Starting Seasteading on Small Scale
March 2, 2014 at 7:05 am #23016
Actually i would picture a possible floating shell construction version for the business model of MMK (small tourism venture) as something like this…this was planned for nothern latitude, so for Florida it would obviously be “palmier” and “jaccuzzier”…
tropical cave ambients in fiberconrete with “touristic pull” as we build them in the galeriaC project come to mind…
Touristic developments on fiberconcrete dome and honeycomb base can be built incredible exotic, in, and attractive, and at the same time be really tough in case of hurricanes almost in bunker quality. So this would go far beyond houseboats and pontoons, and be a “attraction and money maker comparable to a disney ride by itself” without depending on shared rent models…think more in jaccuzzi paradise day stay models or in cave disco dancing night…than in timeshare rent…March 2, 2014 at 8:28 am #23017
Ryan mentioned your name in his email. I’ll send you a PM with further, and with an email address that you can use to contact me.
I’m actually in Nevada, not California. I’m a computer programmer/analyst by occupation and don’t know anything about the legal aspects of setting up a non-profit.
For various reasons, I would not want to hold any official position within your organization (or anyone else’s either for that matter).
KenMarch 2, 2014 at 9:44 am #23018
Ocean said: “If you decide to participate, I don’t have any problems with you crashing on the houseboat, if the actual members at that time will agree upon that too. Also, since is most likely that the houseboat might need some work for the purpose of our project, if you can do some work aboard, I think that will be welcomed. But when the houseboat is up and running you will have to move,”
I have been burned in Florida once already over living space, i cannot agree to a committee deciding when and where i will be homeless. I wasn’t offering the building materials of my own project to be used for MMK, altho sharing and swapping materials, tools, and know-how would naturally be possible (no sense in both of us buying a cement mixer if we can share). I was saying i am going forwards with my own place on the water, regardless of investors. You should go ahead with building too, you could build the full-sized bargettes for your own use around your existing boat, and see how they act in various waters, even before you buy a houseboat for them. If you can lease space out on the hook, you can certainly anchor them there and not live in the marina, that is seasteading, no?
There is a rule of thumb in the usa for investors or banks: if you need the money, you cannot get it. But if you have built your own party barge, and can rent it out, what do you need investors for? That is the essence of my question on how to attract businesses to being on the water, rental of square footage becomes income for you to grow, which i think you will never get any other way. Two things i cannot get past: 1) people seem to want conventional boat type of construction for seasteads which will be bouncy as heck all the time, 2) looks like any business on the water will be only water-related. That is going to make deck-space rental contingent on 1) sea state and 2) getting money out of people too poor to rent space on land. I believe, if not for the variability and unpredictability of sea state, Ocean’s timeshare of vacation space may work, once built and advertised on the high end timeshare market, but i don’t know that a single houseboat (resembling a 1960’s mobile home) will be enough.March 2, 2014 at 10:16 am #23019
Ellmer wrote: “you can keep it just 6mm thick (if you build it right) which means very little material use of a very economic material.”
You sure about that 6mm thickness in any storm? I was thinking of 6cm for my floatation units. Even that won’t be enough for the caps where they attach, but that’s a small area and that area being 6 inches thick is better. Bags of fiber reinforced home-mix cement is not so cheap here, but it’s acceptable for small projects, it will make floats cheaper and more durable than metals, i certainly agree with you on using cement for that purpose, and hope to try out building one when the weather gets warmer here. I am not so sure about building thin on larger projects like Ocean is planning, even reinforced with wood inside as he will do, but once i am on the water, i want to try with steel inside.
