Engineering Update

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Hello everybody,

 

We have updated our design requirements, and we’d like your feedback on it.

 

These requirements have suggested two different paths to us, which we are exploring at the moment.

First, we believe that shipsteading is one of the more promising routes. Shipsteading simplifies many aspects of seasteading, because ships are such well-established technology, with a large backing infrastructure. Especially in the current market, the cost of ships is low, and there is much idle labor available. The price per unit area that ships can offer is hard to beat, with any approach.

The ability of ships to move at acceptable cost is an advantage, as it allows us to seek shelter from the worst storms, and by not having to rely on anchoring, legal restrictions concerning operation in the EEZ can be sidestepped.

The drawbacks of ships are their relatively poor stability as compared to platforms. This restricts their ability to scale down and meet our 50 person target for baystead.

 

We are exploring novel designs to see if we can overcome these drawbacks of ships. There is an inherent tradeoff between stability and mobility. A platform can be made more stable than a boat of the same capacity, and hence can potentially scale down better. Most concepts however, fail to do so. For instance, a spar relies on a draft far greater than what we can afford in order to obtain its superior stability, and its mobility is correspondingly nearly absent.

There is no limit to the number of concepts one can think of that will not work, but finding one that will is more of a grey area. We believe the most promising types of non-ship designs for meeting our goals are obtained by connecting multiple small hulls together, along the lines of MiniFloat. Platforms will neither become much smaller nor much conceptually simpler.

By connecting multiple smaller hulls, good stability is obtained, similar to the workings of a catamaran. Besides rigidly connecting multiple columns, we are currently investigating flexible connections between seasteads. Connections are important for small scale platforms for various reasons. It is not clear if it is economical to provide them with their own propulsion systems, yet we do need to have some form of relative positioning between platforms (as anyone who has attended ephemerisle will know!). Besides, movement between seasteads is a non-trivial issue, and having a walkway protected from the elements is almost a necessity. Further, we anticipate that the support these connections give enables further improved stability (or cutting costs elsewhere).

Investigating the opportunities offered by such connections, and the possibility of implementing them in an affordable and reliable manner is the focus of my current activities.

 

That’s an outline of where we currently stand; more information will follow as our plans solidify. Your input is most welcome!

Eelco

 

24 comments

  1. bhuga 12:36 am

    I had a thought after the Ephemerisle–do spars scale horizontally?

    All of the designs I have seen have, generally speaking, 4 big spars. For a project of any reasonable size, even for 50 people, 4 big spars means that every spar is critical and not replaceable at sea. Could a seastead be done with 8 smaller spars, each providing half the buoyancy, each non-critical, so that they could be removed and replaced on a floating structure?

    Crazy? Worse than crazy? I ask because I think spars could be done a lot cheaper if a number of different platform designs could use the same, replaceable spars, with some sort of well-defined interface. Just throwing that out there, now that we have an engineer to shoot it down.

  2. Eelco 3:56 am

    Hi Ben!

     That is indeed quite possible. Not sure about the cost savings though: the bending strength of these columns is what drives their material use. Assuming we split the load over two columns with half the material, their bending stiffness will go down faster than that, so youll end up using more material.

    Not quite sure about replacing either. The thing is meant to be assembled on sea, so its possible, but these operations represent a sizable part of the cost. They are made so they wont break; although being able to let go of that standard might yield considerable savings.

  3. OCEANOPOLIS 6:17 am

    Hi Elco.

