Some Take the Low Road, Some Take the High Road

by

DanB’s [Realist and Idealist Views of Basesteading](http://wiki.seasteading.org/index.php/User:DanB/BaseStead_Strategy#Realist_and_Idealist_Views_of_Basesteading) addition to the wiki reminded me of the classic low-road vs. high-road distinction which always seems to come up when talking about seasteading strategy. I think this distinction and terminology is useful, so here’s a crack at a book section on it. Suggestions / criticisms / comments welcome!

A frequent distinction which comes up when discussing seasteading strategies is between the so-called low-road and high-road approaches. While this is not a perfect distinction and many proposals fall in-between, it seems to be a pretty fundamental axis along which people’s worldviews fall, and so it is actually quite a valuable classification. While there are no standardized definitions, I view the two paths as follows:

**Low Road: DIY Seasteading**

The low road is small-scale, low-capital, high-labor DIY seasteading. It tends towards self-sufficiency and disconnect from the global economy. It will likely be funded, built, and run by the occupants.

Some low-road approaches are:

* Build a DIY single-family seastead which is largely self-sufficient and sail it around the world.

* Go to the doldrums (where there are minimal waves), build some cheap platforms, and grow your own food.

* Pastor Jason’s [Belize Basestead Proposal](http://wiki.seasteading.org/index.php/User:Pastor_Jason/Seastead_Outpost:_Belize#General_Vision_for_the_First_Two_Years) is a more detailed explanation of a low-road approach. Note the focus on self-sufficiency, new economic models, building things with your hands, etc.

The advantages of the low road include:

* You don’t have to be rich, or know anyone who is.

* The primal satisfaction of working with your hands.

* Self-sufficiency is freedom.

* Start now.

**High Road: VC Seasteading**

This strategy, by contrast is large-scale, high-capital, and integrated into the global economy. It relies on specialization and trade. Most residents will not directly create what they consume, but rather, will work at a specialized job for money, and then use the money to buy what they need. It may be funded by occupants or investors, will likely be built by specialists and operated by professional property managers.

The advantages of the high road include:

* You can do specialized, high-paying work.

* Things you use are provided by specialists with a comparative advantage: your seasteads are built by shipyards, your food is grown on land.

* More luxury, higher level of comfort (easier to convince the wife!).

Some high road approaches are:

* Operate a medical tourism or [condo cruise ship](http://seasteading.org/stay-in-touch/blog-tags/cruise-condo).

* Build a hotel / resort on a spar platform, like [ClubStead](http://seasteading.org/strategic-areas/engineering/clubstead).

**Compare & Contrast**

The development of the modern world can be viewed as a movement over time from the low-road to the high-road model. Modern wealth comes from the fact that we have specialization and economies of scale, rather than having each group of people grow its own food, make its own tools, and so forth. However, with wealth has grown government and regulation. Economic interdependence has led to political interdependence. In other words, self-sufficiency means both poverty and freedom. The high-road accepts entanglements to get wealth, while the low-road accepts poverty to get freedom. Neither is ideal, and each is the natural result of different preferences and priorities. Rather than arguing for one vs. the other, I will instead talk about some of the characteristics and attitudes that tend to lead a person to favor one over the other:


**Low Road: The Pioneer** **High Road: The Entrepreneur**
Job skills Hands-on, self-sufficiency Knowledge worker
Capital Low High
Income Low High
Lifestyle Third World First World
Do It Now – yourself! Right – hire a specialist!
Individualism Prefers freedom of small group Prefers diversity, economies of scale of larger group

The difference between current low road and high road lifestyles can be seen by contrasting live-aboard boaters and the cruise industry.


**Live Aboard Boaters** **Cruise Ships**
Go where you want, when you want Go where the customers want, when they want
Costs money Makes money
Funded by owner Funded by investors
Need sailing and self-sufficiency skills Need skills for the jobs on a cruise ship
It’s cramped and uncivilized! Who wants to live there? It’s a vacation or job, not a life
Passion Profession
Small and lonely Community – but temporary
Hard to control: small, anonymous Somewhat hard to control: profit => political influence

These differences result in conversations like:

Pioneer: Single-Family Seasteads are the way to go! Anyone can build one and live on it and be self-sufficient.
Entrepreneur: Uh…if they know how to build things. And know how to grow their own food. And don’t mind living in a confined space with a few people and no satellite internet.

Entrepreneur: Cruise Ship Condos are the way to go! Anyone can go live on one.
Pioneer: Uh…if they have a couple hundred thousand dollars to buy a condo. And a job that can pay for food and fuel and is portable all over the world. And don’t mind having to compromise on an itinerary with 200 other people.

47 comments

  1. vincecate 9:40 am

    A recent post by Patri reminded me of the classic unaffordable vs affordable seastead distinction which always seems to come up when talking about seasteading strategy. I think this distinction and terminology is useful, so here’s a crack at a book section on it. Suggestions / criticisms / comments welcome!


    A frequent distinction which comes up when discussing seasteading strategies is between the so-called affordable and unaffordable approaches. While this is not a perfect distinction and many proposals fall in-between, it seems to be a pretty fundamental axis along which people’s worldviews fall, and so it is actually quite a valuable classification. While there are no standardized definitions, I view the two paths as follows:

    Affordable: Single Family Seasteads

    The affordable seasteads are things that could actually be built.  They are cheaper than a nice yacht but more stable and with more room.  It will likely be owned by a single family.

    Some affordable seastead approaches are:

    The advantages of the affordable method include:

    • Costs may be comparable to nice house in California, say $1 million, so sell your house and buy a seastead
    • Each family could travel where they wanted to

    • No need for new social structures as family is well understood unit

    • Controlling where you travel is freedom.

    • Mass production of many small seasteads gives economies of scale efficiency

    • Can start now.

