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My Friends and I Bought an Island (tynan.com)
832 points by intenex 1492 days ago | hide | past | web | 387 comments | favorite

Congratulations! This is something I've always thought would be cool too. 5 acres is a good size, large enough that you can feel "away" when you are in the middle of it, but not so big that you can actually get lost.

Some suggested next steps. Get a good aerial survey done, with pictures. This will help in planning, in disputes, and later in figuring out what it looked like before that thing that just happened, happened. Also hire a geologist to do a survey (if they haven't already) and identify all the water flow. You may want to build a cistern to collect fresh water when it rains/snows.

An acquaintance of mine who has a place in the seattle/vancouver area also build a small gauge rail line from the dock to the center of the island where accomodations were. Mostly he's a train nut and that scratched that itch but its great for bringing stuff in before storm season sets in.

+1 on the local visitation. People will drive over there and walk around. In the US you need to put signs posting it as private property if you want to have a hope of charging people with trespass. If you set up a fire pit and a place for your friends to sit around an chat, that it exists will get out and you'll have other people "borrow" it when you aren't there.

Definitely a lot of fun though. I am very jealous :-)

Random tips from my own private island experience…

People may visit when you are not there. In the US, the shoreline up to some strangely defined highwater mark (which is higher than you expect) is public. Canada has a similar deal related to crown lands (you may own the island, but the bit under the water, not so much). These visitors have every legal right to hang out, have a picnic, play jarts, whatever.

When you aren't around you will get more visitors. (I have pretty good camera surveillance, mainly to enjoy from afar, but I also get to see the visitors.) These will be bolder and walk around and look at the place.

If you aren't around and the local environment is right, you may get hunters. We get duck hunters and goose hunters. We generally give a few people we know permission and kind of rely on them to discourage anyone else. Hunters are territorial. One year it was posted with "No Hunting" signs nailed to the dock, but not by us or anyone we know, a good attempt by a hunting hacker to secure himself a private hunting area.

Have a medical evac plan. I've used mine in weather that I would probably not have used an Amazon boat.

Have a "pinned down by weather" plan with respect to food and water. I know a couple that was reduced to surviving on popcorn and bloody mary mix for a couple days. Also, know when you are pinned down by weather.

A food digesting composter keeps your trash bags from getting disgusting.

If there is cell coverage, but only for odd carriers, consider an "island phone" that just stays there. If there is no cell coverage, get a VHF that can reach some emergency agency.

Maybe you could install a remotely/motion activated speaker system that plays the smoke monster noise from Lost to scare away visitors (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e-M8P14u_G8)

I have a lot of second hand experience that shows this will work fine up until the meddling kids.

Thanks-- this is all very good relevant advice. Hadn't thought about digesting composter at all, but that's a great idea.

I don't mind too much if people respectfully visit the island when we're not there. We told the really awesome neighbor he could visit the island whenever, so maybe he'll guard it a bit. He could certainly see from his dock if another boat was on it.

Just be careful with hunting. My wife and I have an island as well, and a couple weekends ago one of our dogs was shot by a hunter not playing by the rules. Unfortunately people will try to take advantage, and people are often less responsible on your land than they would be on their own. Also, letting people onto your land can lead to fires, garbage, and liability issues. Of course, it is always good to share what you have, just be careful.

I know a couple that was reduced to surviving on popcorn and bloody mary mix for a couple days.

They ran out of vodka before running out of the mix? Very poor planning.

Must be Russian! :) Not because they were poor planning- they just didn't want to waste vodka on mix.

Would you be able to build some sort of fence/gate system to deter visitors? Would that be legal?

You can build anything you want. It's your property.

As long as it is 75 feet back from the "ordinary high water line" and complies with 126 pages of local zoning rules and several hundred pages of proprietary building codes included by reference.

Actually, no you can't build anything you want, and no, it's not really your property.

Yes, this is what I though too. He just bought property rights. It's still part of whatever country it's located within and they can apply all of their legal code on you. I imaging digging deeper than a few feet would be illegal on that without proper authorization first. Having a really sovereign country is kind of difficult.

If someone who read this get his very own country someday, please name it something that will give you the .gz ccTLD so I can finally buy www.tar.gz where I will offer visitors to download an archive of the Internet :-p.

Disappointed that you would not proposed the superior bz2 format.

Just kidding :) your idea is awesome.

You can call your site The Archive Republic.

I propose Gnu Zealand.

I love it!

> Having a really sovereign country is kind of difficult.

No it isn't. All you need is a nuclear missile and you can tell anybody, including US President to piss off. And they will do it. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_Korea for details.

It is your property, but it's not your sovereign country. You still need to obey the law of the country your property is part of, and that severely restricts what you can do with it.

It is not your property. If it were your property you could build whatever you wanted so long as you don't bring harm to others. The word you're looking for is not property owner but "tenant."

You're confusing property with country.

You're confusing property with what they told you it was.

Property is an illusion. Still confused?

Property is a concept, different people can have different conceptions. I'll take your word for it that your conception is a delusion. You can't speak for everyone else though.

Yes, next summer we'll have a drone to survey everything. This trip was just to inspect before purchasing and explore a little bit.

The mainland neighbor we met was pretty confident no one would ever go to the island without permission. He's lived there his whole life, works as a fisherman in the bay, and has never seen anyone else on it. Even so-- we'll put up signs and not mind too much if people use our fire pit when we're not there.

I like the idea of the water flow survey... would be awesome if we could get fresh water without desalinating.

I've spent a fair bit of time kicking around Maine islands over the years, which are a lot more likely to have random visitors. One really weird phenomenon is that locked cabins tend to have more vandalism problems than unlocked cabins with a guestbook for visitors. I've never quite figured out what this says about human nature.

Maine's liability laws are excellent. They basically say, "So you hurt yourself? And you were wandering around the woods? What part of 'woods' didn't you understand?" So the social conventions in rural Maine provide a certain freedom to wander around unoccupied woodland as long as you don't make a nuisance of yourself. Posting your woodland against trespassing was historically considered a bit anti-social in a lot of places.

Nova Scotia appears to have relatively sane rules for liability in wilderness areas: http://nslegislature.ca/legc/statutes/occupier.htm I'd guess that your island probably falls under some combination of 6.1(c) or (d), but it's probably worth asking an actual lawyer.

Have fun with your island! And pay attention to the SAR folks—living on an island is only slightly more dangerous than living anywhere else, but when bad stuff happens, your options may be worse. My childhood best friend once had to make an hour lobster-boat ride with a stick jammed into his throat just below the jaw bone. This experience put an end to his family's island living. Your biggest risk is probably making that 5-minute boat ride in a bad storm.