     I am glad to see that TSI is exploring now alternative seasteading ideas like shipsteading."First, we believe that shipsteading is one of the more promising routes." Yes it is. I totally agree. And let me also add that @ this time (as you said, in the current market), shipsteading is the cheapest and fastest solution to seasteading, especially for the level of baystading (50 to100 crew), in protected waters. Also, stability @ this level is not an important factor, since very rarely you will get waves over 10 ft in San Francisco Bay, and as you said, by connecting multiple hulls for a higher beam stbility will increase proportionally. "MiniFloat" looks good,..but everything looks good on paper, but for the amount of "paper" to build it you could have build 10 shipsteads…Let me suggest (again:-) the idea of converting an old ferryboat to a seastead. It would be perfect for 50 people and the Bay. I wrote this awhile ago, as a comment on Seasteading Outpost Belize and seasteading design:

    "Yes, I think that buying a cruise ship (or cargo, or even better an older ferry boat) @ this time its a good ideea. I would actually prefer that, than the Belize Outpost. But, like w/everything, there are pros and cons…Comercial vessels prices are @ an all time low now, and so its crusing bussines. So here is the dilema: you can buy a really cheap cruise ship but you wont make any money,….trust me, its almost impossible to compete w/Caribeean or Norwegian, I mean as a cruise ship operator. As a ResidenSea concept yes. But then we are talking $ Mil. and Mil,… I mentioned an old ferryboat as better ideea. Why? Well, first they are much cheaper than a cruise ship. Second, they will make a better Seasteading Outpost than a cruse ship in terms of bussines. Let me elaborate. Lets say you’lI buy this: http://www.yachtworld.com/boats/1937/Classic-Custom-Pilot-House-Ferry-Boat-1458004/Seattle/WA/United-States, (you can check the photo gallery). Sail it down to San Francisco Bay or San Diego Bay. Drop the hook in an anchorage. It can be retrofited as an Outpost right there in the anchorage, welding torch in hand,…Final product? Nice tropical gardens on the fore and aft deck w/tiki bars, palm trees, sand and hammocks. Sundeck , pool on upper deck. Rooms, restaurant midship. Floating docks all around, mini-marina. Cuba Libres 2 for 1 all day every day. Price tag,..$1.5-$2 Mil., and a sure money maker. The only problem, well,…price tag, and U.S regulations. In terms of design, I am a bit "old school". I like to have weight under my soles when sailing. Thats why I prefer floating, heavy displacement hulls for seasteads, really overbuilt.There are many oppinions about building a seastead. For me, the best way is the one that fits the budget. Regards, Octavian."

     

  4. Eelco 5:26 am

    Sure, waves are no problem for baystead; but like you noted; regulations. We dont want to stay in bays forever; we want baystead to be a meaningfull trial for the real thing.

    We are trying to gather data on the economies of scale in ship hulls. Sure, a ferry is cheaper than a cruise ship, but its price per square meter is likely to be worse, as is its ability to deal with the big bad waves.

    One interesting point that recently occured to us is that ships may perform poorly with respect to rolling, but as seasteaders we get to choose our heading wrt the waves. Pitch isnt that bad for long boats. Itd be interesting to figure out how much costs we can cut by having a fairly simple long (concrete?) barge operating along those lines.

  5. OCEANOPOLIS 11:08 pm

    can be reduce by increasing the beam and lowering the metacenter of a sea going structure. A 50′x20′ cat will sail (or power) "flat" in 20 knt, while a 50′x13′ (typical monohull) will heel 20*-30* in the same wind or the same seastate. Yes,..regulations, darn it. In a sense, a neccesary evil, since the Coast Guard main reason for certification is safety, and I cant blame them…. But let me say that is not that hard to get something certified, especially for 50 passangers. And they are very helpfull and cooperative (or at least the ones I dealt with in Key West). You can cut initial buying cost for a barge, but it it will get more expensive in the long run since you will have to do extesive refitting. Keep in mind that there is nothing on a barge. All you are getting is a chunck of floating steel (or concrete), with an engine (if so). It might be the same case with a ferry, but at least they have a suprastructure that can be buit on, and they are built @ higher Coast Guard specifications than any barge, since they are carrying passangers. The best bet its a cruiship indeed, since everything is there, cabins, restaurants, bars, pool(s), etc. Thats a very big plus in terms of money spend for a final product.

