We have a final cost estimate for ClubStead!

The final engineering report is just about done, it will probably go up on Monday. Just wanted to update y’all with the cost numbers. The final design has 368,200 ft^2 of area, and 160,000 ft^2 of footprint (400×400), at a total cost of $95,300,700. This cost includes all structural elements, the hotel, generators, thrusters, fire safety, HVAC, fresh water system, and sewage.

That works out to $258/ft^2 of area, or $600/ft^2 of solar footprint, which is in line with our initial estimates. I had been concerned that the costs might end up being higher – as much as $350-$400/ft^2, so this is reassuring. Also, this is not only less than San Francisco prices, but much of the Bay Area – for example, current Mountain View prices for single-family homes have a median value of $572/ft^2, Palo Alto is $819/ft^2, and San Francisco is $517/ft^2. This is very promising!

We will try to get cost estimates on ships for comparison over the coming months.

UPDATE: Apparently these figures don’t include some assembly and deployment costs. Stay tuned.


24 thoughts on “We have a final cost estimate for ClubStead!”

  1. I want to inject some caution here.  I view the numbers as very preliminary.  We will be meeting with Alexia on Monday to understand what the numbers do and do not include.  After we have had an opportunity to ask some questions, MI&T will do one more iteratation through the documents and we will publish all of them to the web site.

  2. Per square meter prices are certainly very encouraging, but the total price is rather daunting. Then again, so is the price of cruise ships and the likes, and they get financed.

    Whats the cut of the house at the tables, and whats the price of an LSD trip, including amenities? Yay for being offered a monopoly position!


    Amazing! Now all that’s left to do is a mere nothing – find $100 million. And we’re all set with. Now everyone will be able to build their own society, experiment with forms of government, and vote with his home by moving between cities…


    Oh wait.

    We don’t have $100 million, nor any solid plan for getting it. And no one is going to build or finance a project that scale just because you have designed it, because it will take a complete redesign to optimize cost-efficiency anyway.

    Also, what does it have to do with seasteading at all? This is not a seastead, which was intended to be a personal, at most 10 people, floating home. You’ve reinvented the wh… I mean, a floating hotel. A small step for man, an even smaller step for the humanity, but is it a step at all for seasteading?


    What was exactly the point of this exercise, if any?

  4. This thing might be expensive, at least the price per unit area is encouraging: it might actually happen, as opposed to a one-family seastead with a tag of 2000$/sqft.

    What was exactly the point of this exercise, if any?

    Seasteading has high barriers to entry. Lots of technology needs to be innovated, there are no economies of scale in either production or cost of living. There is no successful legal precedent, nor a sizable block of lobbying power on our side.


    Clubstead is in my opinion our best shot at tackling these problems. But noone is stopping you from putting your money where your mouth is, of course.

  5. A shot at tackling which problem? It most certainly doesn’t tackle the problem of high barrier to entry. If anything, it sets it above everyone’s expectations – at $100 million+, which even per person is $400,000. That’s not everyman’s spare cash.

    And you’re correct that there’s no power block or a big investor waiting for a seasteading project to pop up. Furthermore, if someone comes up with $100M to invest into a floating hotel, they will most certainly redesign it from scratch, rather than follow up on this specific design, so the money spent researching it further than on the most basic level is wasted.


    You’re not correct in assuming the one-family seastead would have a cost of $2000/sq.ft. There is very little economy of size in shipbuilding. The cost per unit stays roughly constant, and often there’s even diseconomy of size: a large vessel requires disproportionally stronger and more complicated structure. [ Some preliminary estimates I’ve done suggest a modular DIY-possible single-family “sea RV” platform for semi-sheltered waters operation would cost about $8,000-$15,000 per a 2x100ft^2 module (the maximum to be truck-transportable), of these $6,000 the raw materials and the rest the work and optional outfitting. ]


    As for what might happen? Well, a floating hotel might happen. Nothing new in this concept. Only, it will have nothing at all to do with seasteading. Being a commercial vessel, it will also have much stricter internal rules than you would find in a random county in New Hampshire. None of all this “experimentation with new social forms” and mega-freedom stuff. You’ve invented a cruise ship that can’t move, that’s all.

