The mysterious Google vessel floating in San Francisco Bay is to feature towering sails enabling it to cruise around exhibiting the wonders of technology to an astonished coast, it has been reported.
According to a report in the San Francisco Chronicle, the barge will be an “unprecedented artistic structure” boasting about a dozen huge sails or "fins".
It is intended to “drive visitation to the waterfront," although this probably means attracting tourists, rather than summoning ghostly spirits to the shore.
The barge has previously been fingered as a floating data centre, a Google Glass shop or even a booze-cruising party boat. A statement from Google reached El Reg earlier this week claiming the barges were “an interactive space where people can learn about new technology.”
The Chronicle got its hands on the plans using Freedom of Information laws. It revealed the barge will be a 50-foot-tall, 250-foot-long boat constructed from recycled shipping containers. The vessel will boast an array of sails “reminiscent of fish fins, which will remind visitors that they are on a seaworthy vessel".
Google even appear to have used a bit of rhyming slang as it prepares its ark to hit the seas. The vessel is registered to a company called By and Large, which rhymes with barge. This shadowy firm also owns a warehouse on nearby Treasure Island as well as another barge that's currently floating off the coast of Portland, Maine.
“The structure will stand out,” the B&L team said in a preliminary application filed to the San Francisco Port Authority. It will be a "studio" and "temporary technology exhibit space" designed to help "local organizations to engage with guests and gain visibility in a unique way”.
“We envisioned this space with community in mind,” By and Large wrote. “A surprising environment that is accessible to all and inspires conversation about how everything is connected — shorebirds, me, you, the sea, the fog and much more.
"The artistic structure combines innovative architecture with a bit of nautical whimsy, creating a surprising environment that inspires conversation, community and ‘a-ha’ moments.”
It will feature 50 security cameras to stop light-fingered Google aficionados from nicking anything and will sail around the Bay, parking at various spots. The sails will light up and can be taken down in the event of poor weather.
“We believe this curious and visually stunning structure will be a welcome addition to the waterfront, an experience unlike any other,” BaL continued in its proposal.
Little is known about the Google tentacle behind the barges. It was founded last year and is a "Corporation Service Company" based in Wilmington, a city in Carolina which sits on the eerily-named Cape Fear River.
There's every chance the mystery surrounding the project reveals the shadowy hand of Google's publicity department, who will want to generate buzz around its launch using as little cash as possible (and we fell for it! D'Oh! - Ed). But that likely explanation's not been enough for the internet.
The registered numbers of the barges are BAL0010 and BAL0011, with the acronym probably referring to the name of the mysterious By and Large. Then again, it could refer to Baal, who was a god to the ancient Phoenicians but a demon to Christians.
"Baal is a three-headed demon with a spider's body and tonnes of spider legs," explained one unhinged commentard on a conspiracy forum. "Folks, we have Luciferians."
The forum nutters went on to surmise that perhaps the Google Barge signifies the coming of some sort of apocalypse. Before the world ends, they suggested, Google would back up the internet on the two barges, as well as an even creepier third one. It will then reemerge when the fires die down to form a new world order in which, presumably, everyone has a Google+ account and wears stupid-looking computers on their face.
Hang on. ®