What about the waves!?!

(Chad Elwartowski) #1

It is funny how people come on here and tell us all that there are waves in the ocean. That is the first critique I see on the Internet under any Seastead article as if none of us even consider waves when thinking of seasteads. It has become the “what about the roads?!?” question when someone talks about getting rid of taxes.

The reason many designs are currently more “barge” like is that the initial seastead will likely be in a protected harbor. Will a 100 foot wave destroy most seastead designs? Yes. Will a 100 foot wave destroy most yachts? Yes. But they still build yachts. A 100 foot wave will destroy most homes on the coast and yet people build their homes on the coast.

You do not see vast open coastlines with no homes because builders think “why would I do that? A wave could wipe out the house”. Sure, some builders build concrete domes on the coast that survive hurricanes, but most do not.

How many houses in Oklahoma are tornado-proof even though tornadoes tear through there at the highest rate of any state? How many houses near volcanoes are built to withstand a lava flow? How many houses near flood zones are built to withstand a flood?

You build within a certain amount of parameters that will account for a high percentage of the time. But building for every possible scenario you start to lose return on investment quickly.


Outside of movies, there’s no such thing as a 100 foot waves in the open ocean.

What you are describing is shore based waves. A 100 foot wave is a tsunami hitting shore. The height of the wave is directly proportional to the shallowness of the bottom, so that maximum height is achieved right at the normal shoreline.

A tsunami in the open ocean is a long rolling wave. You would not even care about it. You go up, and you go down. This is what a wave that became a “100 foot wave” on shore, looks like on the open ocean:

Likewise a poster here on the forum commonly talks about rogue waves (by another name). A rogue wave is a common phenomenon. Any wave combination can be up to 3 times the height of the waves around it, although the water volume of such high waves is much less (they are tall and narrow). This happens in low wave conditions, although we don’t really notice it. If waves are at 30 feet, we would notice a wave that is 90 feet tall, and call it abnormal. But it’s not.

A platform that is built to handle normal conditions, with safety engineering to about 3 times what is needed, will do fine.


Additionally … the surface waves talked about in a physics class don’t have the same meaning as the waves talked about by beach-goers.

So, when discussing waves relevant to a floating community in open water, what we would observe on the water surface are swells created by surface waves.

Without wind to blow over the very top of such swells, they would look like bumps in the water. Maybe they would be big linear bumps, but still they would not look like a surfer’s dream wave.

But the energy in all surface waves can be dissipated by refraction or scattering, which is why there are other discussion threads about such things as breakwaters and ramforms.

Simply put, a location surrounded by such Surface Wave Oscillation Refraction Devices cannot have a “rouge wave”, because the momentary intersection of multiple surface waves can’t happen if those surface waves were previously dissipated by the surrounding devices.

Whether the floating community was surrounded by ring of large floating objects or a wide hortizontal ring of floating mangrove forests, the result would be the same … the energy of surface waves would be dissipated and large surface waves of any type could not subsequently form inside that ring.


Another effective method is to use bottom structures, to drive the energy to the mid-layers. I’ve posted it elsewhere in this forum, but cannot find it while on this cellphone (iPhone 4)… Browser crashes make it exceedingly difficult. My suggestion is to create such artificial reefs to protect fixed position seasteads, by eliminating the surface waves, in a smooth water zone, rather than build, maintain and keep unnecessary complex structures afloat and spaced around the seasteads

(Bart Kemper) #5

“What about waves” is a valid technical question. Cyclic loading has been missed in some of the other engineering discussion – marine rated equipment is more stout (and expensive) than land applications for a reason.

It is true the huge waves are when the wave itself impinges on the surface floor as it approaches a coast. That needs to be addressed as many of the Seasteading discussion places the community (or critical access for the community) in a region NOT removed from coastal effects.

I fully agree that “building for every possible scenario” is not feasible. However, simply stating that is insufficient. “If you cannot design out a hazard, you must warn.” It is important to quantify risks, long term and immediate, catastrophic or less so, and THEN make decisions. What is done too often is management, marketing, or others will ignore the risks that are inconvenient to discuss and allow others to assume risk without their knowledge.


I was wondering about that … specifically the torque generated around the keel (for lack of a better word) by the two arms of the ramform design.

(Wilfried Ellmer) #7

I recommended to search for the following terms: | hog sag forces | train configuration | sparse connection | Draupner | steel plate fatigue behavior | solve the seasteading bottleneck | to get the info you are looking for.

Engineering discussion needs a certain level of base understanding - @Matias (a seasoned and proved marine architect by profession and trade) has tried to “spoon feed” much of this to the forum community over time (with mixed results) - checking his posts will get you on track when making a serious effort to understand the engineering base of a ramform.

| @Bart_Kemper | the hyopothesis that cyclic loading has been missed is erroneous it was just handled about 10 years ago when knowledgable engineers like Elco Hoogendoorn and Miguel Llamas where still posting on the TSI forums…and this kind of topic could be handled in a “ambient of forward moving scientific debate”. Among the knowledgable folk there are not really unknows and discussion about it - this might cause the impression that the discussion was missed - it was not - it is just over because the unkowns are solved since the late seventies. - and everybody familiar with marine engineering knows that …


Sorry … I couldn’t find where the torque I mentioned was addresses in those references, @ellmer.

I did find a reference under “train configuration” that essentially nullified the argument that a ramform’s arms could be extended indefinitely. But that implies agreement with my concern, rather than addressing it.

