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Big things have small beginnings – transition capability key feature

Home Forums Research Engineering Big things have small beginnings – transition capability key feature

This topic contains 31 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by Profile photo of OCEANOPOLIS OCEANOPOLIS 1 year, 5 months ago.

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    Summing up earlier discussion across the forums we have seen that a seastead will start small and grow to City size over time.
    We also have clear now why the transition from baystead to open sea stead should be in the 400-800m range when the build exceed ship size signifficantly. The question that is up now is the TRANSITION question how do we get from a pod size to city size in a continous process and this brings us back to the question of MODULAR and how we define modular – although rafting up modules is a feasible way for a baystead – there are better ways to ensure “continuous growth” of a floating venture. Among those is “ongoing slip forming”, “dot printing”, and similar methods have been mentioned.
    (Check more on how “modular can be defined better as “continuous growth capability” on the “matrix printing thread”)
    The best way to ensure transition from small to big is to do something that “projects into the future” and makes investors want to be part of the project, instead of doing something “goofy” – the best example is Richi Sowas bottle island – it does not grow any longer because it is clear that there are strikt LIMITS what it “can become in a future” so in a sense its existance is rendered “useless” by the fact that it can NOT make a transition to a floating city, and i can not attract investment either, it just sits there as a “curiosity”. Therefore the capability of performing the TRANSITION from small to big, from baystead to “open seas stead”, should be seen as the key to the project of “building a seastead”. If you raft up bottles or houseboats you will NEVER make a successful transition to a floating city in open ocean and possible investors who have a basic knowledge of marine affairs can see that inmediatly. Nobody will invest into a “no future venture”. Therefore it is key to make the first small piece so strong and so credible already, that the claim “what you see here is the first step to colonize the oceans” will provoke “investor interest” – not a “laugh storm”. It is also key to put a working business and finance model on that piece as early as possible because like in a organism, growth can only take place if it is supported by a “strong beating heart” that can bear with the load of sustained growth. All this makes the “credibility to investors” the key feature to power the transition. So forget “bolting a couple of standard pontoons together” “use industrial barges” and that kind of “obvious solutions” that have “cero projection into a future” right away. You can even have a “ocean crossing floating platform” (like the floating neutrinos) and still be miles away from the goal to make a “credible and sucessful transition” to a floating city “VENICE style” where developers and investors would want to be a part of it. So again what sets a seastead apart from a “vessel” a “barge” or a “industrial pontoon raft up” is a strong beating scalable economic heart, that develops on board and opens the door to a brigh oceanic future attracting investment. Khalifa and Palm Dubai show the way how you get “marine infrastructure investment” and “real estate investment” on board. If you fail to build something that wakes up investor interest – seasteading will not happen. When building a seastead you need to avoid to build the “seed of stagnation” into the very concept. So build something that supports your claims (oceanic future starts here) make it DIFFERENT to anything that investors have seen before, but make it sufficient familiar in technology that it will not be percieved as “outlandish” either. CREDIBILITY is the key. The best way (i can think of in the moment) to get all those factors into a “reasonable equilibrium” and start very small right away – is the Ramform seastead built in concrete honeycomb and shell technology.
    Read more about the Ramfrom:
    See floating oceanic concret shell and honeycomb structures:
    See honeycomb shell structures:
    See Richi Sowas bottle island:
    Read more about how Venice is a historic model for seasteading:
    Read more why going oceanic is the next big thing to go:

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    So you are saying seasteading needs a startup business plan like Airbus, but at ten times the price? And no government involvement?


