Is there any way that a town or city could exist that has interconnecting houses floating on a body of water?
I once read in a novel about a small village like that in a swamp, and was wondering if a similar thing could be adapted to a larger scale to exist on an ocean/sea/lake.
Conditions for existing:
It would be a town/small city of different families living together peacefully, and would travel between different ports to trade.
It is made up of individual houses/buildings that exist on their own floating vessel, that are interconnected with bridges to other adjacent vessels.
Its main source of food is fishing, which it also uses to trade in the port cities for items they require.
Normal towns and cities still exist on land.
There are other towns/cities that are the same, and whilst not having any government that presides over these towns/cities there is a mutual understanding between them that they are civil with each other and do not attack each other (generally).
They can live out at sea for up to months at a time without having to visit dry land.
It exists in a medieval era world.
It can distill fresh water from sea water using sunlight as an energy source.
Children do not necessarily stay living in these towns/cities when they are grown up, but many of them do. Other new families/individuals also sometimes join an existing flotilla, but only if they are trusted.
Whilst there are other fishing boats, they generally stick close to land for shallow water fishing, and do not generally venture out for longer than a day. Deep-fishing boats cannot compete with the capacity that these towns have for getting the fish that do not live close to shore.
Trade and passenger ships still exist to get people and objects from one town to another, as they offer a direct route for delivery. They can also visit the floating towns, but it is unlikely they would find a specific one because they could be anywhere out at sea.
Considerations for existing:
What is the most reasonable body of water such a town/city could exist on? Would an ocean have too volatile weather conditions for it to survive a large storm? Would a lake not offer enough fishing opportunities for it to survive? What conditions would a planet where this type of town exists need to have?
To avoid scurvy, would it need its own farm using bought soil to grow vegetables for the long periods living out at sea? Would it be possible to have such farms out at sea to grow vegetables if there is ample fresh water?
What is the largest size such a city could grow to? Would it eventually break down as a society? Would it have to split itself into two smaller towns when it gets to a particular size?
How would such a floating collection of vessels travel? Would they need to co-ordinate a series of sails, or could they operate from a single large sail? Would they need to use oars?
Are there any other considerations that I have overlooked that need to be considered for such a society to exist?
I also asked a question here about what a person would be like if they lived or grew up in such a city.