History of Ephemerisle

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Ephemerisle 2009

Ephemerisle was originally organized by the Seasteading Institute (http://seasteading.org/)) (TSI) to promote the cultural concept of seasteading - the construction of autonomous floating nation-states - in a hands-on and accessible way.

The first Ephemerisle was held on October 2-4th, and located just SE of where Disappointment Slough (which extends to Paradise Point Marina) meets the main channel, as seen on this Google Map.

The event was sponsored & run by The Seasteading Institute, with central platforms built by Chicken John Rinaldi and his hard-working crew, who built a work boat and crane for the operation.

The event amassed 9 houseboats and a community*built platform anchored to the shore. A variety of art projects were funded by TSI. The event attracted media attention and was the subject of a documentary by Stanford Film Master's student Jason Sussberg.12345.

Perhaps most importantly, it was successful enough to lead to community interest and growth in future years.



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Ephemerisle 2010

TSI decided that the liability from the event was too serious to bring it back in a 2nd year without getting insurance. About a month before the event was supposed to happen, TSI cancelled it because the cheapest insurance they could get was over $300/person.

A group of people who had already rented houseboats for the event decided to show up anyways for a leadersless non-event: "Not Ephemerisle" was born.

In the second year, Ephemerisle took place during July 23-25, 2010, in the Mandeville Tip County Park on the Sacramento – San Joaquin River Delta (map).

This year, The Seasteading Institute officially abandoned the event about a month before it was to begin because the insurance costs turned out to be around $300/person. As a community, we decided to show up anyway and create an unofficial self-organized event, branded "NotEphemerisle". Despite the lack of central organization, it still worked quite well, and around 120 people showed up and had a great time.

Besides recreational activities, the event also hosted 12 "Memocracy" talks.[1]



2011 map.jpg

TSI handed the name "Ephemerisle" back to the community and the community run event continued and turned into a huge success. Every available houseboat in the delta was rented for the event and a large community/dance platform was built.

Ephemerisle 2011 took place during Jun 9-12, in the same location as the previous two years - the Mandeville Tip County Park on the Sacramento – San Joaquin River Delta (map).

After having to rebrand the event "NotEphmerisle" (or "UnEphemerisle") last year due to insurance and legal technicalities, this year The Seasteading Institute did not officially attempt to organize the event and let us use the name "Ephemerisle". We rented out every houseboat in the region, built a 20x24 floating platform, brought around 200 people, and made the event an unequivocal success.

Read Matt Bell's excellent summary of Ephemerisle 2011. Paul Bohm also write his thoughts on what made Ephemerisle a great occasion to connect.

Photos and videos[edit]

Technical details[edit]

Talks and lectures[edit]

Debrief discussions[edit]

Lost and found[edit]


In 2012, the Ephemerisle "city" was broken into 3 islands to simplify anchoring the large number of boats. A HUGE windstorm hit, houseboats were damaged, anchors were pulled out, and the community as a whole learned a ton about boating safety, and gained a new respect for the elements.

The first year of islands!

Ephemerisle 2012 took place from June 6 to 10 at Mandeville Tip, the same location as the previous year. The event grew significantly this year, with houseboats and sailboats numbering at least 25 and attendance estimated around 300.

This year we experimented with breaking the city into three separately anchored islands. North and South were made up of houseboats and each had their own platform. The West Island was made up of sailboats and powerboats.

A huge windstorm picked up just before the weekend with winds up to 40 knots. Anchors were pulled out. Boats were damaged. And calls were made out telling no else to come to the event because everything was falling apart.

Miracuously, the two 60lb anchors held the two houseboat islands by themselves when all other anchors had pulled free preventing these islands from drifting away.

Photos and videos[edit]

Please add links to your photo albums and videos of the event below!


  • Add a talk here


What did you help build or create this year?

