April 3, 2008


Mark Twain: “Buy land. They’ve stopped making it.”

Seasteaders: “Memo: Production Resuming.”

In this paper, we’ll demonstrate that a combination of
technologies has finally given the lie to Mark Twain’s famous
line about the real estate business. Imagine the tremendous
possibility of being able to create new acreage on the vast and
empty oceans. The environment may be less friendly, but the
increased freedom will appeal to a motivated minority who are fed
up with terrestrial politics. These aquatic pioneers will settle
civilization’s next frontier through the unusual merger of green
technology and free enterprise. Once there, they will experiment
with new social, political, and economic systems, adding
much-needed variety and innovation to the stagnant business of

As the earth’s population steadily increases, so does the
pressure to open new frontiers. While the oceans have long been
used for transportation, this book is an extended thought
experiment about how they could support permanent settlements.
Considering these issues will be invaluable no matter which way
humanity next expands. In particular, the ocean bears some
definite similarities to space: the final frontier, which will
surely be an important part of our near future.

For background, we’ll review the conventional water-based
lifestyles like floating homes, sailboats, cruise ships, and oil
platforms. You’ll also learn about some of the other ways people
have successfully leveraged international waters for political
freedom, like the european pirate radio movement of the 60’s and
70’s. We’ll describe some of the scores of colorful new-country
projects proposed and attempted over the years. While the ideas
are wide-ranging, including ships, reefs, spars, hexagonal cells,
reeds, and tetrahedrons, they all share one thing in common –
utter lack of success.

While this is an unfortunate trend, we’ll explain how we’ve
learned from these past mistakes. Far from being dreamy-eyed
utopians, we are serious planners with realistic principles for
bringing this strange vision to life. This realism dictates an
incremental approach, modest political goals, reliance on mature
technology, self-financing, and a willingness to make

While we’re practical-minded and most of this book is
dedicated to the how of seasteading, its crucial to
explain why people are interested in small-scale
sovereingty. In perhaps the most vital section, we’ll outline
the simple economic theory which suggests that ocean-based
societies will actually work better than
terrestrial ones.
The relative ease of moving around entire buildings on the water
means that political units will be dynamic, and so governments
must be responsive and efficient or they will lose citizens.
This effect will work automatically to improve institutions,
regardless of the specific political system chosen. The ocean is
not a booby prize.

Before planning such a venture, it behooves us to understand
the ocean environment. This includes fearsome waves like the
so-called rogues, known as the “Monsters of the Deep”.
Scientists are finally acknowledging that this deadly phenomenon
is not just an old sailor’s tale. Contrary to what you may
expect, tsunamis,
high winds, and
small-scale pirates

will prove
to be little danger. The tangled morass of international
maritime politics
and law is a far greater concern. While
current nations are likely the greatest challenge to this new
way of life, we’ll sketch some promising solutions. We can’t
reassure skeptics completely, but there are reasons to be

Once our goals, motivations, and obstacles are understood, we
can examine designs for meeting them. We’ll cover a wide variety
of structures for living on the ocean, from boats to oil rigs to undersea habitats. We’ll also
some of the basic design choices which must be made. These
include whether a seastead should be free floating or fixed in
one place, whether to use breakwaters or pillars to stop the
waves, how to make floating-cities modular, and whether to
purchase new or used structures. With these considerations in
mind, we’ll present more detail on our preferred design, the spar platform.
structure avoids the massive energy of ocean waves by keeping its
platform above them and its flotation below. In between is a
thin pillar which presents little cross-sectional area to the

3D lite

For the engineers and home power hobbyists, we’ll outline how
to provide the amenities of civilization on a floating platform.
From our unique angle, we’ll review the field of self-sufficient
technology like solar panels, wind turbines, reverse osmosis,
satellite internet, and hydroponics. Along the way, we’ll debunk
the myths that floating cities can be cheaply and effectively
built from a material called “seacrete
or powered by OTEC

However, solving these engineering challenges is meaningless
unless we can solve the substantial business challenges as well.
Sure, with enough money the ocean can be made habitable. But
where will it come from? How will seasteads make money? Who
will want to live there? Is there a big enough market? The lack
of a good incremental plan has been a major flaw in other
ventures, so we must address these crucial questions with a plan
for getting from here to there through a series of realistic