> One really weird phenomenon is that locked cabins tend to have more vandalism problems than unlocked cabins with a guestbook for visitors.

An old joke is this: If you have something you want to get rid of, put it by the curb with a "FREE" sign on it. If it is still there the next day, put a "For Sale" sign on it and someone will "steal" it that night.

An unlocked cabin means the owner is near, possibly with a deer rifle.

Stick a gone hunting sign on the door every time you leave, and get some gun paraphenalia (but not a gun) visible near the door. For extra points, time delay a loud pre-recorded bang and scream from a distant speaker when motion is detected near the door.

As soon as someone see there's no gun case, the charade is up.

My grandfather was an avid fisherman; he had a 15' line full of catfish "skulls" hanging from a telephone pole. Catfish can grow to 100 lbs. and their "skulls" look like shark or snake heads from a distance.

Macabre trophies do the trick, paraphernalia alone seems an obvious attempt to appear tough.

Who are "the SAR folks"?

"Search and Rescue"

they help you monitor your system's performance

Posting private property is a good idea, not only because of telling people off but because you could be liable for claims if you don't and someone you did not invite gets injured. (crazy, I know, but that's the law in some places).

Jealous as well :)

As a Swede; yes, that does sound a bit weird: http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freedom_to_roam

Sadly the US is a bit different. If a guest injures themself, they can sue you and win. If a tresspasser injures themself while you're not there, they can sue you and win.

Heck, we even have reports of theives injuring themself and then turning around, suing the owner in court, and winning.

Are you serious ? What kind of nonsense is that and who invented those legal concepts ?

Yes, he's serious. On an Island where I lived (which was connected with a bridge to the mainland) a couple of teenagers in their car got lost dressed for a party in -20 celsius weather. They stumbled onto someone's lot, then got out of the car and walked around searching for help. (200 sq km island, lots of unmarked roads and nasty woodlands). By the time they were found one of them had frostbite and lost a couple of toes. They sued the owner of the land and the municipality because no 'no trespassing' signs were posted and won.

Pretty sad.

This makes me want to chop down the other toes; and no, I'm not ashamed to admit it.

'Douchebaggery' should become a felony in my opinion. What a bunch of crybabies. They'd sue if there were a "No trespassing" sign and they hit their head on it.

They'd drown in the dead sea. I'm out. I don't like people in the bodies of grown men, and the physical and mental abilities and survival skills of a new-born.

Not island related, but there has been at least one case of this that I know about in the UK: someone broke into a warehouse and was injured when a stack of stuff fell on him. I'm not sure if the claim would have held water in court but the company didn't want to take the risk and settled with him for an undisclosed sum. IIRC they were also fined for the health and safety violation that was the mis-stacked stock (as the same accident could have happened to an employee instead and an inspection found other such problems).

Warning signs disavowing the owner of a site of responsibility for other people's actions (in a public place or while trespassing) often have little to do with the actual rule of law though (except where the signs are mandated by regulation) - more often than not they are simply about reducing the chance of someone trying it on. You might win easily in court if it goes that far, but if you can save the time and other hassle of needing to go that far by putting people off trying it is likely to be cost effective to do so.

It's the same in France. If you have a swimming pool in your garden for instance, and you don't put a legal size fence around it, and someone gets hurt because he slipped or drown in the swimming pool is your responsibility.

It's the same for wifi. If you don't protect your network with a password, you are legally responsible for what happen on it even if it's someone in the street squatting your wifi.

You have to understand the underlying principles - you don't sue poor people, the ones who don't have anything, you sue the rich, the ones who have (and if their property is substantial, say - an island, the better). That is what makes sense and that is what became legal, justice be damned!

It's specifically called out in the wiki page linked to earlier, under the "United States" section.

Actually I believe all 50 states have "recreational use" statutes which provide land owners strong protections:


I'm not saying we aren't a litigious country but recreational non profits and others are working hard to ensure that it is safe for land owners to allow to/across their land.

I know someone who owns a farm and a thief fell in a dirt-hole injuring himself while trying to steal some veggies. The thief ended up suing the owner for a lot of money.

As an American- i had no idea! Interesting.

I must see this narrow gauge railroad he built :)

Just for people new to who Tynan is, he's a pretty far out guy. Some things I recall (sorry haven't kept up over the years)

1) Ran a successful professional online poker playing business, actually hired employees and trained them to predictably win.

2) Was one of the main characters in the book The Game (yes, that PUA one).

3) Did polyphasic sleep experiments in earnest (was it a couple months or so?).

4) Had a giant inflatable outdoor pool inside his house, taking up his entire livingroom.

5) Sold all his belongings, including said house, and travelled the world for a year with almost nothing... probably in 2k8 or so before such an idea became more commonplace.

There's probably some much cooler stuff I'm forgetting, but hey it makes perfect sense he'd be part of an island buying crew.

Not common place before 2008? A lot of anti materialism propaganda started way before that: AdBusters, Culture Jam and lots of other films that were even main stream.

Travelling the world for a year (which requires not having a lot of possessions) is not necessarily part of the same trend (frankly, of garbage) that you cite.

And much sooner than those there was the whole counterculture movement of the 60s. Anti-materialism is about as old materialism itself.

I think he means before stories like that started popping up on HN...

> There's probably some much cooler stuff I'm forgetting, but hey it makes perfect sense he'd be part of an island buying crew.

He mentions these and more on this page: http://tynan.com/about

>Although I'm happy to be saving money, my _primary reasons_ for living in an RV are that it _forces me to be minimalist and focus on what matters_, and it's a lot of fun. I've modified nearly every aspect of the interior of my RV (...) Some of the changes include:

> Maple and marble floors

> Brazilian granite countertops

>Japanese-style tea room in the back complete with rush-reed tatami mats and mulberry shoji screened rear window.

>Golden tin ceiling

>Gold-leafed 10 foot curved section of the wall

>Home theater system with LED projector, 50" screen, and 12" subwoofer.

>Handmade zebrawood desk

>Controllable low-wattage LED lighting system with over 1000 bulbs

Minimalist and focused on what matters indeed.

Consider it this way, in an RV has a small amount of room so there is a limit to the cool stuff he can put in it. So he has to CHOOSE what stuff to keep.

I men lets not forget about the giant inflatable pool in the living room incident. you simply can NOT do that in an RV

>So there is a limit to the cool stuff he can put in it. So he has to CHOOSE what stuff to keep

First world minimalism.

Thanks! That's definitely the highlight reel!

"I type on a Dvorak keyboard instead of QWERTY" ... Wow, didn't it existed. Do you still use Dvorak ? (wondering if its worth the switch)

I use Dvorak, I believe it helped with my hand and wrist RSI issues, but I have no more than anecdotal evidence. I also type faster, which is verifiable, but it might just be due to ~7 years extra practice.

