Guardian recently published a report on the world’s first crypto cruise ship Satoshi. It’s a story about crypto-enthusiasm that ended in disaster. Perhaps it also predicts something about the fate of other crypto “utopias” that enthusiasts around the world dream about.
The story began in 2010, when former Google engineer Patri Friedman proposed a utopian future for humanity. In his vision, Friedman wanted to change the way people lived by abandoning life on land and all existing assumptions about the nature of society. Friedman’s idea was to create a new city in the middle of the ocean.
Behind this vision, known as “seasteading,” was the view that modern government needed to be modernized. And to do that, more space is needed, because all the land on Earth is taken up by governments. So Friedman proposed using the high ocean to build a new civilization.
Friedman envisioned ships being converted into floating medical clinics in three to six years. Within 10 years, Friedman predicted, small communities would be permanently settled on platforms at sea. Seasteading would offer its residents complete freedom of choice – the ocean community would periodically reorganize itself to adapt to the decisions of the residents of the floating units. In Seasteading, people would have the opportunity to vote with their homes – an improvement in democracy.
Turning vision into reality
In the years following Friednamn’s remarks, there were several unsuccessful attempts to turn his vision into reality. But in October 2020, three seatanding enthusiasts bought a cruise ship called Pacific Dawn. Said enthusiasts, Grant Romundt, Ruediger Koch, and Chad Elwartowski, wanted to leave the ship off the coast of Panama. There, it was to become the center of a new company dealing exclusively in cryptocurrencies.
The crypto cruise ship was renamed Satoshi after the mysterious inventor of Bitcoin. The three enthusiasts hoped the ship could become a home for people like them. They had a utopian vision of a floating crypto community. Satoshi promised freedom to all its inhabitants.
While the idea behind it was idyllic, transforming the cruise ship into a new society proved to be a great challenge for the three men. The sea is not free of obstacles and cruise ships are bound by strict rules.
We understood that it was just too difficult.
The original plan called for Satoshi to be shaped like a B (symbolizing Bitcoin). The individual floating pods were to be connected by tunnels that could house agriculture and parks. The government in Panama had supported the plan. There, they hoped to attract more tourists to the country.
Satoshi was to be powered by generators and later by solar energy. Citizens of the floating city were even to have free wifi. Anyone could mine Bitcoin and make money from it without paying taxes. But the more questions Elwartowski faced, the more drawbacks came to light.
End of the dream
The ship set sail on October 29, 2020, and encountered challenges early in its journey. For example, the crypto cruise ship did not have a certificate of seaworthiness. It was also not possible to designate Satoshi as a floating residence. It had to sail every 20 days to comply with maritime regulations.
The various obstacles also deterred insurance companies. Romundt quickly realized that the cruise industry was plagued by overregulation. This was largely counter to the original plans to create a completely free company. The dream was quickly over before it even began. On December 18, the team announced that the ship was being sold to a shipbreaking yard. Now it bears the name “Ambience” and is back in service as a cruise ship.