    Kat, i would say to start you need to get your “process for building investment worthy floating items” right – so if your starting point is “experimenting with a few sacks of cement” i would recommend to try to build something along the lines of the “concrete canoe competition” (google it up). Then i would build it up to a size of a boat with a crawl in cabin, (on a few hundred bug base) keeping the stern part a ongoing building site. Your local dentist (who can take the role of a startup investor) will see that you do something “extraordinary” here, and he will also see that this thing can grow to a basicly unlimited size. If he is a “boating fan” he will also see and inmediatly understand that such a structure can (once grown to a reasonable size) travel worldwide.
    So if he has 10.000 extra he migth incline to give you that money (as angel investor) to keep you going and see what you are capable of. Next step would be that you do “someting spectacular” with that money and then ask for more. The rationale for this second step would be that some kind of business can take place on that (now 20m size) structure that will bring in a return on investment. IF (and only if) you can show that the whole thing works as a business and can keep growing as a business you have then what i would consider a “seasteading project in the saddle” … once you have a seasteading project in the saddle it can grow to city size. Anything that you build smaller should be considered a pilot or a test project. Richi sowa, the floating neutrinos, the uru, the moken, etc.. all have projects of that size – but they never made it to “pull in serious investor interest” – so this step “to pull in investor interest” is the real deal maker or dealbreaker. Anything that will not pull in investor interest is just not worth doing because it will lead nowhere. Building a seastead is a “real estate development project” in its basic nature just as Khalifa port and Palm Dubai.
    The key features of the project are “get ongoing business to keep it growing” and “get and maintain investor interest” so your key thought should be how do i integrate “surprising engineering” and “smart business development” to something “investment worthy”. The size of the venture does not really matter. Your local dentist and a multi million investor will ask the same kind of questions: Why should i put my money into that and not into something else.
    If you are promoter of an “old houseboat raft” a “sinking industrial barge” or a “plastic bottle dump island” you will have a hard time to argument that “this is the oceanic future of business” and you better be part of it right now or you loose it. Neither richi sowa nor the neutrionos nor the uru nor the moken nor kelongs, nor ephemerisle could sell their “floating solutions” to investors of any kind – so make sure YOU can or you drift to “no future” inmediatly there is a intrinsic need to do it DIFFERENT to get investor support.

    Profile photo of OCEANOPOLIS


    As a general rule, everything is easier said than done.

    Now, I don’t think that Richie Sowa was ever interested in “seasteading” as we define it now…When he was goofing around building a floating island out of trashed plastic bottles there was no “seasteading”,…The man is an artist, a hippie, an environmentalist, a dreamer, dude :) He doesn’t give a shit about “credibility” or “investors confidence” or ROI,…but it looks to me that his “business model” is working.

    “Come aboard! 50 pesos donation and I literally pull the island to you and you get a tour.”

    Listen, while everybody else was just talking, he rebuilt his Spiral Island after the first one was trashed by hurricane Emily in 2005. We have jack shit. So, who’s goofing around?

    This video tells it all. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GnLhWpy_nqI

    And my questions to all of you here @ TSI is: Why wasn’t (or isn’t) he the poster child of the seasteading movement? Or, he wasn’t the “type”,..didn’t fit the “profile” of the Silicon Valley expectations,…just a “weirdo”, and the need was mostly the “eccentric” type? How about a “Summer of Love & Seasteading” Event, bring Richie down there to show us how it’s done and have him start a “Spiral Island” in SF Bay. A little media coverage, some corporate sponsors and bam!, you’ll raise $5 Mil. Well,…I know, a bit ’70ish and crazy…like a kid starting a software company in his garage :)

    Now, maybe for some, “houseboat seasteading” is trash, “Sowa type”, ghetto, slum like seasteading, undesirable compared to the grand vision of the future corporate financed seasteading ventures. But the fact of the matter is that a 10 houseboats raft up, when rented out to the “lower class”, working, regular 99 % “type” of people, will produce a $8000.00/month working capital. How is that for a TRANSITION? What is “our” working capital right now? ZERO. And talking about the investor with some knowledge of marine business, he will ask you straight up why your 70′ “seasteading module” is a ramform design built from scratch for a bay with a depth of 30′ of water and 7′ waves and it costs $700,000.00 when some guy down the road has that 70′ Man Made Key for $85,000.00 and will make the same money as yours.

    I always said that there is a big difference between the “business of seasteading” and “seasteading as a business”. You talk mostly about seasteading as a business. I tend to talk mostly about the business of seasteading. That’s where we have our differences.

    I want to know firsthand how the workers on that seastead will be treated, what their rights are, will they have representation, healthcare, 8 hrs workday, 40 hours work week, overtime, healthcare, maternity paid leave, pension, etc,…and then we can talk about seasteading as a business.