    “A cheap-ass cruise ship!” – you might say. But… no. You see, Independence of the Seas has cost $800 million, and accommodates over 4,000 passengers plus about 1,500 crew. The “clubstead”, if I remember right, has a capacity of 270, of them 70 crew. Well, it might have a few more windows, but on the other hand the Independence is absolutely sumptous. And goes round the world at 20 knots. How many takers will there be to take a ‘cruise’ for twice the price of a regular one, and without going anywhere? If I may place a bet… but I don’t need to. Some might.

    How much of a step towards seasteading that is going to be? Well, the operator might even mention TSI on the last page of the brochure. A moored cruise ship still has nothing to do with “experimentation with diverse social systems” TSI advertises itself to promote.

  6. I think more people live in San Jose which is listed as $308/sq-foot:


    It seems they are taking the whole purchase price and dividing it by the sq-foot of the house.  The problem is this sort of ignores the value of a yard.  In practice I think that the land is usually about half the value and the house is half the value.  People like having some of their own land around them.    If you had a house without any yard it would be more like $150/sq-foot.

    If you are counting the “solar footprint” then you need to count the whole 1/4 acre lot (10,000 sq-ft) and not just the 2,000 sq-foot of the house.   If you did the math like that then San Jose is more like $60/sq-foot.  So you are like 10 times the price.

    None of this takes into account the operating costs, which seem far higher for the clubstead than a house in San Jose.  Imagine a guy can afford to pay a total of $4,000/month for his living expenses.  If his seastead dues are $1,000/month then he has that much less for a mortgage payment.  If the dues are $2,000/month then he has half as much to spend on sq-footage.  If you don’t know the operating costs, then the sq-foot price is not very meaningful.

    So taking into account operating costs, it would not be hard to be 20x the price for “solar footprint”  that you get in San Jose.

    People pay far higher sq-foot prices and operating costs for yachts than houses.   Part of this is you get really cool changing views out the window and part is you actually get to visit different interesting places that you choose.   So I think a single family seastead that was giving you the same sort of thing a yacht was could command a higher sq-foot price than a normal house, or a clubstead.  If it cost less and had lower operating costs than a yacht, then it should have a market.

    I don’t believe there is any economy of scale price/sq-foot advantage for large seasteads over single family seasteads.  There might be a stability/comfort advantage but even that is not yet established.

    – Vince

  7. Indeed, any investor in clubstead will demand it operates like a business, and there is no reason hed like some additional risk by having it run as a crazy anarcho-paradise.

    But whether it would like to or not, it would serve as a testcase for many yet unproven technologies. It would serve as a hub bring economies of scale in terms of connection with mainland; transportation of people, goods, and communications.

    Single family seasteads are the next area of focus of TSI, by the way.

    Either way, unless you are peter Thiel, there seems to be a gap between your attitude and what is known as ‘common courtesy

  8. Maybe there is said gap indeed. What of it? This is not exactly a social call. My attitude may indeed be somewhat skeptical, although I hope I’m not crossing the line.

    There’s a reason for such attitude. No, I’m not Peter Thiel. Nonetheless, I’m taking seasteading a bit personal, as I have the reasonable desire, the experience of life at sea, and the meansnecessary to sometime later in life purchase or build a single-family seastead and live there, if I so decide. Looks like a nice place to run asmall firm, too. I don’t view seasteading as a piece of science fiction, I view it as something that can be made into reality in a short timeframe. Or not made. Which it will be in large part depends on TSI. Maybe TSI will be the pioneers of seasteading, maybe not. TSI has a small sum of money to prime the way.


    What I dream about, somewhat, is to some summer take the PWC to Seastead One, somewhere 14 miles from the coast. How much of a seastead can you get for 450 grand… well, 3,000 sq.ft. at very least – small structures are cheaper per unit area. So I’d moor my PWC, climb aboard, shake hands, chat and share a few byo beers with the nice long-haired and bearded folks pioneering this new way of life (and don’t go into denial, they *will* ne long-haired and bearded). Sing some libertarian songs, rock around, stay the night after throwing in a hundred bucks (the going nightly price for a basic cruise), hang out for the next day.Then return home with fond memories, think about building my own seastead, and spread the word around.

    And, if I may be honest, that’s what I expected to be possible by this summer. Because it totally could be. If only TSI could be bothered to build something of metal and not electrons.


