Smoke on the Water

|

Sealand, a tiny country located aboard an abandoned anti-aircraft deck six miles off the British coast, was devastated last week by a fire. The United Kingdom, like every other member in good standing of the Family of Nations, has always refused to recognize the floating principality's independence. For once, this worked in Sealand's favor: The Royal Air Force evacuated the only Sealander on board and the National Maritime Incident Response Group battled the blaze.

For a refresher course on Sealand's history, go here. Sealand's roots in the '60s pirate-radio scene are remembered here. A recent attempt to make the place a data haven is described here. More micronations are catalogued here.

NEXT: Cosmic Designer Out, Designer Babies In

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. That’s a serious bummer.

    The Kingdom of Sealand is an example of DIY writ large.

    Always thought its history would make for a good movie.

  2. Well, my vacation plans are now FUCKED.

  3. So let me get this straight… If I have a boat, and keep it in international waters, I can call the boat a nation?

    I’m going to have to save up and buy myself a yacht. Seems to me this would make for a better free state project.

  4. leave it to the friggin hippies to mess up a good idea….

    note: i have never started a nation so who am i to critisize.

  5. kmw,

    Nothing’s stopping you from calling your house a nation even now. Getting other nations to recognize it, that’s the hard part.

  6. So let me get this straight… If I have a boat, and keep it in international waters, I can call the boat a nation?

    I’m going to have to save up and buy myself a yacht. Seems to me this would make for a better free state project.

    Still plenty of time to climb aboard the Freedom Ship. (Caveat emptor.)

  7. PS: Now the Deep Purple song is going to be stuck in my head for the rest of the day.

  8. A nation of one…

  9. So let me get this straight… If I have a boat, and keep it in international waters, I can call the boat a nation?

    Sure… the trouble is when you need to buy supplies, and if you don’t have a trade agreement with any nation, it might be hard to do. And, when you bring your boat back to a country, you might be expected to pay taxes.

    I would say you would have better odds forming your own country in certain neglected urban neighborhoods than at sea. I have known a lot of urban homesteaders in Detroit who basicly moved to a urban wasteland in order to enjoy the personal freedom and low cost of living (once you realize that even “bad” neighborhoods are less dangerous than driving, and realisticly if you aren’t 16-24 year old male involved in the drug trade the murder rate is virtually non-existant, the whole process starts becoming very attractive)… the only problem with urban homesteading is that the neighborhood will eventually become gentrified, so expect to sell and move within 10 years.

  10. Fascinating story, I never heard of micro nations before.

    I would say you would have better odds forming your own country in certain neglected urban neighborhoods than at sea.

    Well…..that depends. If you had a nuclear reactor and some wire mesh it might not be so hard to create an island in reasonably shallow water.

    I read an article in ancient history, maybe 5 or 10 years B.I. (Before Internet) about how you can place a metal frame in sea water, apply a current, and deposit mineral on it. It’s like electroforming, except you’re depositing mineral (stone).

    Place the steel right, power it up, and you’ve got the equivalent of a steel reinforced concrete structure. Somebody was trying to figure out how to make and sell prefab houses this way. Problem was, they weighed so much that there’s no practical way to move them. But there’s at least one house made this way somewhere in Florida, I recall.

    It’d be interesting to check out the power consumption vs mineral deposition rate. In principle, you could electroform the foundation of your very own island this way. All you need is reasonably shallow stretch of international waters, and a big enough power generator.

    [I don’t know what the practical problem with this whole thing is, though it’d be interesting to research. But if it really made sense they’d be building things like sea walls around New Orleans this way.]

    I’m sure that the first nation to run aground on your new island would recognize the fact that you suddenly exist. Whether or not they’d like it is another matter.

    All you have to do is come up with a sufficiently profitable business venture to set up on your new island, and wa la! You’ve created your own little paradise. You may also want your own Island Defense Force.

    You might be small and isolated at first, but just think. You could grow your island with your business.

    Well, my vacation plans are now FUCKED.

    Perchance, would you be interested in a get away weekend package at Prostitute Island?

  11. “PS: Now the Deep Purple song is going to be stuck in my head for the rest of the day.”

    Go listen to Cat Scratch Fever. That’ll take care of it.

    >8-D

  12. As the author of a work cited here (thanks, Jesse!), I should let you know:

    You can’t start your own nation on a platform/boat/life preserver/etc.

    After the rash of libertarian platform experiments in the 60s- Sealand, Minerva, Grand Capri, and a dozen others- the platform movement got quite a bit of attention in the academic international law community. Current interpretation of the Law of the Sea:

    1) Nations have the right to manage economic exploitation of their continental shelves, regardless of whether those shelves fall within national waters.

    2) In the wake of satellite mapping, the right of discovery no longer applies and all available land now belongs to one state or another.

    3) Since all land now belongs to a state, any new land created also belongs to a state. Yes, it’s a Catch 22.

    4) Since a state requires territory, and no territory is available, and no territory can be created, your best shot is to get an existing government to agree to the de jure cession of part of its land. Good luck with that!

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.