I think the three of us (and others?) have good overlapping ideas, areas we could be collaborating, which is why i mentioned, for any investor listening, that at least a year spent loaning us the use of suitable ramp and dock space in a place we can make noise, would be a benefit to seasteading. It’s rather difficult to see moving from land to sea without a staging area somewhere. The investor should look at this as a real estate investment of an ocean-side community space, not hitched firmly to seasteading, but open-ended in that possibility should it pay out. If Ocean’s project becomes commercially profitable for him, he might lease the space he used for free the first year, same with Ellmer and me. Even if we move to offshore construction, i cannot see us moving those construction materials through a conventional marina. On this lake, there is no place i can move 20ft steel, and no place Ellmer could move concrete to a boat in deep water. I suppose that shall be the end of me promoting this scenario though.March 2, 2014 at 2:33 pm #23020
Kat, the material i am talking about is a composite material on cement base. The strength of the material depends much more on the “smart use of the fiber component” than on the material thickness (just like in a glassfiber boat) – before doing any “necessary thickness predictions” you should build stuff, get a clear idea how each component influences the structural toughness of the piece. I would not recommend “fiber ready mix” for that. Get the components, test and combine them, until you get the best and most suitable combination. Consider it an ARTFORM you need to get crafty in it. If you do it right you can build light and tough shells with incredible thin walls and little material use… you can build a shell you can sleep in with 1 bag of portland cement…and some recovered fiber that costs you close to nothing. So the cost of materials should not really be an issue when going the first steps – project management and interference handling is the hard part. Also have a working business plan that really generates x dollar per day in real world – not one that is only feasible with the help of an “imaginary angel investor”. It is right that you can get a lot of investor money for projects that are “good business already” but pushing the venture to the point that it “starts to be a good business the first time” is in general a very lonley task. Anybody buys in into good business – nobody buys in on bunch of crude ideas.March 2, 2014 at 4:22 pm #23021
Ellmer, you mean like https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cement_board ? That stuff is pretty durable, but it can be easily broken with a hammer. And it is not cheap. I have used it inside and outside the house, it takes weather very well. From looking at it, it does not appear to be fiber reinforced, only fiberglass cloth covered.March 2, 2014 at 8:04 pm #23022
I do agree with you that the designs you posted would make perfect candidates for the MMK. I do have several of them myself. But, they will cost an amount of money that I don’t think I am capable of raising…
To me, the actual MMK design and the way of implementing it (in 4 distinctive stages) is the lowest, minimum “seasteading” start up on a small scale. And seasteading it’s quote unquote because a non-profit bylaws and its members could be consider (yes, by a really long shot) some sort of governance and some sort of an active “population”…and a houseboat rafted up with 3 floats moored 300 feet from shore, a “floating island”
I don’t now what else can be built, bought, started up, developed, conceived, planned, imagined, or otherwise realized on a $70k budget that has better functionality and purpose towards testing the concept of seasteading, other than the MMK.
And if it fails, for $7k x 10 partners, it’s “affordable”,..brush it off and back to the drawing board. But a $7 mil loss on a start up (any start up and any amount of partners) could be a hard pill to swallow. You know what I’m talking about. The reality is that I have to find more time to put into the MMK. When I will, I am confident that it won’t fail, and with that proof of concept in hand, I think access to real capital would be a piece of cake.
In terms of being able to take a hurricane, anything “in concrete” will fair very well indeed,…up to a certain point. I’ve been in 5 hurricanes, 3 on land in Florida (one was Katrina) and 2 offshore and they were all metaphysical life changing experiences. Therefore, I’d rather run full speed towards sheltered waters, no matter on what, the MMK or a 1000′ seastead.March 2, 2014 at 11:18 pm #23023
Thank you for the vote of confidence regarding The MMK. Please note that its “format” has changed, meaning that we have decided to go as a nonprofit now, which in my opinion will give us more opportunities and leverage to experiment with a variety of seasteading related projects rather than being restricted to just one or two areas of for profit business activity.
Best of luck with your project! But also keep in mind that no man is an island
Far from giving advice, but in terms of starting building a floating “anything” immediately, I wouldn’t do that. First, it’s the economics of it. Here is an example http://tampa.craigslist.org/psc/boa/4327307660.html. You won’t be able to build a 37’x 13′ hull, plus the doghouse, plus the bulkheads, etc. for $3k. There is no way in hell. Materials alone will be $7-8k, if not more. And this just happen to be an example of a houseboat, but is true with pontoons, barges,..you name it. Second, related to The MMK, I will buy the houseboat first and start operating right away. Nothing else for few month. People know houseboats and people like houseboats simply because they LOOK LIKE THE HOUSE THEY LIVE IN. It is comfort zone and it is psychological. Let them bring their boats, raft up on your “MMK houseboat” (for now). Let them fish, sunbath, have a beer, grill, rent your jetskis, etc, as part of their membership. Let them know you and give yourself time to know them. Few month down the road, you bring your starboard float down, put some palm trees on it and few more beach chairs and dock with the houseboat. It’s not intrusive now, and everybody will love the addition. You can now dock 4 more boats and accommodate 15 more people (at $6/beer x 3/ person plus a $10 burger, that’s an extra $375/day).
And yes, you can make “profit” as a 501(c)(7): “Gross receipts from non membership sources. A section 501(c)(7) organization can receive up to 35% of its gross receipts, including investment income, from sources outside of its membership without losing its tax-exempt status.”