    Or, is it that since we’ll be 1000 nm offshore under no jurisdiction, we’ll get some Haitians, Mexicans and Guatemalans, pay them $1/hr, work them 16 hrs days, and treat them like dirt, because it helps our bottom line and will improve shareholder value.

    From what you are saying it sounds like “business as usual” on your seasteading proposition. And I am not quite inclined to go seasteading that way…I need to see a difference, a political and socioeconomic leap forward, PROGRESS.
    Otherwise, it’s just another business.

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    Ocean said:

    But the fact of the matter is that a 10 houseboats raft up, when rented out to the “lower class”, working, regular 99 % “type” of people, will produce a $8000.00/month working capital.

    But the problem is, if you buy a barge and put shipping containers on it just like Google did last year, near shore, or between the islands, and rent them out as “low income housing”, the people on land will eventually make it illegal. And i fear the cost of keeping it up will swamp the rent paid for the shipping containers. Plus you still need the water taxi to get them to shore, so they have work, to pay you rent. Unless you virtualise their work presence via internet, but that smells like Blue Seed. While i like your approach of one key per family unit, once there is a cluster of them, eyebrows will be raised, people will yell “pollution”, and the whole scheme will be made illegal.
    On the other paw, if you put a barge full of containers/apartments outside territorial waters, and have enough all-weather taxi to get the tenants to shore and back every day, and can still make money, maybe you actually have something. Of course, then you’ll need an actual licensed captain on board, and other gotchas. Every darned little thing adds costs.
    I suspect the approach Ocean is taking is the best of grassroots approaches to building floating neighborhoods, but it has happened before, in California, Washington, etc., and many got made illegal after they were formed. Maybe there is something to be learned from how floating casinos have various legal loopholes?

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    Ellmer said

    Kat, i would say to start you need to get your “process for building investment worthy floating items” right – so if your starting point is “experimenting with a few sacks of cement” i would recommend to try to build something along the lines of the “concrete canoe competition” (google it up).

    You keep surprising me with how ignorant you think i am, Ellmer. I knew of cement canoes in the 1970’s, they were first made as a business item 100 years ago. That the usa colleges made a contest of them is only something bored college students do. They are terribly impractical, being too heavy and easily cracked when transported out of the water, or bumped against in the water. And retrofitting to them is next to impossible, like adding another set of oarlocks, forget it. A few years ago i made amas for a normal fiberglass canoe, i used 4inch pvc pipe, they made the canoe so stable you could stand on the edge of the canoe even while kids on Skidoos made as much waves as they could nearby it.
    My point of making small cement floaties is that almost anyone of low means can accomplish it. You do not need to make one 20×20 floatie to have a 20×20 floating platform. The small floatie can be more durable, easier to move about during construction, needs less space for construction, has less “wet area” for keeping a pour going, and if you have 50 small floaties under your 20×20 deck and 10 of them are cracked you still will not sink.
    But there still must be a good way to attach multiple moving cement floats to a structure that is also moving and flexing in the waves. You cannot just pile them up under a deck like 2L bottles under Spiral Island, they will bump each other and break in a storm.

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    OK, it will be only $6k, or $20k, or $1k. YES, you have grease a lot of palms, CG, City Hall, State, EPA, Federal, etc, they all want a bucket of your sweat. Nothing new. It was just an example of how a relatively low investments with conventional, proven “means” of seasteading can generate revenue so something bigger can be eventually build.

    And let me clarify few things. I am not criticizing ellmer’s ideas. I just disagree with few minor topics. Overall, ellmer is right on the money with most of it, since he was talking about the BIG picture. The WHOLE process of seasteading, from the first module (location, size, shape, price, etc), construction, funding, the transition stage, all the way up into the future aspects of operation, maintenance, supply, etc. of the offshore seastead, everything has to be planned solidly. And than there is execution. You can have the most brilliant and polished business plan on the whole block, but if your execution sucks you’re done and gone.

