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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 18, 2008
I had this exact same idea.
I think it could actually work.
 
 
Aug 18, 2008
Yar, matey. Bring on yer barges and treasure. Me and my crew stand ready to serve ye good and proper. Yar.
 
 
Aug 18, 2008
Sailors who, with their families, spend significant time voyaging already model this behavior.

There are numerous families, some with and some without children, who live aboard their boats and who journey from place to place. A given family might summer in the Pacific Northwest, move south with the fall to Mexico or Panama, and then head for Hawaii in the early spring. Their "barges" already have effective low-emission propulsion by harnessing the wind (i.e., sails).

There are problems, though. 1) Pirates. This is a much bigger issue than you realize, Scott. And neither governments nor flotillas have been able to deal effectively with them. 2) Storms. Few sailboats -- and almost no sailboats loaded with cruising gear -- can outrun storms. They are frightening experiences at sea, and even worse when you're moored due to other "barges" nearby and the unforgiving nature of pilings, docks, and the land itself. 3) Costs. Unless you're retired or have a job that you can do without being physically present, costs, while lower than those on land, do mount up. And it's pretty hard to draw Dilbert when you're under sail.

BTW, it's virtually all sailboats. There are few individual-scale powerboats that can cross oceans, and those that do require enormous and costly reserves of fuel. Solar panels today can keep batteries charged and provide power for navigation devices, computers, and even the occasional microwaved bag of popcorn, but they're nowhere near adequate for even occasional real propulsion of a boat large enough to live aboard.
 
 
Aug 18, 2008
I lived on a US aircraft carrier for several years. There are many ways in which this was similar to what you are proposing, except for the overbearing governmental influence of course. We ran on nuclear power, had the arms to keep away pirates, ships would bring us fresh food supplies, and we even had internet!!

The only trouble is that even with all that technology working for us, we couldn't always avoid the weather. Trust me--you don't want to be living on a barge with 40 foot ocean swells crashing over your bow....
 
 
+2 Rank Up Rank Down
Aug 18, 2008
Seems to me you might as well use ocean thermal energy conversion. That's still around at night so needs no expensive storage, and while you have to lug around the generator, that's not a huge problem since you don't really care about speed here.
 
 
Aug 18, 2008
There's a great novel set on just that kind of city. Not exactly how you describe it, and it is a sci-fi novel, but it's very good. It's called The Scar, by China Mieville. Great author.
 
 
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Aug 18, 2008
Scott--

Interesting idea, but one of your compelling ideas for why this would be fiesable would negate itself. In order to get all the services and defenses necessary to people on BargeCity (tm pending), they would have to form a government in order for the services to be cost effective and to more efficiently use basic resources (water, electricity, etc.) The idea of a sort of privatized world in the middle of the pacific would be too costly to endure, and the lack of rules in international waters would keep all but the craziest from emmigrating.

So people would want a government as a kind of insurance policy.
 
 
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Aug 18, 2008
You heretic! God said: 'replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea', not 'replenish the sea'!

Well, at least some will shout something like that, if Scott's predictions come true.
 
 
Aug 18, 2008
http://www.seasteading.org/
 
 
+2 Rank Up Rank Down
Aug 18, 2008
You'd need two more things:

1. Greenhouse section for fresh produce during long voyages.

2. Surveillance drones aren't enough - you need a defense system to ward off pirates (a surprisingly popular vocation worldwide).

3. An emergency propulsion system to quickly avoid bad weather. Various types of severe weather can move quickly and unpredictably for long distances. I wouldn't want to be anywhere near them with only a solar powered propeller system trying to whiz me along.

Postscript: Don't forget the inflatable emergency life rafts.
 
 
Aug 18, 2008
Until some submarines suddenly submerges through your barge
 
 
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Aug 18, 2008
People with kids would never live on a barge. We'd all be terrified our little ones would go over the side. With non-swimmers under five, I wouldn't live in a house with a pool or on the river or on the lake, either.

 
 
Aug 18, 2008
A common futurist-sci/fi scenario. After all, water surface to land surface = 70/30. As Scott says, you need some tech, tho'. And if we can't keep the in-duh-viduals from reproducing exponentially ......
 
 
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Aug 18, 2008
Coming soon to a theater new you: the long-awaited sequel to "Waterworld", "Barge World" starring Scott Adams!
 
 
Aug 18, 2008
Then why are you building a land based house? Why not be the first (or near the first) to build/design and live on a barge in the Bay? San Francisco Bay would be a great address (in some areas.)
 
 
 
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