Consider These Points Update 3-20-12




    Having your own island is not as strange as you might think. It may even drastically reduce your living expenses too.

     Generally, the term “houseboat” is used. Floating islands generally have a little more surface area around the “house” to grow food, and are self-sustaining. Around the world there is a great variety of houseboats, some used permanently, and others for recreational purposes. Since they don’t require land, they are often less expensive, and may be connected for utilities to a marina, but it’s not necessary. World-wide, many folks live in them. In the Far East they call the small ones "sampans," but the bigger ones can be quite fancy, (as you can see in the illustration.)

    A floating island is generally considered to be homemade, and/or of easy Natural Fiber Reinforced Concrete (NFRC) rather than industrialized. However, there’s no rule to prevent it. This website can teach you how to build your own island, inexpensively, and without being trained in building. Even go into business making and selling islands or energy produced on them. (See your local power company.) What else can you do for "global warming," but enjoy it, and float above the rising waters?

    It’s fun! And, you may lose weight doing it!

    Some houseboats have a single hull, while others have multi-hulls, even pontoons. Islands on-the-other-hand, may use floats made of recycled plastic bottles (obtained for free,) while others may use groups of inexpensive, long-lasting, non-biodegradable, polyethylene plastic Hefty or Glad Trash bags. The principle is to have a large number of small floats, rather than just a few large ones, as it’s considered safer and less expensive.

    Some are powered, others are not. Islands typically are powered or pulled only to move them to a desired location for anchorage. There's lots of room. One thing this world has is a lot of water. Beautiful places too.

    Building your own island can fulfill a dream, of a leisurely retirement, where all of your needs are provided on-island, and you can contribute to cleaning up the planet, too.

    What else are you going to do in retirement? Why wait?


    Island segments are a modular system for growing your island over time. For example, Trees may take a long time to grow. So build your soil-holding modules early, then while the trees are growing, you can work on the others. And start your garden early, too.


    As soon as you’ve built enough modules, put a tent on it, a composting toilet, and camp stove — then move in. Why pay for accommodations when you can build your own cheaply, then sit back and enjoy your new home.


    As a standardized modular system they have many advantages:

  1. They can be hooked together to make a bigger island.
  2. Different types can be made for different reasons but still hooked together.
  3. Items, like trees that you’d like to move, can be easily moved.
  4. The methods of hooking them together can change if the holes are in the same place.
  5. They can be made to enhance capture of wave power, wind energy and/or solar.
  6. Extra flotation can be added easily where needed.
  7. If changes are needed in one module, only that one needs to be modified.
  8. Disconnect some and sell them.
  9. Make another island for your Mother-in-law.
  10. If she’s a pain, float it away slowly.
  11. Like a floating nursery, you can grow the slow plants, for use on your island, or someone else’s.
  12. Floating methods can be different.
  13. Outer rims may need more protection than inner ones, so the perimeter can move out to accommodate inner growth.


    Rishi’s idea of "trash-to-treasure" is a good one. So, how can you integrate inexpensive Natural Fiber Reinforced Concrete, (NFRC) with trash recycling?

    NFRC can make a fine, thin, ¼-inch, light-weight deck, when you don’t have a source for free plywood to put your beach on, plus if you do have a source of bottles, either put in bags or just tied together with plastic string, they can float thin NFRC just as it would plywood. It can be waterproof, longer lasting, more reliable, and made into any shape.

    Shellfish are smart enough to make their shells curved. Are you? A big snail shell topside home, made of NFRC, painted any color you wish, even pink, would be a tourist attraction that can make your island into a money-maker.

There are three types of plastic trash you can easily use.

     1. Bottles with lids that can hold air, and when tied together, help float an island. Rishi’s island is a good example.
     2. Bottles without lids, that can hold air, when held upside-down with NFRC, to help float your island.
    3. Lose plastic, can be re-melted, with free solar energy using a Rotomold, to form float modules for your island.
    In some places on Earth, there is plenty of floating plastic trash, and it’s free, take all you can use. You can even build your island module floats there, then move them elsewhere.

    Trash can be ugly, and bad for the environment. However, you can make it into something useful, and make it look nice too. Thin NFRC can even be made with recycled clothing, cheap from a wore-out yard sale. Then it can be painted as you like. Large sections of a shell structure can be made in any shape needed. And can include bottle skylights and rain collectors with automatic plant watering. Use your imagination.