    What I don’t dream about is visiting a posh floating hotel. ‘Cause I’d much rather rent an equally posh suite aboard a Freedom Class at Royal Caribbean and visit a few ports.

    What I most certainly have never dreamt about and will never dream about is sitting at my desk gazing in awe at pretty HD renders of said hotel that might be built, but most probably won’t.


    So how is TSI using the means available to it? Is it building an actual seastead? No. Is it procuring a second-hand vessel to use as a testbed? No. Is it at least designing serious DIY seastead plans? No. Instead, it is making fancy renders and engineering reports about a floating hotel, which is as novel as as a three-wheeled bicycle. Ah, yes. “Single family seasteads are the next focus”. Talk about incremental approach.

    I’m starting to see that the TSI leaders don’t see seasteading as something to actually do, but rather as something to imagine and chat about. Basically, I’m starting to see that it’s not a real project like Free State, but an internet club of dreamers. And that disappoints me. It’s not so pleasant to trash the hopes for seasteading to eventually take off.

  9.   spend 100 mil on Clubstead when you can get this for 80 mil http://www.yachtworld.com/core/listing/boatFullDetails.jsp?boat_id=2001336&ybw=&units=Feet&access=Public&listing_id=63069&url=, and have 1200 passangers aboard? And 7000nm range @ 10-12 knots,…And if you know how to deal w/them, cut some corners, you might get it down to 65 mil.,delivered,….Or scale it half down to LOA 120′ and 500-600 passangers for 30 mil,…I do have to agree w/ HDTC about what is he saying here,…but not necesarelly about how is he saying it. One thing TSI cannot do is to lose credibility @ this point in time….There are some of us here who have a lot of expertise regarding boat building and also, really belive and are ready to support seasteading efforts. It would be a big loss for TSI, in the long run, to distance itself from these people.

  10. Well, now that the engineering and research has been done (after, what, 1-3 years of hard work?) and a rough cost estimate has been given, it seems a lot of people with perfect 20/20 (hindsight) vision have declared that this attempt should never have been undertaken. It might be true, it might not, but does it really help to shut down this very long timeframe project down after it’s 95% finished? It may never be funded or built but we still learned plenty by it. TSI has it’s name out there and some solid experience under it’s belt. If you have to fail a certain number of times before you succeed, I’m glad we’re finishing up our first failure.

    This may very well be an expensive project that doesn’t solve many of the freedom problems or the single-family problems but it could still work out as a casino. Far enough off shore and it’s viable as a for-proffit casino and perhaps even offices for TSI. They’d have to be seperate entities but the casino could donate money to TSI for tax deductions while keeping TSI on task with the next project of single-family projects. Already being out on the water would be a reasonable advantage in that endevor. Casinos are profitable because the house always wins. As long as there might be a decent market for gambling in the area, investors shouldn’t be too hard to come by.

    In any case, try to keep the feedback constructive, everyone. It’s a bit too late to expect the project to retroactively become everything you wish it had been… back when you weren’t even around to give them all your great ideas for what they should have been doing all this time.


    As for building things out of metal instead of electrons (and brainwaves, I might add)… maybe it’s finally time… but at least ideas are never completely lost on the seabed. Even when they fail, they can be immediately reworked or reproduced as necessary to keep things moving. An untested design in steel that fails can usually only be recovered or replaced at great cost in time and money. The time of physical testing for this project may finally be upon us but we should never really give up the testing and generation of new ideas.

  11. While $100,000,000 certainly seems daunting, I definitely think that this idea is more reasonable than “single family seasteads”, which seem incredibly impractical. Besides the scale efficiencies, the big difference is that the seastead resort could be a revenue generator, which could attract profit-seeking investors as well as altruistic ones. For a high risk venture like this, though, scaling down and cutting costs should be considered.

    The only reason a significant number of people would visit this resort would be if there were certain freedoms available that are illegal on land. So what type of activities would be allowed in Clubstead? Gambling? Marijuana? “Hard Drugs”? Prostitution?

    Obviously there is a tradeoff here. As I’m sure you are all aware, the more freedom you offer the more likely the US government is to shut the resort down. But if you don’t offer any more freedom than, say, Las Vegas, then you get nothing.