    Unaffordable: Floating Cities

    This strategy, by contrast, produces lots of pretty pictures and gets plenty of publicity. 

    The advantages of the unaffordable method include:

    • You produce lots of pretty pictures

    • Plenty of press coverage with the pretty pictures

    • It is fun to dream about

    • You don’t actually have to build anything

    • Each city drawing can be a totally custom design

    Some unaffordable approaches are:

    •  A hotel / resort on a oil platform, like ClubStead
    • A giant ship like Freedomship
    • A pretty city like Atlantis

     

    Compare & Contrast

    The progression of the seasteading ideas can be viewed as a movement over time from the dreamy but unaffordable to the affordable single family seastead.   Rather than arguing for one vs. the other, I will instead talk about some of the characteristics and attitudes that tend to lead a person to favor one over the other:

      Affordable: Single Family Seastead Unaffordable: Floating City
    Job skills Knowlege worker Knowledge worker
    Capital Owns a house None needed
    Income High Maybe student with no income
    Lifestyle Like living on a stable roomy yacht No changes as not real
    Construction Yacht owners don’t build their own

    DIY – Anyone can draw pictures and chat

    Individualism Prefers freedom of own building Wants communal living

    The difference between single family seastead and the unaffordable approach can be seen by contrasting yacht owners with those who take a ride on a cruise ship.

    Yacht Owner Cruise Ship Passenger
    Go where you want, when you want Go where the management wants, when they want
    Does not pay rent Costs money
    Funded by owner A temporary fantasy
    Has a captain and a cook Looks foward to vacation all year
    It’s a wonderful life It’s a vacation not a life
    Successful Dreamer
    Free to travel to ports anywhere Community – but temporary
    Hard to control: small, anonymous Much easier for governments to influence large ships

    These differences result in conversations like:

    Single-Family Seasteads are the way to go! We should start experimenting with possible designs now.  

    Floating City:   These things are dreamy, lets make some more pretty pictures. 

     

  2. Eelco 10:58 am

     Vince: as for accusing others of being dreamers, ive tried to explain to you a couple of times why your proposed designs are not what you make them out to be. I dont see them scale, i dont see them survive the open ocean. Now i would love it f you were to prove me wrong, but until then, i dont think anyone is in a position to call anyone else a dreamer, in a negative way.

    My dreaming is mostly focussed on single family seasteads; that is my ultimate goal. The most realistic first step i can think of is ‘amsterdam on the westcoast’.

  3. livefreeortry 12:16 pm

    Vince, that’s funny but also a bit vicious. I think most people here (including presumably Patri) support initiating work on single family seasteads, both Patri and James have said so; and I assume it’ll begin in the later half of this year. I don’t see how mocking Patri is helping this shared vision.   

  4. vincecate 2:14 pm

     

    >, ive tried to explain to you a couple of times why your proposed designs are not what you make them out to be. 

    >I dont see them scale,

    The model below was 32 feet diagonally and held 3 guys.  If I scale by a factor of 2 in all 3 dimensions, we sort of expect to be able to hold 8 times the mass.    It should be big enough for a sort of camping/log-cabin type hangout.   If anchored a couple miles off Anguilla but inside the reef (see URL below) it seems like it could be fun place for seasteaders to visit for a week.

    Only the beams seem to have any scaling issue.  The beams are only pushed along the length of the beam.  Those beams are 1/16th inch thick gavanized steal and about 3 inches square and 20 feet long.   As I live on an island without income tax or sales tax, the price includes both shipping and duty and was about $50 for each beam.  

    If I made one 2x larger, so 40 foot beams, it would be about 64 foot diagonal.  With all the flotation at the corners, it should be more stable than a 60 foot by 30 foot catamaran with flotation on the edges (a very stable boat).   Do you agree?    I think I could use ham radio tower sections, steel box beams, aluminum box  beams,  fiberglass pipe, etc.   Do you think it would not be possible to buy or make a beam twice as long that could handle 8 times the force along its length?  

    If I am making you repeat some technical argument please write it up on the wiki.  

    http://wiki.seasteading.org/index.php/User:Vincecate/WaterWalker2

    http://wiki.seasteading.org/index.php/User:Vincecate/FloatingVilla

    This next factor of 2 does not look very hard to me.  And at that point I think you could really have something fun.  I think seastead members/donors could have a fun week vacation on it.    I don’t think the factor of 2 after that will be too hard either, though clearly more costly again.  If you look at the steel beam used in US highway bridges, it is clearly possible to get some big strong beams.

    > i dont see them survive the open ocean.

    This depends on the materials used.   I would probably favor the 3 leg one over the 4 leg as it does not flex and move so much.  Clearly my  models are not designed to last a long time.   Before building anything very expensive it would be a good idea to have an expert check it over to make sure it would last.

    – Vince

  5. vincecate 3:04 pm

     

    >Vince, that’s funny but also a bit vicious.[...]I don’t see how mocking Patri is helping this shared vision.

    My mocking was not directed at Patri alone.  :-)

    Ok.  More constructive criticism:

    1. Does "single family home" imply that you build it on your own?   Why does anyone think that "single family seastead" means you build it on your own?    Truth is my large model was mostly built by two guys I hired.
    2. Why does anyone think "single family seastead" means I would grow my own food?   Does anyone think "single family home" implies this?  Do you know anyone living on a yacht that grows their own food?
    3. Labeling the two options "the high road" and "the low road" loads up the names (people think "high road" is better).  It is similar, though less drastic, to labeling the two options "affordable seasteads" and "unaffordable seasteads".  

     – Vince

     

     

  6. Pastor_Jason 4:46 pm

    I wanted to post about Patri’s blog, but then I read all of this stuff regarding Vince. While I don’t see his post as "mocking" Patri’s blog, thus have no reason to bash him, I will say this about his water walker: He built one.