    Finding investors, I mean @ the level of $ tenth millions will also be one of the hardest tasks. Yes, I am convinced that seasteading will be VERY profitable and I can prove it, black on white. But that doesn’t mean that right away, some big time hot shots will rush to sell their bonds, stocks, ETFs, etc portfolios or empty their Swiss or Cayman Bank accounts and flock to Seastead LLC with their cash, “here, pleeeeease take it and tomorrow I will bring more”.

    If it would have been that easy it would have happened by now.

    The present perception about seasteading is “It’s never been done, therefore is very high risk”. That perception has to be chanced and that’s a catch 22. Somebody has to built one and prove all the non believers wrong.

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    Ocean, ok, if there is a supply of $billions, Ellmer is right. But what about this year, you or me or Ellmer or Ken goes out in their private little seastead and gets run over by a hurricane and survives, nothing is damaged, lights are still on, we don’t get seasick,,,, then what? Surely that’s a huge turning point, because the greatest risk for a investor, i think, is the seastead makes an unplanned trip to the bottom and gets dented there. The second point would be the initial cost per sq ft of deck space, because without enough deck space someone hasto be swimming. The third point is ongoing upkeep and operations. I am still stuck on the physical vessel being safe and habitable in all conditions, and not ever needing to issue a mayday for assistance. Because if i open as small a place as a restroom and resturant, i can see a lot of times when the usgc would show up after the guests have become fish food.

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    To me there is no such a thing as “private seastead”…If it’s private, it’s your sailboat, or your yachts or your private floating island and you live aboard there. Even the idea of a big floating island run as a business owned by few wealthy individuals it’s not seasteading. Just bigger, still private nothing else. As I said, where is the difference, the progress?

    That’s why I have been thinking of going as a non profit, because if a small floating structure is built as such, than it will be owned by the members of that organization. They all get to enjoy it, they all get to participate in paying for operation and maintenance, they will all be able to cast a vote for “what’s next”. In many terms, it will “mimic” a “micro society” sharing that floating platform as it’s “territory”.

    It’s a lab and we are all lab rats :)

    Anyway, to answer your question, what if such seastead gets run over by a hurricane and survives and whats next? Well, assuming this is something around 100′ LOA, it means that whoever build it did a hell of a job, whoever captained it should be fired ASAP and we are all exceptionally lucky to still be in one piece. That seastead should have been 300 nm away from that storm dug in a “hurricane hole” somewhere. What’s next? I guess you live and learn :)

    If the seastead goes down, it is what it is and you better have insurance. If you don’t, you lost everything. In the best case scenario, if sank in shallow waters, you might be able to salvage and re float the hull but the rest (engine, generators, electronics, electrical systems) are gone since they’ve been submerge in salt water. Scrap metal. In 90% of the cases the cost of the salvage operation it’s not worth it, unless you have the equipment.

    In US no matter if you are for or not for profit you WILL have to deal with the CG in one way or another. No way around it. Well,.. unless you are private. If me and 5 or 10 or 20 people build a seastead and we register it as a pleasure vessel we will all have fractional ownership (sort of like a timeshare). Then we can use it (for pleasure only) as we want, when we want, without the need to be inspected or certified by the CG. The moment we hit the high seas, we can do whatever (almost) we want aboard. But now we are back to square 1 since we are private. Are we seasteading? If we all decide to make that difference, I guess we could be a private seastead. We make our rules, who can come aboard, how long can they stay, how much they pay, how much fish do we fish, who will sell it to, for how much, and the rest of whatever we want to do, I guess.

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    Hmm, i guess i have been using the definition of “homestead” to apply to the sea. A homestead is/was a private family dwelling and usually a farm. For tax reasons my place falls under homestead law.


    Kat, what you say about the concrete canoes sounds exactly like somebody who has not got his “building process right yet”. There is not really a “ongoing discussion” about the theme. You can build anything you want based on cement composite materials, you can make it as “light and non cracking” you want. You just need to get the process of combining the three base components cement, fibers, and fillers correctly. The whole idea of the concrete canoe competition is to SHOWCASE that you can – and althogh there are many (first semesters) failing in the intent – there are also many succeeding in the intent and that is the reason why i pointed to that event in first place
    concrete canoe
    One of the intitial tests is to fill the canoe with water and it must STILL float – so the material itself must be lighter than water – the point is IF you succeded in building a shell that feels and behaves like a glasfiber shell but is made of “much cheaper” concrete you already got something that looks “investment worthy” to many people. So the minimum starting point is to make a “surprising shell” or a “surprising honeycomb structure” that arises investor interest. Step one could be to take hundred of your own bucks and build a shell that gives you enough credibility to get 5000 of investor bucks to the project – that would already be a first heartbeat of a working economic heart.