    Octavian

     

  6. Wayne Gramlich 12:10 am

    I finally found some time to read the requirements.  I suggest moving 1 (size) and 7 (anchoring) down to negotiable.  I would move 4 (cost) up to the front.  Everything is driven by cost.

  7. Eelco 8:13 pm

     I agree; anchoring isnt absolute. It might be the only affordable option for some types of design, but a shipstead-type design could get away with DP, probably.

    The ordering does not mean to imply a hierarchy of precedence.

  8. Wayne Gramlich 12:56 am

    We know that anchoring costs are a function of depth.  Alas, the cost vs. depth function appears to be exponential with depth.  I do not know that the exponent is, but I do know that it is greater than 1.  (Does anybody have pointer to a cost vs. depth chart?)  Thus, anchoring in shallower waters will probably be cheaper than dynamic positioning in deeper waters.  In deep waters, dynamic positioning is the probable winner.  Given that most (but not all!) shallow waters are in EEZ’s, that severely limits mooring alternatives.  Many of the top runner business models require that they be outside of an EEZ, so shallow mooring may be a viable alternative.

    While there is no implied ordering, cost dominates all decisions.  It might make sense to give it a special position in the requirements.  It is up to you though.

  9. OCEANOPOLIS 2:42 am

    what costs are related to anchoring ? I dont get it….Anchoring is done only in shallow waters @ 7:1 chain and scope relative to the depth in order to hold. There is no "cost" to it. You get there (wherever you want to anchor), check your depth, check the chart datum regarding the quality of the bottom (sand, coral, sea grass, mud, etc), pick the best anchor you got in terms of holding power for that bottom, and drop it. Pay out scope by "putting" in reverse, slow speed, and shut the engines off. If in the "middle of nowhere" check your GPS to see if your holding that fix. If coastal, get a bearing to a fix object on shore. If constant you’re good. Thats it.

    Dynamic positioning in deep water,…yes, if you’re drilling for oil. But for a seastead floating 2000 nm offshore, drifting 50 nm/day in the current,….that is negligible…Whats the point of burning fuel to keep the exact fix? There is nothing but ocean for miles and miles, and the depth is still 3000ft,…whats the difference?

  10. vincecate 3:16 am

    "By connecting multiple smaller hulls, good stability is obtained, similar to the workings of a catamaran. Besides rigidly connecting multiple columns, we are currently investigating flexible connections between seasteads."

    I think you could design a seastead and connection system so you could join to others in a line.   Probably each seastead is a catamaran but maybe just a barge. The reason I like this is you could get really efficient movment through the water.  If the seasteads are solar powered it could be hard for a small one to go fast, but a line of them probably could.  It would reduce roll and pitch as well, and make for a bigger community.  And it would be a help even with just 2 seasteads.  For a storm with waves coming from all directions I doubt it would be safe to stay in long lines, but breaking into smaller groups would be ok.   For video of a model see: 

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JHWFS2fcX9E

    –  Vince

  11. Wayne Gramlich 3:22 am

    If you are in deep water out away from an EEZ, a community of seasteads might choose to use dynamic positioning to maintain relative position to one another.  Thus, the whole community floats at the same average rate and they members do not bump into one another.  When it is time for resupply, the resupply boat calls up the seastead on a satellite phone, asks for the GPS coordinates and delivers the goods with an extra surcharge for additional distance traveled.  It is simple, low energy and scales.  New technology can be tried out without disrupting existing seasteads in the community.

    I have heard that some business models want to be just outside of the EEZ and would like to maintain absolute position.  Whenever I ask to actually see one of these business models there is usually some reason why I am not able to see it.  This does not mean the business model does not exist, it just means that I have not had the honor of reading it.

    I am all in favor of dynamic positioning to 1) maintain relative spacing with other seasteads and 2) keep the seastead oriented in one particular direction.  I have yet to see a business model that makes a compelling case for absolute dynamic positioning.  Then again, I have yet to see any business model, so I guess I should not be too picky.