    Now everyone else here who has posted video of their experiment where they blew time and money to show a working example of the design they advocate, raise your hand. Anybody? If not, don’t throw stones at the work someone else has done to advance seasteading. Vince, I look forward to seeing the next scaled up model you produce… judging by your workmanship I’m sure it will produce good results for you.

    As for Patri’s post, I don’t think it’s fair to say that low road folk will live like 3rd World people do. Most of your other observations are fair. Personally, I’m able to work a "skilled" job because I am able to transfer it with me when I move. I think you’ll find many "low road" seasteaders following a similar path.

    Live Well!

    -Jason

  7. Eelco 5:36 pm

    He made it pretty clear that he was describing two extremes of a spectrum; he wasnt specifically adressing either you or me or anyone. A single family seastead, professionaly built, living a lifestyle that does not shun seperation of labor is my ideal. Lets not argue over whom started the namecalling :)

     

    There are different ways in which a construction can fail. Different failure modes scale differently. All of them scale superlinearly.

    An ant can carry many times his own weight. An elephant only a fraction of its own weight. Even though an ant, relative to itself, is a very frail contruction compared to the bulk of an elephant.

    This is not because ants are built from superior materials. Mass scales with linear dimensions cubed. Cross-sectional area, of muscles or load-bearing elements, scales only with linear dimensions squared.

    Buckling is even worse. If you make a beam twice as long, its critical buckling load will decrease by a factor 2 cubed equals 8. (that is, not even considering its greater mass)

    The constructions you have tried had to do little but support their own weight. Try and attach a seaworthy cabin, and its a different ballpark. Even if you get the static loads right, fatigue is going to be very much an issue under constant waves.

    I could go on, but it took me a few years to learn all those things, and i dont have the time to type it all here.

     

    I dont mean to discourage, but as for what is actually going to happen and what is not, im not drawing any conclusions yet. I do think an affordable single family seastead is technically possible. But if you are going to have to reinvent structural engineering along the way, it might take a while to get there.

  8. admiral doty 5:53 pm

    There’s a reason that there are very few sea organisms which live continually on the surface of the ocean – kelp, sargasso weed, and the portugese man-of-war are the only ones which come to mind. The largest organisms known to man live below the surface. Maybe we should follow nature’s lead by keeping the rigid, permanent structures below the surface combined with flexible structures on the surface, along the lines of Jason’s suggestions of submerged structures with spherical shapes connected to a floating surface area. The floating area could be flexible instead of retractable so it can still be planted and landscaped.

  9. DanB 5:55 pm

    It’s probably obvious in retrospect that everyone would have different views of what the seasteading lifestyle should look like. Vince really wants to live on a single family ‘stead, but to me the prospect is completely unappealing, partially because I don’t have a family. Jason really wants to do the DIY thing and grow his own food; to me that sounds unappealing, because I don’t know how to farm.

    I’m not sure I completely buy the "high-road" vs "low-road" distinction, especially the part about VC. I think VC will help the seasteading movement at some point, but not until the VCs see the possibility of stellar returns with a clear business model. Think about how the PC industry took off – it was mostly hobbyists at the start; the VC suits just didn’t get it that this weird geeky thing the hobbyists were doing could change the world.

     

  10. livefreeortry 5:55 pm

    Pastor_Jason: while not as impressive as Vince’s efforts, I have spent some time, very little money and some of the wife’s patience on a scale model of a potential structure and posted still photographs:

    seasteading.org/interact/forums/engineering/structure-designs/sparship

    seasteading.org/interact/forums/engineering/structure-designs/sparship-2-h-configuration

    What do you think of this design??

     

  11. vincecate 6:23 pm

     

    >Buckling is even worse. If you make a beam twice as long, its critical buckling load will decrease by a factor 2 cubed equals 8. (that is, not even considering its greater mass)

    Clearly the box-beams would at least increase from 3×3 inches to 6×6 and the thickness of the metal at least double.  If you do this when you are scaling the critical load will not go down.  Adjusting a bit it will not be hard to get a factor of 8 increase.

    >The constructions you have tried had to do little but support their own weight. Try and attach a seaworthy cabin, and its a different >ballpark. Even if you get the static loads right, fatigue is going to be very much an issue under constant waves.

    We had about 800 lbs on the last model (3 guys, one of which is 250 lbs, and a thick (double layer 3/4 inch plywood platform).   My MacGregor26 boat is only 2,500 lbs.   If I scale by a factor of 2 so the load capacity goes up by 8 then I would be at 6,400 lbs, more than enough to lift my 2,500 boat as a cabin.

    >could go on, but it took me a few years to learn all those things, and i dont have the time to type it all here.

    Well, don’t expect me to take your non comments all to seriously then.

  12. vincecate 6:37 pm

     

    I think I could make a WaterWalker kind of frame that could lift my MacGregor26 out of the water and keep it stable enough (at least inside the reef where the waves are usually less than 4 feet) for around $10,000 to $20,000 in parts.   If I had 20 customers lined up with each agreeing to pay $500 to $1,000 to "charter the boat" for a week it could make sense.   If you flew 2 people to Anguilla your airfare could be on the order of $2,000.  And you need to buy food and pay for the water taxi.   How close to interesting is this for people?  Do you think this group would be a big enough market?  

    http://wiki.seasteading.org/index.php/User:Vincecate/FloatingVilla

  13. Pastor_Jason 7:05 pm

    Heh, murky water but…

    GREAT!!

    I actually really do like this design! Any plans to try it on a larger scale? Maybe add a second frame that would submerge and keep the four spars locked in place.

    Live Well!

    -Jason

  14. Patri 9:18 pm

    Vince makes some great suggestions to improve the low-road description, which I will incorporate. There is also some validity to parts of his criticism of the high road. However, I think it is pretty unfair overall.

