WHAT IS IT?  

 
Strange Catamaran Craft Sighting
 
No official details have been released for this Jim Antrim-designed, 100-ft. long... whatchamacallit. So the mystery continues: What is this boat designed to do, exactly? Nobody's saying...
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Go ahead and take a double-take - your eyes do not deceive you. Imagine how surprised residents from the Port of Ilwaco on the Washington state coast were when this steel spider-like catamaran design slid into port. One onlooker reported that the mysterious vessel "arrived out of the fog the night before."

Intended for military use? We don't know. Dressed in civilian clothes, the crew onboard guarded the boat closely and were not inclined to answer any questions. While the whole scenario has been pretty hush-hush, we were able to dig up a few facts (thanks to Latitude 38's post). This craft was designed by prolific Bay Area yacht designer Jim Antrim from Ugo Conti’s original concept; its 100 feet long and 50 feet wide; its powered by twin diesel engines; the inflatable hulls were built by Arcata's Wing Inflatables', the craft was assembled in Anacortes, WA (where it was spotted several times during apparent sea trials); and Jim Antrim is quoted as saying that its capable of crossing oceans with “as much, if not more, stability than a normal catamaran," and that an upcoming press conference is in the works that will "hopefully answer the most pressing question: 'What's it for'?"

Upon closer look, the steel arachnid-styled legs are jointed in three places which could serve to lower the center pod that hangs roughly about 15 feet above the water during calmer seas and raised when the weather gets rough.

Ugo Conti's patent, approved in April 2005, offers some clues, describing the craft as ". . . an entirely different type of vessel that creates the minimum possible disruption of the waves. In other words, this vessel does not push, slap or pierce the waves but instead 'dances' with them. . . . The vessel has a pair of flexible hulls flexibly coupled to a 'cabin' between and above the hulls, thereby allowing the hulls to independently follow the surface of the water. Motor pods are hinged to the back of the hulls to maintain the propulsion system in the water. . . ."

The patent lists possible uses as rescue or patrol vessels, pleasure craft, military uses or research vessels for deployment of submarines or other instruments.

The patent notes the boat could potentially move at 60 knots or more per hour with a range of 2,000 miles.

After leaving Ilwaco on Sept. 30, the boat was not seen again until early October, when it moored at the Marine Bay Yacht Harbor in Richmond, California. However a spokesman for the moorage said he was not allowed to discuss the vessel.

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