They told Thor Heyerdahl that balsa rafts couldn’t make it to Polynesia- and there WERE problems. But there were also some interesting benefits.
As for code conformity, there are certain expectations of safety and risk management nowadays that are clearly good ideas, but weren’t in place when many traditional methods were developed. Codes are limited in that they are inherently conservative implementations of what has already worked before- they aren’t intended to be experimental or new. Much like engineering is not science- science explores boundaries and engineering implements the known. There are certain new, experimental, and unknown things which can’t be engineered- only tried empirically. You and I definitely agree on this point.
But in the course of that experimentation, new codes can be developed to give confidence. Building codes aren’t bad things in themselves.
RE: rafts- I have given serious consideration to building a modern materials version of Thor Heyerdahl’s raft with the intent of being an ocean platform.
Key elements in my mind are:
-longitudinal strength of individual structural elements, with:
-loose lateral coupling to provide flexible movement with waves, avoid suction forces during sag
-length proportional to average wavelength of seas to be encountered to minimize hog/sag
-width proportional to length and minimums for occupation
-materials resistant to UV, corrosion, cold, and bio-accumulation and inherently buoyant
Then use modern understanding of aero/hydrofoils to provide steerage using combinations of dagger boards or lee boards, sail, and using an on-board generator, electric motors for vectored propulsion in close quarters. I could really see it being a Caribbean, Mediterranean, or Gulf of Siam type of permanent liveaboard solution.