    Also, I really hate to ask, but is solar power really better than using gas/diesel generators? Even if you cover the thing with high efficiency panels, you still probably aren’t getting enough power to run a resort/casino.

    Added: TV’s “Love Boat” the Pacific Princess was built for $25 million. I don’t know if thats inflation adjusted, but still.

  12. [quote]If you have to fail a certain number of times before you succeed, I’m glad we’re finishing up our first failure.[/quote]

    It’s not that. It’s not that someone has realized it to be a failure or whatever. It’s that it was clear starting from day 1 that such a project is way out of reach of TSI in the near timeframe.


    [quote]They’d have to be seperate entities but the casino could donate money to TSI for tax deductions while keeping TSI on task with the next project of single-family projects.[/quote]

    What happened to the incremental approach? This is not an incremental approach. This is envisioning a pie in the sky megaproject and delaying the feasible one. This is like starting to build a navy by designing an aircraft carrier you can’t afford, and deciding to bother with corvettes once the carrier is built. Thus almost looks like procrastination. You don’t start big scale if you want it done. This plan hinges the future on seasteading entirely on finding some venture investor with 100 million to blow… and the problem is, venture funds don’t invest such sums. While the funds who do invest such sums don’t go for high-risk novel projects. There’s just no market for this idea, it’s too big for a startup.

    The only approach that can actually work is developing single-family projects first, and then expanding in scale.

    You think it can’t be profitable? Well, let’s see. ~400 grand is around enough to build a 3,000sq.ft. regulation-compliant platform suitable for San Francisco Bay –  you were planning on it, right? – and launch it. That’s four legs, a drainage area, reserve buoyancy, a 54x54ft mid-deck (not fully watertight, superstructure type), mostly open space on the main deck, basic outfitting inside. Make it into a small hotel for 16 guests, with an average crew of 3 on living wage plus room; probably sort of seasteading volunteers.Say it maintains an average occupancy of 8, at $50 a night – reasonab le enough? The revenue should be enough to pay the taxes, crew and expenses, leave about 30K for the ROI. A pretty poor return on investment, but still not a loss. Would an occupancy of 8 be reachable? Well, for the very value of novelty, I think many would opt for a bit less comfort, but a view of the sea and San Francisco. And sitting there in the view, it’s an advertisement in itself, plus if the media picks it up, that will get occupancy to full for certain.

    I think you won’t deny that it’s easier to find 8 people to stay at a cheap hotel within the view of a city, than 200 people at an expensive hotel way off the coast.

    At the same time, said platform could provide the basis for seasteading development and experimentation. Being small, you can actually experiment on it, and occasionally reserve it all for enthusiast meetings. The owner won’t let you experiment on a 100M hotel. The business bit is not important, what’s important is that you can actually work with an incremental approach.


    [quote]As for building things out of metal instead of electrons (and brainwaves, I might add)… maybe it’s finally time… but at least ideas are never completely lost on the seabed. […] The time of physical testing for this project may finally be upon us but we should never really give up the testing and generation of new ideas.[/quote]

    Ideas are cheap. Everybody has ideas. What counts is following up on them.

    What sets the Free State Project apart from the Lolbertarian Party is the 698 early movers that are already influencing NH politics. What sets Ferruccio Lamborghini apart from a school kid doodling crazy cars in his workbook is that he has actually stood up to the challenge and built his cars in a tractor workshop. What sets – could set – Seasteading apart from Freedom Ship is the incremental approach.

    Ideas are worth little when they’re not implemented.

    You don’t need money to come up with new ideas, however. What, if TSI built a small seastead, we all would suddenly stop coming up with new ideas? No. Quite the contrary. It’s not an either/or – rather, we could observe its performance and learn from it, in addition to its value as an actually functioning seastead. We can’t learn much from the Paperstead. It’s a waste of money, and I have some idea about how much marine engineering costs.


    Of course, everything said above is invalidated if Patri knows something we don’t. Maybe there already is an investor who said, “I’m looking for a floating hotel to invest around $100 million”. Or maybe, more realistically, Peter Thiel specifically asked to produce such a report about a possible future big “seasteading” building. Or the Clubstead specifically. If so, of course, doing this was not just the right, but the only thing to do.