    For example, replacing a cruise ship condo with the Freedom Ship. The FS costs $10,000,000,000. The used cruise ships I have been looking at cost $5M to $30M. Even at $25M, that’s a 400:1 price difference. That’s a massive difference in realism. Sure, you need a lot more capital. But I have met a lot more people who would be interested in living on a cruise ship condo (especially counting people who would live there part-time) than I have met people who would like to live on a single-family seastead.

  15. Eelco 9:57 pm

     Clearly the box-beams would at least increase from 3×3 inches to 6×6 and the thickness of the metal at least double.  If you do this when you are scaling the critical load will not go down.  Adjusting a bit it will not be hard to get a factor of 8 increase.

    Bending stiffness also increases cubic with linear dimensions, yup. Actually manufacturing bigger and bigger beams, thats the part where it goes wrong. 
     

    We had about 800 lbs on the last model (3 guys, one of which is 250 lbs, and a thick (double layer 3/4 inch plywood platform).   My MacGregor26 boat is only 2,500 lbs.   If I scale by a factor of 2 so the load capacity goes up by 8 then I would be at 6,400 lbs, more than enough to lift my 2,500 boat as a cabin.

    Maybe you should actually read my non-comments, instead of getting defensive, and then read your own words again.
     

    Well, don’t expect me to take your non comments all to seriously then.

    As you wish Vince: If you insist on ignoring constructive criticism, and reinventing engineering from scratch, go ahead. Just dont expect me to take your comments regarding dreaming all too seriously then.
  16. vincecate 4:22 am

     

    Patri, you don’t like Clubstead being lumped in with Freedomship.   I don’t like "Single Family Seasteads" being lumped in with:

    1. 3rd world lifestyle
    2. grow your own food
    3. build it yourself
    4. largely selfsufficient
    5. no venture capital
    6. not knowledge worker
    7. small and lonely
    8. need sailing skills
    9. low income
    10. hands on job skills
    11. cramped and uncivilized
    12. confined space
    13. no internet
    14. know how to build things
    15. low capital

    I think history will show that my lumping Clubstead and Freedomship together as things that never get built was correct.  I think history will show that your 15 are not correct.  Time will tell.

    – Vince

     

     

  17. vincecate 7:30 am

     

    >>>The constructions you have tried had to do little but support their own weight.

    >>We had about 800 lbs on the last model [...]

    >[...], instead of getting defensive, and then read your own words again

    You are saying the models only had to "do little but support their own weight" and that is just not true.   Is it "defensive" of me to say, "you are completely wrong in saying that."?

     

     

    >>>I could go on, but it took me a few years to learn all those things, and i dont have the time to type it all here.

    >>Well, don’t expect me to take your non comments all to seriously then.

    >Maybe you should actually read my non-comments, instead of getting defensive, and then read your own words again.

    You say you could go on but "dont have the time to type it all here".  These are the non-comments that I am not taking seriously.

     

    >As you wish Vince: If you insist on ignoring constructive criticism, and reinventing engineering from scratch, go ahead. Just >dont expect me to take your comments regarding dreaming all too seriously then.

    You say "it won’t scale" but only point out that if my beam were longer but not wider it would not be strong enough.  That in no way proves my design can’t scale.  None.  Not at all.  As I point out, of course the beams get wider and thicker.   Do you think your comment is useful and constructive?   What in the world makes you say I am "reinventing engineering from scratch"?  Scaling without making beams wider and thicker would be you.  

    Again,  if you really have any  logical reasoning to backup your statement that my design can not scale I would be interested in hearing it.  Do you really think I can not get a beam 2x longer and able to take 8 times the load along its length of my $50 box-beam that was 3×3 inches and 1/16th inch thick?   Do you think the next factor of 2 is the problem?  Why?  There are cell towers that seem to be much longer and stronger than 80 foot I would need.

      — Vince

     

  18. Eelco 1:47 pm

     You are saying the models only had to "do little but support their own weight" and that is just not true.   Is it "defensive" of me to say, "you are completely wrong in saying that."?

     
    Yes. The reason i did not counter your comparison between three people and a house was not because i couldnt. Its because i was too busy pulling my hair out.

     

    You say you could go on but "dont have the time to type it all here".  These are the non-comments that I am not taking seriously.

    Really? Let rewind:

    Me: Cross-sectional area, of muscles or load-bearing elements, scales only with linear dimensions squared.

    You: We had about 800 lbs on the last model (3 guys, one of which is 250 lbs, and a thick (double layer 3/4 inch plywood platform).   My MacGregor26 boat is only 2,500 lbs.   If I scale by a factor of 2 so the load capacity goes up by 8 then I would be at 6,400 lbs

    You are oblivious of the very basics of scaling. Even after they are explicitly pointed out to you, twice. Will the third time help? Im not sure. From this i deduced you are being defensive. Im sorry if that rubs you the wrong way, but if you insist that you are not, then you are forcing me to embrace less flattering conclusions: you are either stupid, willfully ignorant, or on crack.

    If you insist on ignoring the fundamentals, then I dont really see the point in explaining the more subtle ways in which your scaling can go wrong. Youll find out along the way, while you are reinventing engineering.

     

    Again,  if you really have any  logical reasoning to backup your statement that my design can not scale I would be interested in hearing it.
    All i have is words to that effect, and evidence towards the contrary. (this not being the first, by the way). You do not seem interested in hearing such things at all. The good news is, no need to worry about that, because i will spare you my bothersome remarks from now on..
  19. vincecate 4:03 pm

    Vince: We had about 800 lbs on the last model (3 guys, one of which is 250 lbs, and a thick (double layer 3/4 inch plywood platform).   My MacGregor26 boat is only 2,500 lbs.   If I scale by a factor of 2 so the load capacity goes up by 8 then I would be at 6,400 lbs

    Eelco:  You are oblivious of the very basics of scaling. Even after they are explicitly pointed out to you, twice.