    Fibrous trash can even be mixed right in with the Portland Cement, and glued together into just about anything you want.

    Edible trash can become animal feed, to liven up your island home.

    Earth and compost— plants need to be healthy, it does not have to be above the water level. It just needs to be isolated, with plastic tarps or drop cloths and the like, and if your plants like saltwater, their roots will find any holes that lead them to it. And your composting toilet will help too.

    Other plants can be fed rainwater, or distilled water from the sea at room temperature.
 (See my free plans.)

    One way to make your island inviting to paying tourists is by planting a lot of trees. People love green. It can be good for you too. Growing your own food, is like tax-free money, and people want to see how you do it. You can make your own beer and wine on your island. People want to see and taste that too. All this can be included in your DVDs you sell. All but the “taste” part, but you may be able to charge extra for that.

    Hang fruit bearing vines from the ceiling of you shell home. Grapes, even watermelon, will grow hanging from a trellis. I’ve seen it in Germany and on Saipan in the Far East.

    Coconuts can be carved into tableware cups.

    Minerals can be extracted from the sea electronically, too.

    Rishi has built a wave-powered washing machine. You could do that too.

    Visit your local landfill and see what people throw away you can use. In NFRC it’s often used but not seen, so only function matters, not looks.


    That corrugated plastic roofing you can buy at the hardware store. Could you build a big seashell, dome or yurt with it? Certainly, but it would cost a fortune. What if you only used the plastic corrugated sheets as a form for a much less expensive Natural Fiber Reinforced Concrete (NFRC) shell?

    The corrugations provide strength through shape and depth. You’d be imitating that when one, or just a few, of the corrugated sheets are purchased for a form.

    The one difference is that NFRC is opaque. So you would need to put one or more sections as skylights in your shell. (Or use bottles full of water to collect Sunlight and spread it around your home.)

    On this instructional website,, I’ve written instructions for NFRC. I hope this will be of great help.


    Large 4 x 8 deck modules can be made easily. However, you may need 2 people to carry and launch them. The forms are 2 x 8s screwed together, laid on a raked flat sandy beach. While the finished module must only span from one float to another, this will make them strong. They have 6 55 gallon trash bag floats. That should displace about 2500 pounds per module.

    Don’t forget to wipe the wooden form with Diesel fuel as a bond breaker.

    Modules are tied together the same way you lay bricks, with two small ends together adjacent to a 3rd one in the middle. That’s why there are 2 rope holes in the center of the long dimension.

    Again, the NFRC is about ¼-inch thick, thicker around the holes. When your island is finished it should bend easily with the waves in one dimension, but not easily at right angles.

    Read all of the files I’ve written for you.

    4x8 Island segment modules may be a more practical size. It may take 2 people to carry and launch them, but once in the water they cover a larger surface area, 32 sq. ft. each.

    Since they are made upside-down on a sandy beach, Rope tie holes can be standardized, using form steaks. After several days, they can be removed along with the outside form without disturbing the NFRC, and used to form another module.

    They have room for 6 staggered float bags, that when filled to displace 300 gallons of water, lift about 2500 pounds per module.

    It only takes 88 modules to make a 60-foot diameter island.

Consider Fiber Sources

    Straw has been used successfully for thousands of years. Straw bale houses have worked out real well, in fact should work on islands too. And it’s cheap and available in many places.

    Palm leaves have a long, strong, fiber that works real well. They have also used it for centuries in building.

    Corn leaves are long and strong fibers too. Although a corn harvester may chop them up real fine, they can be mixed right in with the Portland Cement.

    Why would you want to build an island in Iowa? Because of floods! "You build it, they will come."

    Grass from your lawn, can also be mixed right in with your Portland Cement. Try it.

    Each type should be tested to see how it will work. A standard support of say 24-inches wide, will give you enough room to test a standard NFRC width section big enough to sit on, or use a standard weight. Sure, you don’t get scientific numbers, but you can find out how well it works, even both with and without curvature. You can measure how much it sags and compare methods that way. You only have to wait for a standard period such as a week or 28 days so the Portland Cement will be hard enough for testing.

