Tiny House Tub (or boat for those of you without sea legs): Part 2

When we last talked about the legacy of live aboard boats to the tiny house world we were in the 15th century talking about the sailing vessel. But as the Age of Exploration began to decline and trade routes had been firmly established speed became a major concern as captains, ships, barrons, and even kingdoms fought to bring back tea and spices and other goods from one continent to another. By the 1800s the waters had become literally overrun with clipper ships which to most are the picturesque sailing boat. Known for their streamlined design; their beauty, grace and speed, the clippers actually developed in American boatyards first. They were long, slim, graceful vessels with torpedoing bows and streamlined hulls. Their sails were less bulky (and usually silk) than the square sails of discover boats and were exceptionally large sometimes spanning three tall masts. They were also incredibly fast. In fact, The Flying Cloud, launched in 1851, traveled from New York City to San Francisco in a record 89 days. They also played a role as muse for poets, novelists, and painters.

“I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky; And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,” ~ British poet John Masefield, 1902.

The American clipper ship Flying Cloud at sea under full sail.

The American clipper ship Flying Cloud at sea under full sail.

And this is truly the time when I see boats becoming a true form of tiny house. Clippers often boasted beautiful and spacious accommodations. The bow would often have a sort of parlor or observation area. The space beneath deck would feature berths, cabins, a galley, a captain’s quarters, and more. Above deck would have both work and leisure areas including benches and hammocks. Form was finally meeting function and dare I say style as lives were being lived fully beneath the silken sails of clipper ships.

Unfortunately, much of this development was set aside as naval vessels began to take precedence and steam-driven boats were the marvel of the day. Around 1830, steam engines served adjunct to sails. The engine connected to paddle wheels on the side. Soon after iron took the place of wood and boats were separated into sail boats, warships, and cargo liners. Sailing vessels continued to be the model for tiny house living for three primary reasons:

  1. Style. Because they rely on wind and streamlining sailing vessels tended to be more sleek giving longer boats a a faster and more attractive look.
  2. Efficiency. Wind will always be more economical than coal or other fossil fuels.
  3. Space. Because life aboard a boat is limited and spaces were used in intelligent fashions. Berths and bunks were hybrid designs of beds, sitting areas, and storage compartments.

Perhaps though the true possibilities of living 365 days a year aboard a boat and it being seen as a tiny house possibility could not exist without the golden era of Passenger Travel.

The SS NORMANDIE – The greatest luxury liner in history.

The SS NORMANDIE – The greatest luxury liner in history.

Because 19th century history is marked by massive emigration from Europe to the Americas and to Australia the need for larger, faster, passenger ships was immense. Initially, immigrants were carried on sailing ships but, depending on the weather, the trip to America could take over 3 months at sea. Steamships with the advantages of speed, regularity and comfort essentially took over after 1850 and the interior of vessels went from a few berths and bunks to entire class systems with amenities increasing in direct parallel to social stature! 

A standard passenger cabin on the SS Normandie.

A standard passenger cabin on the SS Normandie.

The evolution of 19th-century steamships from sail-and-steam hybrids such as the Britannia to the sleek Lusitania and the Mauretania, perhaps the greatest of the transatlantic liners, became a great example for “less is more” in modern architecture. Granted inside the ships the 19th-century’s caste systems were more than evident. The ostentatious and gaudy decor of the parlors and smoking rooms contrasting with the squalor of the immigrant berths and the industrial efficiency of the engine rooms lay proof to this. It cannot be argued though that they were modern marvels. When the Lusitania and the Mauretania entered the trans-Atlantic service, they proved the theories of which naval architects and marine engineers had dreamed since the mastering of the ocean began – the combination of luxury, size, and speed in one hull.1

It doesn’t end there though because the history of passenger sailing vessels and life aboard them spans centuries. We haven’t even touched on houseboats, personal craft, and shanty boats. All of them tiny houses in their own right and predecessors to the idea of living fully in a small space.

http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/systems/ship/passenger-20.htm

Come back for part 3 of 3 on the legacy of boats to the tiny house world. In the meantime please do catch up by reading Part 1.

By Andrew M. Odom for the [Tiny House Blog]

 

Tiny House Tub (or boat for those of you without sea legs): Part 1

AUTHOR DISCLOSURE: I have never lived on a boat. I have never spent more than the 12 or so minutes it took me to get sick to my stomach, on a boat. I know nothing about boats other than I once got on one and was sick within 12-minutes.

Boats are fascinating when it comes to their combination of transportation, domesticity, and labor force. Folks have gravitated to the water for all of history using it for transport, trade, and sport. It is only natural then for us to want to make things that float. A basic raft (a la Tom Sawyer) can be constructed of logs or bundles of reeds tied together. Hollow trunks can be crafted into dugout canoes. In fact, once we, as humans, understood the principle of watertight hulls, we experimented with animal hides and tree bark to attach to a bamboo frame creating a simple, straightforward coracle 1.

A basic Coracle exhibited at the Seedamm Center in Pfäffikon SZ (Switzerland).

A basic Coracle exhibited at the Seedamm Center in Pfäffikon SZ (Switzerland).