    I am here talking about the overall load capacity of the floats and the seastead.      If you scale a float by a factor of 2 in 3 dimensions then it displaces 2^3=8 times as much water and so lifts about 8 times as much.   In general if you scale by 2 the mass goes up by 8.  This tells me how much stronger I need the beams to be to hold things up.  Was not saying that a beam automatically gives me that.

    Eelco: Cross-sectional area, of muscles or load-bearing elements, scales only with linear dimensions squared

    If the actual compression of the metal were the limit, which it is not, that would only mean I need to pay an extra factor of 2 in the cost of the beam metal.   If the stength was up by 4 and I needed 8 I could just make it twice as thick.  It does not mean "my design does not scale".  Since my beams were only at $50, simple scaling mass by 8 would estimate $400 and another factor of 2 would be $800.  If that were the limit, then I would scale from 3×3 box beam with 1/16 inch metal 20 feet long to 6×6 box beam 1/4 inch thick, instead of 1/8th, and 40 feet long.  That would not be a show stopper.  

    In reality with steel at like 100,000 lbs per sq-inch, this is not the limiting factor.   Imagine you have a 1-inch by 1-inch steel bar 40 feet long.   You are saying, if we scale by 2 it only holds 400,000 lbs.   But in reality it buckles way before that limit.   The real issue are helped by things like "I-beams",  "box-beams", "truss", etc .    These scale much better than solid bars, for the real problems. 

    I still see no real reason to worry about another factor of 2 or 4 in scaling up.

    –  Vince

     

  20. Eelco 4:55 pm

     I am here talking about the overall load capacity of the floats and the seastead.      If you scale a float by a factor of 2 in 3 dimensions then it displaces 2^3=8 times as much water

    Yes

    and so lifts about 8 times as much.  

    No

     

    In general if you scale by 2 the mass goes up by 8.  This tells me how much stronger I need the beams to be to hold things up.  Was not saying that a beam automatically gives me that.

    It sure seemed like it, seeing as how thats what the word ‘capacity’ means. But regardless of what phrase you used, you used it in the context of what you would or would not be able to lift out of the water.

    Could have fooled me.

     

    If the actual compression of the metal were the limit, which it is not

    Which it absolutely is. (or should be, if your design is optimal)

     

    that would only mean I need to pay an extra factor of 2 in the cost of the beam metal.   If the stength was up by 4 and I needed 8 I could just make it twice as thick.  It does not mean "my design does not scale".  Since my beams were only at $50, simple scaling mass by 8 would estimate $400 and another factor of 2 would be $800.  If that were the limit, then I would scale from 3×3 box beam with 1/16 inch metal 20 feet long to 6×6 box beam 1/4 inch thick, instead of 1/8th, and 40 feet long.  That would not be a show stopper.  

    Indeed it wouldnt.
     

    It completely depends on what you mean by house or cabin, of course, but the thing is,  by my definition of a house, or anything like it, there is quite a few factors of two between that and three persons.

  21. Eelco 5:10 pm

     Few more remarks: i do think single family seasteads are possible, but its not as if it is going to be easy. A factor two makes the difference between barely affordable and utterly inaffordable, barely surviving and being eaten by the waves.

    Further: you are being defensive. Instead of reacting to the OP along the lines of ‘what are you trying to say? it seems as if X, if such, i could turn it around and say Y’. Thats not how you react: you lash out. I have a valid remark: you obviously didnt read it, instead: you lash out.

    I like your work, we are very much on the same team in terms of goals, but i dont like your attitude as displayed here. No need for hard feelings on my part: Ill attribute it to the internet, cause it has been known to do exactly that to me too. (and almost anyone it seems).

  22. livefreeortry 5:19 pm

    I’m glad you liked the idea Pastor_Jason. I hope to get some free time in the next few months to try out the sparship on a larger scale. Currently grappling with new baby AND new job!

    Vince and Eelco; guys don’t let it get personal. Remember we all subscribe to the same vision.

     

  23. vincecate 5:22 pm

    >>and so lifts about 8 times as much.  

    >No

    And about how many times more do you think a float 2 times bigger in each dimension will lift?  Note that I said "about" and yes, there are scaling issues that make this not exact.  But tweaking things to get a real factor of 8 is not much of a tweak, perhaps the floats are scaled by 2.1x.

     

     

    >Indeed it wouldnt.
     
    Ok, to be clear, you agree the next factor of 2 scaling is not a show stopper? 
     

    >It completely depends on what you mean by house or cabin, of course, but the thing is,  by my definition

    >of a house, or anything like it, there is quite a few factors of two between that and three persons.

    The next factor of 2 scaling, which I say gets me about a factor of 8 in mass, is heading for around 6,400 lbs.  This is more than twice the weight of my MacGregor26.   The factor of 2 after that would be around 50,000 lbs.  This is about 20 times the mass of my boat.  Now I might not get 20 times the square footage of my boat, or maybe I get more as the roof of one room can double as the floor of another, but it is getting in the range of what I mean by a house.   But perhaps it takes a bit more than 2 factors of 2, I still don’t see this as too much trouble.

    – Vince

  24. Eelco 5:42 pm

     And about how many times more do you think a float 2 times bigger in each dimension will lift?  Note that I said "about" and yes, there are scaling issues that make this not exact.  But tweaking things to get a real factor of 8 is not much of a tweak, perhaps the floats are scaled by 2.1x.


    If we assume the float and the structure above will stay in one piece, then it will lift exactly 8 times as much. To assume such is the very antithesis of engineering though. The maximum amount of weight such a structure will carry without breaking will increase only by a factor four. After accounting for its own weight, it is not even sure if a scaled structure will carry anything at all. Elephants expend a way bigger percentage of their resources just staying on their feet than ants do. Even though chitin is much weaker than hydroxyapatite.

     
    I still don’t see this as too much trouble.
     
