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Food, drinkable water, forms of leadership, the ships sink eventually. What are the issues that would eventually end a water based society? What types of boats, ships, raft would be required to enable 100% long term (lifetime) life on the water. For the sake of the topic, lets say the land is there, but you cannot go onto it (plague or pestilence). I would like to use a 100% water based world, but if it is not possible, what would be the minimum dirt based and what resource would be required from the land. - LWR

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Well, you might want to at least be willing to go to small islands, because, material for clothing will be hard to get in the ocean, granted a whale would have quite a bit of leather but they can only clothe so many.

If there is a good rain catch or water purification system you might not need to land for fresh water but that would certainly be the easiest way to gather it, certainly as a back up.

All repair materials. Your boat springs a leak, how do you patch it? With what are you going to patch it? Might you get lucky and be able to make a tar/pitch out of some sea life? What about wood to help fix storm damaged ships?

Fuel? Not just for moving the ship(s) (which of course wind could work) but what about cooking? Are they going to eat all that fish and whale raw? Parasites would soon run rampant through the survivors.

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The main blocker here is going to be repair. It's really hard to keep a ship going forever without some sort of occasional drydock repair, at which point you need to go to land. So what's the solution?

Living Ships

Imagine your planet has a tree analog that spends it's entire life floating. It has hard wood, roots that go down into the water and extract nutrients, and branches/leaves that go up to collect more sunlight. You could then collect a bunch of these trees, interweave them, and control their growth so they end up as living, self-repairing ships that will support your society forever.

There are other issues you need to address, mainly food and water. Food you should be ok, as long as your people like fish and algae. Water is harder - you'll need to have a way to collect and store rain over long periods, and droughts will be a significant concern.

If you don't want your society to worry as much about food and/or water, you could have the living ships provide some of that naturally - maybe the leaves are edible, or you can drill down and extract water from the sap. This would provide a backup from other sources, so if you get stranded you can survive for longer.

Keep in mind that while living ships provides some solutions, they also cause some problems. There will probably be native animals or other plants that want to feed on your root systems or branches - maybe your humans have a symbiotic relationship where they help defend the ship, which keeps it healthier. And you don't have to worry about your ship getting a disease and dying if it's made of metal.

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