Landluber's Guide to Seasteading Feasibility

(Larry G) #21

I have taken advantage of the foreign earned income exclusion during several tax years. Bona fide residence doesn’t even require being outside the US for 330 days (typically means you own or have a lease agreement for a residence, and pay taxes in the overseas jurisdiction). The physical presence test does require being present in another country or countries for 330 days during a floating 12 month period. Both require residence outside the territory of the US- outside the EEZ, I would lay a bet, although I doubt there has been a test case to establish specific precedent for a person living aboard a floating accommodation off-shore but inside the EEZ.

There’s an upper limit on the amount of foreign earned income that may be excluded (about 6 figures), and they still have you on the hook for Social Security taxes up the maximum (also around 6 figures). The income also must be earned OUTSIDE the US. So you can’t make $100,000 in one month, spend the rest of the year in the Bahamas, and exclude the income from federal income tax.

Taxation is definitely a reason for residing outside the US in the proper circumstances.

(.) #22

Not paying taxes is not the goal for me.
Earning is the goal.

(Larry G) #23

Sure, but once one starts really earning money, taxation matters a lot.

US Federal Income Tax Brackets for Single Persons (2016)
10% $0 to $9,275 Max. $927.50
15% $9,276 to $37,650 Max. $4256.25
25% $37,651 to $91,150 Max. $13374.75
28% $91,151 to $190,150 Max. Foreign Earned Income Exclusion: $2701.72
33% $190,151 to $413,350
35% $413,351 to $415,050
39.6% $415,051 or more

I cut the totals off at $100,800 which is the 2016 limit on Foreign Earned Income Exclusion. So if you earned exactly $100,800 in Foreign Income in 2016, the difference between you and a person who earned the exact same amount inside the US would be a total of $21,260.22.

That’s an overall 21.1% increase of actual money in your pocket.

If you made exactly half the limit ($50,400) in the United States you would pay a total of $8371 in Federal Income Tax, or 16.6% of your income. Saving almost 17% of your income would certainly make a pretty big difference to a person making $50k/year, wouldn’t it?

It doesn’t make sense to forego living in a thriving economy just because you have to pay taxes. But if you can make the same amount where the tax regime is more favourable, it doesn’t make sense to ignore that incentive either.

(Theodore M. Amenta) #24

Prototype — I wanted to share the configuration of floating platforms for the “prototype” and encourage your comments and critique. The platforms (barges) are arranged to form a marina-harbor. The smaller platforms are 164 feet x 100 feet. The larger is 164’x164’. The platforms will be occupied with buildings of mixed-use: Yacht Club, lodging, co-work and incubator offices, residential with supplemental cafes, retail, grocery and personal services for a total population of 300. The important point here is the creation of a “sense of place” for people — The marina is to be surrounded with an “esplanade” for walking and dining. This community is also the center for 20-acres of “vertical farming” of seaweed and shell fish. Note the small triangles between the platforms. The platforms are connected with a “tensegrity” tension structure to make the entire collection of platforms rigid. I welcome all input, critique and positive + negative thoughts. When received I will adjust and release additional work that I have previously provided to Seasteading Institute, Ted

(.) #25

Hi Ted;

Would you be located on this platform when the storm arrives?
How much of the vertical farming of sea weed and shellfish farming
would you be performing yourself?

(Larry G) #26

Is the intention to re-purpose existing barges or purpose-build? Material for the construction- steel, concrete?

Intended depth and anchoring system?

I have considered something that looks overall fairly similar but not with tensegrity connections between rectangular platforms. Seems like a lot of unusable space that way. Unless this is the space intended for aquaculture?

Have you considered more standard barge coupling methods that allow for some flex?

(Larry G) #27

Why not something like:

There’s more edge area for transitions, increases “shoreline” area, rounds the corners to something a bit more pleasing to the eye, as well as more forgiving of wind and wave loads. Gives a nice broad edge for connections rather than a corner-corner fit.

If each hex is 8 m per edge, that’s 2827 sq meters of hard top surface area, plus over 2100 sq meters of water area inside the protected harbor. Nearly 5000 sq meters of total area.

320 linear meters of “outer rim”. 240 linear meters of “inner rim”. Each hex has an area of 166 sq meters and perimeter of 48 linear meters.

Vertical relief with internal angles provides opportunities for interesting living space on the inside of each individual hex. Concavities in the inner harbor rim provide work space for boat docking as well as aquaculture activities.

Externally, a mix of concave and convex shapes to promote aquaculture. Mimics atoll-like structures. The hexes can be different heights for various purposes and simply to relieve the eye of too much symmetrical regularity in this completely “built” environment. One would position it with the harbor opening to leeward and taller hexes to windward.

