Snippets through 9/2/2008

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  • Community
    • Added a box to the front page listing upcoming GTGs, with a module that automatically parses our Meetup.com Calendar.  Yay for standards that let web services play nicely together!
    • The German magazine Cicero: "Magazin Für Politische Kultur" is interested in doing an in-depth story this fall.
    • Please use the wiki to keep technical notes after a discussion!  There was a long thread on OTEC in the forums, and the information would be much more accessible if it were organized onto the OTEC wiki page.  I will be referring to the wiki when rewriting the book, for example.
  • Engineering
    • We’ve reviewed the initial design from MI&T, our consultants, and they are continuing to flesh it out.  While we can’t show you the design itself until we’ve filed provisional patents (see the discussion on the forum), I can give some preliminary details.
      • We asked for 200K ft^2 of total area (on multiple levels, probably) as a hotel/resort for about 200 guests and 70 staff
      • The seastead would be located about 200nm west of California, migrating from 15°N (halfway down Mexico) to 35°N (SF Bay Area) annually to avoid seasonal storms.  It can handle waves of about 70 feet.
      • The design has about 80Kft^2 of high-load area (can support multiple levels), and 80K ft^2 of low-load area (gardens, tennis courts, etc.).  It has 4 MW of power generation, and 4 MW of propulsion, as well as storage for 1 month of diesel.
      • It is a modular design, in which modules can be flexibly attached via old-school technology (hawsers & bumpers).
      • We have very, very preliminary price estimates for the structure only, based on gross material costs, of about $50M, which is $250/ft^2.
        • This is cheaper than current Bay Area housing, which was our goal.
        • These numbers could easily be off by a factor of 2 or 3, but at least they are in the right range.  They include materials and shipyard construction, as well as major elements like the engines, but not the residential/resort space, deployment, transport (helicopter/ferry), and other things.
        • However, while the estimate only includes part of the cost, it is my belief looking at the design that it is a bit larger than the 200K ft^2 we asked for.  If the high-load area averages 3 decks, that gives us 3*80 + 80 = 320K ft^2.  So I think this is a reasonable working estimate.
        • As condos, this would be $250K/person, which seems like a reasonable starting point.  (We think we can cut costs quite a bit in the long run through factory construction).
        • For comparison, modern cruise ships seem to cost about $150K-$300K/passenger, so we are in the same range.  This is quite promising, since they have proven that for that initial capital outlay, they can be profitable as floating resorts.
      • The exact details of the topside load turn out to be pretty important for structure design (we can’t just design a blank slate platform that can take any load, it would be very expensive), so we’ve engaged an architect to rough out a design for what goes on top of the platform.
    • Wayne continues to explore low-cost seastead designs as an alternative to the capital-intensive resort model that I am working on.  Here is his latest design, and the forum thread.
  • Research
    • I am putting together a query letter/book proposal to pitch the seasteading book to major publishers.  If anyone knows of a literary agent who would be well-suited for an odd concept like this, please send them my way.

 

8 comments

  1. Thorizan 7:16 pm

    Awesome to see this really getting off the ground.  Experts and specialists weighing in and getting things moving.  Truly exciting.

  2. Eelco 9:34 pm

    I agree, this all sounds very encouraging. Cant wait to hear the details, though i suppose that will still take a while.

    A question that occured to me: why couldnt this operate inside the EEZ? As i understand it, it applies only to natural resources, or am i wrong here?

  3. Jeff Chan 5:42 pm

    Agreed, it’s great to hear about the engineering work.  Very exciting.

  4. Thorizan 8:04 pm

    I think "natural resources" could include things like wind, solar, tidal, even drinking water as well.  Some stuck up politician that wants to rile up the electorate could make a name for himself punishing the tax-dodging, pot-smoking, Vegas-without-the-rulesing miscreants.  Or something like that.

  5. Eelco 11:58 pm

    Well, its not just a national matter: theyd set a precedent that the international community would have to be comfortable with, as the whole EEZ thing is an international affair. And a rather touchy one, which we might actually get to work to our advantage. For instance, if they were to stop vessels from taking up drinking water in their EEZ, that would have consequences for foreign ships travelling there, so i dont think they want to go there.

    In any case, it takes time for governments to react and even notice. Until it becomes a problem, i would think it would be wise to utilize the proximity to land as long as it lasts.

  6. Patri 12:28 am

     In the EEZ might be possible, I’m not sure.  The EEZ includes regulation of economic activity, including things like aquaculture and sun/wind energy.  So I think we need to be outside it.  But certainly, the rights there are a lot less, and we might decide it’s worth trying to be inside the EEZ.

  7. Eelco 11:35 pm

    Hmm it doesnt look good at all:

    http://www.un.org/Depts/los/convention_agreements/texts/unclos/part5.htm

    In the exclusive economic zone, the coastal State shall have the exclusive right to construct and to authorize and regulate the construction, operation and use of:

    (a) artificial islands;

    (b) installations and structures for the purposes provided for in article 56 and other economic purposes;

    The coastal State shall have exclusive jurisdiction over such artificial islands, installations and structures, including jurisdiction with regard to customs, fiscal, health, safety and immigration laws and regulations.

    Ouch. I was optimistic untill i read the part in bold. They can basically push you around as much as they want, without any reason at all.

    Basing your busines model on operating outside the EEZ is indeed a good idea.

  8. Patri 3:51 am

    This does not get applied to ships – cruise ships are "economic activity" and they can do whatever they want outside the 12 mile limit.  But I’m not sure if this is a legal matter or just countries wanting to play nice with the cruise industry.  I know someone who is trying a much more limited venture, offering a single service 12 miles out, but I definitely think we are safest outside EEZs, on the true high seas.

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