  13. I share your goals, and i share many of your criticisms; but you are doing a poor job of communicating them.

    So youre not peter Thiel. If you were Vince Cate, id concede you had a point as well. Are you?

    And, if I may be honest, that’s what I expected to be possible by this summer. Because it totally could be. If only TSI could be bothered to build something of metal and not electrons.

    Well, if its so easy; im waiting. Amaze me.
    Personally, i am much more enthusiastic about single family seasteads as well. Yet i am skeptical as to the ability of a single individual such as Vince to pull it off. I worry even that it is a bigger puzle than TSI can handle, given its current budget. But thats just one engineer talking.
    I have a some constructive input concerning a plausible compromise between simplicity, cost and functionality for single family seasteads, based in down-to-earth engineering considerations. I hope it will be taken in consideration when more man-hours are put into single family seasteads. That is, unless someone else has ideas i deem more viable.
    Again; amaze me.

  14. Yes, I’m skeptical about the ability of a single individual to build a large family seastead in his backyard in a year too. That’s why I’m not suggesting it, but rather a commercially constructed small platform. DIY or custom part-concrete design would eventually be cheaper, but a small steel platform is an immediate possibility.


    Amaze you? Well, I might try. I’m afraid it won’t be amazing though. It’s not as much about amazement.

    The typical mass coefficient for an outfitted superstructure is around 5 lb/cu.ft., that is, it takes 5,000 lbs to fully enclose and outfit 1,000 cu.ft, following all the standards of heavy-duty oceangoing vessels, using steel. Practically, for much lower structural loads in here, 3 lb/cu.ft. would be enough.  The mentioned 3,000 sq.ft. platform could have a volume of 3,000*(8+6+1), where 8 is the inhabited deck, 6 the under-floor, and 1 above-ceiling height, used for the systems. It’s very generous really, can be even a double bottom, but it allows to very easily service all systems, and use the fully outfitted mid-deck area for habitation only, basically replaces the basement in a regular home. I’m not fully sure how did the report above calculate the footage, and it may well be that this structure would actually count as 6,000 sq.ft.

    Either way, that arrives at a volume of 45,000 cu.ft., and a weight of 60 to 100 long tons. For a measure, a 1/4″ steel box that size would weigh 40 tons, and here 3/16″ will often be enough, add the stiffeners however. Assuming the buoyancy and support structure weighs 40% of that, on the heavy side really. Total displacement is then 80-140 LT. Now to the price. The going price for a DWT on a modern vessel ranges from $400 for the simplest ones to $1,000 for advanced container ships.  Seeing as this is basically a barge, $500 is about right.

    Of course, we have to adjust for the fact that this has much less deadweight, so DW/D, which is up to .75 for ships, is only ~.25 here for lack of cargo, that jacks the price up three-fold, to $1,500 per displacement ton for the structure and basic outfitting. Interior will be calculated separately. That puts the base price in the range of $120,000 to $200,000. This price includes final design, constructing and launching the platform. Of course, the resulting platform will be rather basic, it will contain the structure, all hatches and doors, all painted, the systems (water, sanitation, possibly ventilation [not HVAC]), but not luxurious interiors. Habitable, but very military-style. The remaining $200,000-$330,000 can be spent on more optional outfitting.

    Can you outfit a 3,000 sq.ft. house for 200-330 grand? You can build one for this money if you’re not picky about the location, much less outfit. Of course, this time the workers will have to come and leave on a boat, and welding is a bit more difficult than hammer and nails, so you might reconsider illegal immigrants. You won’t do it to top luxury standards, that would cost 700+ grand for this volume, but to the level of a good house or a basic cruise ship, quite easily.


    Not amazing, perhaps, well, at least true. A small seastead, usable as a mini-hotel or just a meeting place, is, or was (I have fears about how much the Paperstead might have cost) quite in the range of affordability of the TSI’s base investment. Design of such a thing is cheap, construction is cheap, transportation is cheap.

    And an existing seastead would give people much more of an assurance that a floating home might indeed be worth it – not only as a novelty -as a way of life. Plus they’d have a small, but a community to join, and wouldn’t have to be out there all alone. For a town to be built, someone has to place the first stone.

