Sailing the Farm – Does Seasteading Have to be Expensive or Futuristic?

A few weeks ago, I learned about a book written by Kenneth Neumeyer, written in 1981, and entitled Sailing The Farm. It’s a combined autobiography/instruction manual for remaining secure and supplied out at sea for many months on a reasonable budget.

The author purchased his ship for just $24,000 and sailed 20,000 miles with it. The bulk of the book is about producing ample food and freshwater to last for months on end. On page 200, the author provides a mixture of seeds and other dried foods, such as pollen and dry milk, supplying one person for one year all the fat, protein, carbohydrates and vitamins and minerals required for a healthy diet.

He also provides a list of the basic required onboard tools, such as a hand cranked mill to extract flour from wheat and an oil press to extract oil from sunflowers.

But, most importantly, he describes how to set up a solar still that uses heat from the sun to distil freshwater from salt water. He also recommends using a sheet to collect fresh rainwater from the sea.

The basic strategy is to store food in dry concentrated form, and then to hydrate it with water. In the case of seeds he recommends sprouting as a means of stimulating them to produce vitamin C. He has even succeeded in producing cheese and yoghurt from hydrated milk powder, as well as growing vegetables like carrots on board.

Additionally he gives instructions for dehydrating all manner of fresh produce you might procure while ashore (such as fresh bananas, mangos, etc.,) in addition to instructions for foraging edible seaweed and hunting fish in addition to how to dehydrate both of these to ensure that a windfall find of fruit, or a big catch of fish could provide food for many months to come.

The bottom line is that Sailing The Farm contains valuable instructions, which the author has successfully tested through his own experience, on how to survive at sea without requiring any contact from the shore for many months to come. So there you have it, in 1981 someone managed to equip a $24,000 second-hand boat out to enable him to survive out in international waters in isolation for months, possibly years, on end.

This implies the ability to affordably live out in international waters already exists.

At the moment, The Seasteading Institute essentially envisages three phases towards establishing new nations on International waters:

  • Phase 1 : Build floating infrastructure off the coast of an existing nation state in perfect compliance with the laws of that nation state and pay the same taxes as every other inhabitant of the nation state.
  • Phase 2 : Negotiate a special autonomous jurisdiction with a willing host nation off their coast, perhaps outside their territorial waters, but within their Exclusive Economic Zone, where the inhabitants of the seastead within this negotiated seazone might have certain regulations (medical/financial/tax/etc) that vary somewhat from laws of the host nation.
  • Phase 3 : Establish independent floating nations on International waters. Perhaps first with an independent flag.

A question that is worth asking is:
Is Phase 3 easier to achieve than phase 2?

In other words, is it easier for a handful of rag-tag libertarians to just buy boats, flag them, equip them in a manner similar to how the author of Sailing The Farm equipped his boat and just head straight out into international waters, outside the jurisdiction of any one nation than for that same small band of rag-tag libertarians to negotiate a legally binding treaty with a nation state in order to establish a legally autonomous zone within their EEZ?

Stage 3 might actually be way easier than stage 2 of the plan.

If, it turns out phase 3 is easier to achieve than phase 2, there may be a case for seasteaders to simply read Sailing The Farm, procure a flotilla of suitably equipped, affordable boats, flag them, and then simply head out to some relatively calm region of international waters, in the not too distant future, to establish the first ocean settlement of seasteaders.

If the will is there, a semi-permanent flotilla could probably be established some time in the next two years.

A realistic goal here would be to ensure there was always a flotilla out in international waters, available for someone who wished to live permanently in international waters and never return to land to find community, if he so wished.

This wouldn’t mean that every boat in the flotilla would need to permanently remain out in international waters – individual boats could come and go – but, rather, that there were always some boats out in international waters in that flotilla.

Of course, work on interesting, floating designs which may be less mobile but offer more affordable spacious accommodation offer promise for the future. Nevertheless, a significant challenge with stationary structures positioned in international waters, is that they must be capable of handling the very worst weather that the ocean can throw at them while boats, on the other hand, have the option to use their mobility to avoid the worst storms. Or only sail outside hurricane season, in more hurricane prone zones, etc.

At the core, seasteading is about both the ability to disassociate from, and leave a community, but also the ability to associate and form communities. And while having your own boat certainly enables you to sail away from people you don’t want to be around – connecting boats is more challenging.

Visiting someone else’s boat, out in international waters, could be awkward. Indeed perhaps the first open ocean seastead might be floating marinas: locations where flotillas of seasteaders can dock their boats and easily meet and greet each other – possibly with club facilities.

So what do you think?

Should we construct a large stationary seastead with exceptional affordability and liveability using innovative design concepts and place in within the waters of a nation that we have explicitly negotiated an agreement in writing with – or should take a leaf out of the book Sailing The Farm and just kit out the cheapest ship we can find to remain out at sea for the long haul and head straight out into international waters? Share you opinion in the TSI Discord server.