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I've written about this before, but it's interesting to see the technology coming together to make it feasible. The idea is that people will start living on barge-like boats and slowly motor or sail around the ocean to stay in the best weather.

You'd need a number of technologies to make this feasible, and all of them either exist or soon will. Obviously you want solar power, and some method of storing the energy for night, such as this: http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2008/oxygen-0731.html

You'd need a desalinization device, GPS, and some sort of satellite Internet service. And you'd probably need some serious waste treatment gear.

The reason I think the future will be barges instead of standard boats is that you can start small and add real estate as you can afford it. Just connect a new barge and presto. And you can dock to other barges to create temporary or permanent communities. If the barges are designed to be connected, according to some common standard, the entire city can move around to the best weather and fishing spots as needed.

The reason I think this will be a compelling lifestyle is that you won't have to pay much in taxes if you live and work in international waters. And there will be no government to squelch your freedoms, unless you choose to form one. Big countries will have no compelling reason to conquer your barge, or even your barge city, because it will have no strategic value.

With scale, you get floating hospitals and schools and all the other services you need. The big problem would be pirates. But there is a theoretical amount of firepower that makes that risk manageable too. You could have your own surveillance drones that warn you well in advance of any company.

I think it will happen.
 
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Aug 19, 2008
A great idea, especially the part about not having government(s) to rule/ruin your life. Almost as good as making a contribution to the Hilary Clinton campaign in return for spending a week with the non-candidate (what does this sound like? paying for a lady's time...), all so that she can pay off debt owed in large portion to herself...

On second thought, I like the barge idea better...F. Paine
 
 
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Aug 19, 2008
I think the larger danger is people starting to use the phrase 'President Costner'
but seriously, you need to stop watching Waterworld.
 
 
Aug 19, 2008
Sounds great! Throw in a crew of press ganged monkeys and I'm in.
 
 
+3 Rank Up Rank Down
Aug 19, 2008
Thank you for being the torch-bearer for people who are willing to think outside the box. If NASA had been peopled with folks like yourself, we'd have had PanAm clippers headed for the moon by 2001 as Clarke predicted, instead of interminable debates and an organization that still sends people out into space with 286 processors.

I love the idea. Make it so!

And thanks for knowing the difference between a hobo and a tramp.
 
 
Aug 19, 2008

I love the idea. . . . but. .

1. As mentioned previously, storms. I recommend column stabilized units for stability. 40 foot waves no problem. Category V storm. . . problem. You have to run from those.

2. Insurance (and other hidden costs) For a bank to float a loan, and the vessel to be insured requires lots of people getting involved, including people to check your design and make sure it is built to the design (classification socities, like mine) and also you will have to survey the object to make sure it is still seaworthy.

3. Monetary costs associated with floating structures. To build a house on land, you nail a few sticks together, and presto- a house. To make a house on the ocean, first you have to build some floating land. . . and land is expensive, trust me. For something the size of a football field, it would cost about 10-20 million, and that should be without any propulsion. It would take some rich entrepreneuer (hint hint) to start it out. Maybe you need to change the building materials, from traditional steel to extruded plastic or concrete, or used diapers pressed into a block.

Go for it, blaze a trail!
 
 
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Aug 18, 2008
Sorry, that should have been "Sails on barges are very slow" not "Sales on barges are very slow"
Damn homonyms
 
 
+3 Rank Up Rank Down
Aug 18, 2008
While there are many commendable ideas here, there are several impracticalities that make it unlikely. Modular barges that can be as big as you want already exist. Just buy the number of sections you want and pin them together. Solar power is plentiful on the ocean, and soon the panels will be efficient enough to run everythig you would need out there, except propulsion. Sales on barges are very slow, since stable barge hulls are inherently slow. That is one of the trade offs in marine architecture: stability goes down as speed goes up, and vice versa, unless you are willing to build a catamaran or trimaran or similar SWATH type hull, but those are $$$ and you give up load capacity. The big problems are pirates and weather. Granted, you might be able to arm this island against pirates, but unless this private militia is well trained eventually something bad is going to happen. The more likely problem is weather. You simply cannot outrun a storm moving at 15 knots over the ocean. Even with powerful tug boats (diesel - more $$$) they just are not fast enough, and barges are not seaworthy enough to withstand 20 foot seas and 70 knot winds. You can follow the statistically best places for calm weather, but Mother Nature always has the last word. BTW, tsunamis are NOT a problem on the open ocean. Out at sea, a tsunami is only inches high, it is only close to shore that the shallow water forces the wave energy up into a big crest.
 
 
Aug 18, 2008
Maybe I'm missing something here but the biggest difficulty I've in mind now is only risk management. Private is not a thing but Tsunami is. Barge-like boats would not be Tsunami proof and nobody is likely to invest and live in it if the whole city can sink.
 
 
Aug 18, 2008
Waste treatment? Doesn't New York City use barges to haul their garbage out to the open ocean and just dump it? Seems to me if that's good enough for NYC... Or maybe we could just leave our garbage with them...
 
 
Aug 18, 2008
Actually, a huge barge city could have incredible strategic value. The thing is mobile. If I want to crush the economy of a neighboring country that borders the sea, I could hijack a city and stick it in front of their port. The civilians on it would make it very hard to destroy; nobody wants to be the guy who nuked a city full of innocent civilians. Another problem is barges attacking one another. It would be an anarchy. No laws, hundreds of individuals or small groups, you get a situation like "Road Warrior," only in the water. And any large, self-sustaining community is going to need taxes. The only positive about it is that you can add more real estate whenever you want. I see this happening, oh, in the distant future when the world runs out of habitable land but before space travel is economical.
 
 
Aug 18, 2008
The biggest problem wouldn't be pirates, it would be the same problem that plagues every society on Earth - average human beings.
 
 
Aug 18, 2008
this reminds me of the weird little "country" of sealand

http://www.fruitsofthesea.demon.co.uk/sealand/gallery.html

 
 
Aug 18, 2008
The envisioned barge communities in international waters have their precedent in the creation of the city states in Europe during the early 1300s.

http://www.ucalgary.ca/applied_history/tutor/endmiddle/c-states.html

These cooperating barge populations would be subject to all the challenges besetting any new nation building society. A rough row to hoe with a lot of failures and lessons learned along the way. Our ocean’s resources are finite and are already stretched to the limit. A more realistic notion may be to colonize space where resources are unlimited. But hey, nobody really knows what will happen, except the futurist and what do they know?

 
 
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Aug 18, 2008
They could be submersible, so in the stormy weather you can decend to a safe depth and avoid the danger.

...and maybe meet Ariel the mermaid who also lives in a fantasy world, where kids cartoon characters have the best bods around!

(I really need to get a life, and a grirlfriend!)
 
 
Aug 18, 2008
It's a wonderfully appealing idea, but I think there is probably a reason that barges are used on rivers but not on the open ocean.
 
 
Aug 18, 2008
I wrote a short story about this exact idea in high school 20 years ago - right down to the idea of connectible floats and solar panels. Everyone thought it was very creative, but otherwise silly. Then "Waterworld" came out, now you're talking about it. Sounds like I need to trust my instincts a little more.
 
 
Aug 18, 2008
There are a few ideas similar to this on the drawing boards. See "Freedom Ship - The City at Sea", at http://www.freedomship.com/.

 
 
Aug 18, 2008
Is there anyway I can "short" this idea?
 
 
Aug 18, 2008
It's a great idea and I dream of it.
 
 
+2 Rank Up Rank Down
Aug 18, 2008
This is the theme of my novel All the World is Mine, which you can download at

http://nutopia.free.fr/earth/
 
 
 
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