On a recent trip to Europe, I found myself on the trail of autonomous sailing vessels, a technology that has been under development for a while and is now getting more attention with the advent of package delivery by drone and driverless cars. No longer is getting things to drive themselves a hobby for remote-control geeks; it’s a business on the verge of becoming big, built on the promise of — what else? — eliminating fallible and expensive humans from dull jobs.
“Barnacles really slow you down,” said the woman in the magenta sweater as she switched off a cordless Dremel tool. She’d been stripping old bottom paint from the keel of her yacht, along with the remnants of those pesky crustaceans. If you’re not careful removing the last bit of them, she explained, they’ll be all too happy to return, ruining the hope for decent progress on a long journey.
Autonomous Boats - Zero Handed Sailing:
The men are bent to their task, which is noisy, dusty and difficult. They wear face masks and ear protection, as carpenters are wont to do when they get down to the business of planing and sanding. They are engaged in an ancient art: building a mast from wood, much as it has been done since the wind first propelled ships.
What is there to know about Essex, Connecticut? It’s a fine little town on the banks of the Connecticut River, which discharges into Long Island Sound about a half-dozen miles south. It’s a quintessential Yankee town with all the attendant decor, including American flags on Main Street, whose red, white and blue center stripe marks the parade route. (It’s also the home port of Soundings.)
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