Houseboats + Mutation = Seastead?
March 13, 2009 at 3:46 pm #841
Hi. I know the whole idea is to make permanent, not-so-mobile settlements on the deep sea, not a boat. I also know I have little experience in these matters, so if the idea’s already been thought up and shot down, sorry. That being said, it occurs to me that houseboats may be a good place to start. They’re already designed for single-family living, and just need to be made self-sustainable. If modified for more area, stability, farming, modularity, etc., they could provide a viable “Bay-Stead” situation. They might also serve for Ephemerisle platforms. Supposedly, there are already houseboat communities near Sausalito, CA, and Seattle, WA. Hence, there should be less legal issues- this would be an extension of something the governments already know how to deal with. Also, a good proof-of-concept might be to cross an ocean in one of these (would also get good press). Any thoughts? Thanks, I hope this helps.March 13, 2009 at 10:03 pm #5181
The issues come with surviving the waves, and a typical house boat would be ill prepared for a thity foot swell, something that is not too uncommon in the deep blue, not to mention the rogue waves that can be double that height, or more.
Large, mobile wave breaks would make house boats more possible, but that can be true of anything inside them… a simple dingy, even.
The biggest issue with permanently colonizing the oceans will be with surviving their turbulance, and house boats won’t cut it alone… they will need some serious help.March 14, 2009 at 3:53 pm #5184
So, stability’s a major issue. Thanks. I imagine any wave-handling modifications to a houseboat would make it less mobile and probably too big/expensive for a single family. I like your “large, mobile wave breaks” idea, but it comes with a few problems, too: finances, control of the external barrier, how to get from a port to the barrier, etc. Still, a wave-barrier ring would solve the problem of border definition, and make travel from pod to pod possible via small boat or even swimming, making connectivity less of an issue.
It’s also occured to me: I’ve heard somewhere that storms and waves aren’t as big a deal under the sea. Perhaps a watercraft could be modified to temporarily (say, a few hours) submerge and “duck” under any waves. Of course, the retractable cover would be a bit cumbersome to deal with, and may provide decent wave protection on its own. Again: I’m no expert in this area, and most of my ideas end up as a re-hash of something Wile E. Coyote thought up. Still, I hope I can help.
Again, thank you for your time and thought in this matter.March 15, 2009 at 3:50 am #5187
The problem with houseboats is that they mostly just take a normal house and build it on a normal boat frame. It’s an oversimplification, of course, but most are only suitable for calm waters. The waves on a lake or in a sheltered bay are nothing compared to the open ocean. Simply adding things or changing the sizes of various pieces probably won’t go far enough to make it safe and stable in extreme conditions.
So, mutation of the houseboat into a seastead (in the evolutionary sense) might not exactly work out the way you imagine it might. There are a few design ideas out there that might end up with something similar to the intended result.
Really, a houseboat has a lot of the same compromises we’re looking at for this project. Someone liked the idea of living on the water but didn’t want the cramped spaces. They wanted size and stability over speed and manueverablity. However, with the conditions so drastic, we’ll probably get better results if we start from the ground up and taking all forces and conditions into account. In the end, the interior of a single family seastead might be very much like a houseboat… but it won’t likely be quite as simple a design as a house boat.
As for a retractable cover or ducking under the waves… neither would be too easy. To go deep enough not to be bothered by the waves, the whole thing would have to be just as strong and air-tight as any submarine. Not to say it isn’t a good idea, though. I think some people are considering ways to do just that, though I haven’t yet seen fully developed ideas on that one yet.
The cover approach would probably require something somewhat taller (maybe up to twice as high) and wider than the craft it’s protecting and it would have to be strong enough to withstand litterally tons of water coming down on it. Even so, the design I’m picturing wouldn’t be able to completely prevent waves from getting in, you’d just have to hope that it dampens them enough by chopping them off at the knees, as it were.
