Life and Death on the Thai Sea

Chad Elwartowski, Bitcoin retiree. Screencap from Youtube

Chad Elwartowski has a story that isn’t all that unfamiliar to netizens these days. Having made a lot of cash in the Bitcoin boom, he checked out and decided to travel to Southeast Asia. There he met his girlfriend, Supranee Thepdet, and took up a spot within the growing seasteading community.

But now Thailand wants them dead.

What is Seasteading?

A scene from “Waterworld.” Photo: Universal Pictures

While we’re not quite to the point of Waterworld just yet, many people are deciding that life in the city, with its hustle, bustle, and other humans, is simply too crowded. If you’ve hit this point and moving to a farm over in Iowa isn’t the life for you, your list of options is growing.

One of these options is “seasteading.” For years, people have enjoyed retiring on the water or even to houseboats; however, seasteading takes that concept a bit further.

According to The Seasteading Institute, which is actually a real thing, the goal of sea steading is to ensure that “the cost of living on the ocean must be low enough, and the business opportunities promising enough, such that there is an economic incentive for people to live on seasteads.” To achieve this goal, they are building small, affordable homes in the lawless reaches of the ocean.

With initiatives such as the Floating City Project, seasteaders are constructing places of living connected to the ocean floor. Unlike their boat-living counterparts, they want to make permanent homes in the middle of the sea. In an attempt to do so, it’s also hoped that their goals can be accomplished legally, and ethically, in a way that doesn’t harm the oceans or national sovereignty.

Where Elwartowski Went Wrong

The first occupied seastead. Screencap from Youtube.

As you can see, the seastead is both a magnificent feat and nothing much to look at. Championed by some libertarians as the only way to live free, these small vessels are ostensibly designed to give people a place where they live by the rules of international waters.

According to the United Nations, countries are allowed to claim waterways within 12 nautical miles of their borders. With this in mind, the couple built their home roughly 13 nautical miles from the coast of Thailand. With a small boat to get to land for supplies, they assumed they had the perfect existence. But as we all know, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

While their home is outside of claimable borders when it comes to the United Nations, a part of the Thai Criminal Code which deals with threatening the sovereignty of the Thai state has been applied by authorities. According to Thai officials, their structure threatens the independence of the nation.

The Intervention

Hearing that Thai authorities were coming to seize the property, the couple fled to safety and are currently in hiding, with good reason. The charges levied against them by the government of Thailand carry a sentence of death. While this may never fully be carried out, in the absence of people to charge the seastead is set for demolition. “We have already prepared a vessel, equipment and manpower to move the structure. We will try to move it within a week,’’ a Thai vice-admiral stated in an address to the media.

As for the couple, they are now claiming that the home was never theirs to begin with.

“This is ridiculous. We lived on a floating houseboat for a few weeks and now Thailand wants us killed,” said Elwartowski.

– Todd Allen Williams, Senior Editor