Seasteading start up budget.
August 14, 2010 at 2:48 am #11121
Hello Pastor, good to hear from you again…if i recall it right there was a plan to buy a piece of land in belize a create a community of people who would live on the beach and build their own personal seasteads to raft them up to a big community…and then when i seriously considered to move my business there – all disappeard…i have no idea why – but i have my therories…
I for my part decided to cook smaller cookies until some of that will condesates to something real and build small platforms and floating concrete shell structures where i live, sell them to local industry which has shown great interest.
My baseline is i don’t build a floating dog hut if i don`t have a budget for it. My impression is the discussion about seasteads is a “budget free space where only wild phantasy is the limit” but this is not real life in real life you can not even take a bus if you don’t have a budget to do so, and in real world you can not build what you can imagine you can only build what you can sell.
This is the reason why we had to shrink the base module size from “city block size” to barrel size was to make it doable for the budgets that are available. Even so there are just a handful of floating neutrinos and richard sowas – although it is not really a budget issue to start it it is a issue to maintain a life like that – people have real jobs to make a living – they can not move to belize and build a floating platform, building up a aquaculture business – their personal account would mark cero long before they could be mounted in belize.
ocean, i also see little chance that a group of people will throw their personal money into a big pot to build something. Who would build a house with 10 other families – i would not. Either we find a way to set private property apart (like on land) or we will not make it going. If we can not do it as a marina development where you can participate with your boat, float, house, or platform, – i just don’t see it happen.
It was mentioned by mellvar that the idea of raft up was dropped due to elcos comments on horizontal forces on platforms rafted together http://www.seasteading.org/blogs/engineering/2010/01/08/engineering-talk
I agree with elco that in “worst case” the horizontal forces can be as high as platform weight – this worst case would be a comet impact a 500m wave and platforms surfing down the wave in a 90 degree angle (or somewhat similar). To move forward we should keep in mind that seagoing structures of all kind already have a device that neutralizes horizontal forces we call it ANCHOR – happens that real world anchors are NOT designed to hold forces not even NEAR the structure weight. So it looks to me that it is within “acceptable engineering” to design the distance holders between rafted platforms for a similar flexiblility as a tensioned anchor chain and a similar strength as a normal anchor rig. Such a distance holder structure should do a perfect job for dealing with the horizontal forces as real world anchors do.
If we would do do a minimum of real world model testing before postulating “force monsters – we would not have dismissed the only realistic possibility of rafting up small structures to a organic growing seasteading field.August 14, 2010 at 6:13 am #11123
Between seasteading and tourism(youth hostel network), I think that this whole island plan sounds very viable.
To put it in terms of a real estate transaction: I’m sure a business owner could get a business loan/mortgage to buy a house in Louisiana, and rent it out to tenants/open a youth hostel. He could make the down payment using the first/last months rent from the initial tenants, and use whatever profit was left over from their rental fees in order to build a cash cushion for vacancies.
I mean: people were overleveraging themselves 12 mortgages deep during the bubble essentially playing this exact game: and they were getting free equity playing middle man between the renters and the banks. Making bookoo profit for the service of anchoring themselves to one location, providing housing liquidity to renters, and middle man-ing their credit rating/access to capital.
I mean make no mistake: the place is going to be like a bar: a small group of close knit regulars, and a lot of drifters, but that business is well established: it’s called a youth hostel.
I mean if these prices are out of our league: there’s some cheap ass property in tsunami zones out there, and ultimately, worst case:WHAT A PROVING GROUND! That real estate is cheap because nobody wants to engineer around tsunamis. Since we’re already doing that: we might as well enjoy the low prices that come with them.
Ultimately: I think Belize is better, but once we get the seastead thing down: tsunami zones seem attractive as both franchise locations/potential sales targets. The people who live in these locations would love to have a bomb shelter boat to fuck off to in case the tide goes out.August 14, 2010 at 6:50 am #11122
Hello PJ! Long time no “see”. I thought you already left for Belize,…:-)
Will, regarding SOBIZ now. Yes, the plan was there… The property I was looking @ was Alligator Caye ( Key), an island located few hundred yards from the reef. It is still for sale and the price was droped another $20k to $150k. Just search “Alligator Caye” and you’ll find a link. The stupd spam filter wont let me post the link. (just another perfect example how freedom is lost for the sake of “security”).
