank you.

    Yes conventional boats do flip over.

  3. Awesome. Very inspiring. I liked the quote:

    I work from my emotions and not particularly with my rationality. I DO NOT read instruction manuals — which is sometimes a problem. I throw it away — I DON’T HAVE IT! I don’t know how to work my watch.

  4. I was the Associate Producer on this Quest piece and I can answer some of the questions posted here on this blog based on what I’ve learned from Ugo and his wife Isabella.

    There have been several comments about Proteus being filmed in calm waters and inside the bay. The reason for this is because that’s where the photographers and videographers wanted to shoot..it’s where they felt the footage would look best. This doesn’t mean that Proteus has never been outside the Golden Gate. In fact she has done over 3,000 mile of open ocean cruising, some of that in pretty nasty weather. She has even gone over the Columbia River shoals in Oregon without any trouble, to the great surprise of the locals.

    As for flipping over, as a few of these readers seem to be concerned about, the answer is: any power boat can capsize. Sailing catamarans can and do capsize because of wind pressure on the sails and because the hulls tend to dig under the waves. WAM-V’s are not sailboats, are very wide relative to conventional power catamarans and, because the hulls of a WAM-V are round and soft, they don’t “catch” under a wave. Instead they pop right out. If you have ever tried to flip over a rubber dinghy, you know what I’m talking about: they keep sliding out and insist on staying right side up.

    WAM-Vs are ultra light vessels and in a heavy sea they behave more like a cork, sliding on top of waves as opposed to digging in.

  5. Thanks, Joan, for adding these comments. I enjoyed the Quest piece and it must have been a fun segment to work on.

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DALE DOUGHERTY is the leading advocate of the Maker Movement. He founded Make: Magazine 2005, which first used the term “makers” to describe people who enjoyed “hands-on” work and play. He started Maker Faire in the San Francisco Bay Area in 2006, and this event has spread to nearly 200 locations in 40 countries, with over 1.5M attendees annually. He is President of Make:Community, which produces Make: and Maker Faire.

In 2011 Dougherty was honored at the White House as a “Champion of Change” through an initiative that honors Americans who are “doing extraordinary things in their communities to out-innovate, out-educate and out-build the rest of the world.” At the 2014 White House Maker Faire he was introduced by President Obama as an American innovator making significant contributions to the fields of education and business. He believes that the Maker Movement has the potential to transform the educational experience of students and introduce them to the practice of innovation through play and tinkering.

Dougherty is the author of “Free to Make: How the Maker Movement Is Changing our Jobs, Schools and Minds” with Adriane Conrad. He is co-author of "Maker City: A Practical Guide for Reinventing American Cities" with Peter Hirshberg and Marcia Kadanoff.

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