Community at Sea - Drowning Man and Ephemerisle 2016


So I just got here today and introduced myself in an old, yet still active introduction thread:

After reading through some more of the most recent topic threads, I gotta say it’s a little depressing.

First impressions are that there some people that want to do something, but are pretty cynical about what can be done and some other people that seem to be doing things, but don’t have a lot more to show for it than concept art. Different people have different ideas about what seasteading even is, what they want to get out of it and what the over all goals of the movement would be. But a lot of people seem to think that anything will require insane amounts of money to even get started.

But I did come across this one thread/comment, which got me thinking:

Setting aside the differences between what Burners are trying to accomplish and what seasteaders are trying to accomplish, I do think this community could borrow some of their principals:


  • Radical Self Reliance
  • Communal Effort
  • Participation
  • Immediacy

I’m not discounting the other principals, but I’m ignoring them for the sake of trying to avoid points of philosophical contention.

What I’m saying is that I think this community needs an immediate communal effort participating in radical self reliance.

What I imagine is picking a coordinate at sea and a date some time in the future and then everyone who is able put together your idea of what a prototype seastead is, or just get on a regular old boat, and go. Just freaking go and lets see what happens, maybe only a few people show up in yachts, maybe there will be a bunch of awesome new technology to actually show off.

We can stay for a week having these conversations in real life, those who make big claims can put up or shut up, there can be demonstrations of technology or just more presentations of the same pie-in-sky utopia videos Then we can have a closing party and everyone can sail back to wherever they’re from and come back here to have some discussions about what we learned.

Obviously a lot planning will need to happen ahead of time and some kind of overarching organization would be helpful, but it won’t be as hard as trying to create a new nation and it’d be a stake in the ground that people can rally around. It’ll be at sea, not on a web forum and everyone can have a chance to get their feet wet (ha!) and see if it’s really something they want to be a part of.

Maybe I’m just as naive and idealistic as any other newcomer, but even if only 5 ships got together, it’d be a start. Say what you want about the people who attend Burning Man, or the culture (I’ve never gone myself), but what I see is something that started 20 years ago with just a small group of people expressing themselves in the desert to a real community that builds an entire city of tens of thousands in a harsh climate and then takes it apart within a few weeks.

What they did from the bottom-up is not all that dissimilar to what I think we’re trying to do, except we seem to be trying to do it from the top-down, hoping billionaires will swoop in and just make it reality. Why not flip the script? Why not just see what happens when a bunch of people jump on boats and meet to create a temporary community in the ocean for a couple weeks? Couldn’t that be as likely a place to start with seasteading as multi-million dollar floating islands?

Thanks for anyone who read this far and doubly thanks for anyone who has constructive feedback of some sort. I’ll be first to say I don’t mind taking a leading role in creating this if there is interest, but probably have less community organizing and nautical experience than many others. What I will say that is I’m earnest and honest and will do everything in my power to make it a reality if there are really people behind me.

- Shawn


By and large, it mostly seems to be financial issues stopping most of us. If all goes well for the next couple of years, so I can get out from under the rent, I may be able to begin on building the infrastructure I need to build my concept. Kinda hard to do anything requiring special equipment, without that equipment, or the subsequent supplies.

At the momoent I’m battling chronic fatigue, probably related to recently diagnosed central apnea, but I have collected some supplies for testing of cheap, diy geopolymers. Should get a batch done in a few days. No idea if it’ll work, or be worth anything, but…


I also am short of money, and boat, and place to launch boat and keep car. At the moment, it’s too hot to be outside building boat, there’s 100F all over the local weather temperature map. It’s very frustrating. At night, when it’s cool outside, it’s also the customary time to make no sounds.


I don’t have a lot money or a boat either. I have no plans to build a boat unless someone in NJ is a boat builder and wants to teach me.

But those are just current circumstances and I wouldn’t suggest we meet next week in any case.

Lots of people who go to Burning Man also don’t have money or cars. They band together, many times with total strangers and many people who do it frequently start planning months in advance.

My first questions to both of you would be, if money wasn’t an option, would you want to go? Do you have any interest in meeting fellow seasteaders or have any ideas you’d like to show off in real life or even just want to try living at sea with other people for a little while?

My question second… how long do you think it would take to save enough money or build something that could get you to an arbitrary point in the Caribbean? Do you think you’d be open to working together with other people to charter or build a boat as a group?