  • Jellypuss: [2]
  • Dance platform
  • Cuddle gallery platform and dome
  • Jellyfish
  • Lemonade and lasers

Unofficial statistics for Ephemerisle 2012[edit]

  • Population: \~290 (including day trippers)
  • Ephemerisle (the discussion group) members: 597
  • Fully funded projects: 9
  • Total donations: \$7,898
  • Unique donors: \~113
  • Avg donation: \$70 (very loose \#'s as didn't have the actual data of individual donors)
  • Number of houseboats: 21
  • Number of other boats: 9+
  • Anchors set: 19
  • Anchors lost (temporarily): 2
  • Anchors lost (permanently): 2
  • Community Platforms: 2
  • Rescues from the water: \~11
  • Whale rescues from the water: 1
  • Rescued whales hoisted to a mast: 1
  • Couples married: 1
  • Coast Guard Calls: 1
  • Coast Guard Hotties: 1
  • Injuries requiring medical attention (1 head gash, patched with skull & crossbones bandaids)
  • Deaths: 0

Planning documents[edit]

Directory of boat & craft captains

Central platform schedule

Memocracy talks schedule

If you just need a place to stay at Ephemerisle, you can make arraignments with The SleeperService. If you need water transportation from H&H Marina, see the 2012 transportation document

Add an event to the 2012 central platform schedule or review the currently proposed events.

If you want to view the performance/broadcast schedule, make your request to thipdar ta gmail tod com. If you would like to play CDs for Radio FMerisle or be a performing DJ, you can send a request for a time slot to the same e-mail address.

Fill out the boat/platform survey so we can plan the city. Learn how to build your own floating platform!

Come to the build your own land event, April 7-8.

[images/2011-platform-design-final.pdf Download Ratha Grimes' 2011 platform design.]

Fundraising efforts[edit]

  • Central Platform **FULLY FUNDED** - Bring back the Central Platform from last year and expand it to be 24'x28'.
  • Cuddle Platform / Gallery **FULLY FUNDED** - Ephemerisle needs a space where community members can chill out, cuddle among friends, admire art, practice yoga, and talk about all the great ideas that our floating festival inspires!
  • Anchoring **FULLY FUNDED** - This has been a problem in the past at Ephemerisle. We met our original goal. Now we're looking for a couple of hundred extra dollars for additional rope and chain. Help ensure Ephemerisle literally doesn't get blown away.
  • http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/22415368/jellypus-floating-flashing-art-thing-take-2 [Jellypus] **FULLY FUNDED** - a massive underwater octopus like light show. There is a [second round of funding](https://www.wepay.com/donations/jellypuss-round-two) to cover extra costs to the project.
  • Lemonade and Lasers **FULLY FUNDED** - a floating lemonade stand with lasers.
  • The Amphibious Red Couch **FULLY FUNDED** - a Bicycle-Pedal-Powered Paddlewheel Pontoon Couch
  • Performers and equipment fund
    • support the Radio FMerisle Saturday Night Dance Party. About $1,400 in expenses paid out-of-pocket and the event was cancelled due to high winds. Still time to donate, if you want to express appreciation for Rion Fish's Friday evening performance.
  • Speed Limit Signs **TIMED OUT** - temporary floating speed limit signs, to warn boaters to slow down near Ephemerisle. These signs will be reuseable for years. Overly-optimistic; signs were not stable in high wind.
  • Well deserved rum **FULLY FUNDED** - send bottles of rum along to Paul Wheeler and the two people (who despite not being able to attend Ephemerisle) loaned us the big expensive 60lb anchors.
  • Repay for Paul's Cut Anchor **FULLY FUNDED** - Paul lost an anchor at some point; most likely someone motored over his anchor line. Adam found a nice used anchor, but let's get this and his bottle of rum.
  • Platform Storage()
    • rental on the storage unit for the platforms


(name changed due to privacy considerations)

Ephemerisle 2012. Photo credit, Jennifer Wheeler

(sung to the tune of The Ballad of Gilligan's Island)
Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale
A tale of an acid trip