    I wont argue further details until we can at least both argee on the concept of yield stress, and stress being force per unit area.
    Until then. please be open to the possibility that this is due to a lack of foresight on your part.
  25. vincecate 6:05 pm

     

    >I wont argue further details until[...]

    I don’t think there is any use either.

  26. Eelco 6:09 pm

     I don’t think there is any use either.

    Thats a self-fullfilling prophecy. I cant nor will argue with that.
  27. vincecate 6:16 pm

    Your argument has nothing to do with my design really.  Your logic is generic enough to work for anything.  You are basically saying that nothing scales.    All the large things don’t bother you?

  28. Eelco 6:44 pm

    Your logic is generic enough to work for anything.  You are basically saying that nothing scales.

    Thats not basically what im saying, that exactly what i am saying. Optimal designs for different scales will necesarily look different.


    Your argument has nothing to do with my design really. 

     
    My argument has to do with your design, insofar as supporting my claim that you proving you can lift three people does not imply you can lift a house. Just because you can lift mass X at cost Y, does very much not at all imply you can lift mass nX at cost nY, or even lift it at all.
  29. JLMadrigal 3:34 pm

    TSI, as I see it, is an umbrella organization for the full range of ocean living possibilities, requiring many different engineering foci. Sweating the details of physical engineering is a distraction from the prime directive, if you will, of creating independent societies, and should not consume so much of the institute’s energies. Experimentation with these societies, being the main focus, must start immediately. The "houses" for these societies will be built in the process – to SUPPORT them.

    Somewhere in the middle of Patri’s chart, with many of the advantages of both extremes, is the option of getting 100 to 120 relatively like-minded seasteaders to each secure a cabin on a small SOLAS-compliant cruise ship that TSI gets financed at around $500,000. Each cabin could be secured for around $5000. The costs of operation would be paid proportionately by the leaseholders, and would go directly to the crew, which would be hired and managed by TSI at low international rates. A low, regressive, annual rent would be used for management and loss prevention, with a portion going to TSI for R&D. The ClubStead Master Lease (http://wiki.seasteading.org/index.php/ClubStead_Master_Lease) details this structure of governance. I would appreciate any suggestions on the discussion page for that wiki – particularily legal review.

    Under this perpetual open lease structure, the cabins can be freely sublet by ‘level one’ renters for use as timeshares, offices, labs, &c. This would provide many moneymaking opportunities for both TSI and level one renters. Additional cruise ships could be purchased and operated under the same structure, and the social structure for small to large floating complexes would be tried and true by the time they are built.

  30. vincecate 3:57 pm

    DanB: I’m not sure I completely buy the "high-road" vs "low-road" distinction, especially the part about VC. I think VC will help the seasteading movement at some point, but not until the VCs see the possibility of stellar returns with a clear business model.

    If a single family seastead was developed that compared well to yachts in terms of space and stability but was slow and 1/4th the price, I think VCs would be interested.   Estimating the cost of setting up a production line, how many could be produced per year, what they could sell for, etc is a basically a normal sort of business plan that a VC is used to.   The book "Innovators Dilemma" talks about using an "attack from below" to grow from a small nitch into the main body of a market..  This would be an "attack from below" on the yacht market.

    Last year Patri said something to the effect that he thinks that the VC approach is the "high road" and that he has VC and so should go that way.   I had thought he had changed but am a bit worried that in his heart of hearts he has not.    There are several problems with this idea.   First, VC is going to be far easier to get for production and sales of a big stable slow yacht than for a custom floating city that anarchists would like to live on.   The second one is just got all sorts of potential problems and is far from a normal business plan that  a VC is used to.  

    But also, what Patri has is a donation, not VC.   Before the donation he was critical of the large floating cities plans that never got built but generated lots of Pretty pictures.  Patri always talked about incrementalism and experimenting with larger and larger models.  What he talked about before he got the donation is part of  why he got the donation.   But once he got money he has switch to saving the "low road" as his plan B if he runs out of money.   As if the "low road" does not take any money to develop. People who develop yachts need money. It seems he is falling into the traps he used to warn about.

    If someone started  a business producing  "single family seasteads" and selling them, I think we would eventually see libertarian floating cities.  And VC is one way that could happen.

    Part of why I wrote my  parody is to warn that TSI is in danger of  following the failed methods of the previous new country projects.  It was meant to be partly funny and partly true.   But I really would like to see TSI and seasteading succeed.

     

  31. Eelco 2:26 pm

    JLMadrial:

    This road has been suggested many times. Im not saying its impossible, but i think you are being a ‘tad’ optimistic by assuming you can buy a 120 person seaworthy vessel for 500.000$. If it is that easy, and im saying that to optimists in general: why havnt you made it happen yet?

     

    Vince:

    Like patri said, there are a few orders of magnitude difference between the freedomship and clubstead, but i certainly agree with your point that TSI seems to have changed its goalposts over the last year or so. In part, i agree with said change, but the part where i agree has not been communicated very well, in my opinion. The part where i disagree is the part where i agree with you, that million-dollar range seasteads deserve far more attention than they have been given so far.

     

  32. DanB 4:28 pm

     

    JLMadrial, totally agree with your point. I keep trying to get someone to figure out an estimate for how much it would cost to buy and operate a small cruise ship like this. The price tags I’ve heard vary by orders of magnitude. Can 100 people live on a ship purchased for half a million dollars? What are the monthly operating revenues? How fast does a boat depreciate in value?

    If you are well-informed on this subject, please post a Wiki page.

  33. Eelco 4:56 pm

     I keep trying to get someone to figure out…

    You have an internet connection. You have google. Whats stopping you from making a start?

     

    Can 100 people live on a ship purchased for half a million dollars?

    Do pigs have wings?