    Ocean, i am glad that richi sowa is having a good life sitting there and collecting cents for beeing visited as a curiosity but i am quite sure that the model will not make any transition to a floating powerful sea city.

    If you check the history the point where VENICE turned from a “fishing outpost in the swamps” to a powerful marine gateway was, when it started to engage international trade routes. This is what happens in Khalifa port. So i see their model closer to make a transition than richi’s model. We might see in the next five years that phase 2 of Khalifa is expanding a floating wharf.
    khalifa port
    floating wharf in construction
    floating wharf
    In fact the initial size and make of the startup does not matter Kalifa started with “piling up a bucket load of sand” and maintained the transition ever since, what matters is the “strong beating economic heart of the venture” its capability to make a transition its credibility as a business venture.
    Complementing the port functions of Khalifa this floating ship repair facility would be a great aditional feature.

    Once you have port functions and ship repair facilities working as “economic cluster” you certainly have someting that is “evolving towards a seastead”. But it would still be a baystead – as it can not deal with ocean waves.
    Like in Venice the economic heart of this cluster is built around the “interaction with ships”.
    Venice had 36,000 sailors operating 3,300 ships, dominating Mediterranean commerce…
    The point here is what is a economic credible venture will not be decided by “fierce discussion on forums” it will be decided by actual money streams flowing (or not) to project proposals. If your idea is good and credible money will flow to it count on that. If you see no investors checking in – go back to square one improve your basic proposal.
    It is by no means my idea to belittle any project – but it is my firm believe that if a project does not go forward it is because it is still struggling with basic flaws like credibility issues. So one of the basic project parameters is doing a serious questioning about “where are my current credibility issues” where can i improve, and do it.
    Khalifa right now has the obvious issue that it is based on dumping sand into the ocean. It is obvious to a 5 year old kid that its capability of expansion is LIMITED by the waterdepth. So their task is to come up with industrial floating wharf structures – not so difficult – there are floating wharfs in service already. So their project is free of credibility issues and roadblocks – this is what a investor wants to hear.

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    The picture you give of the canoe shows the entire top edge where the rowers would touch is covered in plastic foam pipe insulation tube, and that is taped in place. You know why? Because the oars hitting it when they row, over and over, gradually chips tiny bits of cement off, and it all adds up. This is the usa, if anyone could sell a cement canoe because it is cheaper to make than any other construction, they would be selling them, but no one is making them, no one is selling them. There is no credibility for them.


    concrete shell
    The point here is to understand completly “what is out there already” and be aware that it is not enough to do something similar or “as good”. To be competitive we must do something BETTER. So as sandbank building is “great business right now” floating structures are clearly better – but only IF – they last as long as the sandbank can be built at the same cost, and can host the same kind of business venture, at a better real estate squaremeter price…
    Kelong It is clear that the asian houseboat raft up and improvised floating device approach has not lead to powerfull floating cities in 2000 years – so my best guess is that we need to do something to overcome the LIMITATIONS – what comes to mind is floating honeycomb and shell structures that go BEYOND fragile floating device raft ups…i can not see the point to basicly repeat a model that has been failing to make the transition from “living on the margin” to a “powerful sea city” for 2000 years … richi sowa, the floating neutrinos, are just repeating this “little succesful model”. Again TRANSITION CAPABILITY is the key. Not “floating out something”. You need to plug the floating venture into the main grid of marine trade, real estate, tourism, and politial power, Khalifa, Palm Dubai have this cristal clear. Do we? or are we just “goofing around” and pipedreaming here?