Keyboard layout shootout: qwerty vs dvorak(s) vs colemak


Can we get a blog post about the pool thing? I've always wanted to try that but my brother told me my house would collapse :-(

It's really poorly written, but here's what I wrote about it 8 years ago: http://tynan.com/the-infamous-ghetto-indoor-pool

> To ensure that the pool would be environmentally friendly, Crystal simulated a retarded dolphin swimming in the dry pool. It was a great success.

Wow! Great point about being 72 degrees. I never thought of that.

Glad I'm not the only one that wants to have an indoor inflatable pool that takes up an entire room. The wife does not approve.

He did it for a higher calling -- namely having a penguin as a pet. Maybe if you make that your justification too your wife will jump on board, so to speak.

It's funny that the pool made it on the list of interesting things about tynan, but not the penguin.

To be fair, I never got the penguin :(

So the pool in your living room was just a preemptive one? ;)

Way back in the early days of Internet, there were pictures of some fellows who moved all the furniture out of their dorm room, got a sheet of heavy-duty waterproof plastic big enough to cover the floor and three feet up the walls, and ran a hose from the bathroom...

> Sold all his belongings, including said house, and travelled the world for a year with almost nothing... probably in 2k8 or so before such an idea became more commonplace.

Has this really become more commonplace since 2008? People have always done this. Even before 2008. Maybe blogging about it is a fairly recent thing, though.

Ages ago, I also had this idea, including posting about it online. But it turns out I'm a dreamer rather than a do-er. Or maybe I'm just too addicted to comfort.

> 5) Sold all his belongings, including said house, and travelled the world for a year with almost nothing... probably in 2k8 or so before such an idea became more commonplace.

Didn't Jesus do this?

I don't think Jesus ever had belongings like that to sell. He did recommend it to others, though.

He's also been living out of an RV for a while.

Off-topic, I know, but are we calling 2008 "2k8" now? Is last decade the 2k's?

I believe the practice starts with resistors, and because of differences in use of . and , and the fact they are hard to tell apart, the units are placed in stead of the . ie 1,500 ohm -> 1k5 ohm

Exactly, which means 2k8 is actually 2800, and not 2008.

I look at the k as a algebric constant, i.e. SI prefix http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SI_prefix#List_of_prefixes

so 2k8 is 2000 +8,

2k1da3 would be 2013

Knowing nothing about resistors, though, 2k8 intuitively means 2008. So I like this way of doing it.

Really? Because I would prefer "2008" to "2k8"... It's literally one more character...

For written communication, yes. For verbal communication, the 2000s can be a bit burdensome to pronounce.

Wouldn't that be 2.8k?

The way people seem to reckon it is 2k8 = 2 * 1000 + 8 = 2008

On the other hand, if it were 2k8h then it would be 2800 (2 kilo, 8 hecto).


Slightly different in that case, as Ives has pointed out. For example, 4k7 = 4.7 kilohms. Extra zeros are significant, e.g. 4k700 = 4.700 kilohms.

I'd always hoped they would be known as the naughties.

Sports video games have been doing this for years.

e.g. http://www.ign.com/games/nba-2k8/xbox-360-866314

…or as I've recently taken to calling it, 2k plus 8.

Lots of widowmakers there judging by the pictures, better be careful. One thing you learn quickly when you live remote is that the nearest hospital is very far away both in space and in time and stuff that is routine in a city can get serious (or even kill you) when you're living remote.

Still, congratulations, I can really relate to how you guys feel.

In case there are more island enthousiasts here:


For people who are confused:

A widowmaker is a dead tree that could fall, and kill somebody [in the namesake a probably-male logger]; thereby creating a widow.

I was rather confused since I know more about finance than logging.

In finance, "Widowmaker" means one thing: Shorting Japanese Government Bonds (JGB) and inevitably losing money. Because of Japan’s gigantic national debt, and because the Japanese bond rally has gone on so long, investors have called the top in the Japanese bond market for years, only to get impaled.

thanks for clearing it up.

A widowmaker, in the medical sense, is a highly stenotic left main coronary artery. In other words, a heart attack by clogging the arteries that feed the heart blood (not the main pump supply).

That's how my dad died last year.

Now I've learned two things.

Ah - living in the UK I thought that would be some kind of weird spider or snake or something. Thanks for that.

We don't have weird dangerous stuff here except for the politicians and bankers.

Apologies, I spent too much time around loggers. I'd hate to be under a tree that sheds politicians and bankers :)

When talking about watercooled VWs, it refers to this jack: http://www.quickcashauto.com/How-To-Articles/images/Jack.jpg

The term seems to be used for all sorts of things.

In Australia, and I had the same thought, that 'widowmaker' referred to a spider.

In Australia here, and I knew exactly what he meant.

I guess it just depends on whether you've done much tree-work. (I'm ex-SES in an area with lots of National Parks/State Recreation Areas)

Widowmaker was also the name used for the hammer drills used in the Australian goldfields. The dust from the drilled rock got into the miners lungs and killed them prematurely.

Or any number of dangerous mammals. ;)

We still have trees, here...

We're actually pretty close to a hospital. Five minutes to shore by boat and maybe 20 minutes to a hospital. Didn't see any scary spiders, but will keep an eye out next time I'm up there!

Widowmaker, not widow spider. See, what you don't know could kill you ;) Spend some time in an unmaintained bit of forest and you'll get to know plenty of these things.

Five minutes to shore when the weather is good and your engine starts. Really, please heed my advice and make sure each and every one of you knows how to do basic first aid, I hope you're never going to be in a position to use it but when you do you'll be happy you took the time and trouble. First purchase: a very good first aid kit.

This is all not to piss on your parade but because I lived in a pretty remote area for 2 years and have a little bit of experience that might be relevant to your situation.

Thanks for the heads up! We'll def be sure to get on that and get some basic first aid training across the board + med kit on site. Any other advice/tips we should be aware of?

You're welcome.

Basic engine repair skills, something to patch up your boat in case you spring a leak, a basic comms kit+genny so you can call up the coast guard or a passing boat if you should need them (assuming your island is out of cell phone reach), cache of freshwater, fuel, waterproofed matches and a couple of days worth of tin cans in case you ever get cut off. Halifax coast in winter can be, how to phrase this, impressive, to say the least.

Mind you, the real kick is when you are isolated but there is an additional degree of risk there. No need to get your appendix out as a precaution just yet ;)

All of this is assuming you're on the salty side of things, if you're in a lake it's a lot more relaxed but you will still need to take basic precautions and you'll need to be extremely careful with what you do with your wastes (you'd need to be just as careful in the ocean with that for ethical reasons but there will be fewer watching eyes so you can drop the 'extremely').