  12. OCEANOPOLIS 4:48 am

    that multiple seasteads forming a floating "arhipelago" shud be dynamically positioned. But assuming that all of them are the same size and tonnage they will all drift @ the same rate and maintain the same relative position between each other, thus "self" dynamically position themselvs. Of course they will change their absolute position (over the ground),..as a pack.

    Regardless, with the advance of these GPS integrated, 360 degrees electric thrusters, dynamic positioning has become very affordable and cheap.

  13. Wayne Gramlich 6:06 am

    We are in agreement.  Multiple seasteads in a community will drift in the same general direcation, but there will be some differences due to seastead streamlining, biofouling, wind cross section etc.  Relative dynamic positioning is required.  Again, rigid relative positioning is not required.  The seasteads can communicate amongst one another and coordinate their relative positioning.  The requirement is that they not accidentally hit one another.

    I’m glad to hear the dynamic positioning equipment is off the shelf.  Is there any 360 degree thruster that you perfer?  Do you have any idea on pricing?

  14. mhoecker 4:55 pm

    The Scripps Institute of Oceanography has a vessel the Floating Instrument Platform or "FL.I.P." which might be a path for you to consider.

    Flip’s website

    sio.ucsd.edu/voyager/flip/index.html

  15. DanB 4:47 pm

    "The drawbacks of ships are their relatively poor stability as compared to platforms."

    It seems like it should be possible to use some clever, cheap engineering tricks to increase the stability of a boat and prevent rolling. Or, turn the boat into essentially a seastead (obviating the need to build the structure from scratch). So you sail out to your proposed location, deploy the apparatus, and your boat becomes stable enough that it is like being on land.  Should be possible to design the system so that the worst case scenario if it fails is that the boat just plops back down and starts rolling again.

     

     

  16. Eelco 8:51 pm

     We know that anchoring costs are a function of depth.  Alas, the cost vs. depth function appears to be exponential with depth.  I do not know that the exponent is, but I do know that it is greater than 1.  (Does anybody have pointer to a cost vs. depth chart?)  Thus, anchoring in shallower waters will probably be cheaper than dynamic positioning in deeper waters.  In deep waters, dynamic positioning is the probable winner.  Given that most (but not all!) shallow waters are in EEZ’s, that severely limits mooring alternatives.  Many of the top runner business models require that they be outside of an EEZ, so shallow mooring may be a viable alternative.

    Mooring costs arnt hugely bad, actually. Its hard to find info on this stuff, but the techincal documentation of minifloat contains some very relevant figures.
     
    When mooring a small floating platform built of steel in 6000ft waters, the ratio of material costs of structure / vs mooring equipment is about 4/1. (installation costs are unfortunately not specified).
     
    There are other problems with deepwater mooring in the context of seasteading though… If you want to achieve anything resembling a sane density of seasteads, you need some form of sharing lines over large clusters of steads, otherwise youd need to crisscross lines all over the place onder water, which I dont really see working.
  17. Eelco 8:59 pm

     

    I think you could design a seastead and connection system so you could join to others in a line.   Probably each seastead is a catamaran but maybe just a barge. The reason I like this is you could get really efficient movment through the water.  If the seasteads are solar powered it could be hard for a small one to go fast, but a line of them probably could.  It would reduce roll and pitch as well, and make for a bigger community.  And it would be a help even with just 2 seasteads.  For a storm with waves coming from all directions I doubt it would be safe to stay in long lines, but breaking into smaller groups would be ok.   For video of a model see: 

     

    We are looking at stuff like that. Problem is; implementing these flexible connections is harder than it seems at first glance.

    Surge forces on a submerged structure contain a term proportional to displaced volume; under worst-case conditions, these surge forces are the same order of magnitude as the weight of the whole damned structure. Hinges able to cope with that seem like they might be prohibitively expensive.

