Google's mystery barge flounces out of San Fran, heads to Stockton
Dubious new mooring 'only' had 32 murders last year
Google's mysterious barge has dropped anchor at Stockton after it was forced to set sail from its former home in San Francisco.
It is now moored 80 miles away from its original berth at Treasure Island in a rundown town known as a hotbed of gang violence.
Google was forced to set sail after the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission ordered them to move their barge.
The 50-foot tall boat is not only hideously ugly, it is also hideously expensive. It is said to be part of a three boat fleet that will end up costing Google about $50m.
"It's been a busy six months for our barge and it's grown tired of all the attention, so we are moving it to Stockton where it can have a break, enjoy the city's delicious asparagus, warmer climate and get a bit of rest before its next chapter,” Google said in a statement.
Google will pay standard mooring rates of $12,000 a month and has struck a deal to moor for six months.
The barge's new home is unprepossessing, to say the least.
According to a report in the local press, Stockton is more associated with "soaring home foreclosures, high unemployment, terrifying gang violence and a municipal bankruptcy" than technology. There were 32 homicides last year, down from 71 in 2012.
"It's putting us on the map - in a positive way for once," said 24-year-old Miguel Guillen, who lost seven schoolmates to gang violence. "That's the beauty. It's pushing away the negativity.
"The Google mother ship has made its way over here. I don't care what's in it."
Which is convenient, because no-one else knows either.
"I don't think anybody really knows what they're doing here or how long they will be here," said Douglass Wilhoit Jr., chief of the Stockton Chamber of Commerce. "But anything they do is positive for the city and for the Port of Stockton."
Luckily, the internet has come up with a few theories about what's going on in there, with some whackjobs suggesting that Google is building a centre for electronic sorcery or a staging post for some upcoming alien invasion.
Other cranks claimed it was a slave ship containing imprisoned extraterrestrials or even a new kind of Biblical ark, so all the oompah-loompahs can sail off two by two when the world finally ends.
More prosaic explanations indicate it will be a showroom for Google Glass and other products, or even a stately pleasure dome for all the Chocolate Factory's top dogs to enjoy various leisure pursuits.
So what is Google building inside the mystery barge? Let us know what you think. ®