Back then, I called the agency in Belize and talk to the owner, a very nice lady, a gringa. I did explain to her what we were up to and she was very helpfull, even offer to help with the project, in terms of opening some door with the local government. (she was very connected). She assigned one of her salesman to assist with the purchase. The guy send me a bunch of photos with the island. After studing the photos I realized that a big chunck of that 10 acres needed to be filled, since was mostly mangroves close to the water level. (“filling” its a proceduer where they use big pumps to suck sand from the nearby bottom and fill the space between mangove roots to elevate the island and “create” more land). But the lagoon side area was ok, it has a nice beach and wooded area further down inland. Also it is perfectly set up as a natural harbor. Considering the fact that filling would have been costly, I called back the agent and ask if they will sell a subdivision of about 2-3 acres, alongside the lagoon. They said yes. It was my impression that the owner was desperate to get some cash out of it ( even more now!).
Keep in mind that the rest of the island, maybe another 40 acres , is uninhabited. So basicaly ours to explore and use (but not to build)
From what my agent was signaling me, I am sure we could have gotten those 2-3 acres lagoon side for about $40-50k. (and we still can, maybe for less-or just rent it). My plan for the property was twofold. First, to develop it as a “eco-snorkling-diving-hang out in the sun” cheap “resort”. The plan was to clean the beach and have tents around, a small cantina-tikibar and a dock. Rent the tents, some kayaks, maybe a small sailboat and a power boat to take the people to the reef and fishing. My customers would have been American middle class, mostly young college kids who dont have to much money.
Where can a couple go for a nice 5 day vacation all included for about $1000 on a private island by the reef? (flight included if you live on the eastearn seaboard). Only on Alligator Key, for sure. This would have brought some cash in. Concomitently, and while the cash was rolling in I wanted to build a small facility were we could have start building the seasteading “modules” we are talking about now. They would have been anchored rafted up around the island to start with and rented to the customers for the time being (more revenue). In time when we would have had enough of these modules we would form a big seastead and go sailing around the Caraibbean for fun and also to promote the idea.. The business on the island would have been already established by then and would have brought in enough money to support our seasteading lifestyle. That was the plan. I did run some of these ideas by PJ, but I think it was a bad timing, since he was becoming a father and then we lost touch and since I didnt have enough cash for all of this, …nothing happened.
In terms of pulling the money for the project, that wasn’t intended to be spend on building a big dorm, lol. The “partnership financing” would be the method to access the capital, fast and efficient, given the fact that all partners will agree to the terms of the project. It would eliminate paying interest and if the partners agree to be working partners the better. Payroll can be a big expense cutting into your net profit. Plus, the employes are strangers to the business. Most of them they dont give a rat’s ass. A working owner will perform more efficiently because he’s working for himself.
In terms of separation of private property, I think it can be achieved. For example, lets assume that we decide to build only SFS to be rafted up (tiled up) as a big floating island. It is fair to assume that regardless of the shape of these SFS they will be “houseboat like”, individually owned. But NOT all of them. Some, will be just the float to provide for public space, a park , a square, etc. Some will have businesses on them. I think that connecting those various modules in an ergonomic ocean-urbanistic (is that a word?) way, can achieve decent separation of property and also good privacy. After all, If one lives in a building he will have 4 neighbours. up, down , left and right. On a seastead, more likely to have just 2.August 14, 2010 at 7:23 am #11126
A family of four decides to move out to the sea. They have money to buy already built seastead, of a decent quality with all the necessities.
all components required to replicate the tribe,
including garden and laboratory equipment.
The plans for replicating is the DNA.
They also have stable, recurring income in “the real world”.
Real means intersection,
or agreement between several people.
They can form new relationships on the water,
to make it “real”.
They board their new home and
then… what?? Where do they sail?
that’s up to them.
to where resources and safety are in abundance.
What will they eat?
Do they have skill necessary to survive?
well they’d have to learn if they don’t.
The DNA plans explains how,
though practice might be required.
There is many more questions that they will ask.
I love answering questions.
calm aware desire choice love express intuit moveAugust 14, 2010 at 4:38 pm #11130
Ocean, in some way i have been there and done it. Years ago i buyed a piece of 30m beachfront in the san bernardo islands moved there with a truckload of timber, a watertank, – built a house of 18×8 m on pilots just between the mangroves and the beach.
I still rememeber the first night when the jejenes came in. Finally rented the space to tourists, fished on the reef, got a speedboat, etc…You can see the place at google maps ( 9.739731,-75.668352 ) palm roof with 3 ventilation openings….
To make it short i am now located in a industrial zone of the city of cartagena which has a enormous calm water bay with deep shipping channels, because it suits better – at the end all this depends 100% on the spot.
