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October 22, 2009

Engineering Update

Hello everybody,

 

We have updated our design requirements, and we’d like your feedback on it.

 

These requirements have suggested two different paths to us, which we are exploring at the moment.

First, we believe that shipsteading is one of the more promising routes. Shipsteading simplifies many aspects of seasteading, because ships are such well-established technology, with a large backing infrastructure. Especially in the current market, the cost of ships is low, and there is much idle labor available. The price per unit area that ships can offer is hard to beat, with any approach.

The ability of ships to move at acceptable cost is an advantage, as it allows us to seek shelter from the worst storms, and by not having to rely on anchoring, legal restrictions concerning operation in the EEZ can be sidestepped.

The drawbacks of ships are their relatively poor stability as compared to platforms. This restricts their ability to scale down and meet our 50 person target for baystead.

 

We are exploring novel designs to see if we can overcome these drawbacks of ships. There is an inherent tradeoff between stability and mobility. A platform can be made more stable than a boat of the same capacity, and hence can potentially scale down better. Most concepts however, fail to do so. For instance, a spar relies on a draft far greater than what we can afford in order to obtain its superior stability, and its mobility is correspondingly nearly absent.

There is no limit to the number of concepts one can think of that will not work, but finding one that will is more of a grey area. We believe the most promising types of non-ship designs for meeting our goals are obtained by connecting multiple small hulls together, along the lines of MiniFloat. Platforms will neither become much smaller nor much conceptually simpler.

By connecting multiple smaller hulls, good stability is obtained, similar to the workings of a catamaran. Besides rigidly connecting multiple columns, we are currently investigating flexible connections between seasteads. Connections are important for small scale platforms for various reasons. It is not clear if it is economical to provide them with their own propulsion systems, yet we do need to have some form of relative positioning between platforms (as anyone who has attended ephemerisle will know!). Besides, movement between seasteads is a non-trivial issue, and having a walkway protected from the elements is almost a necessity. Further, we anticipate that the support these connections give enables further improved stability (or cutting costs elsewhere).

Investigating the opportunities offered by such connections, and the possibility of implementing them in an affordable and reliable manner is the focus of my current activities.

 

That’s an outline of where we currently stand; more information will follow as our plans solidify. Your input is most welcome!

Eelco