Top 5 Things You Should Know…


Top 5 Things I think you should know before you form an opinion about Tsunamiball

  1. I do not think that a tsunami is going to hit Palo Alto, California.
    Yes, I am building what I call a tsunami-proof capsule in my back yard, and I live in Palo Alto, California, but no, I don’t think there is a real threat of tsunami here. I am building it here because I live here.
  2. I am a designer who is drawn to big challenges, and I think that designing and building a tsunami-proof boat is crazy interesting.
    Heck, just the logistics of building a 22 foot boat by yourself is a good problem, not to mention the challenges of designing an airtight craft built for impact resistance that can sit happily in the backyard for decades without real maintenance issues. Throw in materials decisions which don’t result in poisoning my family or neighbors complaining about too much noise, and again need to be managed by one person working alone.
  3. I think what I am building is beautiful.
    The craft was designed to be beautiful to look at and simple to make. I have a little ways to go to get to the beautiful part, but I have to say that I am very fond of the look of layer upon layer of African Mahogany plywood strips, and while it takes a long time to build, it is not overly complicated in my opinion. :)The boat is made up of 2 different, but simple shapes; one like the peel of an orange slice, and one which is the cross-section of the boat’s midship. So the frame is really just those two shapes. This allowed me to scale the size and stretch the length to get the shape I wanted as my first vessel.

    At every stage I think what I have made is beautiful.

  4. I want to make a solution, not buy a product.
    This was never about my personal anxiety about a Palo Alto Tsunami, so purchasing a survival craft or boat was never even a consideration. This is about a problem that I feel a connection to and want to try to solve.
    It is now clear that other people have felt the same way and there are now a couple of companies that sell simple spheres to survive tsunamis. Cool, right? I am glad they exist now.I strayed from the sphere (despite the name Tsunamiball) as I decided that a sphere would be a terrible shape when it was in the water. The capsule shares many strength characteristics with the sphere, while also allowing for better propulsion options, much more air, and more capacity for people while keeping its scale “workable”.
  5. Not knowing what is next has been a recurring theme and an important part of the process.
    The day I went from sketches to building was not scary for me even though I knew very little about building a boat. I read a few books and researched materials and sketched and sketched. But at some point if you are going to do it at all, you just have to do it.When I started, I plunged into new processes almost daily, using new tools, and making discoveries that I would have had a hard time planning for without the experience of doing. So I do, and I learn.

    Every week brings new challenges, which keeps the work fresh and engaging, otherwise it’s just hammering nails for 2 years. No thanks.

    I don’t know about the interior because I have not solved it yet. Similarly I don’t know about the engine, or the batteries, or dozens of other issues. If you have ideas, let me know. I love a good brainstorm. Until then, I have lots to keep my hands busy as I continue to learn how to build what I am building. It’s been a great journey so far, and I am happy to share it.

Thank you. Any questions, just let me know.


12 responses to “Top 5 Things You Should Know…

    • Anne,

      This adventure has me focused one week at a time, so I have not done too much work on planning the keel and ballast until I know the weight of the boat. I just posted something about ballast tonight. Maybe the conversation will start with everyone and I can get something more solid in my head soon.

      Thanks again.


  1. Question… if it’s a pill shaped capsule and has no keel how do you have it stabilized so you have a top and bottom? You know to keep it from just spinning itself over and over and tossing everyone around and possible resting with port holes and captains window immersed under water? It just crossed my mind because in the pics there was clearly a top and bottom to the boats design but structurally I saw no difference from top and bottom

  2. I live near the coast in Wa. Right on Port Townsend Bay. Your tsunami ball might be the only way to survive. The Cascadia subduction off the coast is building pressure. It’s said we will have a larger quake than Japan. And a tsunami could be 100ft wall of water. My adult kids aren’t going to leave their business. After all, it may not happen. But evidence I’ve read says it probably will. Soon.

  3. That is a super creative, amazingly beautiful and fun folly. I love it and would be happy to volunteer as member for crew of test float.

    • Daniel,
      Sounds good. When I get close, maybe I should send out a call for crew. If you have spent any time on a boat, then you will have more experience than me. Maybe we will have to pass around the captain’s hat.


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