It’s difficult to predict how such things might work without desgning and testing them, but I imagine a cover (at least in the way I imagine it attempting to function) wouldn’t be very effective and a fully submersible structure would increase costs out of reach for most. If it was designed as permenantly submerged, coming to the surface only in calm weather and for supplies and emergencies, the design criteria might change around enough to make it cheap enough, but you’ll likely be back to cramped interior spaces and a totally different set of challenges.March 15, 2009 at 4:23 pm #5192
Thanks for the input. The main problem seems to be designing the main platform: whatever wave-proofing structure is made will probably be big enough to provide the basics for living space, too. Best of luck to anyone working on it, I’m a bit low on ideas now and have little engineering expertise to figure something out. Again, thanks.March 16, 2009 at 2:09 pm #5201
I like the idea of a submersible but how low under the water would you have to get to avoid the waves? I assume that waves still churn the water under them to a certain extent. Anyone have any general ideas on this? Or specifics for tsunamis or rogue waves?
-JasonMarch 16, 2009 at 6:49 pm #5212
surface waves extend below the surface about a distance of half the wavelength of a wave. So, it’s independant of wave height, since waves of the same height can have different wavelengths. I think waves break at a ratio of 1:7.
[Feel free to correct my math, I'm no expert.]
So for waves of 30 ft (9.15m) height, the wavelength could probably range anywhere from 60 ft. (18.3m) to 210ft. (64m). That means to have almost no motion at all, you’d have to move to a depth of at least 30ft (9.15m) to 105 ft (32m).
Now, rogue waves are thought to be 2-3 times as high as the “significant wave height”. So, when most waves are about 30 feet high, you’d have to worry about the slim chance of being hit by a 90 foot high wave.
Tsumanis, are not a big problem in the open ocean. The wavelength is so long that it affects water all the way to the bottom of the ocean, so there’s no diving beneath it. They’re also so fast that there’s not much hope of any advance warning. If anything, seasteads could potentially be part of an early warning system for the land. I don’t think a tsunami is very turbulent until it hits the shallow water near the shore and starts piling up.
You also don’t really have to go all the way below the motion of the waves, just low enough that what little motion remains doesn’t bother you. The motion at such depths would be much more of a side-to-side motion than a rocking motion like you’d experience in a ship, though, so a person’s reactions may be different than for traditional boat motions.March 16, 2009 at 7:04 pm #5215
My inital estimates for safety were between 30 and 60 feet. So, you would need to build a craft that would withstand a contant pressure of 4-6 atmospheres. Of course, having a pressurized structure would aid in that, but it would make ascents take longer, in order to prevent decompression sickness. You would still have light reaching you, and you are in prime aquatic life territory, so the views would occasionally be spectacular. This is probably the zone that many submerisble seasteads will use. 30-60 feet below the water line… or 30-60 feet above.
There is no fate but what we make for ourselves. Each to his fate.March 17, 2009 at 3:14 pm #5225
Thanks folks. 30-60 ft seems doable. I’ve been planning to submerge to a depth of 50 meters max, so it looks like I’m in the green so far. This forum has challenged me to make my seastead (homestead) modular so that they can function while combined with others.
I know the premise of TSI is to produce “city-block” sized units. Though I am glad to contribute to the effort, I am still working toward a smaller sized unit that will support approximately 20 people (ideally could be run by a small family). Though I’ve dreamed of a new society emerging from my little craft I’ve always planned for just the one. TSI has shown me that I need to plan for many as it appears that many wish to flock to the ocean.
-JasonMarch 17, 2009 at 5:39 pm #5233
I had often discounted the idea of a submersible seastead because of the great pressures even at the depths we’re talking about. However, my initial thinking was based on relating psi with tire pressure (35-45psi) rather than structural integrity. That doesn’t make much sense, since I’ve taken years of structures classes where we designed concrete and/or steel buildings to withstand typical loads of 150 or even 300 psi. Your example of 50 meters (164 ft) seems to equate to a pressure of 5.84 atmospheres or 85 psi. Since there is no snow load, wind load, etc… the only additional loads to design for would be additional forces from wave motion. When you’re already under the water, I’m not sure how much additional pressure that would even exert.
