Yurt Life

Our good friends and fellow cruisers Eben and Genevieve Stolz live aboard Necesse, a 41′ Morgan Classic sailboat, with their two little girls Arias and Ellia. They share a passion for simplicity and adventure traveling the world with their tiny floating home.

I was reading Genevieve’s blog, It’s A Necessity, and discovered a recent trip they made to visit Eben’s brother Jair, and his family up at their mountain property in Golden, British Columbia.

Jair and his wife Mel have built a yurt, fully equipped with a kitchen, bathroom, wood burning stove, a bedroom and a loft. They haul their water, live off of solar power, their toilet is not your regular flush toilet, their shower is bucket fed and they are living completely off the grid while they save up enough money to build themselves an Earthship.

The following article featuring the Stolz Family Yurt was originally published by Genevieve Stolz <HERE>. Article and photos republished on Tiny House Blog with permission. *All pictures courtesy of Jair Stolz.

Yurt Life Revisited. By Request.

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It seems there has been some great interest in how our other Stolz family lives, yurt style. It is true that against our better judgment, when we come across something new and strange, what do we do? We gawk at it. So let me allow you to gawk at the yurt in the privacy of your living room.

In my original post on Yurt Life I gave a brief glimpse at how my brother-in-law Jair, his wife Mel, and their two kids, Nova and Asher, are living. They have chosen to live as off-the-grid as possible, and found the yurt to be an ideal home as they save money up to upgrade to building their Earthship. To live in a yurt you don’t have to love yak fat or be a hipster-woodsman, although Jair’s beard did get slightly out of hand at one point. They chose it because it was a cheap alternative, an eco-friendly way of living, and it is cool as heck.

Like everything else in life, having good contacts is a huge bonus. With the help of friends that own a lumber yard, and many friends for manual labor, they managed to save a fair bit of money in the building process. They built it from scratch.

I’m sure that many people would consider a yurt a “tiny home” but with the main floor being around 800 square feet with an additional 100 sq feet of loft space this place isn’t actually that small. And its about 24ft tall from the ground to the tip, which gives you that vaulted ceiling airiness.

One of the things that struck me when seeing this place was the amount of cross pieces required to make the wall portion. Here I thought they had bought them pre-made and just had to bolt them together, but I was totally wrong. They have 125 cross pieces making up the inner wall, each with 9 holes drilled in to them. That means Mel and her friend Dee had to stand at the drill press for hours perfectly aligning every one of these holes. That’s insane!

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The women, hard at work at the drill press.

It took them about 3 months from start to “move in”, and then follow up, of course, the smaller random jobs that they can accomplish while living in the yurt. Jair equated the time to: building the base = 1.5 months of lazy work, the walls = 2 weeks of lazy work, the roof = 1 afternoon with 6 friends helping, and the insulation and cover = 4 long @#* days. And for a little extra motivation to get er’ done while they were building their yurt, they squeezed their family into a 30ft trailer as a temp home.

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The temp trailer settlement while the yurt was underway.

Since they were willing to put in the hard work to build this place themselves, and to take the time to look for good deals, they built their home for about $13K. That was for everything from the gravel underneath, to the solar power, to the yurt cover (which is actually a slightly modified vinyl cone-shaped grain bin cover). And don’t assume that you couldn’t do it because you don’t have the know how. Neither did Jair, but the Stolz men are industrious. They will learn what they don’t know and make it happen. They are amazing like that.

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If this scenario seems dreamy to you and you are keen on doing the same, there are a few things to keep in mind before you jump in head first.

Yes, it is dreamy, they are living up in the woods, with no one around, living off the earth and sun, and doing what they find important for their family. But like boating and many other “odd” lifestyles, living off the grid comes with some harder duties that may not be for everyone. Such as hauling a bucket of your poop out of the house to the compost area, lugging jugs of water in and trying to conserve it (meaning shorter showers, and efficient dish washing), or using a smaller solar power system, restricting you in your energy usage, and totally denying you the use of anything with a heating element (goodbye toast) or plugging in your diesel truck on freezing Canadian mornings. It is hard work but satisfying in a wholesome kind of way.