    If id have to make an uneducated guess, id say living on the ocean is an order of magnitude more expensive than living on land, with current technology aimed at transportation rather than settlement. Whatever the number, there can be no doubt it is significantly more expensive.

    That estimate suggests ocean living is one or two orders of magnitude cheaper than living on land.

    Color me skeptical.

     

    If you want to stand any chance not wasting your time on wishfull thinking, start out assuming the worst, then try and find arguments to reign in your pessimism.

    A boat costs a gazillion dollars. If you do not believe me, what is the basis for your belief? Can you give me a counterexample?

  34. Carl Pålsson 10:32 pm

    http://commercial.apolloduck.com/listings.phtml?cid=27
    A hundred cabin cruise ship seem to cost a number of millions or so.

    http://commercial.apolloduck.com/display.phtml?aid=112913
    360 cabins (with crew cabins), 8,5 million usd

    http://commercial.apolloduck.com/display.phtml?aid=102228
    142 cabins (+unknown number of crew cabins), 2,6 million usd

    So, around 10-20 thousand dollars per cabin.

  35. JLMadrigal 10:58 pm

    The low-end cruise ships listed on this page are in keeping with the costs I quoted.

    http://ezinearticles.com/?You-Can-Be-a-Cruise-Ship-Owner-Even-If-You-Are-Not-Rich&id=693197

    It should not be difficult to get commitments without outside investors - even at $10,000 per cabin (a $1M vessel). Of course, this does not include crew and cost of operation.

     

  36. Eelco 11:31 pm

    Thats nice, but do you know how to interpret any of this?

     

    Date of last Major Refit August, 2001 Last Major Refit By Punta Arenas

    If i suggested this is the nautical salesmans way of saying: scrap, would you have a rebuttal? How many years does this thing still have in it, and at what maintance cost?

     

    Would this thing survive rough weather beyond protected waters? Appearences can be decieving, but it looks more like a river-going vessel to me. Mono-hull? Errr…

     

    Just throwing some skepticism out there. Perhaps someone has answers to these questions, but i dont: And as such, these numbers are meaningless to me.

  37. JLMadrigal 4:28 am

    Those are good questions that will need to be answered before TSI begins to ask for commitments and/or other investment capital. Aside from the insurance inspectors, who will no doubt go over all of the ships with a fine toothed comb, TSI may also wish to send one or two independent inspectors who are knowledgeable in ship lifespan and sturdiness, as well as maintenance costs for older vessels.

    All of the vessels that TSI purchases will need to be ocean worthy - in order to benefit from flags of convenience or new nation stati.

  38. Patri 9:00 pm

    Vince: “Does “single family home” imply that you build it on your own? Why does anyone think that “single family seastead” means you build it on your own?…Why does anyone think “single family seastead” means I would grow my own food? Does anyone think “single family home” implies this?”

    Vince: “Patri, you don’t like Clubstead being lumped in with Freedomship. I don’t like “Single Family Seasteads” being lumped in with:”

    I am presenting two extremes of an axis. You are a smart guy, so you have constructed an approach that is not at an extreme, and that manages to have some of the virtues of the low road without some of the costs. That is great, but a single person’s vision does not change my mind about how to define the extremes. In my experience, most people who suggest low road approaches want to build their own seasteads and grow their own food.

    Vince: “Labeling the two options “the high road” and “the low road” loads up the names (people think “high road” is better). It is similar, though less drastic, to labeling the two options “affordable seasteads” and “unaffordable seasteads”.”

    I am open to suggestions for a more neutral pair of names.

    DanB: “I think VC will help the seasteading movement at some point, but not until the VCs see the possibility of stellar returns with a clear business model.”

    Good point, I have removed VC.

    Pastor_Jason: “I don’t think it’s fair to say that low road folk will live like 3rd World people do.”

    Good point, I have removed this. I still want to include something related to this though. My suggested replacement is: “Lifestyle Focus. Minimize costs vs. Maximize income.” Hopefully that seems fairer.

    Re: the engineering discussion with Vince & Eelco. It sounds like Vince is ignoring square-cube issues. Sure, the less you scale by, the less likely those are to bite you. But they are real. As you make your beams thicker, they add more weight to the overall structure, which requires more beams in order to support that weight. At some point, you start to need unobtainium to build your structure. The amount of scaling you are talking about is probably not going to have a problem, but Eelco’s general point that you can’t just assume that the skeleton scales up is correct.

    Sure, it’s a general point that applies to everything – that doesn’t mean it isn’t true or important! This is one of the virtues of the ClubStead design analysis – it includes specific structural analysis of exactly how much steel in what shape is required to support the structure at the final size. Because of that, it is not vulnerable to scaling concerns.

    Carl – thanks for the research on used cruise ships. There is one big issue that we need to keep in mind, however. The safety regulations (SOLAS) have a significant change starting in 2010. Most of these used vessels are not SOLAS 2010 compliant, and there will be significant retrofit costs to make them compliant. Still, even if we double the costs, $20K – $40K per cabin is quite reasonable. 5 cabins would then only cost $100K – $200K. Not bad at all! TSI will be actively pursuing this strategy in the near future, perhaps as our first incubated for-profit venture…

  39. Steffen 10:40 pm

    Patri, what do you want to use the low road / high road distinction for? What is the purpose of this distinction? How can it help anyone make better decisions?

    To me it just looks like a very unscientific mixing together of two different things:

    1. Preferences about size/price of vessel (from small/cheap to large/expensive) and 
    2. Preferences about DIY versus specialization

    I, like Vince, favor a small/cheap vessel and specialization.

  40. Patri 11:21 pm

    It frequently comes up when discussing seastead strategies. People tend to cluster into one group or the other. I agree that a priori there isn’t necessarily a connection between (say) size of vessel and DIY vs. specialization, it just seems to work out that way in practice.