    You can get some sheet rock or other commercial material, and test that piece, the same size as your NFRC pieces, tested the same way. Then you will have a comparison to a known material. Write it down, and send it to me, with pictures too.

    Make and test different configurations. For example, sheet rock has paper on each side, with a ½ or 3-quarters inch thickness of chock in between. What happens when you make a long cut with a sheet rock knife right in the bottom middle? Will it still hold your weight?

    How about strong fibers on each side, and mush paper maché in between? Remember, paper takes longer to dry.

    How about Papercrete? Try it.

    How much strength do you really need? How much strength is needed to hold a tent up? Remember, that islands are usually not covered by building codes, so it's up to you to make it work.


    Make a NFRC beam to go between two trees, so they won’t tip over from the pressure of your hammock hanging between them, while you and your mate are having a beer. 2 beers, or one beer with two straws.


    Would you like to build a recreational center, maybe even a miniature golf course, but land is too expensive? Floating islands, even on freshwater lakes, can be much cheaper, and earn a living for you to retire and have a beer.


    If you build an island with a seashell shaped home, and make it real nice looking, you’ll get lots of advertising, and lots of visitors. Even paint your big seashell a bright color too. It will be fun to live in.

Since they often need no internal supports, you can easily build a theater, for showing your videos to visitors, so they will buy more.


    Searching the Internet I found recycled plastic 55 gallon sacks for $18.46 per 100. 4 packages of them would float an island made of 400 modules, each 40 inches wide, an island 66 or more feet in diameter, for just $73.84.
Plus Portland Cement per 94 lb. bag @ $14.00.
Natural Fiber from local trees, and a bucket full of round river stone, free.
Plastic string, $1
Nylon Rope $22.00
For a total of $110.84

    Is that cheap enough for an island of your own, without rent?
    Nowadays, you spend almost that on lunch and dinner at the beach.

     I made a tour of Wal-Mart, True Value Hardware, ACE Hardware and Home Depot. I was surprised how cheap and good I could live on my own island.


Using Paper Maché:

I’m not kidding. It can have some real advantages.

    Several articles are available on the Internet on how to waterproof paper maché, but they’re tough to wade through. I don’t think I’d use it in direct contact with the water without testing first, but above the waterline, paper maché may just work out real fine. In the 19th century they made racing boats of it, before cheap aluminum came along, which isn’t so cheap nowadays. And, the only difference between paper maché and NFRC is the glue.

The advantages of paper maché are:

  1. It’s quite cheap.
  2. Can use free or low cost recycled materials.
  3. Can use Portland Cement for glue.
  4. Small shells, less than 30 feet are easy, even for one person.
  5. With regular wallpaper paste, it dries quickly.
  6. Inexpensive hand construction, your hands.
  7. Beats living in a cardboard box in an alley somewhere, and it’s a lot more fun.
  8. Typically, paper maché is placed over a chicken wire frame held together with staples into a 2x2 wood frame. If designed right, the wood frame is removable after the project dries. And can be made into all sorts of shapes. However, remember that curves can add strength such as with shell structures.
  9. Disneyland has a big castle. You can build a small one. Cinderella rode in a big pumpkin, and Dr. Doolittle rode in a big snail. Wouldn’t one of those be a dream come true?
The Disadvantages: 1. May not be fire proof, but then neither are wooden houses.

Professional Help     Basically paper maché is made with newspaper, because it’s available and cheap, but fibrous plant leaves can work too. You coat it with wallpaper paste, with a dash of white glue mixed in for strength. In theory, Elmer’s Glue isn’t waterproof. But the kids decorated my car with it when I got married, and the glue was still there years later, with the car parked outside in the rain, and I couldn’t even chisel it off.

Professional Help     The fibers in paper are short, and so in places where you need more tensile strength, such as the struts of a dome, and around the perimeter of island modules, add a stronger fiber. But the sheets are quite large, and you can cover an area very quickly, they can also be torn in strips. Put on multiple layers, 2 or 3. How many depends on the use. Coat each layer liberally with the paste.

    When it is dry, in about 24 hours, (each layer,) paint it whatever color you like, but consider that the colors chosen for boats, and lifeboats is traditional because it can be seen and recognized from far off.

