The green sailor

Bill Joy was once called “the Edison of the Internet.” Now he’s building his $50 million dream boat – an eco-friendly, 190-foot superyacht named Ethereal.

Bill Joy is wearing bright-red sneakers and a boyish grin that belies his 52 years. Although dusk has settled over the Netherlands’ Royal Huisman shipyard and hunger pangs are surely gripping the locals on his project team, he shows no sign of letting up. The co-founder of Sun Microsystems and the man once dubbed “the Edison of the Internet” is building his dream boat, Ethereal, and the team is into its 13th meeting in the pursuit of perfection.

Nautical hardware has become the software guru’s passion, and today he has already pondered such exotica as the dog locks on the deck hatches. Now the topic is light switches and motion detectors for the cabins. Don’t laugh. Wind will power his 190-foot, $50 million superyacht through the waves, but to produce the electricity that will drive winches and navigation systems, run the A/C, and cool the wine, she needs generators. And that means noise and vibration, which negates the whole point of a sailboat.