    But yeah, especially for small seasteads, having an easy way to get around the community is quite important. Boarding/docking a boat in the open ocean isnt a whole lot of fun, so you want some form of walkways.

    Im racking my brain these past days to reconcile these issues; not too happy with the results so far.

  18. Eelco 9:13 pm

    We are in agreement.  Multiple seasteads in a community will drift in the same general direcation, but there will be some differences due to seastead streamlining, biofouling, wind cross section etc.  Relative dynamic positioning is required.  Again, rigid relative positioning is not required.  The seasteads can communicate amongst one another and coordinate their relative positioning.  The requirement is that they not accidentally hit one another.

    I agree; relative dynamic positioning is the most important. It might still require a fair amount of power though. Nonlinear wave effects push seasteads around in essentially a stochastic manner (time-averaged wave forces are nonzero!), and then there are nasty interaction effects, like when two structures are close together and wind blows between them, they get drawn in closer. Having one 1000 ton structure surfing a 15m wave into another is definitely not an option, so such a system should be worst-case-proof.
     
    And im not entirely convinced one can do entirely without absolute positioning. The places where this is a true long term solution are probably limited. Even if you are in some on average attracting gyre, i you are unlucky wrt winds, they will push you further out, until you find yourself in another stream, headed for antartica, a major shipping lane or somalia or whatever. Besides, I do think there is a lot of appeal in operating as close to land as politically feasible, whether thats just outside territorial or just outside EEZ. 

  19. OCEANOPOLIS 10:18 pm

    The way I look @ it is in terms of "where" and "why" first and then "how". Engineering is function to location and purpose.

     If we stand by the incrementalist approach to seasteading (and one shud), than a small (up to 100′-150′ LOA) coastalstead or baystead shud be the first choice. Therefore the "where" is clear: inside the EEZ of a nation. The "why" could be various things, but it is fair to say that would lean towards small business/seasteading lab option. If this is the case and since anchoring and mooring are heavy regulated inside the EEZ of ANY nation, than the floating, highly mobile design would be the best choice for "how". So, to me, everything point towards the shipsteading option.

    But, I have been proven wrong before :-).

    Octavian

  20. sda1950 1:20 am

    "while a 50′x13′ (typical monohull) will heel 20*-30* in the same wind or the same seastate"

    Have there been any experiments to determine if a spar across the width of a monohull and then heave plates dropped from the ends of the spar will stabilize the monohull.  Obviously, you will be drifting with the flow in seastead mode and not trying to get anywhere in this configuration.  This might make boats a more attractive option.

     

  21. OCEANOPOLIS 6:09 am

    Its a bit unclear to me what you are trying to say,…Is this spar horizontal,…mounted athwartship (perpendicular to the fore and aft centerline of a ship)? Or vertical going thru the deck and extending bellow the keel? Are the heave plates actind like leeboards? (a leeboard is a lifting foil used by a sailboat, much like a centerboard, but located on the leeward side of the boat. The leeward side is used so that the leeboard isn’t lifted from the water when the boat heels, or leans under the force of the wind.)

  22. sda1950 12:38 am

    Sorry, I should have been more clear.  If the problem with ships and monohulls in particular is the rolling action, a spar placed parallel to the water surface and at right angles to the centerline, then heave plates attached to the spar ends on the port and starboard sides should stabilize the boat.  Of course, you may have to mount springs on the heave plates to keep from cutting the boat in two.  Alternatively, an outrigger with heave plates may be a better option.

  23. OCEANOPOLIS 1:20 am

    Got u. Yes an outrigger sounds better. But "motionless" @ sea its a myth. No matter what mankind will design (floating, not submerged) will roll & pitch. The long swells will get even huge tankers on rollercoaster rides,…The spar platforms (anchored or not) will still bob up and down no matter what. Resistance is futile :-)

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