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September 3, 2008

Snippets through 9/2/2008

  • Community
    • Added a box to the front page listing upcoming GTGs, with a module that automatically parses our Meetup.com Calendar.  Yay for standards that let web services play nicely together!
    • The German magazine Cicero: "Magazin Für Politische Kultur" is interested in doing an in-depth story this fall.
    • Please use the wiki to keep technical notes after a discussion!  There was a long thread on OTEC in the forums, and the information would be much more accessible if it were organized onto the OTEC wiki page.  I will be referring to the wiki when rewriting the book, for example.
  • Engineering
    • We’ve reviewed the initial design from MI&T, our consultants, and they are continuing to flesh it out.  While we can’t show you the design itself until we’ve filed provisional patents (see the discussion on the forum), I can give some preliminary details.
      • We asked for 200K ft^2 of total area (on multiple levels, probably) as a hotel/resort for about 200 guests and 70 staff
      • The seastead would be located about 200nm west of California, migrating from 15°N (halfway down Mexico) to 35°N (SF Bay Area) annually to avoid seasonal storms.  It can handle waves of about 70 feet.
      • The design has about 80Kft^2 of high-load area (can support multiple levels), and 80K ft^2 of low-load area (gardens, tennis courts, etc.).  It has 4 MW of power generation, and 4 MW of propulsion, as well as storage for 1 month of diesel.
      • It is a modular design, in which modules can be flexibly attached via old-school technology (hawsers & bumpers).
      • We have very, very preliminary price estimates for the structure only, based on gross material costs, of about $50M, which is $250/ft^2.
        • This is cheaper than current Bay Area housing, which was our goal.
        • These numbers could easily be off by a factor of 2 or 3, but at least they are in the right range.  They include materials and shipyard construction, as well as major elements like the engines, but not the residential/resort space, deployment, transport (helicopter/ferry), and other things.
        • However, while the estimate only includes part of the cost, it is my belief looking at the design that it is a bit larger than the 200K ft^2 we asked for.  If the high-load area averages 3 decks, that gives us 3*80 + 80 = 320K ft^2.  So I think this is a reasonable working estimate.
        • As condos, this would be $250K/person, which seems like a reasonable starting point.  (We think we can cut costs quite a bit in the long run through factory construction).
        • For comparison, modern cruise ships seem to cost about $150K-$300K/passenger, so we are in the same range.  This is quite promising, since they have proven that for that initial capital outlay, they can be profitable as floating resorts.
      • The exact details of the topside load turn out to be pretty important for structure design (we can’t just design a blank slate platform that can take any load, it would be very expensive), so we’ve engaged an architect to rough out a design for what goes on top of the platform.
    • Wayne continues to explore low-cost seastead designs as an alternative to the capital-intensive resort model that I am working on.  Here is his latest design, and the forum thread.
  • Research
    • I am putting together a query letter/book proposal to pitch the seasteading book to major publishers.  If anyone knows of a literary agent who would be well-suited for an odd concept like this, please send them my way.