This is not your grandfather’s sailboat, or your dad’s Hobie cat. But it may be the next big thing on the water. Docked on the waterfront in southeastern Washington is a one-of-a-kind vessel that has gotten stares from the Mediterranean Sea to New York Harbor. It looks like a gigantic erector set version of a water bug. Named the Proteus, after a Greek sea god who guarded marine life and could change shape, the vessel boasts a small cabin hoisted on four suspension-mounted legs attached to independently moving catamaran-type pontoons.
The result is a boat that can sail across the ocean and glide along a shallow pond, said Ugo Conti, its designer.
Conti is the co-founder with his wife, Isabella, of Marine Advanced Research, the company that built the Proteus during the past five years. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has partnered with the Contis in hosting the futuristic craft and plans to use it to highlight the importance of national marine sanctuaries and environmental protection in the United States and around the globe.