As a SAR guy, I can say the big big thing is the first aid (plus CPR). It sounds like you're relatively close to civilization, but realize that if someone has to come to help you, they're likely not going to be there within the Golden Hour (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_hour_%28medicine%29). That, and just being prepared in general (ten essentials: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ten_Essentials and knowing how to use them), having skills, and being wary. I've seen even well-seasoned people end up in bad situations; the best way to survive seems to be to avoid the bad situations. Also, never go alone.

Good stuff second all of it, the last one you can't emphasize enough. 'SAR guy' -> Search And Rescue guy.

Reading all the advice that is being given in comments around this thread, it would seem the best advice would be: get someone who knows what they're talking about in the local area and get their advice; like the parent poster SAR but that also knows about dangers closer to home.

Maybe you could make a weekend of it for your families or something.

My SAR group actually teaches a class where one of our stated upfront goals is to prevent people from having to be rescued. Depending on the area, the local SAR group might be too busy putting out fires to do similar (it takes a lot of planning and prep).

Yep. Life is fragile. One subtle mistake can be game over (McCandless)

Non-nonsense survival guide:


Also: man vs wild (television)

> Also: man vs wild (television)

I would very strongly advise AGAINST emulating Bear Grylls' antics in 'Man vs Wild'. He often does things that are the complete and total opposite of what you should do. One example that stuck in my mind was when he (supposedly) needed to cross a mountain and decided, instead, to go through the mountain via a cave, which is possibly the most stupid idea I've ever heard. He arguably puts young people at risk by encouraging such dangerous behaviour. Lofty Wiseman (author of the SAS Survival Guide) has described him as an "idiot".

Also, while the TV show portrays him as roughing it in the wild, the truth is somewhat different: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-470155/How-Bear-Gryl...

Although that area is typically serviced by hovercraft and close to civilization, having first aid skills are certainly essential.

And gear. Setting up a supply of basic medical stuff isn't that expensive if you do it right and it could be very handy. A few key drugs, a few laminated sets of instructions on how to give them and you'll potentially be much better off. Allergic reactions etc can be ugly.

If their boat is more of a skiff, a couple paddles and a milk jug cut in half for bailing might be sufficient.

In terms of winter storms, this is approximately as bad as it gets: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_Juan .

Funny you should post that. I was travelling by car near Cap Chat when that hit and it wasn't amusing at all.


The st. Lawrence river might just as well be ocean for the purpose of driving along the shore road in winter, in the middle of a snowstorm like that it really makes you wonder what the hell you were thinking of driving there in winter.

I went there to visit a huge VAT ('eggbeater' or Darrieus rotor windmill), I should have kept a better eye out for the weather reports rather than to keep on driving, and I only caught the tail end of it. Live & learn...

(someone else's picture of the windmill: http://www.flickr.com/photos/libraryman_76021/555075211/ )

It's an interesting experience to try to dig out your car before the next snowplow comes along.

Completely unrelated: I zoomed out on your Google Maps link and saw a suspiciously circular lake formation:


Yep, it's the 4th most powerful known meteor impact: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ren%C3%A9-Levasseur_Island

I love Wikipedia.

Go to Sudbury, Ontario for an even larger one! (they're still mining that one today).

That storm was unusual but we do often get a few Nor' Easter storms in the winter and at -20C and 100km/h to 120km/h it can be a bit rough.

Calling -20@100 km/h winds 'a bit rough' should qualify for the understatement of the decade if there is such a thing. I've been out in weather like that and it cured me of a desire to see snow and ice for a very long time. I've seen it be below -40 on St. Josephs Island a couple of nights every year and that was definitely quite strange. As long as the wind wasn't up it was doable, even the slightest breeze and you'd be crazy to go out (or you'd have to feed the stove...).

That's what I was thinking, about the paddles. Five minutes by motorboat in clear weather ought to be at least manageable even if the motor's out and the weather's terrible, so long as you've got paddles.

A wildnerness first aid kit and training:


And an AED

Ahh, I misunderstood.

We're actually pretty close to the shore on one side, in cell phone coverage, and have the phone number of our closest neighbor. There's definitely danger there, and we're big on safety, but it's not as remote as it probably seems.

Thanks for the advice and thoughts!

I suspect he meant "widowmakers" in the "bits of tree that can suddenly fall and kill you" sense, not spider sense: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Widowmaker_(forestry)

Yep. And suddenly fall they do (gust of wind, guy playing around with a chainsaw at the base, random chance).

it's a miracle humans managed to survive the first few million years...

> it's a miracle humans managed to survive the first few million years...

They haven't, yet; humans (H. sapiens) have only been around for ~200k years.

Most of them didn't.

Literally survivor bias

That's a matter of numbers. Lots of people die in unfortunate ways. I'd just rather not be one of them.

I think “widowmakers” doesn't refer to spiders, but things to watch out for, like falling trees, slippery ledges, sharp rocks, and so on.

They're one of the “five Ws”—a mnemonic list of things you need (or need to keep away from) to survive in the wilderness: water, weather, wigglies (which would include spiders), widowmakers, and wood.

> Didn't see any scary spiders, but will keep an eye out next time I'm up there!

One of the nice things about here in NS is that there are no native spiders or snakes that are dangerous to humans.

The trees can kill you though. My father was almost killed by one back in his short lived forestry career.

20 minutes at what speed? How long to row if you engine doesn't start?

...and you've accidentally cut off one of your hands building your cabin?

On the lake, and surrounding lakes where we own a cabin, there are hundreds of lakes on private islands, some of which are a considerable distance by boat. This has been going on for the better part of the last century, and people don't seem to be having issues in general.

I would put "clearing a space or even making a concrete pad for a helicopter to land" and "checking cell phone coverage, if any" high on the list of first things to do.

I believe he already said there was cell coverage. As someone who can only dream about owning a private island, how big would a helipad have to be? And how much concrete would it take to make that sort of thing?

From http://www.txairlife.com/calling_airlife/call_build.htm for example:

"* How large of a landing area is required for the helipad and where should it be located?

The size of the helicopter’s primary approach area, departure area, landing area, and the obstructions must be taken into consideration before determining the location. The AirLIFE helicopter must have a landing area of 100’ x 100’. The takeoff and approach areas should also be 100’ x 100’ and clear of all obstructions.

* What should the size of the helipad surface be, and how much weight should it support?

The ideal size of the helipad surface should be 50’ x 50’, but can be as small as 40’ x 40’. The landing surface should be able to support the helicopter at it’s maximum gross weight of 9,300 lbs."