The interesting questions are – what is the cost of bringing a sack of cement to the place (include boat transfer) – what is the cost of cubic meter of drinking water, where do the workers come from, are there jejenes, how regulated is the site, – do you get ambiental authority visits, what is the social situation of the neighbourhood, where do all the people you fly in defecate without getting you in trouble, how many foreigners you can bring in to make a living by fishing on a reef that is already overfished by the locals, at the end the cost of the land is the smalles issue. One of the most difficult is transport – if you have a speedboat what is the cost to maintain it – where do you repair the motor that is breaking down frequently, where do you get gasoline, what is the healt emergency backup plan, etc, etc… what is the cost of all this – broke down to squarmeter seastead built.
European Submarine Structures ABAugust 14, 2010 at 5:27 pm #11131
What is the cost of the enviromental impact study of a proposed marina near a major city? (the local gov. will require that) What is the cost of building the floating docks? What is the cost of renting the location for building the floating docks near by? What is the cost of all the permits? What is the cost of transporting (towing) fhese docks in place and than raft them up? What is the cost of hiring a spud barge to drive the pilings into the seabed so the whole marina floats up and down in place? (if thats the choice of “anchoring” the whole marina in place). What is the cost of labor/material to provide 110v and water @ each slip? What is the cost of building a fuel dock on the marina? (if thats a choice). What is the cost of building restrooms/shower in the marina? What is the coast of disposing of waste? What is the cost of disposing of trash? If the marina is free floating (not connected to land) what is the cost of producing power and water on the spot? If free floating, what is the cost of ferring your customers back and from land? (they might want to go to the onland “zoo”,..). If thats the case what is the cost of buying a ferry? What is the cost of leasing the dock ashore for the ferry terminal service? What is the cost of diesel and payrol for the captains and mates to operate the ferry? What is the maintenance coast of this whole complex operation? What is the cost of your liability insurance?
And maybe, the most important, How much you are going to charge for dockage per foot and stay competitive against the big boys in business ashore for decades, after spending all this money?August 14, 2010 at 6:44 pm #11133
exactly, that is why i do not calculate by simplist formulas like land purchase cost plus labor cost – to create general cost figures.
What you have to do to get the full picture, is to do a actual real world project on small scale on a specific spot, have a serious accounting and after a while you can say : Ok we casted X money in and there floated Y squaremeter/cubic meter of living space out.
We call that a pilot project.
If you try to budget things like “neighborhood handling costs” or “third party entaglement costs”, without a done pilot project this is little more than “cristal ball reading”…i have given my current figure of 331 Euro/ ton of displacement =cubic meter living space.
The problem is this applies to my current spot only – it can not be transfered to Alligator Key nor to Belize.To elaborate cost figures for those spots you have to do a pilot project at those spots. If you can produce 20 modules at prize Z you have a solid base to say “i can produce 20 more at price Z” you have a relative solid base to say i could probably produce 200 at price Z – possibly lower (due to mass production) or higher (due to authority entanglement and additional site requirements) the way it goes depends on the spot.
I just made a pilot project outside cartagena at a “favela beach” – this weekend i am starting another one in the industrial zone. It might take testing 15 spots just around cartagena until i find a place where i can not only implement a pilot project but drive the production up into a “serious mass production project” .
So what i am saying is that the ideal project site can not be decided by making asumptions while sitting on the computer you must run pilot projects – compare the outcomes, optimize the conditions – finally come to a “established building site” – for me a serious pilot project starts with 2 workers floating something out – even if it has ony 10 squaremeter it gives you a realistic “cost figure” and “trouble to expect figure” for a specific site.
Once i have word of a site where somebody floated out something below the cost of 331euro/ton – the project has all my attention. As long as we have “no pilot project whatsoever done yet” and “no way we can do it at 331 Euro” situations – i am not much interested because i can already do it better.
WilAugust 14, 2010 at 7:00 pm #11132
I never said that it will be a walk in the park to develop that island. To build a floating marina will be equally problematic too. And in the and, after spending all that money, like with any business you realy don’t know if you gonna make it or not. There is no guarantee. But @ least in Belize, being in a remote location, I dont think there will be an inspector showing up every 2 weeks to tell you that this and that are not up to “code”. Plus , I’ve heard that greasing hands there works pretty good….
Personaly, and without any partners, I will stick to my Man Made Key concept down by Key West. It will just take a bit more time.
KISS, cheap and efficient! The difference now is that instead of using steel houseboats and weld them toghether (that wasnt a good idea) I will use old fiberglass houseboats encapsulated in place in concrete. Live on 1 and rent 3 for a total of $2500/ mo. Also rent 150′ of dock alonside the whole MMK for $1500. It will net around $3000/ month.