My initial thoughts would be that this would probably need to take place at least 9-12 months from now. That would be enough time to plan out the location / time that would have good conditions while also allowing people to save, plan out how they’re gonna make it out, and potentially put together some demonstration of how they would help build contribute to the seasteading movement.

P.S. - I just picked the Caribbean as an arbitrary place I had heard people mention in a recent project topic (think it was the bahamas?). I’d be down for any place that had the most support.


First, I have health issues, second, I have a fixed, limited income, third, it may be 2 years before I can toss rent out, as a routing bill, before I can move on to beginning any sort of construction, fourth, While my concept is mobile, even if I were given $500K today, it would not necessarily be ready in a couple of years. I have to build and collect the tools and the equipment, to build the tools and equipment to build the design, as well as do materials testing, and have an engineering analysis done. I know how I think it should be done, but I’m the one that want’s to build my design.

My basic concept is derived from the FLIP ‘ship’, yet motorized and somewhat smaller. It’s basically a spar-buoy that also becomes a boat. At roughly 175 ft in length, it won’t be an overnight project, even when I have everything in place to begin construction, and it will have to be built at sea, in order to make the most efficient use of the chosen technique.

I have no money to go to Six-Flags, much less the Caribbean. I’m not even sure how I’m going to afford a 10th anniversary celebration, even as dinner for two, in a couple of years.

Not trying to harsh the concept. Just my particular circumstances. I have come up with a few ideas that could help me do, on-the-cheap, what I want, but I’m still a long way from getting anywhere near to wetting a hull.


That’s essentially what Ephemerisle was intended to be.


Hey man, you’re not harshing the concept, it sounds like you got a lot of personal issues to deal with and I empathize. I’m not pushing anyone to put themselves at financial or physical risk to do something like this. I’m simply trying to create an opportunity for anyone who would want to take it.

If this were to become a real thing, then perhaps you’d be able to come to Drowning Man 2018 and show it off.


Instead of just one, maybe we ought to see about locations for multiple gatherings, such as has happened with Burning Man.

What kind of participation has actually occurred? Is there any special request for something like the individual floating dock for each participant, such as described in “The Ganymeade Protocol”…?


Well that is freaking interesting man… so I guess no need to reinvent the wheel here just yet maybe.

July 11 - 17 2016 is the next one. How many people have gone or would be going next year?

I still think there should be something at sea with larger boats, but it might be a little premature to try to actually do in the next year. However, it might be something to plan over the next year and try to get people interested in at Ephemerisle 2016 and Burning Man 2016.

I still think that a grassroots movement toward seasteading will be more successful in getting things done than the top-down approach and while this looks like what I was talking about, I think graduating to the open ocean would be the eventual goal.

So I think I’ll change this thread around for now and ask who would be interested in putting together a Ephemerisle 2016 boat?



I have a concept that I might be able to float in a few years, just for something like this, on the cheap. I can reduce the scale to use, say 5-to-10 gallon buckets for floatation, as suggester elsewhere by @KatOnTri … I’ll have to look into it.

No way I’m going to make it to Cali. Guess I’ll see what I can do, then float the idea for on e (other than Spring Break)…

Sanitation is going to be a major concern. What has been done, in regards to waste management, at ephemerisle?


I don’t use Facebook, so it’s kind of annoying that most of their communication and organizing seems to be done through there.

Not sure about the answer to sanitation, still gotta do research and would probably help to find someone who’s gone before. Considering the event was started by TSI, I’d be surprised if no one on on this forum wasn’t aware of someone who’s been involved in the past


Wouldn’t be too difficult to knock together something resembling the jellyfish barge base, with a number of the larger plastic handicapped-access/family-sized portable outhouses, with waste containment and an overhead shower/floor-drainage through a grease/soap and hair type trap system, to discharge through a baffled chlorination sanitizer of some sort, then discharg the cleansed water at depth…?

Maybe a ring of large ones, with doors facing inward and a central ring of small, individual size stalls facing outward, and a ring walkway between…?

Each one could have chp hot-water/solar chargers, and a battery-operated pump/filter system? If you need hot water check the battery indicator and water temp gauge, before entering? Would have to check and see how practical such a thing would be to make, as well as the regs on the water discharge, but as long as it’s not feces and treated, it should be OK.