It appears that some of the stresses on an extended-arm ramform resemble those typical in aircraft (wing) design, rather than ship (bow) design … in that each arm inherently must apply some degree of torque at the keel attachment point.

Perhaps an engineer might address that.

(Wilfried Ellmer) #9

a picture explains better maybe… (third right row) | also investigate : “Rotula” of the Monaco Breakwater how connections adressing this can look like.

In general the problem is well understood, well adressed, and more than satisfactory solved… and already applied in large scale engineering…400m + sized…nothing to be “concerned with”…if you are still concerned you problably “misunderstand” something or lack base info that informed marine experts already have…

(Matias Volco) #10

I am certain there are many interested on-lookers without time to quarrel online, for their benefit too, Bob: Imagine a Ramform Base as an evolving creature:
It begins with a bow, or nose, which is almost hemispherical and a good example of how stress forces are handled at sea (compression, that is why Cement Honeycomb Pattern , just as all boats are designed in a honeycomb, steel plate, fashion). The wings grow using this same stress distribution pattern.

As the wings grow beyond mere appendixes a sea train configuration allow for, precisely, indefinite expansion.


Your response, @Matias, is merely a commercial for a product that, itself, does not address either the generic cyclic loading mentioned by @Bart_Kemper or the specific problem of the torque generated upon the “nose” by the extended arms of a ramform.

It is not a “quarrel” for me to ask a specific question.

Your childish attempt to dismiss a legitimate question, @Matias, indicates there is validity in the question. Otherwise your responses wouldn’t need links to your commercials and, yet again, a seemingly endless stream of irrelevant links and photos.

Cut your BS attempts to silence opposition to your preferred dialog and allow others the opportunity to participate.

Or just go to your Seastead Cafe rant section and play your childish games there.

@Bart_Kemper raised a legitimate point.

Address it.

I responded to @Bart_Kemper’s legitimate point. That was equally legitimate.

If you two - @ellmer and @Matias - want to play your BS bullying game with me … then let’s play.

Your turn.

(Matias Volco) #12

This is the “knee” or rotula that Wil was taking about. Take your time and don’t forget there might be other people interested in the subject matter instead of the characters.


Don’t be so intentionally ignorant, @Matias (and @ellmer).

The Rotula in the “Monaco Breakwater” clearly does NOT, in any way, deal with the torque caused by the differential rise and fall of a ramform’s arms upon its keel (“nose”).

“Take your time” to address the REAL issue @Bart_Kemper raised … and reply with some FACTUAL INFORMATION that validates your claims.

How about some REAL engineering analysis, @Matias … and not just more citations and quotations from @ellmer’s phony commercials.

Did you guys actually watch that video of the construction project before you pontificated in ignorance about how the Monaco Breakwater is a model for Seasteading?

Your cited video actually contradicts everything you pretend it validates, Mati. :open_mouth:


Are you seriously thinking this is what is going to surround a Seastead to protect the city from surface waves?




Total cost: €123 M
Work dates: October 1999 to April 2003 (42 months)

Surface: 1 hectare
Length: 150 m
Underwater backfill: 400,000 m3
Dredging: 80,000 m3
Total concrete volume: 22,000 m3
Steel inserts: 5,000 t
Weight: 60,000 t

Dredging: 50,000 m3
Underwater backfill: 70,000 m3
Concrete volume: 20,000 m3
Steel inserts: 5,000 t
Prestressing steel: 400 t
Weight: 50,000 t
Draught: 9 m
Length: 145 m
Width: 30 m

Floating breakwater
Concrete volume: 45,000 m3
Steel inserts: 10,000 t
Prestressing steel: 3,000 t
Length: 352 m
Width: 28 m
Height: 19 m
Draught: 16 m
Weight: 160,000 t


(Wilfried Ellmer) #16

@Matias - remarkable - isn´t it ? - how do you talk sense into individuals resilient to learn ? not doing the homework of reading up the references - more a “psyco-social” issue than a “technical” one i assume…the question is how much time do we have to waste ? | is there any upside to keep talking to that kind of people ? |

Well - still 470 users left on this forum to talk something that makes sense…and creates progress…there must be somebody out there capeable to contribute…

I thought things could not get worse - i stand corrected - the group of comments below certainly brings the concept of timewaste to a new level… | excepting the comments of @Danil_Kanevets | @Matias | @thebastidge | - of course…

Anybody formulating a talkworthy hypothesis, argument, theory related to the thread topic…at any time here soon ?


Your turn, @ellmer and @Matias.

Dazzle us with more of that brilliant “seasoned and proved marine architect by profession and trade” stuff.

Maybe try using some actual verifiable facts and figures to validate your claims. :open_mouth:

We’ve already seen the photographia-ad-nauseam commercials for concrete submarine and guided-investment development.

Try something FACTUAL this time.

(Danil Kanevets) #18

Would it be reasonable to get a jack up rig? Aren´t they made for tough ocean weather and waves?

(Matias Volco) #19

Yes, I believe we are far away from technical territory in this corner and it would be best to let it be.
There’s an old iddish saying that goes “every day from every experience, learn something to use to the service of god”. This election year I learned to accept people don’t think rationally most of the time, but rather as an exception.

Here’s a technical question that could use some context

in fact I predict this thread will get more technical by the post!


And … still … no FACTUAL data.

Just the argumentum ad hominem and photo-spamming for which @ellmer has already been suspended … TWICE.