Next, is the port float and then the bow float. By now, your are The MMK, the “best place to hangout on the water” and you have 50 members already who can bring family and guests aboard the MMK. In fact, at 70′ LOA you are too small already and you will add another houseboat and floats and increase membership. Soon, you are 160′ LOA, you have 120 members, 2 houseboats, 6 floats, 1 restaurant and bar open to the members, 25 full time employees, 12 jetskis, 20 kayaks, 4 small fising boat, 1 diving and snorkeling boat and you are “making” $20,000.00/mo in “revenues”. If this is not solid proof of concept,..I don’t know what it is.
At this point, approve a related for profit venture within your nonprofit and move it offshore, if you feel like. Or, just dissolve everything and move offshore, which will be a catch 22 in terms of going back to endless discussions about sovereignty, flags, recognition, international law, etc. Which in reality it’s just BSing around, since Russia occupied half of the eastern Ukraine over the weekend,…so much for “United Nations” and “international” and “law”.March 3, 2014 at 5:07 am #23024
Amen, Ocean, this is how a man who has a clear business vision talks. This is also a good example how you “glorify and enhance” a prooven business model (hospitality industry) by putting it on the water. khalifa-port in its basic nature is just a artificial sandbank but it is “gloryfied and enhanced” by megaport features put offshore on the crossroads of world trade routes. This is how you pull investor money to a sandbank. I also like the business slogan “best place to hangout on the water” – make sure that the practical implementation is up to it. This is definitly something a local investor holding a couple of apartments and bars already living in the area, would throw a couple of thousands on to see where it gets. Once you have “120 members, 2 houseboats, 6 floats, 1 restaurant and bar open to the members, 25 full time employees” and make good money – you will have local banks comming to you offering you a lot of money to expand further. This business model works fine in Australia for Quicksilver, why shouldn’t it work in Florida. (but notice that Quicksilver is a “daystay” venture, not a timeshare model)
The critical part in this business plan is the transition from the houseboat you mention to quicksilver…you need to show that you actually can transform a boring second hand houseboat into a profit center – can you? – this is what the investors will want to know. The “business vision” that comes up when you invite kat “to crunch on your boat” sounds more as “florida low budget housing to be removed out of sight” by other profitable business neighors than “being the core of profitable business itself”. Investors tend to look at the “credibility of the business motor to pull it off” as carefully as they look on the “basic business model proposed”…
Also keep in mind that Quicksilver is rafting up a “airconditoned transport vessel”, “2 semisubersible touristic vessels”, and similar items in a “hurricane free zone”.
Hurricane free in the caribbean means between la Guajira in Colombia and Panama – the rest of the caribbean is definitly hurricane zone. You need to build floating ventures different when you build inside or outside hurricane zones. The whole idea to “go for shelter with the venture breaking it up” is a bit “non convincing” – the MMK pieces going for shelter will be trapped between poorly anchored industrial barges going for shelter in the same bay when hurricane “theo” comes in – so it will either be hurricane proof and can go for weathering the hurricane by itself in open sea – or it ends up in the big grinder between industrial barges and yachts comming loose with all the other debris… this tought should be inclueded in the “implementation of the business model” – so make sure to have a “ship bow that can deal with that kind of conditions” and have the people sheltered on board in shell structures – not running for shelter somewhere else…March 3, 2014 at 8:37 am #23026
Ocean, you said “you bring your starboard float down”, but bring it down from where? If you have land next to the water for which to build seasteads, lets get on with it! I mean, lets *you* get on with it! Driving to the Keys for me is about four times more distance than i need to haul a boat from where i am.
My plan would be more like bootstrapping a business making more of the seastead, on the seastead, sorta the only good reason to use 1/4 inch(6mm) plate steel for the deck. Plus i have it left over from all the trimaran parts i had to leave in Fla when i got ripped off 2 years ago when trying to locate there. I had to leave the two 16ft/4.9m pontoon boat hulls, and one 4ft/1.2m diameter tri ama bow and the construction jig it was built in.
Without an incubator, or my own land on the water, or friendly terms with a marina, i even need to build my own portable “pond” to test with, and that’s quite the drag on time and finances. To unfold amas for the one runabout (my aqua- pickup truck), at least under the bridge crane, the amas can’t be more than 14ft long, else there’s no room for them in my build site. If you have the space to “bring your starboard float down” from, i say start building tomorrow! Shoot, i think, if in a no-interference zone around the corner and up the coast, i’d use discount air mattress/beds as floats under a plywood deck to get started!
