Oculus - a bubble on waves

The Oculus 104 cruising boat is Kai Salo's final work from the School of Art and Design in 1968. Salo's starting point was to design a cruising boat that could travel safely, reasonably quickly and very comfortably at sea. Oculus was designed starting from the basic human functions on a boat, re-examining all boating-related functions and making the most of the space.

Reinforced plastic was chosen as the construction material because of its moulding possibilities. The deck of the boat was built as a single sheathing covering the interior. The "eye of Oculus", the cockpit hood, rose above the deck rim as an opening hemisphere, so the captain had visibility in all directions. The interior was made up of 10 basic elements, to which they added several sub-elements. This resulted in maximum space and a new level of comfort at sea.

Salo further developed the boat between 1971 and 1973, and their production started at a factory in Heinävesi. The Oculus boat became the hottest news in the boating world in the early 1970s, and it was evaluated as a innovative product internationally. The uniquely and unconventionally designed boat was the subject of almost 200 press articles around the world, and in the first year, they got around 2,700 enquiries. Actor-singer Dean Martin, among others, ordered an Oculus to honour his fourth marriage in the summer of 1971. However, he never got it, as the boat never made it to serial production.

Oculus and the boat designers faced what seemed like incredible odds. A documentary about them would be the best thriller, with frauds and sabotage. Someone tried to burn the boat in the port of Chicago in 1973 when they were transporting it to a boat fair. Eventually, only four Oculus boats were manufactured. The final death blow to the manufacture was the oil crisis of 1972, which contributed to the rise in the price of reinforced plastics. However, interest in Oculus continued for several years afterwards.

Oculus-veneen leikkauspiirustus.


• Price 95 000 FIM
• Length 11,5 m
• Width 3,2 m
• Interiot height 1,9 m, total height 3,3 m
• Carrying capacity 12 persons or 2000 kg load
• Suitable engine power range 60 – 80 hp
• Interior: The boat is divided into three compartments: the cockpit, the saloon and the aft cabin. The saloon has dining facilities for six people. There were bunks for 6-8 people.

Oculus-veneen leikkauspiirustus. Oculus-veneen luonnos sivustapäin kuvattuna.