(Theodore M. Amenta) #28

PROTOTYPE AT CAY SAL BANK — I find the cost of a new barge might be $100 / square foot. I realize used barges can be less. I am doing a pro forma-financial analysis (also shared with Seasteading Institute) in concert with the design. I am targeting conventionally-financing. I am flexible and receptive to input. I notice that Larry G has knowledge of barges and Bob Llewellyn has an interest and knowledge of lodging / marina operations. I propose an informal collaboration — I will adapt the prototype to a Cay Sal Bank location — or other south Florida, Bahamas location as directed. (I am located in a CT cow barn.) I will adapt the prototype to input on barges (tensegrity), marina, lodging, fishing etc. — to the recommended location. Ted

(Larry G) #29

Not much, just observations. For Cay Sal Bank, my _in_expert opinion favours simple, purpose-built concrete structures using EPS for buoyancy, and re-purposed steel barges only if the price is right.

(Theodore M. Amenta) #30

Thank you for the hexagons. There a multitude of topics here very fought to cover. The advantage of the hexagon is the increase of platform area (relatively not expensive) with the reduction of bounding edge (200% more expensive than the platform area). I have tested triangles, squares, rectangles, pentagons and hexagons ---- The hexagon is best based on the above — but. My objective here is to build the largest “captured” water space or place with the lease amount of platform surface area of very high cost. The tensegrity provides stability at lower cost than an additional platform (I think but welcome in put). The aguaculture below the platform is impacted by the shadow — The open triangles permit more sun light and less environmental negative impact. Is there any interest in collaborating on a Cay Sal Bank (or other south FL location) prototype? ---- Understand I ma several months of effort past the drawing I posted. Here s a question: What is the best edge shape for a barge that si not to move but withstand wave action? Ted

(Theodore M. Amenta) #31

Yes Spark: The notion is that this is a permanent sustainable living situation. Jobs are provided by tech start-ups, co-working, digital nomads and “anchor” — good joke — office tenants. The vertical farming is being studied by Yale and a group in Branford CT — I am in contact. I will not perform the farming ---- :slight_smile: Ted

(Larry G) #32

The answer is easy: “It depends.”

Narrow the profile to prevailing wind/wave. generally rake at least that end. Possibly round it.

I am not sure that maximizing captured water space is the most important requirement. Can you elaborate on why you prioritized that over other things like maximizing surface area or transition area?

(Larry G) #33

Depends - are you free-floating or gravity based? Anchored or controlled drifting? Fish pens and concentrated feeding, or trying to grow coral? Shellfish are filter feeders, don’t need direct photosynthesis.

Can you elaborate on this point? I understand that a concrete structure costs more to form in specific shapes than wide flat ones (up to the point that buttressing, thickening for increased strength, and additions for tensile integrity over large spans take effect).But 200%? In what material? Are you talking about articulating mechanical connections when you say 200% more expensive?

Also, edges and transitions have the most potential in biomimetic design. So they may justify the increase in cost to build.

(Theodore M. Amenta) #34

I realize I missed a question on displacement. This is more critical than shape. First, I am assuming the occupied construction is built on top of a platform (barge) and not in the body of the barge. This is an aesthetic bias of a landlubber and I am open to place portions of the occupied spaces “below deck.” I am presently designing to a 16.5’ barge depth. I understand the 64# / cubic foot displacement. For purposes of this post a building might weigh 150# / SF. Thus I need say 3 feet of displacement depth for each level of building, Second, the cost of a platform (barge) is correlated to the economic intensity of the activity place on it. So the Seasteading Institute images are not financially feasible. The cost of the platform is say $100 / SF and the value generated by solar plane arrays is possibly $10 / SF in value. THE SEASTEADING IMAGES are not financially feasible. I have shared this work with Randy and Joe.

(Theodore M. Amenta) #35

Concerning the “captured” water space. There is a history of humans in geometry that goes back to the ancient Greeks ---- village - urban design that implies that a gathering public space is a huge advantage and necessary to a socio-economic-political community. This is a first principle for the humans — they need to you and sit and watch others walk by. The esplanade is the place. The marina is only the means to make the place sufficiently large at no cost for land. Visit the resort at Hilton Head, or Costa Smeralda of Porto Fino ---- Gertrude Stein famously said about Oakland, C :There is no there there." ---- Ted, PS — Thank you for you interaction and information on the platform edge etc. ted

(.) #36

So, yes thank you for the interaction. My approach is from a different angle.
I think, the first thing seasteading needs is boats. Cheap boats are necessary
for people to come and go between common areas that would be called seasteads.
It is not good for anybody to be stuck on a floating structure.
It is not good for those who are stuck, and it is not good for anybody else either.
A boat would be private/personal property and private/personal living space.
I am not so crazy about calling an opportunity a job. But that is most likely not my decision.
That would be the decision of the individual seasteader: work a job as an employee,
or a different way of life. ( I am employed. )