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The temporary bathroom, until it could be relocated to inside the yurt.

What did they not expect about the yurt life:

The beautiful snowy wonderland that surrounded them last winter, in the mountains near Golden, had them walking a lot more than foreseen. The entire driveway up to their place is about 1.5km long, but with the snow, the last 500 meters of that was completely impassable for about a 2 month period. They had to park their cars at that 500 meter mark and use a snow machine, quad, and their legs to get to and from their yurt. Even their 4×4 was useless. There was just too much of the white fluffy stuff.

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It was a neat experience getting to stay in their yurt and seeing all the similarities that yurt life has to boat life; just swap out snow for ocean. And it is nice to know that if ever we get real sick of what we are doing, there is always the “winter getaway” option.

If you have more specific questions about what and how Jair and Mel did all this, feel free to ask and I will try and get the answers for you.

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The base being built, after the gravel was put in.

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Choosing the view for the kitchen window.

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For more articles and photos from the Stolz Family, be sure to ‘LIKE’ It’s A Necessity on Facebook <HERE>!

Would you live in a yurt? Leave a comment!

By Jody Pountain for the [Tiny House Blog]

 

 

Sailboat – Less is More

by Cheryl

My life was wearing me out, so four years ago I left a high-rise condo in Seattle’s Capitol Hill and moved aboard my Valiant 40 sailboat, Koyah. My condo was 750 square feet, which is small enough… but Koyah has less than 250 square feet of living space (though it’s hard to be precise about living space on a sailboat.)

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I’ve moored my home in various neighborhoods around Seattle and the Sound, from Fremont to Shilshole/Ballard to Anacortes up north, but I’m currently living in La Conner, Washington.

I’ve made the living space on Koyah comfortable with small but pretty decorative touches. Many people who come aboard are surprised by how homey it feels. The bunks are cozy, the narrow salon makes a great conversation pit, and the galley is always well stocked. We’ve got everything we need to be happy in this small space.

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Compared to life in a condo in the big city, life on a boat is simpler and more meaningful. The living space is small, so my boyfriend and I spend plenty of time out in our environment. We’ve built a small hydroponic garden on Koyah’s aft deck and use what we grow to supplement foraged meals. Fresh-caught Dungeness crab is a favorite, and we love gathering mushrooms in the woods near us around La Conner. We’ve both taken up the hobby of carving wooden spoons from driftwood and other found wood, too.

One of the best parts of living on a boat is the view. It beats looking at city streets and traffic any day, and if you get sick of looking at the same waterway, you can head for the islands and anchor somewhere else for a change of scenery.

Since downsizing and simplifying, I’m working fewer hours, but I actually keep more of my paycheck than I did when I was paying for a condo and living in the city, working 40+ hours a week. Changing my lifestyle and going small has been one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself. I feel like I’m finally living my own life instead of allowing my lifestyle to control me.

By the way, for those who are wondering, it takes more moxie than money to make a change like this. You can follow us at http://facebook.com/handsandropes for tips on how to live well by living with less.

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Fisherman’s Wharf Tiny Floating Home

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On our vacation a couple of weeks ago we stopped in at the city of Victoria on Vancouver Island in British Columbia. When we walked into town we walked by Fisherman’s Wharf a historical part of town. While there were many larger floating homes the one that stood out for me was this unique tiny floating home so I took several photos. As usual I was not allowed inside to photograph it but maybe a reader of ours from the area might be able to.

Here is a little more information about Victoria’s Fisherman’s Wharf: Fisherman’s Wharf is located just around the corner from Victoria’s Inner Harbour or just a 10 minute walk from the Ogden Point cruise ship terminal.

Fisherman’s Wharf is a lively place — the waterfront home of harbour ferries and pirates, of seals and seabirds, of fishing captains, sailors and floating houses. You can learn more of the history by clicking here.

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