In my example above, 30 foot high waves could still potentially act to a depth of 64m so you would have to deal with up to 22% of the force of such waves. [oversimplified math, perhaps ( (64-50) / 64 = 0.21875 )] Also, 30 foot waves are by no means the highest one would experience on the open ocean. So, as long as waves don’t multiply force on the hull by much more than the pressure at a given depth, such designs don’t seem so unreasonable anymore. Designing for 300psi should be able to account for wave forces as well as an additional safety factor.
Now, most of these 300psi designs we had to solve for in school were for static buildings and the force of gravity (though sometimes wind) was the main concern. This is quite different from the pressure of the sea coming in from every direction. So, while it’s certainly realistic to assume reinforced concrete (sorry you prefer ferrocement in here?) can withstand such forces, I’m not exactly qualified to come up with realistic designs. If this company doesn’t feel like we’re competition for them, we could ask for their expertise in the matter.
Connecting to other seasteads underwater could pose some interesting problems too.March 18, 2009 at 1:16 pm #5242
Some discussion about underwater structures here.March 18, 2009 at 7:10 pm #5246
I just linked that… though the site is in a frames format, so if you were trying to link to a specific article, you’ll have to mention the name of the section because it doesn’t link too well.
For instance, if you click on “deep diver”, there are some structural comparissons and information to help estimate strengths… but keep in mind that part of the strength is based on the shape and many of the numbers are as simplistic as my ameture calculations. For example ‘double the diameter to hull thickness ratio = double strength’ may or may not be exactly true, since many such ratios in engineering (I believe) have complex graphs to show the performance of different combinations of variables.
I’m not saying he’s wrong, just that one should be careful about taking them as anything more than broad estimations of potential, much like some of the calculations I come up with. You use as much information as you can, add in some conservative safety factors and hope you didn’t miss anything major. Even so, his numbers make it seem quite feasible for such a design to work, even if we scale it up for more space.
However, one of his designs seems to be selling for $5 million and I wouldn’t consider his largest to be large enough for permanant, full time, single-family habitation. Using his volume/price calculator, though, [331euros/ton of displacement (1 cubic meter)] I come up with about $590,000US for about 4000 square feet (3 floors in a 1340 cubic meter ellipsoid). Admittedly, that’s quite large, but if all life support equipment is carried on board, such a size might be required for 5-9 people to live comfortably. This price is without equipment or amenities and is probably another broad estimate, since he hasn’t done anything nearly that large yet.March 19, 2009 at 1:59 am #5252
Sorry about that. I need to read more carefully. I found the discussion he had with a potential customer regarding maximum depths and such to be quite interesting. Taking a submarine through its sea trials seems interesting to say the least. I can´t find that page now though.April 18, 2009 at 3:00 pm #5591
I think I’ve seen the idea around here somewhere to have the platform float within a big bowl in the middle of the ocean. The bowl could be tossed about all day long, and anything floating inside will do fine. As an added bonus, you can use the water as your fresh water supply, saving space. Of course, if you do this you’d need some sort of cover to keep the water clean (from rain, birds, etc.), but that can be done. It’ll be more like floating on a giant water balloon than in a soup bowl, but should be doable. I’d need to experiment some to know for sure; thought I’d mention it here. Thanks.November 28, 2010 at 4:20 am #11970
I think I’ve seen the idea around here somewhere to have the platform float within a big bowl in the middle of the ocean. The bowl could be tossed about all day long, and anything floating inside will do fine. As an added bonus, you can use the water as your fresh water supply, saving space. Of course, if you do this you’d need some sort of cover to keep the water clean (from rain, birds, etc.), but that can be done. It’ll be more like floating on a giant water balloon than in a soup bowl, but should be doable. I’d need to experiment some to know for sure; thought I’d mention it here. Thanks.
Yes, that’s an amazing idea.
I haven’t thought of making the bowl itself a source of boyancy,
well in order to make it possible we’d neeed a water-lock to allow boats entry,
though perhaps it would just be a private interior kinda thing,
and ports would be on the exterior, basically doors outwards,
though actually I’m not sure how buildable that is,
perhaps if we flipped it, and build walls from modules,
then like an upside-down limpet seashell,
we could pump air in, that way raising ourselves,
so we’d look like a mountain rising from the ocean.
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