  15.  Now were talking!

    I would agree that TSI is eating its own words, by departing from the incremental path. Then again, the incremental path is not a goal in itself; it is true that non-incrementalism has failed before, but that doesnt prove it isnt the most viable path still. 

    Launching a vessel of this kind in the bay area seems to me also like the best compromise between achievement and plausability, given the current budget constraints.

    I agree with your general ideas; i have some of my own regrding the details. Perhaps if we can work out the details a little further, we too can attract money; outside money, or convince TSI to invest its money to that effect.

  16. The ClubStead design is a first design.  It’s probably not the only design ever.  It may not be a design that ultimately gets built.  There may be other designs.  That all said, it’s a useful reference point in terms of costs, specifications, etc.  It lets us ask questions about how it could be improved, what designs may be better or worse and in what ways, etc.  In other words, it’s a starting point.  It’s probably useful to be able to evaluate (different) designs before building anything.  It’s much less expensive to do that than to build without reviewing different designs.  ClubStead’s also been engineered by professional naval architects who have actual billion dollar designs currently in blue water.

    HTDC, can you post some details about your proposed DIY design, preferrably in the single family seastead forum or wiki?  When you talk about something for sheltered waters, it sounds like you’re talking about a houseboat.  Maybe this is a misimpression.  There are lots of houseboats in the San Francisco Bay, but they would probably all sink before reaching the Golden Gate Bridge if one tried to tow one out to the open ocean, or even the unsheltered waters in the Bay.  Same with Lake Washington and Puget Sound, etc.

    P.S., constructive criticism helps.  Negativity doesn’t.

  17. This design is the first one taken to a serious level, yes. I’m not arguing with that. What baffles me is the choice of the first design. It’s like… intending to buy a third-hand Korean hatchback on a shoestring budget and proceeding to rent out a Ferrari to have a reference point. Not quite the best help with the choice, is it?

    And why I mention a Ferrari rather than say a Merc – because I reckon that if it’s eventually built, the parking garage for people who spend at least their vacation there will be a sea of Scuderia Red, maybe with rare specks of Lamborghini Giallo and Porsche Silver. It’s not just a big platform, it’s an expensive one with a lot less cost-consciousness than found in a cruise ship.

    It’s really cool, though. No economy cabins, only luxury suites with balconies and full-height windows. I like the approach. Full luxury all the way, no second class, no mingling with the proles. And just look at these cables, they could have used a cheap truss, but they didn’t, they made it cable-stayed so that it looks like Sundial Bridge. It’s like a Ferrari, an ode to the perfection of style, both outside and inside, not a big caddy sofa, but compact, yet not cramped, and striking just the right point between luxury and sportiness, exposing some of its sporty workings, but just enough to create the feeling of occasion. The only part these clients might not like is that it doesn’t move. Although most of them have their yacht to move around, almost certainly a Baia, as the Ferretti and Donzi aren’t quite as stylish.

    Me personally, I’m rather a Porsche and Magnum person, I put reliability, practicality and price-performance ahead of style. But I appreciate style whenever it is, and I really like the Paperstead, it’s a beautiful, beautiful design.


    [quote]It’s probably useful to be able to evaluate (different) designs before building anything.  It’s much less expensive to do that than to build without reviewing different designs.  ClubStead’s also been engineered by professional naval architects who have actual billion dollar designs currently in blue water.[/quote]

    BTW, there’s about a dozen of 1 billion+ designs in blue water today, and each of their names with either ‘CV’, ‘SS*N’, or their foreign equivalents. The list of the companies they come from is about 6 names long, specifically Newport News in VA, Electric Boat in IL, DCNS in France, Rubin and a couple others in Russia, and Marineitech isn’t on in. Though this is just an inconsequential jfyi-type correction.

    It’s inconsequential because there’s no problem with the Clubstead design. It’s fine, it will float, it will do all that it’s advertised to do. Like a Ferrari – so do you drive one? I don’t, although a number of my colleagues do. I just hope this Paperstead was done at a discount price.

    Which brings us to the fact that it’s not an either-or – “either evaluate or build”. The design of a smaller platform costs significantly less, and is much more useful for building a small platform than the design of a large one. It does make sense to design something closer to what you actually plan to (actually can) build, does it not? A seastead design, done by professionals, just one designed to fit within a million.

