A 20-meter tall spar floating in international waters off the coast of Phuket, Thailand, is "my big finger…to all those out there who want to control other people's lives through force," according to Chad Elwartowski, who with his partner Nadia Summergirl are now the inhabitants of the first seastead sitting on top of that spar. "You know where you can stick this," he adds.
Elwartowski says this in the second video in a four-video series The First Seasteaders documenting the launch of their very first deliberate seastead—a home in international waters where ways of living and governance can be experimented with outside the reach of terrestrial governments. Part one was discussed last week at Reason. The two new videos that rolled out this week are "Raising the Spar" (embedded at bottom of the post) and "Lifting the Stead."
The videos are a bit promotional in a sense, made by the Seasteading Institute's "seavangelist" Joe Quirk (co-author of a book touting seasteads as the key to solving the world's environmental and governmental problems, Seasteading: How Floating Nations Will Restore the Environment, Enrich the Poor, Cure the Sick, and Liberate Humanity from Politicians). Despite this they contain, despite their brevity, mostly details that might scare off the average tourist (though likely excite people eager for a more challenging existence).
For example, the second video ends with Elwartowski lamenting that a wave caused a hammer to slam him in the face when it hit their seastead while he was holding the tool. In the third video of the series we see Summergirl noting the huge poisonous jellyfish lurking near Elwartowski as he swims off to get their seastead rooted to their spar. We also see how hard it was shoving the spar's summit down in the water to get the seastead to mount it.
The general feel is genial chaos and difficulty, not a lark, which again might be exactly the right message to attract exactly the right people to adopt seasteading as a potential lifestyle.
In chapter four, "Living the Life," which premiers tonight on YouTube and which I saw a preview of, you see Summergirl admitting to being a little bit nervous after their first night alone on their new seastead, but praising the unbelievable view of "a thousand million stars." We also see the couple dancing merrily atop their new 6 meter wide, two-story octagonal home. (We do not see any discussion of how they get provisions out to their remote floating home.)
Elwartowski, in that fourth video, hypes the extraordinary value of the seasteads being sold by Ocean Builders (they hope for 20 seasteading neighbors when 20 people come up with the money to build them; theirs cost around $150,000) compared to other ocean-view property. He also promotes the advantages to business of escaping the irrational strictures of earthly government and using the blank slate of seasteading—like a real blank slate has the promise of creating great art—to create great governance.
While the chatter around seastead planning had shifted over the years to things like floating medical service tourism or mini city-states off the coast of Tahiti, what Elwartowski and Summergirl are doing here is exactly the original vision of how seasteading would start, as reported in my first Reason feature on the topic a decade ago:
Seasteading can start small, and in fact [Seasteading Institute founder Patri] Friedman is sure it will start small, with tiny family-sized platforms called "coaststeads" near the mainland serving both as proof of concept and a laboratory for working out the kinks before community-sized seasteads are ready to sprout in international waters. Friedman figures the cost of such starter sea homes won't be too out of line with housing costs on land…
Elwartowski and Summergirl, then, are right on target with Friedman's original vision. While to an outsider it might just look like a couple of bitcoin-rich folk larking about on a raft, Elwartowski declares that they are looking forward to more "freedom loving people to come join us out in the open ocean." Whether they end up being a libertarian curiosity or the founding fathers of a flotilla of freedom remains to be seen.
Chapter two of the video series The First Seasteaders: