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Extreme weather house boat floats in Silicon Valley backyard

A couple years ago Chris Robinson was a former Facebook and PayPal art director with no boat-building (nor sailing) experience. Then the Tsunami hit Japan (a place where he’d lived and met his wife). He happened to be working in a startup incubator at the time with some “very smart people”, including an astronaut, and everyone was sketching ideas for tsunami-proof shelters.

“Ideas like helium balloon houses, and personal jet packs were exciting lunch time topics,” he writes on his blog. “Eventually the idea of a floating ball as an escape vessel was hatched.”

Robinson liked his design (inspired by oil-derrick escape pods and the hanging tree house spheres from Canadian artist Tom Chudleigh) so much, he began to build it behind his house. Two years later, his backyard is dominated by his 22-foot-long, 10-foot-wide and 8.5-foot-high plywood-and-epoxy tsunami-proof pod (AKA Tsunamiball).

He’s not a survivalist, but Robinson believes in the power of making things. “This is not a desperate attempt to save my family from the dreaded Palo Alto tsunamis that happen every year, but I think it’s a serious problem and I haven’t seen a lot that’s being done about it and I just thought, what a great design challenge to just think it through. And the best way I know how to think it through is to build it.”

  • Jerry Jones

    Are there any updates on the survival craft?

  • Jay Evans

    May I please have the plans? Do you have a material list? Estimated cost of building materials? I have 17k at my disposal and either a week or 6 years to complete it. However, i’m leaning towards the travel trailer tiny houseboat cataclysm pod construction idea. 20 absorption glass mat batteries should be a good start on the ballast. 😉 clownish0954@gmail.com

    • Jay Evans

      I need to hunker down for the slosh of lake Michigan. Unless the slosh goes south to southwest, in which i’ll be waving to the Edmond Fitzgerald as it zooms past my window. O.O
      Hey, I just woke up, better late than never. 😛 And if nothing happens…I’ll still have a cool ass Travel Trailer Tiny Houseboat Cataclysm Pod that I can play Water World with on the weekends. 😀

      • Jay Evans

        What if I said I wanted to start tomorrow? 🙁

    • Danny Schwab

      Hey did you ever get plans or did you try to build you what you wanted. Just curious I really like it would love to use one to live in and have fun in the water. Plus the shape would pull good to travel and live out of on the road no hotels. Lol. Thanks hope you got to make one. God bless.

  • Randolph Palma

    Holy cow !!!! What a knucklehead !!!! An INCREDIBLE WASTE of time and resources !!! Your woodworking skills are quite good but your entire idea is ridiculous. How much money have you pissed away on this ?

    • Jeff Biggs

      Randolph, guys like you amaze me. sometimes the experience and the memories spent with your children and others far outweigh the financial cost be cause the price is well worth it. Besides this is something he enjoys.

  • Danny Webb

    What would it take to get plans and your thoughts on this craft. Would u do it again?

  • Frederico

    This is a two-year-old video now… Update Please!!! Forget the naysayers; Laminating marine-grade plywood with epoxy is about the strongest structure you could ever make. Stronger than a steel hull the way you are doing it (assuming you have enough layers of cross stripped laminate) so I would love an update on the outer shell and interior accoutrements! (And some plans if you ever get them down on paper!)

  • Jeff Biggs

    I would like to get my hands on the basic plans. This would be a fun project for a lake house boat.