If one adds planks to raise the edges of the dugout, and uses wooden struts to secure them in place, the early boatbuilder is well on his way to crafting the only design of wooden boat capable of being built on a large scale. This design then incorporates a keel to which a ribbed frame is added. As the walls continue upward a cargo area is formed and a passenger vessel begins.

Basic labeling of a dinghy vessel.

Basic labeling of a dinghy vessel.

It wasn’t until the 5th century onwards that boats turned to ships and ships turned from machines of war to a simple form of transport. The boat has become known in modern times as a Viking longship. By the 11th century the vessels had become more strategic and more elaborate measuring up to 80 feet long, built from oak planks, boasting two high pointed ends, encompassing holes for sixteen oars along each side, and featuring a broad oar that was worked as a rudder by the helmsman. To add to the modernized longship a mast was fashioned near the center on which a long, rectangular sail was hung. What is interesting though is that five boats discovered in the Roskilde Fjord, north of Copenhagen, Denmark, all had similar shapes but also had a double-ended convention in order to support an inclusion of long-range archers (men with bow and arrow). One of the five boats though was built more elaborately and robust than the others including having higher sides and a central hold. These early boats may be examples of of Viking ships that “soldiers”, along with their families and livestock, took on their expeditions to Iceland, Greenland, and perhaps North America. 

Do you see where we’re going with this?

Model of a typical merchantman of the 17th century, showing the cramped conditions that had to be endured but also showing the use of space. Every inch is justly occupied. Photo courtesy of Musphot on Wikimedia Commons

Model of a typical merchantman of the 17th century, showing the cramped conditions that had to be endured but also showing the use of space. Every inch is justly occupied. Photo courtesy of Musphot on Wikimedia Commons.

As the 15th century set upon us there are rapid developments in nautical life. A second mast is added to sailing vessels and eventually a third mast. By the mid-1400s regular vessel sizes were near 120 feet long and 50 feet wide. The largest European sailing ship (and remember there was nothing tiny in the United States as of yet because Columbus had not even sailed the ocean blue!) of the 15th century is the Spanish carrack which at 1,000 tons becomes the standard vessel of Atlantic trade and adventure into the mid-16th century. Those would soon be trumped though by the oft-ostentatious and gilded merchant ships which needed to be roomy for cargo and strong, presumably to fend off pirates, and comfortable, for the captains and the VIP passengers working hard to secure fortunes in the East. And so it is here that we come to find people living aboard ship. For all intensive and historical purposes the sailing vessel has now turned into a floating living space out of necessity and by design! 

A replica model of the Swedish "Titanic" - the pride of the Royal Navy. The largest ship built in Sweden at the beginning of the 17th century, the flagship "Vasa" included 64 large-caliber guns. The final weight was 1210 tons and construction took three years. The ship was richly decorated with carved statues of Roman emperors, Greek gods and mythical sea creatures. Lions on the bow were covered with real gold. FACT: Construction of the oak vessel required over one thousand trees and the ship features three masts and ten sails.

A replica model of the Swedish “Titanic” – the pride of the Royal Navy. The largest ship built in Sweden at the beginning of the 17th century, the flagship “Vasa” included 64 large-caliber guns (often confused visually for simple cannons). The final weight was 1210 tons (over 2 million pounds) and construction took three years. The ship was outfitted with carved statues of Roman emperors, Greek gods and mythical sea creatures. Lions on the bow were covered with real gold. FACT: Construction of the oak vessel required over one thousand trees and the ship features three masts and ten sails.

1 Wikipedia.

Part 1 of 3 on the legacy of boats to the tiny house world. Stay tuned!

By Andrew M. Odom for the [Tiny House Blog]

Misty Tosh’s Houseboat

The Tiny House Blog has featured the dynamo Misty Tosh and her travel trailer before, but now the intrepid TV producer and traveler has a new home and project — a three-story houseboat in Marina del Rey named Flo. While the boat is not necessarily tiny (for tiny, check out her other boat, Enola) Misty has remodeled the derelict houseboat into a work of art.

flo-houseboat

All the renovations for her houseboat had to be done on the water and she documented the process and houseboat living on her blog, Big Sweet Tooth. The renovation was recently featured in the L.A. Times. When Misty bought the boat, it was a dark mass of junk and tiny rooms connected by ladders. Misty worked with Refinding Design, a local design firm that scours junk yards, flea markets and roadsides for building materials. Salvaged items like a hatch door from a WWII supply ship covers a wine rack under the floor with a peekaboo view of the water, the metal ring of a wine barrel was turned into a chandelier, and the breakfast counter is a slab of wood with a base of plumbing pipes.

flo-housesboat5

houseboat

flo-houseboat6

flo-houseboat3

flo-housboat4

The bottom floor is a living and dining area, the second floor is a master bedroom, bathroom and guest area. Nautical rope is a reccurring theme throughout the boat and also acts as a banister railing for the staircase up to the bedroom. The top deck has a small office, a “garden” with artificial turf and a bar.

Misty does have to pump out the sewage holding tank twice a week, but she told the L.A. Times, “We wanted to come home to something like a vacation spa, where we can hide away all our gear and feel like we’re on vacation,” she said. “And when the windows are open and the wind and sun plow through here, we can say: What the heck kind of holy paradise is this?”

flo-houseboat2

Photos by Misty Tosh and the L.A. Times

By Christina Nellemann for the [Tiny House Blog]