OR, even better. Rent 3 for $150/ night to tourists. + the dockage, will clear an average net of aroung $7000/ month. Hey I might just stay there and “seastead” @ this ‘scale’.
Or, few year later can be sold for triple or quadriple the construction cost as income property or potental business location.
If this modules are going to be houseboat-like anyway in the end, then for the purpose of such a small venture why build from scratch? Just get few houseboats and with a min investment turn them into a small tropical floating islands look-alike. They will rent like hot cakes. People in Key West are paying $1000/ month (power and water not included) for a shity looking 12′ x 10′ efficiency- no kitchen. I will get $850/ month in no time.
When/ if sold, build a bigger one. It ain’t rocket science.August 14, 2010 at 7:31 pm #11134
Ocean looks like a serious and scaleable “business plan” to me. If you purchase houseboats you have always a exit plan as you can sell them away on an existing “houseboat market”. The floating marina to raft up the units depends much on the local conditions. For me for example, i have a enourmous calm water space (the bay of cartagena) hurricane free. This waterspace is “90% not regulated” except the shipping channels. So rafting up 3 houseboats would be little more than a floating walkway and a sign “Ocean marina development” – in your case you will probably have to invest in breakwater solutions, ambient study, but you can probably get better prices to compensate. Anyway if the pilot project does not work you sell away the pieces – walkway and houseboats and still can recover your money – possibly with a revenue.
If the whole thing works as a business – spread it out like Mc Donalds its hamburgers. If not do something else.
What we regret at a certain age is not what we have done in life, what we regret is the things we did not have the guts to try.
WilAugust 15, 2010 at 12:54 am #11136
“In 20yrs you’ll be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by those you did. So throw off the lines, sail away, catch the trade winds, Explore, Dream, Discover.” Mark Twain
Ty for the suggestions, very good points. I like the McDonalds idea,..”MMK, I”m lovin’ it”, lol.August 16, 2010 at 7:23 pm #11142
Yeah, a new bouncing baby boy and some serious concerns regarding the ability of diverse people to co-operate. That’s where SOBIZ stopped. It seemed clear that TSI was interested in the program as well… from a distance. No desire to be involved in any capacity. Wil came on around the birth of my son, IMHO he should be the one running this anyways. He’s got all the right pieces already.
Most of the ‘volunteers’ couldn’t bring any capital with them but wanted equal shares of decision making capability. Too many conflicting ideas were put forward and few were listening to others. Some demanded that an island was the only way to go, despite much cheaper shoreline property and the huge increase in operational costs you get on an island (where absolutely everything needs transportation). There was no solid business model for flow of income (btw- anyone see how bad the tourism industry has tanked in the Caribbean the last couple years?) and without sustainable income, no plan will survive.
Am I considering selling my house to use the capital to possibly relocate to a seastead (or base-stead like SO:BIZ)? Yup. Have I been working to turn my income into a transportable one so I can bring a solid income stream with me? Yup. Is my family finally on board with these decisions? Yup. Should all of this work and sacrifice be lost on a venture with a faulty business plan? No.
It seems everyone is so focused on the platform that we’re forgetting some basic questions about all budgets. What are you going to eat/wear/etc. and where are those things going to come from? Living costs money folks. A start-up budget is directly proportional to the lifestyle you are willing to put up with (because it’s going to be less than your current situation). Ontop of all the discussions on this thread to this point, the one thing I don’t see mentioned much (except for an occasional word from Wil) is what kind of living conditions you plan on having while you build all of this? You can’t get fast internet access on an island in a developing country for $20/month. =)
In the end, until someone puts forth an intentional community that gives conservative estimates on costs along with some fairly reliable income streams this is nothing more than a mental excersize. I won’t even mention the troubles of having to get along once your there, presumable with personal money involved that will motivate proper co-operation. I still love Wil’s subs. I don’t see an ‘international waters’ seastead operating without full submersion capability. If you’ve ever weathered a storm on the surface you’ll know what I mean. Countless lives are still lost on the water, for she is an unforgiving lover. One miscalculation and everyone dies.
-JasonAugust 17, 2010 at 3:24 am #11143
Jason, very valid points – what do you live from – while you build – when you float? – so i agree completly that the “business aspect” is the central aspect. Richard Sowas life would not work withouth cancun tourism and the celebrity status. Yachties live on diving, fishing, boat repair, or land part time jobs, when they can not live of a rent or a big bank account. The more people you bring in, the harder is it to make a living for the group. The more isolated you go – the less chances for making a living you have.