    On the other hand, the attention-grabbing value of the Clubstead is certainly much greater than that of a financially realistic one. As a publicity stunt, then, it makes perfect sense, like you don’t build an economy subcompact for your halo concept. I just hope the media exposure generated will be worth it.


    [quote]HTDC, can you post some details about your proposed DIY design, preferrably in the single family seastead forum or wiki?  When you talk about something for sheltered waters, it sounds like you’re talking about a houseboat.  Maybe this is a misimpression.[/quote]

    I’m not talking about a houseboat, but about a four-legged (or single-legged moored), not-DIY, but shipyard-built platform, designed for more than a single family (unless said family is rich). The reasonable size for a DIY platform is between 400 and 1800 sq.ft., based on ground transportation and assembly limitations, and most likely closer to the low end. That’s 400 living space, plus 400 below, plus 400 open deck, though, and the latter too can be enclosed (but not watertight). Also keep in mind that a seastead family is no more than two.

    It’s likely that until seasteading becomes as reliable an investment as a house on land, people will have to settle for multi-family ‘homes’ and a footage around that of a small condo or apartment. Generally, even after that, people will have to do with a European rather than American lifestyle, economics-wise. I mean, you won’t have a four-acre yard with the home taking a full acre, cook on an electric stove, have no “off” button on your A/C, take hollywood showers, flush with four gallons, and keep two broken trucks in your garage for you can’t bothered to scrap them. On the other hand, it doesn’t have to be a military lifestyle either, even on the most basic seastead you’ll have better living conditions than a USN Commander or even a Captain. Ranging between Eastern and Western Europe conditions perhaps, depending on the budget.

    Said platform would be suitable for regular ocean conditions, but not for Pacific storms, so would have to be operated in milder environments like that of any bay, Mediterranean, maybe the Gulf of Mexico. A more heavy-duty design suitable for the open ocean is possible within the same size and budget, however, it would most probably be still only certifiable as a yacht, not a commercial passenger vessel. I specialize in surface combatant design, however, rather than yachts and platforms, and we have other regulations than SOLAS, so I can’t tell anything for sure here. Don’t get me wrong, it can be safe, just that the level of “safe” required to be trusted with paying passengers’ lifes is different than that for yours, volunteers’, or servicemen’ ones.

  18. MI&T has designed several existing billion dollar oil platforms and oil processing ships.  Please see their web site http://www.marineitech.com/.

    Clubstead is fundamentally a truss design.  It adds cable stays to share some of the loads in order to reduce the mass and cost of the trusses.

    The Pacific is relatively calm compared to the North and South Atlantic, and the Gulf of Mexico has hurricanes.  The Med is relatively calm compared to say the North Atlantic in a storm.

    Is your design available for viewing somewhere, or the specifications of it?  My main complaint about Clubstead is that it’s too low to the water.  The air gap is two small for rogue waves, for example.  What is the freeboard or air gap of your design?

  19. Oceanopolis, the SWATH ship you found is interesting, but it’s likely a spar structure would be handle a wider range of sea states.  SWATH vessels depend on active buoyancy control and can handle a fairly narrow range of waves.  Ironically a spar structure may be more practical than SWATH.

  20.    It is in fact a SLICE technology http://www.lockheedmartin.com/data/assets/corporate/press-kit/Sea-SLICE-Brochure.pdf. I do have my doubts regarding which one will perform better,…but the point was the cost here. The one that I found can accomodate 1200 passangers for 80 Mil$. So, for only 270 passangers will cost only 20 Mil$, yeah?? In my book MI&T is highly overpriced for this size of design,….I can put a bid for the construction somewhere in the15-20 Mil$ price range, built it of cor-ten, in about 10 month, and still make 2 Mil$, in my pocket. And I can put it in writing.

  21. Jeff, you haven’t addressed any of the real points I made.

     As for the cost of the designs, I haven’t found anything on the site. From what I know otherwise, a few civilian ships and platforms cost in high hundreds of millions, but don’t quite cross the billion-dollar mark. Either way that is not important. I’m not questioning their ability to design a marine platform. It’s fine, it will float, and all that. The problem is that it’s too expensive for a ‘seastead’, both overall and individually. Also, it will never be built, so it’s just a mental exercise. An expensive mental exercise, at that, unless the company made a huge discount to TSI.