Or take a look at http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/policy/army/f..., "CHAPTER 13 - DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION OF HELIPORTS AND HELIPADS"

Fascinating, thanks :)

This island for sale in Scotland appears to have a helipad next to the house (you can see it on one of the pics):


I've thought the same: no hospitals near = serious problem.

Congratulations! That's a fantastic project and a very cool retreat. I'm curious about:

- Ownership structure. With 10 of you, how have you prepared for people falling out or wanting out?

- What are you allowed to build on it?

- How do you access it? Do you have to pay a boatman to take you out there?

It's an LLC. We have bylaws to deal with people wanting out, but we intentionally make it very difficult (island llc gets 1st right of refusal, every member gets a right of refusal after that, and we must approve of any buyer). The idea is that it's an investment in utility, not in dollars. One bad person on the island could ruin everyone's experience, so we guard against that.

We're going to be building next year, so we still have lots of research to do. It appears that anything permanent like a cabin would require a permit, but that yurts / heavy duty tents / sheds / etc wouldn't.

A neighbor on the mainland has offered us dock space and gave us a couple rides this trip. We also bought an Intex Excursion 5 off Amazon which was serviceable but really difficult to navigate in wind. We'll buy a real boat next year.

HN is throttling my posts, so it may take a while to answer everything. I appreciate all the comments and questions.

Can you vote someone off the island?

Yes, but only one person per week. Should have it all to myself in 9 weeks if everything goes according to plan...

Sounds like you have done your research, but if you haven't heard of hexa-yurts, check them out! Here's a picture of different designs: http://files.howtolivewiki.com/hexayurt.com/all_yurts_edit.j...

I've seen those-- would prefer something with windows, and it would need to be able to withstand some pretty serious weather (maybe those can... haven't researched).

Thinking probably a 30' yurt for the communal building, and smaller geodesic domes for individual dwellings.


I talked to them once and it sounded like they can ship the materials in a fairly compact way. I helped put up a fairly large one - not so hard, but we needed scaffolding.

> island llc

Anyone else old enough to mistakenly read this as "island IIc"?


Thanks for the info. Good luck with it!

Quote: "Over the years we'll build up the island, doing most of the work ourselves. We'll build a communal building with a shower, kitchen, lounge, and bathrooms. Each owner of the island gets to pick a spot on which to build their own little structure to sleep in. Together we'll build infrastructure, gardens, a fire pit, and whatever else we can come up with."

So, not counting significant others, ten people sharing a five-acre island. That's 1/2 acre per person except that not all five acres will be flat, buildable land, and you will have to sort out who lives where, without friction.

This works when you're young, before you start thinking about issues like privacy and personal space. By the time you and your friends are 30 years old, the island will likely be a distant and probably bitter memory.

I speak as someone who lived through the 1960s American back-to-the land, communal-living, private-property-is-a-crime phase.

Tynan is already over 30.

He doesn't seem to be indicating anyone plans to live there permanently...it sounds like it is intended as a getaway, rather than a home. No mention of building gardens, major construction, or dealing with longterm freshwater, garbage and sewer, etc. In other words, he's building a private campground, not a commune.

For what it's worth, I live in SF and know of several communities of people over 30 - people who are well-educated and could definitely afford to live in their own space - who choose to live together in big warehouse conversions. I'm sure there's drama but they consider being around other like-minded people to be worthwhile.

In this case it's just shared vacation land which is even easier, and they'll each get their own plot. My family of 6 lived on a quarter acre in a suburb and that always felt like plenty of space.

I'm already over 30, as are many members of the group. I was extremely selective on who I invited, and they're all people I trust completely. There will be issues in the future, but we've come up with rules to deal with them.

Also, as noted below, none of us are planning on living there full time-- just visiting over the summer, hopefully all at the same time.

> I'm already over 30 ...

Then I envy your youthful outlook. :)

By the time I was 30 I had had enough of communal living for several lifetimes.

Haha, thanks. I had a great time communal living in school. Everyone involved in the island is trustworthy, fair, reasonable, etc., so I think it will be good. We also outlined ways to deal with disputes in advance.

Hey! I've got the Stick! It's MY turn to speak!

You might want to draft a bylaw the codify the no one living there permanently part. Any plans to post your LLC operating agreement + bylaws publicly and/or in source control?

If you're not planning on living there permanently I don't see it as much of an issue. That said I'm used to living in cities where half an acre per person sounds like a huge amount of land.

But it was beautiful while it lasted, no?

> But it was beautiful while it lasted, no?

Yep. It was:


What is it about islands that gives them their mystique? I don't think a post entitled, "My friends and I bought a five-acre plot of land near Halifax" would have garnered as much attention.

I would have never guessed that it would, either. I was pretty shocked to see it here when I loaded up HN on my phone.

When I was inviting friends to be a part of this, there was a big divide... half of them LOVED the idea and felt like an island was something special (as I do), and others just saw it as some difficult-to-access land. I've had a tough time articulating exactly why an island seems special to me.

Are you going to run internet access to it (or put in satellite)?

Yes, there is strong LTE and HSPA+ service there, and Canada has some decent PAYG plans.

I would bet on the LTE access to be constant or reliable...personal experience from living in Ontario and using both Bell and Rogers.

That's news to me (I live in Canada, although in Ontario).

I think the plan my friend was using was Rogers iPad plan... data only, but it was really reasonable.

While I'd love owning some land, owning an island is definitely in a different league. I doubt I'll ever own one (because it is impractical), but it's definitely something to dream about.

I think part of it is the fact that this 5-acre land plot has a giant moat encircling it. When the zombie apocalypse hits, they'll be glad they spent the cash, though.

Also most human cultures either grew from river or coastland - the availability of fish and other resources that a large body of water provides is very comforting to us descendants of those peoples at a very basic level, I imagine.

We saw an unusually high amount of cemeteries on the way to the island... if the zombies rise up, we are totally screwed.

Rowing past dozens of cemeteries to get to a haunted island...

Is this the beginning of a horror movie or a comedy?

Seriously though, owning an island is awesome. Have fun and be safe. :)

Well defined borders. You're either on the island, or not. Neither you nor your neighbors are likely to wander across the border without noticing.

Nope, that's not it.

Proof: Would you get excited about a story of someone buying a five acre plot of land with a fence around it? Or a moat-like trench?

"My friends and I bought 5 acres and dug a moat around it."

Yup, that's a +1 there.

A moat would be kind of cool :)

If you get a moat, I'd also want a drawbridge. And walls. And towers.

There's an aesthetic appeal to natural vs man-made barriers.

I clicked to find out where the island was and how large. Well crafted title!