    It matters little where you stand if you have 100 bugs to spend or 100 million bugs – what matters is that in ANY CASE you need to do something that goes BEYOND what is here already and make investors rise the eybrows. What investors want most is the “capacity to be something big in a near future”.

    Concrete has clearly emerged as the most economical and durable material for the building of the vast majority of marine structures. Reinforced concrete too has overcome the technological problems making it a suitable material for the construction of advanced marine structures such as offshore drilling platforms, superspan bridges and undersea tunnels. As the world becomes increasingly ocean-oriented for energy and other resources it is predicted that construction activities during the 21st century will be dominated by concrete sea structures. The performance of concrete in the marine environment is presented here in a logical manner giving state-of-the-art reviews of the nature of the marine environment, the composition and properties of concrete, history of concrete performance in seawater, major causes of deterioration of concrete in the marine environment, selection of materials and mix proportioning for durable concrete, recommended concrete practice and repair of deteriorated marine structures. It is of value to any design or construction engineer responsible for marine structures.
    Concrete in the Marine Environment (Modern Concrete Technology) http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1851666222/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=concretesubma-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=1851666222
    concrete shell island

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    The Tanka floating village, and others all over the world like that, show a need that no one is going to invest in. Sad. The big budget concrete that people are investing in is because they are about delivering something they know humans will pay any amount of money to get (oil, i-phones, wide tvs, etc). The futuristic drawings look like someone did hallucinogenic drugs to get wierd ideas.
    I am not putting down the use of cement or concrete, in the places they are best suited for. I am going to try making cement floats to hold up steel structure this year. Later perhaps i can wrap the steel in cement like Ocean is wrapping his wood structures.


    Kat, investment is not a charity thing, investment is betting your hard earned money on how the future will envolve. So if nobody invests into something – this is not “Sad” at all, it is just that nobody believes that there is ANY future in doing this. So if you find no investor banging on your door asking to “opt in” the first thing you should do is, not to fall into “weltschmerz” but allow yourself the basic thought: if nobody else believes in that concept maybe THEY are right and i am not ready for transition yet. What can i do to improve. The reasons why nobody bases real estate development on marine steel structures is as simple that steel rotts away and there is no way to have a maintenance shedule similar to a ship on a city. So the experiment you are proposing is not leading anywhere and lacks transition capability – therefore i am not surprised that no investor is banging on your door to “opt in” on that “interesting project” the same thing with sheeting rotten wood boats with fiber cement to give them a “second life”. Even if those experiments have success (and i would think they have a potential to succeed) they still do not stand up as “technology that leads to ocean colonization”. I really hope you find a group of people that think different and will pump money into that – but if you can not, the reasonable thing would be to look up from your plate and check what is “around” what is “far better underway with investors” and try to learn how THEY do it. One shining example is TSI they do not “goof around” they got more investor money to the process of “communicating an idea” than many of the floating projects mentioned here have got to their “real world building projects” what this says to me is, that if you do not have investors to build something that is big enough, and eyebrow rising enough, to be sold to the press as “oceanic future of mankind” do not build anything or you just hurt yourself to make yourself a name as “goofer”. Do not mention Richi Sowa as “cutting edge of floating technology” do not point to the Tanka as “how to do it model”.
    Do not complain about investors “not understanding” they have any right to put their money in things THEY believe in.
    Just make them believe in your stuff. This is your task as promotor and developer. If they do not bang on your door and ask for opt in – admit that you are not ready, do something different, do something better. Seasteading will not happen withouth making people believe in it, it will not happen without making people invest in it, it will not happen without a strong beating economic heart, it will not happen without transition capability.

    What sets VENICE apart from the Tanka and Moken is, that being a fishermen outpost in the swamps “they got their building process right”, by puting pile foudations into the swamp that could hold a several story buildings with that simple improvement rich merchants owning ships started to move in – TRANSITION to a seapower started. They could have stayed there for a millenium more as fishing outpost (like the Tanka) but they plugged into “rich mens trade” that made the difference.

    What i learn from that historical lession is focus less on “floatygoofing” and focus more on “plug into rich mens trade” – you need to SOLVE what a rich investor needs – that is the key to get wind beneath your wings.
    Read more about why oceanic business is the next big thing to come.

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