    The distinction is not meant so that we can then pick “Ok, either we’ll follow the low road or the high road”. It’s just a useful (IMHO) terminology to use when discussing possible ventures.

  41. JLMadrigal 2:17 pm

    In order to devote a cruise ship to timeshares and/or medical research, the following will need to be taken into consideration:

    For a timeshare, the itinerary will need to be limited to a specific geographic area such as the Bahamas, and/or repeated every year so that the sublessees can reach the vessel easily for the time segment for which they have registered. 50 time slots can be sublet by the level one lessee for each cabin (in weekly increments minus a specific 2 week segment devoted to ship maintenance (?). A helipad or weekly portage would be required for weekly ship access. 25 biweekly slots would lengthen the excursions, and make the itinerary a bit more flexible, but limit the range sublessees to those who have two-week annual vacations (or who can trade or rent their slot to someone who does).

    A medical research facility will not require such limitations on the vessel’s itinerary, but it will need to be known far enough in advance for patients to book their stays. A helipad will probably be required for any medstead.

  42. vincecate 11:09 pm

     

    Patri:  It sounds like Vince is ignoring square-cube issues. Sure, the less you scale by, the less likely those are to bite you. But they are real. As you make your beams thicker, they add more weight to the overall structure, which requires more beams in order to support that weight. At some point, you start to need unobtainium to build your structure.  The amount of scaling you are talking about is probably not going to have a problem, but Eelco’s general point that you can’t just assume that the skeleton scales up is correct.

    The generic troubles with scaling argues against building large things like Clubstead, not SFS.   It is why it is hard to have a land animal larger than an elephant type argument.   If anything, it seem like you, Patri, are ignoring the trouble with scaling, not me, when you favor large seasteads.  What have I said that implies I am ignoring scaling issues?   What Eelco is arguing about is generic, not in any way specific to any of my designs.   It applies far more to large seasteads.   If you believe scaling up is a real problem you should give up on large seasteads right now.

    But what Eelco is talking about is not the real problem for my designs.  My $50 3×3 inch box-beam with 1/16 inch thick metal has a total cross section of about 0.8 sq inches.  With steel at 100,000 lbs per sq inch, this would theoretically be good for about 80,000 lbs (in a generic square area scaling discussion, not really).   As I scale by 2 the next one up would have an area of 4 times this, or good for 320,000 lbs.  The next one after that would be 1,280,000 lbs.   I am only looking for a factor of 8 increase in cargo mass, so 6,400 lbs and about 50,000 lbs.   The buckling issues are the real problem.  The total cross sectional area is not the real problem for my designs.   It is for elephants, but I am not designing an elephant.

    If you do understand that for the factor of 4 beyond my $50 beam (so up to 80 foot beams) I am "probably not going to have a problem", then why say  it "sounds like Vince is ignoring square-cube issues"?

     

  43. vincecate 5:08 pm

    I think we need a wiki page on "structural modeling".   I wrote a page on how to use models to test how a design behaves in waves.   However,  we need a wiki page for how structural issues scale and how to test them with a model.  This is for questions like how thick would beams need to be in model and full scale versions to fail at the same scaled load.  

    If we have anyone here who can write such a page, please do.   Or if anyone can find one on the web, please make a wiki page that links to it (or even send me the URL and I will).  I have ordered a couple of books and may write such a page after reading them.  The books I ordered are:

    Structural Modeling and Experimental Techniques (Mathematics and Its Applications. Statistics, Operational Re)- Gajanan M. Sabnis

    Offshore Structure Modeling (Advanced Series on Ocean Engineering ; V. 9)- Subrata K. Chakrabarti

     

    The page for modeling wave action is:

    http://wiki.seasteading.org/index.php/Scale_models

     

  44. vincecate 5:26 pm

     

    Vince: "Labeling the two options "the high road" and "the low road" loads up the names (people think "high road" is better). It is similar, though less drastic, to labeling the two options "affordable seasteads" and "unaffordable seasteads"."

    Patri:  I am open to suggestions for a more neutral pair of names.

    How about:    Single Family Seastead        and       Floating City

    The press always seems to use "Floating City" for the large ones and people here seem to use Single Family Seastead for the smaller designs.

    These names seem much more meaningful than "high road" and "low road". 

    Maybe there should be a yahboo.com poll for the possibilities.  

     

  45. JLMadrigal 5:13 am

    I agree with vincecate that a more diplomatic and neutral description of the range of approaches to seasteading may be less divisive.

    The truest linear scales are limited to degrees of one factor. A second factor makes a graph necessary. A third factor expands the problem into a cube. Witness the scale of political ideology. While the old media continues to use "left" versus "right", the factors used to describe the most common differences of political views are twofold: economic liberty versus political liberty. Thus the Nolan Chart is a more accurate description of the range of political ideology.

    Likewise, if TSA places the range of communities onto a line that simply varies from small (individual and family) to large (city), their will be no bickering, because the definition will be clear and scientific. The "homes" for small communities range from boats to small platforms. The "homes" for large communities range from mega cruise ships to seasteads to all of the above grouped within one breakwater community. Despite the wide range of physical differences between the vessels and complexes, the communities will be readily transplantable from ship to stead, and vice versa.

    Form follows function. Anyone who is a resident under the ClubStead Master Lease (http://wiki.seasteading.org/index.php/ClubStead_Master_Lease), should automatically be a member of the ClubStead community. It needn’t be a requirement for him to reside on a platform - as opposed to a ship - for him to be a member of the club. In other words, ClubStead shouldn’t be defined in terms of the type of platform.

  46. vincecate 2:54 am

     

    If you insist on using "high road" and "low road", how about equal time for each side.  On odd years we say:

       High road – have your own seastead bigger than a yacht

      Low road -  just an apartment on a big ship or platform (or maybe just a timeshare in an apartment)

    And on even years we can do it the way you were.  This would seem fair.

      — Vince

     

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