Robinson Crusoe

I am curious about how and whether building or environment impact codes come into play with this kind of remote private island in Canada. Things like septic systems, building a dock or anything near the shoreline, and even putting in a mooring buoy can be significant challenges to get approved in many US jurisdictions.

In lakes the rules are extremely strict, for an island in the ocean the rules are much more permissive. No matter what the rules you typically want to keep your impact as low as possible or your island feeling will soon be replaced by something more akin to living in a small polluted town.

Legally all your island really is is a bit of land surrounded by shoreline and that shoreline is the interesting bit. It may automatically be public access or not depending on where you are, you may be accidentally part of some incorporated town and there may be specific rules governing islands.

I would advice against issuing your own passports but if you happen to have an anti-aircraft gun and an old torpedo lying around you could even consider going sovereign.

And once you successfully pull that off you can do whatever you want with your island ;)

Presumably the island is still part of Canada, right? I doubt you could get away with trying to start your own little sovereign country on it.

I have a friend who investigated the possibility of this, he owned a small island off the coast of another larger inhabited island. Although he wasn't far enough off the coast to be declared international (ie international waters) he did tell me that in Canada he could issue commemerative coins (although not his own currency) and stamps.

If you have the backing and historical roots of a large country you can find a loophole:


The trick is to make friends with your neighbors. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_Dumpling_Island

It's been tried with England (Sealand). And I did advice against it :)

Everything depend son the municipality and province you live in. I can't speak for Halifax area, but on Lake of the Woods and surrounding unincorporated area, Ministry of Ontario is the governing body. Floating docks do not require a permit, but for the most part, you aren't allowed to modify the shoreline, except under direct permission from Ontario and/or the Department of Fisheries (Federal). You are allowed to build boat houses on land (with permits), or by driving pipe into the ground, as that minimizes damage to the shore.

The ministry will do periodic inspections of land, and will investigate complaints. The property we purchased had all vegetation removed from the shoreline to expose the natural sand beach. The owner was fined, and forced to lay down landscaping fabric and crushed granite to cover it in order to reduce erosion. The matter was strictly dealt with by Department of Fisheries.

As for septic, you're required to build a field, but permits are easily obtainable. Same goes with putting buildings; permits are (usually) required, but usually attainable relatively easily.

I'm curious about this, too. We've done a little research, and it seems like building non-permanent things like sheds and yurts will be fine, but docks, septic, permanent buildings that cost over $5k will need permits.

Then again, there are some pretty janky home-made docks in the bay that seem to have been there for a while.

If it is anything like in the US, old stuff is grandfathered when things tighten up. This is why it is often advisable to look for property that already has a dock or other permanent structures on or near the shoreline. It is quite likely that none of that janky stuff could be built today.

This is exactly how it works in most of Canada. The new laws are strict to an extreme measure, in some cases you are not even allowed to add a window to a wall that is facing water (reflection and glare issues) or cut down any fauna within 60 feet of the waters edge. Docks usually have a permit but are limited to a specific size, and you cannot alter the general structure of grandfathered objects.

I think you mean flora... and even then I'm guessing it only applies to trees and large shrubs. I'm Canadian and all the anti-cutting laws I've heard about only restrict you from removing plants over a certain size. So you can remove saplings and small shrubs, but if you wait for them to get big it'll be too late.

Those docks might not be permanent structures, which probably removes any permit requirements. You might want to go this route too if you all won't be visiting much or at all during the winter months. Remove your dock to 'winterize' your island.

Hey all - co-owner here with Tynan. He tried to reply to all your comments but you guys left so many he got throttled by HN and now can't post. Shame on you all.

Just kidding - but really, he's throttled atm. He'll be back to reply to posts when he can!

Why would you guys buy the island without seeing it first? Were you guys just really excited?

We didn't transfer the money until seeing it. As the commenter below said, it hit our metrics, so we figured that barring an infestation of wild tigers or something, it was worth buying. So we went up, camped for a night to check it out, and wired the money the next morning.

Wouldn't an infestation of wild tigers make it more worth buying? =)

It hit three of their big metrics. What it looked like was probably a perk in comparison to cost, where it was, and availability.

How do you intend to prevent locals from "visiting" your island when you are away? Once someone realizes there's an awesome free island with lots of cool stuff to play with you might find it prone to vandalizing.

I've had similar romantic notions about owning an island (we kayak a lot). But the reality is that every vacant island IS your island. There's plenty of islands < 1 hour away that are beautiful and completely uninhabited. Hopefully someday I will come upon yours... sounds nice.

<pessimism>I hope it works out for you but taxes go up, structures get vandalized, local permits are annoying and 10 hours is a long friggen drive. And the fastest way to end a friendship is to joint own something.</pessimism>

Unfortunately, the first structure in a remote location is often the first structure the local pyro has an opportunity to torch with no consequences. After losing a camper trailer (not on an island, but in a remote location) to this phenomenon, we've investigated more durable/securable structures but have been reluctant to invest in anything more permanent than tents.

One of these: http://www.junglehammock.com/ and a nice Kayak is your key to staying on any coastline or island. If there's nobody there... then nobody will mind. Ownership = headache.

Holy crap I hope those are nice. The cheapest hammock they offer costs several times the most expensive tent I've ever purchased. When I kayak camp I generally just bring a tarp and a self-inflating pad.

You can get the generally most popular camping hammock, an eno, with straps and a tarp for $70 + $20 + $80 (eno website). You can get my favorite, the appalachian hammock with a slot for insulation during winter, with a tarp for $99 + $150 [2].

You need a sleeping bag to put in the hammock too too, but most people have those. =

The prices are ridiculous. Look up Hennessy Hammocks for something more reasonable and be prepared to insulate a lot from the bottom, especially in moist climates.

Looks cool. I've always thought sleeping in a Hammock would be nice, but as a stomach sleeper I wonder if it would really be possible. Are things flat and taught enough that you can stomach sleep on them?

Here's a good primer on hammock camping:


(I sleep in hammocks pretty often) If you set it up taut and lie diagonlly (eg head on left, feet on right, stomach on middle), you will be pretty flat.

Why do you assume he'd want to prevent locals from visiting?

You never met a bored teenager... have you? Of course it is Canada... maybe they aren't as awful.

Every bored teenager I've met was absolutely respectful of signs and, authority in general...

Judging by the Stanley Cup riots in Vancouver a few years ago, they are worse.

Even if one doesn't mind people passing through (and if it's somewhere out in the wilderness I think that's the right attitude), if private improvements are ever seen as open to public use when their owner is not around, it's a matter of time before problems arise.

Over the years we'll build up the island, doing most of the work ourselves. We'll build a communal building with a shower, kitchen, lounge, and bathrooms. Each owner of the island gets to pick a spot on which to build their own little structure to sleep in. Together we'll build infrastructure, gardens, a fire pit, and whatever else we can come up with.