This makes platform design and political questions minor issues – the mayor issue is how do you fit your life into it. You can solve this much easier for your own life than for a whole group of “wild seasteaders” this is why i think the first seasteaders will be individuals that might just be percieved as “yachties with a rare boat that does not move around a lot” first platforms will grow around established business like seafood, tourism, marine services.
The start up budget – can be a few dollar (like Richard Sowa) – depends on local factors more than anything. But in general i would say – If we can not make it work as business and extract a living – consider it just a hobby.
European Submarine Structures ABAugust 17, 2010 at 3:59 am #11144
with some of your statements. Nobody “demanded” anything from anybody from what I remember. Locations were just “presented” so we can open a dialog. Also from what I remember, business “ideas” were presented for the same purpose of dialog. If some of the ideas were not the “exellent” location or the “right model” or the “perfect” business plan, etc, in somebody’s oppinion, they shud have said so and make their point and offer alternatives and state their expertise. It was like a family meal. Everybody shud have brought something.
Regarding the other questions that you have, it will be fair to assume that if one has money to invest in building a seastead they do have the food, clothing and a roof over their head figured out until the seastead is completed and they can move aboard. I do understeand that you would prefer a submarine for a seastead. It is your choice. But that is out of the scope of this thread. As I said in the begining, “I am reffering this 2 questions to a SFS (single family seastead) “module”, ferrocement built, modular, mobile floating platform, 60′-80′ LOA.”August 17, 2010 at 5:33 am #11145
“This makes platform design and political questions minor issues – the mayor issue is how do you fit your life into it.” To me this statement seems to be a contradiction of terms. In order to fit your life on a seastead , the design plays a very important role. If I want to “seastead” by myself ( well, that wont be seasteading ‘per se” but just living aboard-but thats another story) than the seasteading design shud be very different than of any boat, and to me, a major factor of how succesfully my life will fit in.
First, it will need more alternative sources of power (solar and wind) and a much larger battery bank. Larger tanks, all tanks. Design will have to take that in consideration. As you said the “first platforms will grow around established business like seafood, tourism, marine services.” Agreed. Then, the design will have to take that in consideration too. Therefore, a bigger seastead that would allow, for exaple, for 2 extra cabins, other than your qurters that you can rent out. Fishing will be a solid source of revenues. Regardless how it will be done, trolling, net, or line in a fix location, you need a specific area for cleaning and proccesing. You need ice, therefore an icemaker (thats why more power), and space to store the fish on ice before sold. Expecting that this “first platforms” will spend a lot of time @ anchor, then a higher than normal freebord will be preferable, and a much stronger hull thicknes and overall construction, because they will take a beating. Stability shud be higher than usual. You canot be bouncing aroud 24/7,…Therefore you will have to increase beam. Mobility. You have to have it in case a hurricane is coming. You have to be able to run, and more important, able to outrun that hurricane With a high beam and being heavy you will be slow, therefore you need biger H.P. engine(s). Etc.
If you want to do it right and makeing it, it will take take more than few dollars,…Look what happened to Sowa’s first Spiral Island.
I also think that someone can eventually turn a hobby into a good business for continuing to keep that hobby alive and going. All they need to have is the knowlege of how to and be wise about it. Not all the people have the money to build it as a business from the start. But they can plan with that in mind, work hard, save some money, build a little. Work more, save more, build more.
One day, they’ll make it.August 18, 2010 at 1:55 pm #11155
Ocean, give you that, what i meant with design is the fact that in yacht design every single detail, and item is “pre-designed” even the place where you put your navigation charts. This is a consequence of the specific building material. It can be a bit different in a live aboard platform. Your main design can just be “make a big platform” so that there is no problem to put your battery bank, your icemaker, etc on it in some place later. Make it triangular like WHY for mobility – (12knots) have a “hardened end” (bow) when you expect extreme weater.
I would not see Richie Sowa´s first spiral island a example for “doing not right” – on contrary ! it is a unique approach it was a proove of concept he is living a good life and having fun doing it. So his concept seems to work just fine.
Build it as business from the start is not “optional” and not a question of “money”. It is question of a clear and consient decision.
You can make floating boat docks or similar items for a start and go to bigger projects as your business progresses. (if it is in a good concept it will just keep growing).
It is like hamburgers – everybody can make ONE not everybody can SELL a few, not everybody is Mc Donalds. The difference pro/hobby is not in the hamburger – it is in the actitude and the work setup.
A long as we talk about a activity where the “money for doing it” will come from “somewhere else” – it is hobby – when we talk about doing it and the money for doing it comes from doing it – it is pro.
We should go as “pro” as we can as soon as we can.
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