That said, like the Aussy Quicksilver business Ellmer mentioned, MMK is a hide-behind-island in bad weather sort of deal, meaning it also much have strong reliable engines and plenty of fuel, that is going to add a lot of overhead cost. I certainly do not know the area down there like you do, but the tv news this morning was showing yachts broken loose and being washed onto beaches from a storm somewhere. Even if you do anchor well in the ICW, the first boat that breaks loose will be a battering ram to break up your boat. Is the only location for a Quicksilver business going to be around the islands in full view of land? Do you get a fast-food resturant business license on a boat the same way you get one for land?March 3, 2014 at 11:04 am #23027
I emailed Fane Lozman to ask about how his court case would impact anyone else on a liveaboard, and his reply is very short:
If it has no engine or other means of propulsion, is dependent on shore
utilities, then it is a floating home and comes under state jurisdiction.
Which still leaves open the question of a conventional house on land, with it’s own well, generator, and septic system being called a vessel! I suppose his case revolved around his house not only being unable to move on it’s own power, but also haveing zero utilities built in, like electricity, and needing land connections to be habitable (for sewer and drinking water).March 3, 2014 at 4:25 pm #23028
ellmer, THANK YOU for bringing this up:
“The critical part in this business plan is the transition from the houseboat you mention to quicksilver…you need to show that you actually can transform a boring second hand houseboat into a profit center – can you? – this is what the investors will want to know.”
I definitely overlooked this “simple detail,..can i prove it?”, and the more I read the above phrase, the more I realize that it holds the key to the whole MMK business plan implementation. I owe you one ellmer!
Can I prove it? So far, I think I got around 50% “proof”, which will depend on refining the business plan and choosing between 2 alternatives, based on 2 locations:
1. Water sports, snorkeling, “play in the sun” destination.
Go to Google Earth and search for “Wisteria Island” and let it zoom in. Zoom out a bit now, and to the left of the island and very close to shore, you will see a submerged wreck. That is Wisteria wreck, a popular snorkeling spot in Key West.
This is a surface video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m2n4trTD52o.
This is a snorkeling video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qsJuj_NJumg
A bit to the left of Wisteria wreck you will see a platform. That belongs to Fury Water Adventures, it’s their “floating island” and they do solid business off it: http://www.furycat.com/key-west/watersports-attractions.htm
And, further north and a bit left from the Fury island, it’s Dangerous Don’s floating shack (remember, ellmer, we talked about him few years ago,…). And it looks like he’s living good and prosper selling bait, since I see another powerboat there (all he had was the sailboat) plus much bigger bait growing/holding cages in the water now….
2. Timeshare boat and breakfast floating islet + the above.
Go to Google Earth and search for “key west yacht club” and let it zoom in. Zoom out a bit now, and to the left and 45 degrees N of the Yacht Club you will see a small uninhabited key (island) in the middle of a rectangular basin. I have no clue what that key’s name is, but that’s where the MMK could be, moored right next to it.
Very good location,…protected from 3 sides and private, can kayak around the mangroves of the “no name key” or just hang out by the beach. Can water sport anywhere around key West from there. Really calm waters…when it’s blowing 20 kn on the Wisteria side, you barely have 1 foot waves there. My favorite!March 3, 2014 at 4:50 pm #23029
The floats will be built here, where I live now, in lake Worth FL, 300 miles N of Key West, and they will be transported by truck down there.March 3, 2014 at 5:58 pm #23030
Ocean, you can get to the ICS from Lake Worth, i believe. I thought your barges would be too wide (over 8ft) to travel by truck. I am making mine sectional to be transported without special permits.
All those boats around Wisteria Island, they can anchor there free, with no permits or legal actions? I was under the impression all that area was protected wildlife, and even touching the bottom was serious bad news. From what i heard, stirring up any mud, dropping anchor, could get one arrested. I see no boats on anchor north of Fleming Key, is there a reason for that? If i see no boats anchored in an area, is that because it’s forbidden? There’s a shallow seamount, just ripe for anchoring on, between Marco Island and Key West, but i see that’s old ammo dumping ground and active military training?
I don’t know about anyone else, but i could use a gold mine of information about what’s actually going on down there.March 3, 2014 at 9:05 pm #23031
Yes, I can get on ICW from Lake Worth. Side float are 8′ wide, no permit. The bow one, that’s a different story,…will have to pay for wide load :(( No permit to drop off Wisteria. But you’d better have a holding tank because they’ll come and check once in a while. Usually they don’t bother you. But, can’t drop on a coral head, BIG NO NO. You can do time for that,…There are boats W and E of Fleming, I don’t know about N,…to far? Boaters are lazy, they don’t like to dinghy to far There are hundreds of shoals and banks to anchor down there,…some outside the territorial waters.
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