A couple years ago I bought some rural land with the idea that something like this. . . something I think of as "ecosteading" is going to become a trend of sorts. The idea that I'm working on (and have already applied to YC and a bunch of other incubators with) is actually right along this line: a platform for people to buy and sell land, exchange ideas for ecological homesteading, even build out a platform for more intelligent urban planning. When it's done from the "ground up" (literally), there are all kind of future headaches that can be avoided.

Imagine if the Hyperloop or the California high speed rail had been able to be laid down before most of the development around this insanely populated state took place. Population growth is exponential; it's inevitable that we're going to need smarter ways of transporting people and consumables. The key is figuring out where these new hubs of population are going. Like-minded people congregate; and this idea gives them a way to do it with others.

If this sounds like something interesting/exciting, I am kinda sorta looking for people to work with. Research it, tell me what you can offer (it's Rails!) and what you think of what's done so far: https://angel.co/ecosteader (email only please)

Hey guys-- this is my post. I'm flattered this made it to HN! Will be answering questions in comments for a couple hours if any come up.

What's the price difference between a Canada vs US island?

No question... just want to say that this is really cool. I recently took a Seaplane from Vancouver BC to Victoria BC and shocked by how many beautiful tiny islands there were out there and wondered what it would be like to try to get one. Now I know.

Those islands cost in the millions... but there are some sweet ones up north that are cheaper than a downtown Victoria condo.

Something tells me those islands would not be cheap. But agreed, it's an absolutely stunning part of the world that I miss a lot.

Are you just planning to camp or do you plan to setup a small cabin? Can you dig a well there? Will you allow guests to visit? A tiny produce garden? Helipad?

...I have so many, I can't type fast enough!

Hah Tynan got throttled by HN for posting too many comments too quickly. I'm also a co-owner of the island:

1. Yeah, we definitely have plans for structures -- yurts, we're actually thinking. 2. Hmm, haven't explored that option. Not sure. 3. Yep - tentatively 5 guests per each owner at a time. 4. Yeah food would definitely be fantastic. 5. We don't have helicopters yet unfortunately, but when we're mad rich sure :)

> 5. We don't have helicopters yet unfortunately, but when we're mad rich sure :)

I would've thought that a helipad would be a good idea if you ever need to be evacuated by air ambulance

Sweetwater well on a saltwater island this size is a rare thing.

> Sweetwater well on a saltwater island this size is a rare thing.

Not at all. It's not uncommon to have a fresh water table beneath the surface of an area dotted with islands. If you doubt this, ask yourself where the tree's roots go, and how those salt-intolerant trees survive.

I live 100 feet from salt water in Washington State and I have a perfectly reliable fresh-water well.

Living on the mainland near the sea is not the same as living on a very small island more than a few hundred meters off-shore.

See, the mainland has sweetwater running under it all the way to the sea shore and even a little bit beyond, depth and density will vary but it is always there. But a small island surrounded by ocean need not be like that, more than likely it is of a rocky composition (otherwise it would simply disappear or move around) and the water runs right off before it can pool in quantity enough that you could stick a well-head into it to reliably pump it to the surface for consumption.

In such a situation catching it as it falls is your best bet (also better because a small island likely does not have a good filtering capacity and the water you pump up, assuming you can get at it in a useful quantities, will need a lot of processing before you can use it).

It all depends on the actual situation but the chances are rather against it.

> It all depends on the actual situation but the chances are rather against it.

Not really. It's a matter of drilling carefully:


"On low, small islands that are largely composed of coral or other porous materials, salt water intrusion into the underlying interior is quite common. The drilling or digging of wells on these islands and especially on along the shoreline must be done with care [emphasis added]."

Notice that the author didn't say "pointless."

Most reasonably-sized islands have a subsurface fresh water source. The presence of salt-intolerant trees tells you there's fresh water available beneath the surface.

> ... assuming you can get at it in a useful quantities, will need a lot of processing before you can use it.

If that were true, it would kill the trees. I know a number of locations in Alaska near salt water where, because of geological changes resulting from the 1964 earthquake, even though the surface is dry there's no subsurface fresh water at all, and all the trees promptly died. Those locations are rare.

It's not nearly as simple as drilling a well far from salt water, but it can be done.

> Not really. It's a matter of drilling carefully.

Oh my god. Tynan & Co. are LARPing Dwarf Fortress.

> caught wild crabs...

You may want to check with the DFO (Dept. of Fisheries and Oceans) on that. Licenses are sold for many types of shellfish and you want have fishers with licenses for crab, clam, oysters etc. near the island. http://www.pac.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/fm-gp/rec/species-especes/shell...

Recently one lobster fisherman (farther off shore) was caught cutting trap lines and the owner of the lines shot him a few times and then ran him over in his boat. Fishing is taken very seriously in this region, it's all some people have done for many generations.

Other than that you should be fine.

VERY useful site-- thank you!

Those are Pacific water regulations. This site, http://novascotia.ca/fish/ is what you'd want.

Just in general in Nova Scotia you don't need any license for non-commercial fishing in tidal areas (still need to observe bag limits though.) You do need a license for any fishing in fresh waters.

If you're hand picking crabs you're fine. Just don't set any traps or snares, but you might want to check to see if they are safe to eat. Sometimes the close areas for shellfish harvesting due to food safety concerns.

The murder that dhughes is referencing had more to do with it then them just catching someone cutting their lines, there was a long history between the victim and the boat crew.

Whoops! Didn't see that, good catch ;)

This is awesome.

I always wanted to do something like this as long as I can remember, build something (more or less) self-sustaining in the middle of nowhere to feel fully independent. I am really curious to what extent the author plans on living there? Will there be houses next to the communal building? Solar Panels? A Generator? An on-site well?

It is this Idea of your own small ecosystem which makes Minecraft so attractive. This is real life Minecraft and I hope to do something like this one day.

Edit: Just to add some interesting Project: There is open source hardware for everything you need to build your own village in the "Global Village Construction Set"[1]


[1] http://opensourceecology.org/wiki/Global_Village_Constructio...


At first it will be a summer-only thing, but we hope over 5-10 years to make it sustainable all year round. We want to use it mainly as a place to work together and get away from cities.

Next summer we will be putting up a 30' yurt, a huge battery bank, and a generator. Water is the hardest, so we'll probably have to catch rain and use a desalinator.

Oh-- we have awesome LTE and 4G coverage there, too!

Congrats on your purchase! Having 4G internet is a very nice addition to your infrastructure, and critical in this day and age. Even if you want to disconnect for extended periods of time, you still have to pay your bills and taxes.