    Then varnish it with a waterproof varnish such as recommended for boats. UV protected. Or use clear driveway sealer or Thompson’s Waterseal. Then sit down and have a beer.

    What about in contact with the water, such as floats and deck pieces? Your method will be different from what others do, and your resources different from others, but your experience is very valuable. Try it! Send me the pictures.

    I’d start with a small boat, and see how it works. When you have a formula that works real well, build a launch for going back and forth to the shore. That should really test it out.

Consider, layers. First there is the chicken-wire frame, (called an "armature" because it is not removed like a form is,) then regular paper maché, then a layer of NFRC. The NFRC should help make it last longer in a wet environment. Or make the whole thing NFRC. Then paint it pink, or maybe violet, or include some red coloring in the NFRC.

    Click on the blue framed pictures to learn more.

    Remember, pigs aren't square, for a reason.

    When you find a way that works well, tell us, send pictures, so we can imitate your research.

    Put in a brass fire pole, so you can jump out of bed in the morning, and hit the deck running.

    And a spiral staircase. Gotta have that!

You can build your whole island home yourself, with your two hands, inexpensively with paper maché. It can be fun too.



    Have a bicycle you can attach to your launch, so when you do have to go to land, you have transportation, with a basket to carry all the things you find.

    Get your mail at Mail Box Etc. bank in town, use a good hardware store, and eat now and then at a fine restaurant. You should be able to afford it by now.


    Have sport fishermen stop by often and throw their left-over bait overboard there. More fish and birds will come, and paying tourists too. Give the fishermen a free beer for their trouble.


    Grow your own NFRC fiber, like coconut trees.


    The wind blows, waves crash, and the sun shines at sea. Why pay to power your retirement home, when energy is free for the taking. I’ll teach you how to do it, and make it practical, even a source of income. It also helps if you go to bed at a decent hour!


    Mount a windlass hoist on the inside roof of your shell, for raising and lowering your bed. Operate the windlass with a knotted rope instead of a crank. Like a Murphy Bed, raise it up out of the way during the day, and down for sleeping at night. Elevators were initially hand operated like this, and I saw it in a French movie once too.

    Weight your windlass right, and it will be held down by your weight, and go up out of the way automatically when you get up. Hang the operating loop just above your head, so you can reach up to grab it at night, but it will always be out of the way during the day.

    Put a skylight above your bed to wake you up gently each morning.


    Have a water tower to pressurize your fresh water, with a lower tank to collect the water used for hydropower to give you electricity all the time, even when the wind’s not blowing. Run an electrical “umbilical chord” to the power company on land, and sell them the extra power you produce. The American law says that they have to buy it.

    Fill the tower with distilled water, from your room temperature still as I’ve shown. Then connect your Floppy-Mill windmill to a water pump operated only when your water tower is full, to drip-water your garden automatically,    We usually don’t eat ugly bugs, but run them through a chicken and they taste great.

    Please read all I've written for you!


    Put together two seemingly unrelated things to form a positive result. For example, a Floppy-Mill has a tall vertical axis made of pipe. A room-temperature water still has a tall pipe for creating a vacuum. What if you put them together? The center of the Floppy-Mill axel isn’t used, but if 40 feet tall, at sea level, it could form the vacuum needed for the still. It’s turning could be hooked at the bottom to run a water pump to power the jet pump at the top. And being up high, it should catch lots of wind, too.

The result:

     You need to buy only one pipe, and you get fresh water when the wind blows.


     Maybe you can’t build a big Floppy-Mill. How about a bunch of little ones, one to water your garden, another to pump water for your waterfall, and another to power your night lights?

     Recycling items can be very beneficial. Modern cars use LED lights that don’t use much power. Could you use them as safty lights around your island? 12 volt car parts are safer around water, too.

Consider also:

    How nice for you and your mate, to slip into the solar heated hot water, each morning, home grown breakfast in hand, knowing that your work is done, your island is generating money, and you’ve made life easy for you and your mate too.

    Oh what a retirement! There are so many neat and inexpensive ideas to make your life into a real “dream come true.” You can make it that way!

Read on, there's lots of excitement to come! See how quickly you can really gain the independence of retirement.

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    Thanks for your interest.

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    Update: 3-20-12