    One thing I have to completely disagree with is your comment about the lack of air gap. The Clubstead is well sufficient for its intended operating conditions. Maybe even on the safe side, although it’s explainable as the superstructure seems to be absolutely unprotected and non-resilient. Designing vessels to withstand rogue waves without damage is akin to designing the family saloon that can only do 110mph to handle a 150mph crash… and remain drivable.


    Of course, I don’t have a design done to the same stage as this one. That’s work that takes very significant time and effort, which I could rather spend doing the same for a price. What I do have is preliminary but professional estimates, which, nonetheless, indicate that a low-cost seastead for moderate sea conditions is indeed possible. I could post sketches and descriptions, but sadly I don’t see the point of going through the trouble, as I’m not sure if there are people here who actually have enough inclination to go therough with it.

    If you’re really interested in the air gap, we’re looking at about 30 ft. for the 3,000 (6,000) sq.ft. professionally built version, or at about 20 ft. for a mobile modular DIY design (200 to 1800 sq.ft., 200-800 typical). The latter’s low air gap is caused by the 45…55ft. overall height limit imposed by US road regulations. However, smaller designs don’t require such a large an air gap, for they will float up and down with the longer waves, and storms strong enough to cause damage endanger the structure in any case. Particularly so for a modular one.

    Said designs are also supposed to have their lower level watertight, and have a simplified cone reserve buoyancy structure below it, which means that waves reaching them (or, indeed, even splashing the deck) aren’t the end of the world for such a platform. So 20 ft. is safe for anything short of a storm. That’s quite good for a part-time resort, which you’re supposed to keep close enough to the shore to be able to get back in case of a storm warning, if you have decided to moor it where storms occur. This doesn’t mean a storm will destroy it, just create a greater risk than considered safe for habitation (i.e., practically you’ll just get back and live on if you haven’t forgot to close the hatches). It could be designed to stay safe through a storm, but that would compromise the comfort too severely, as well as affect cost and convenience.


  22. Hi Oceanopolis.  Regarding SLICE vs Clubstead, the comparison is fairly apples and oranges since one is a platform and the other is a ship, but I see your point about their relative costs.  SLICE, patented by Lockheed, is a modification of SWATH using multiple, short hulls instead of singular long ones (per side).  It’s claimed advantage is lower drag, higher speed, and the related benefits.  The prototype was 100 feet long and could handle claimed 12 foot waves at 30 knots, which does sound like it would outperform SWATH in terms of speed and sea state for a given displacement (i.e., mass).  Speed is useful in a ship since the goal of a ship is generally to transit large distances relatively quickly.  The goal of a seastead is to be stable not fast, and I believe a spar design may outperform a ship of similar displacement in terms of stability and sea state (wave-handling) capability.

    Presumably everyone knows that I’m a proponent of using ships, but it’s worth pointing out some of their fundamental differences.

    Therefore, thanks for finding an interesting ship design.  🙂

    Here’s some more complete coverage of SLICE at globalsecurity.org http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/systems/ship/sea-slice.htm

  23. Hi HDTC, When MI&T gave their presentation at the first Seasteading conference, someone asked the cost of an oil platform design of theirs which they showed.  It was more than a billion dollars fully outfitted.  For example, the en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thunder_Horse oil platform cost $1 billion.  Seems to be about the going rate.  (Gives some perspective about the value of oil.)

    Rogue waves are rare, but it’s worth considering them if the goal is permanent settlement on the ocean.  It’s probably not much fun to have a permanent settlement that’s wiped out occasionally by a rogue wave, and it would seem to fail the permanence requirement if so.

    Regarding floating near the waterline, of course it’s doable, but if you put a structure above the deck, as a houseboat does, then it seems unlikely that the structure above the deck would survive waves washing over the deck very well.  As you describe it, your design may work fine in protected waters, for temporary use in the open ocean in limited waves relatively very near shore, but what if you don’t want to be near a shore?

    Patri addresses this issue with open ocean breakwaters, but it’s not clear to me how feasible they are.  Until they’re possible, something in the open ocean needs to be able to handle whatever waves the ocean throws at it, including 30 meter high rogue waves.

    Here’s some coverage of roge waves en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rogue_wave_(oceanography)

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