One man took at Ephemerisle

Out near Mand'ville Tip.
Jack Frenzy's trip began midday
With sun and spirits high
But soon dark thoughts and fears took hold!
And reason went awry.
Into the Delta waves he dove
The wind and currents fierce
Fears grew as rescuers' offers
Of help fell on deaf ears.
Neither smiles nor threats nor pleas
Nor sirens' breasts aflare
Could lure Jack Frenzy to a boat
'till Jungle Jim got there.
Back to the north isle Frenzy went
With friends, laid safely sound
But a mayday already had been called!
And the Coast Guard soon came 'round.
The kindly Guard gave options three:
Stay here, or rejoin your ship;
Or if you like, you can come with us
in cuffs for a one-way trip.
His frenzied brain was laced with fear
He eyed the distant shore
With a glance behind, and a sudden leap
He chose option four.
He chose option four.
Back in the dark'ning waves he leapt!
Stunned faces in his wake
Mightily he swam, not seeing
A police boat on his flank.
Boldly he climbed up those rocks
Cheeks shining in twilight
He reached the road, he ran, but no!
'Twas not a long-lived flight.
Those cops tackled him to the ground 
And hauled him off to jail
But safety was their real concern
They set him free, no bail.
Jack Frenzy's tale had a lucky end
Neither death nor felony
But bad trips at Ephemerisle
Won't always come for free.
Won't always come for free.

Matt Bell Quote[edit]

“Oh Ephemerisle -- I went for a vacation and ended up doing an intense 5-day group workshop in leadership skills, team-building, community design, crisis management, technical problem-solving with limited materials, seamanship, and mediation. Thanks to all the awesome individuals who made the event happen!”




The idea of "islands" were taken to a new level. From 2009-2012, decisions were made by general consensus or by ad hoc leaders. From 2013 onward, Islands gained their independence. Every self-proclaimed island was responsible for it's own rules, self-reliance, system of government, etc.

The first independent islands were Dromhaven, Ithaka, Titan, and Shitshow/Blanket Fort

July 10-14th

Photos / Videos[edit]

Dromhaven Island[edit]

Add your history here...

Ithaka Island[edit]

Waterslide. Tea House. Cooperative spirit. Social but mellow evenings.

Add your history here...

Titan Island[edit]

8 houseboats, a few sailboats. Space Pirates. People seriously committed to social responsibility, fun, and technology. And Bacon.

Add your history here...

Shitshow / Blanket Fort[edit]

Official Trailer Here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9JmKMgi_A_g

Add your history here...


The biggest year of Ephemerisle so far. Titan island was huge and largely the central focus of the year. No real problems, and everyone left excited for 2015.

July 14 - 20.

There were two islands, with speedboat and jet ski service gracefully provided by several kind folks, especially Randolph Hencken of The Seasteading Institute.

Photos / Video[edit]

Participant records[edit]



Turned into a huge conference with almost everyone attending and microtalks all day.

Titan Chef[edit]

Mystery Ingredient -- Pluots.

4 chefs and their sous chefs competed in an epic battle. Jonathan Cain took the top prize.

Cuba Island[edit]

Add your history here...

Eyeland Island[edit]

Add your quiet history here...

Titan Island[edit]

Add your party history here...





In early 2017, heavy storms damaged the Paradise Point marina. As a result, the marina only rented out 5 houseboats (instead of the 20+ that they normally rented out).




  • Washed Up Yacht Club
  • Siren Island
  • Delta Wagon
  • Bump City
  • Trash Island
  • Home Slice
  • Pie rats
  • Quiet Island

Notable events[edit]

  • First year that there were no rented houseboats.
  • First year a submarine was in attendance (Fangtooth).
  • First appearance of the Belden Barge jungle gym
  • Tenth consecutive year with no major injuries or deaths.




Blog Posts[edit]