This is Ghost Ship, a hand-built replica of a traditional 28ft Shetland sailing boat that hides a very 21st-century secret: the vessel is packed with experimental technology that allows it to sail itself without the need for a crew.
Part art installation, part engineering test-bed, the project is designed to celebrate ‘the regional heritage of boat building and more recent cultural shifts towards new technologies’.
Ghost Ship is due to complete its maiden voyage on 27 July, sailing from Fair Isle in Scotland to Newcastle upon Tyne to coincide with this year’s Tall Ships Race.
The boat, known as a sixareen, has been fitted with technology and systems that will allow it to complete the passage autonomously, monitored by engineers led by Prof Grant Hearn of Southampton’s School of Engineering Sciences.
They spent eight weeks fitting out the ship, which Hearn billed as ‘an excellent example of how art and engineering can come together’.
The team will look at ways of further developing Ghost Ship’s systems with a view to making a second voyage.