I asked if a reader could identify this strange boat. Yes, someone could. And what a story!

What on earth is this mystery boat? Any ideas?

I came across it in our archives. The photo was probably taken in the late Seventies or Eighties and was in a file marked multihulls, although from the boat looks like a monohull. It appears as if it could be built in steel or aluminium and the word Aqua is painted on the side.

The vessel seems to be built for cruising, or I assume so, because it’s got two bow rollers and a tender on a kind of davit arrangement.

What do you think? All ideas and speculation welcome. Maybe you recognise the port? There’s quite a story behind it, I feel sure, but
what is it?

Only an hour after posting this piece this morning and tweeting it (@elainebunting) I had a reply back from designer Doug Schickler who immediately recognised the boat. Well done and top marks, Doug!

He recognised it as Aquaspace, an experimental yacht designed in 1978 and built in 1982 by French architect Jacques Rougerie, who worked with the famous marine biologist Jacques Cousteau. Rougerie’s hallmark is a futuristic Brave New World look. Aquaspace does have a kind of Space Age manta ray appearance.

Aquaspace, shown below, has a bi-pod A-frame mast with two furling headsails, and features an underwater observation area. She served for a time as a marine biology studies centre for scientists studying dolphins and turtles until Rougerie was forced to sell her in 1995. More recently has operated as a charter boat in the Dutch Antilles. She seems still to be working out of Bonaire on day charters, or so it seems from this website.

But if you want to see something really whacky, scroll right down to see one of Jacques Rougerie’s latest idea. It’s the Sea Orbiter, a 58m high vessel designed to travel with the ocean currents and be powered by solar, wind and wave power. It is to carry a team of researchers and can spent 24 hours a day underwater.

You want to see more of his ideas? Of course you do! They are mind-bendingly exciting. Check out the website here.



 And here are some renderings of Rougerie’s 2012 design, Sea Orbiter. Incredible.