Speaking from experience, solar panels and car batteries work very well to supply a minimal amount of power for daily use (LED lights, charging cell phones and laptops, etc), but a generator will likely be needed for the occasional heavy equipment use. I'm less of a fan of windmills, but they have their place.

Water is indeed the most important infrastructure element to get right, but the solution you go with often depends heavily with your power choices. It's one thing to leave a desalinization system running 24x7 and maintain it, but it's a whole different story if you need something that can be shut down and restarted several months later. Maintenance and long-term reliability become important factors. Maybe you'll get lucky and find you can drill a well for fresh water, but the size of your island makes me think that is unlikely.

Other fun things to think about: plumbing, septic systems, waste disposal, hot water systems, lights, cooking, and refrigeration.

Then there is always the debate of redundancy vs. simplicity. and the real cost of maintaining an often fragile infrastructure.

I am very curious to hear more about your progresses in building out your island infrastructure and have subscribed to your blog.

Thanks! I actually have an RV with solar and LED, so I'm very familiar with the awesomeness of running off the grid. I'm not sure we'll get enough solar to make it cost efficient, but we're still looking into it.

I haven't done enough research into desalination-- I had no idea that shutting it down for a while is a problem. Why is that?

We may also do rainwater recovery + filtration for drinking/cooking, and salt for showering. Worst case we have to bring water over every time and shower in salt.

Planning on doing propane or wood to heat water, propane for refrigeration and cooking.

Thanks for subscribing! We'll be going out in the spring to do some more work and will definitely keep people updated on progress.

My extended family owns a cabin on a tiny island on a lake in Wisconsin.

* You're right - having a house on an island is cooler than having a house on the shore. :)

* Probably not applicable to you, but when they need to move heavy things (Backhoe to dredge the dock, materials, etc.) to the island, they drive them in over the frozen lake in midwinter.

* The power comes in over an underwater cable. Something you might want to look into.

First of all, owning an island sounds awesome. Congrats on making the leap.

I don't know how much knowledge you have about desalinators, but here is a FAQ by the company that makes the reverse osmosis unit that I use at work: http://www.searecovery.com/marine/src_faqs.html Being so close to land, you will need a way to sterilize the water. A UV attachment should work.

I also recommend taking a course in Wilderness First Aid. I took a 70 Hour Wilderness First Responder course by Wilderness Medical Associates. It was an excellent course.

Sometimes it's just a matter of thinking outside the box and doing a little research, rather than assuming it's impossible or impractical.

Good advice in general too, not just when buying an island.

You could probably let a lot of kids (college students) have a lot of fun surveying it. I would seriously consider approaching a local college or university if you'd want.

Bonus is that you'll get some good maps out of it:)

Awesome idea, thanks!

"I bought an Island" ... on a blog about minimalism...

Yeah, but it's my ONLY island.

For now*. Don't forget the artillery for imperializing neighboring islands.

Hehe I had that exact comment written, then I hit ctrl-f and it happened that you beat me

I wonder if indeed it's completely out of any state's control or it's technically still in a state's jurisdiction. I wonder what would happen if someone bought an island and started hiring people and making money there and not paying any taxes. My guess is that government agents would suddenly become very interested in that piece of land and would pay a visit.

Almost none are truly independent or outside of a jurisdiction - I think he meant more metaphorically.

But if you're interested in how the scenario you mentioned plays out, read up on some of the history of Sealand:


rdl is on here actually...

It's in Nova scotia, so the deed is registered there and we pay taxes there.

Be wary of the local property taxes. Any construction will count as increasing the value of the terrain, which the county will often assess over it's true value. Keep an eye on the yearly value increases and don't be afraid to contest the valuation, especially if you don't have running water, electricity, etc.

I'm not sure I understand why being an island is different from any other land.

It's still under the tax jurisdiction of the Province and Country.

How is this different when I replace the word island with acreage or farm?

I think this answers the question of "but if you don't like the rules, you can always leave". In fact, you can't. Even if you can afford a piece of land like this, you're still a subject of taxation of some country.

Your neighbor won't knock on your door and complain your dog is barking too much.

It's also much easier to defend in a "without rule of law" (WROL) situation. You've raised the bar for just getting to your place. Short of scuba gear, there's no way to approach a prepared island undetected. This even goes for the dark of night if the defenders are well prepared. Would be invaders would probably also be approaching without cover against rifle fire, unless they are hiding behind the engine block of a fairly large sized boat.

There are some disadvantages that come with that. A determined group could keep you trapped on your island more easily as well.

That's true on any large or remote piece of land, though, not specific to islands. It's one reason people who live in middle-of-nowhere Wyoming like it there.

The island is in Canada. I think the Canadian revenue agency can afford a boat to inspect the island.

My question is not whether they can afford it or not, but whether they indeed would do it or not. If not, then you can consider this island a separate country, which is pretty cool. If, on the other hand, it's still Canada's jurisdiction, then it doesn't make any sense owning such an island.

We have and plan on complying with all laws. Taxes are very low, almost negligible when distributed amongst the 10 owners.

The point isn't to escape jurisdiction, just to have a cool private summer came / work retreat place.

It's controlled by Canada. There is no land on earth outside of the control of nation-states, except Antarctica, which is shared by major nations but has territorial claims by 7 nations.


> There is no land on earth outside of the control of nation-states, except Antarctica

Not quite. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bir_Tawil

Not quite. <...snip...>Bir_Tawil

I found elsewhere: "this is pretty much just 2,000 km2 of sand and rocks", and "consisting mainly of sand and rocks ... 2069 sq km (795 sq mil) and is shaped like a trapezoid." , and checked it out on satellite. The nearest road appears to be 250km away. Definitely no chance of internet. But even this place I suppose could be made habitable with long term effort. Solar would be a good bet for power, and long distance radio or perhaps microwave or satellite would be viable for internet. Semi-subterranean dwellings could be ideal and even support crops, once constructed. But investment would be significant. I wonder if you could fly in/out hardware, junk and supplies via solar-powered drone?

It's still de facto Egyptian territory, although for the bizarre political reasons outlined in the Wikipedia article they just don't claim it as such. Flying in/out isn't going to work too well since it's fully surrounded by Egypt and Sudan.

I always figured if there was a serious claim to that area that Egypt and Sudan would be pretty quick to work out their differences.

From that page: Egypt still administers the territory. That was my point. You could build an underwater city in the middle of the pacific and some government would somehow claim it. If there is money there, a nation will be present to collect its cut and make sure you abide by their law.

But very cool find nonetheless!

Dean Kamen of Segway fame tried to do this once, albeit only half seriously: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_Dumpling_Island


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