I know they use brine/electricity chlorination systems in some marine toilets, but for a temporary gtg, surely the larger marinas have some sort of system in use for their extended tie-ups for live-aboards, that could be emulated…


Could adapt something like this, to provide pump-out collection, to prevent sewage discharge, as well.


Remember, with no millionaire benefactor, you will need to charge attendees cash to pay for those amenities. And floaties to put them on, and fuel to move them offshore (and hopefully back to land) for the event. I suggest discussion with people who have put on events of the size you anticipate. Those who don’t buy tickets, or sign on (as crew?) with boat owners, will arrive on their own boat with their own infrastructure. This will cost money, you could lose some. Becha cannot get insurance. Look for ways to swap for free, like offer advertising to get free marina docks for a week, and the large fishing boats to tow stuff out and back.

I suggest renting a small holding tank, a MSD macerator, pipe to reach the bottom, a baby diesel genny, watermaker and storage, lights, sound system with a DJ (for at least one night), marina floaties (with lights, water, and 120v power) to tie boats to, and a lightweight barge to put it on for a week. A small stocked and equipped walkup restaurant (grill, oven, freezer, fridge, sinks, icemaker, air conditioner) with at least one paid chef and some volunteers would benefit you, never underestimate the power of ice in a drink after the 10pm dance. Plan at least 6 months in advance, invite and schedule a speechmaker or two. At 6 mo out, you can schedule organic groceries at a discount. Yep, i’ve been to a few events, none offshore tho.

The less you do, the less you provide, equals the less people will enjoy, the less they’ll want to return next year, the less free good publicity you get. But if you plan it to be smooth running without your oversight, you can sit back and enjoy it too.

Sadly, with no incubation center running, TSI will be missing out on developing and having a perfect demo of technology to show off at such an event.

(Chad Elwartowski) #16

Why is it that the first time I heard about Ephemerisle 2015 was after Ephemerisle 2015? Did they not want to tell the seasteading community?


I cannot tell you that until after Ephemerisle 2016.

No, but really, if they use only facebook, and not a real website, i won’t ever hear of them.


This also makes me curious… does anyone from TSI actually post here? This is the official Seastead Institute discussion forum, right?

I recently read this Reason article from a few months back

Which was making the case that some Wired article was misrepresenting the current state of the movement… but from what I’ve seen so far, I can’t seem to find any real substance. I donated some cash and sent an email to the official email address asking about helping and have received no response. Half of their official web content is either out of date or not working and this discussion forum seems to be filled with people who have no connection to TSI and are trying to raise money for projects outside of their scope and without their help.

The only new content I see is CGI animations that look like they’re from a video game trailer and now an email asking me to vote for the best design from a whole set of pictures.

Speaking of video games… Star Citizen is a MMORPG that is 100% crowdfunded and while they might have more money than TSI, they spend most of it on actual development and yet they still have enough time and energy to do actual community management.

They have been doing design contests where groups design new in-game space ships for years and have weekly Youtube videos discussing throughout the contest time with weekly discussions with top game designers/engineers about the pros/cons. How is it that they pull off something legitimate than this contest which is about a real world movement?

And that’s just one of the community online “events” that they take the time to do while building this (hopefully) awesome game.

I get that this isn’t a video game, but if the TSI has any raised money and is actually working on stuff, how can building an actual community be of so little value to them? Are they just working in a bubble with little to no external feedback?

I’ve heard some people mention how they don’t do incubators and yet I also remember reading that they originally wanted to encourage all sorts of groups to be competing and building technology. So what exactly, are they doing toward that end? Where is the meat of this work being done? Has anyone actually met or spoken to anyone on the inside?


No. No. No. No. No. No.

Well, that was 20 characters, and now i got a popup saying “Body is invalid; try to be a little more descriptive”.

A lil more descriptive than “invalid”? That’s too off-topic.


Yes, this is the official forum.

Randy Hencken (Executive Director) and Joe Quirk (Communications Director) are essentially all there is of actual TSI staff. So though they are registered here, they don’t visit often and post even less often.

I am the volunteer operational forum admin and spamfighter for TSI, so when it comes to the operation of this forum, I officially represent TSI (however I will be leaving the position at the end of this year or when TSI finds a replacement, whichever comes first).

However I do NOT officially represent TSI in anything other than the operation of this forum plus a few limited aspects of the TSI main website and the TSI wiki website.