(Theodore M. Amenta) #37

I accept the importance of boats, private and schedule ferry (for necessary community provisions) and transient visitors. My objective is to design and implement a sea stead that achieves the socio-economic-political “mission” defined by Seasteading Institute. The Institute has failed to achieve this. Let me give you several examples of the mission statement and the actual physical achievement thus far. 1.) Sustainable Community: — 101 Pilgrims came to the US; the 4,000 kibbutz in Israel ranged up to 250. It is thought that the smallest gene pool to continue humans is 200. I have set the minimum population as 300. 2.) Affordable: — The Institute mission explicitly states this is not a concept simply for the extremely wealthy. There for the concept must be financially feasible for the many. This requires employment. I am trying to provide several types. Free lance digital nomads who work on line. You can find multiple sites offering work to graphic designers, copywriters etc. Start-up / co-work office, aquaculture, lodging, food end beverage, marina, services. I have identified 250 jobs. ---- thus far.

(.) #38


If I may pay my two cents: employment.
Well, seasteading would be a new way of life in an unusual environment.
This is going to be unusual to many people.
The usual system is not for everybody, just like seasteading is probably not for everybody.
The new way of life can be different or can be similar to the landlubber way.
However, if someone wants the landlubber life why would they go to sea?

Providing employment and job opportunities are probably the landlubber life.
There are not many employers offer jobs out there on the high seas for seasteaders.
Seasteading is a very unusual thing, and many people think of it with aversion.
Aversion is always a possible way to relate to something new.
There are many examples for that in practical experience: such as human flight with aeroplanes,
development of operating system for a computer that is personal use, … etc…

There are negative ideas of seasteading; such as :
experimenting with drugs,
no need to leave land to experiment with drugs, and those people with drug addictions will
probably not be able to maintain their life on the high seas.

The other negative thought of land dwellers is; seasteaders want to escape paying taxes, and
it is going to be land dwellers tax liability.

The third negative thought of land dwellers, is; it is a fraud and it will take land police and court
to clean it up and it would leave a big chaos and destruction behind.

These negative extrapolations come from land experience. These things happen in human
communities on land and it could happen on sea too. Humans seem to be the common denominators.

There are other ideas too from land dwellers: libertarianism, self-sufficient living, volunteer simplicity,
off - grid living, … etc … These ideas are not for everybody on land, nor on sea.
There is lots of available land to live on, in my opinion. But the structure of land dwellers life does not
seem to result in peaceful expansion.

There seems to be a kind of feudalistic tie to location and to property on land, and people seem to look at
each other as properties and objects.

A new way of life can come from an unusual point of view. The land dwellers ideas are not necessary
the only one , that can develop, in the process of homesteading the high seas.

Applying the old rules might be not for everybody.

The way of thinking that gets me in trouble, cannot solve that trouble I got in.
It seems like, I cannot think myself into a better way of living, but I can live myself into a
better way of thinking.

Homesteading the high seas might be a better way of living for some.


Looks like my dreams of building for offshore are delayed for at least the next 5 years, maybe indefinitely. Sent in a bid to purchase 30.3 acres, here in Texas, with which I plan to establish intensive vegetable gardening, fruit and nut orchards, and intensive livestock grazing. All in order to support offshore living, as well as to encourage and teach others the methods to self-sufficiency, using known, proven methods.

Eventually, I hope to build something like an enlarged “Little SSLV” semisubmersible, for my initial offshore venture into the GoMex (Gulf of Mexico), and see where that leads.

(Theodore M. Amenta) #40

Major Point: — Seasteading Institute has never demonstrated a financially feasible project. The drawings, economics and narrative can not be feasible unless changed significantly. I have solved this. ---- There are several topics emerging into a cost / benefit analysis. 1.) Cost: I am using $100/SF the cost (per square foot) for the platforms (barges). This must be new construction as it will have significant debt financing. There are (rounding) 90,000 SF of platform area. 2.) The total cost of the project is $50 million. Thus the cost of the platform is close to 20% of the total project cost. 3.) Value: The value of land (platform area) increases with the intensity of economic activity. Farmland might be $2.00/SF (all rounding), land for a local shopping center is $6.00 to $10.00/SF, land for a two to three level medical building is $20.00/SF ----- When land (cost) or value is $25.00/SF and above structured parking is feasible. Since there is no parking on the sea stead the land value approaches $50.00/SF. ---- Thus there is a “gap.” I have found the way to close this gap ---- but I could use your comments on the platform (barge) cost and elements you might see in reducing the cost, Thanks Ted