By Margy Lutz, Powell River, BC
Christina Nellemann recently wrote an article here on the Tiny House Blog about living on a boat. In it she pointed out some of the challenges and pleasures of life on the water. My husband Wayne and I live on the water, but in a whole different way. You may have read a little bit about it in the October 21 article “Our Little Cabin Up the Lake.” Kent has invited me back to tell you a little more about living in a floating cabin.
What first attracted us to our cabin on Powell Lake in British Columbia was its simplicity. We live there in all seasons. While we’ve made a few changes over the last seven years, we’ve kept the simple life foremost in our minds. Our cabin has 420 square feet downstairs and a 200 square foot sleeping loft under the peak of the roof. Our kitchen is compact but functional. It’s plenty of room for one, but two makes a crowd. On one wall you will find my sink and shelves to store my pots and pans. The window has a great view of the entrance into the Hole in the Wall. With a view like that, you almost don’t mind doing dishes.
When John built our cabin he installed a hand pump. It draws water from about six feet below the lake surface. To be safe, we boil it before drinking. Continue around the L-shaped counter and there is my small stove and oven. Open wall shelves hold our dishes and food. Under the counter are two plastic drawer units. To deter mice, we keep foodstuffs in containers, especially when we aren’t there. But we’ve been very lucky so far.
Tucked under the stairs to loft is a small refrigerator. It even has a freezer that really comes in handy during the summer for ice to make ice cream. Both the stove and refrigerator run on propane. Along with propane lights, a 60 lb. tank lasts about six weeks for $54. We have to haul the tanks to town in our boat, but once every six weeks isn’t too bad.
I have to be honest. At the cabin, Wayne is first cook, especially when it comes to the barbecue. But I do have my specialties including cakes, breads and soups. This goes to show you don’t need a big fancy kitchen with lots of electrical appliances to make good food.
Especially this time of year, our wood-burning stove is the heart of our cabin. With occasional stovepipe cleanings, it keeps the fire roaring hot, or low and slow, depending on our need. I’ve even found a few creative ways to use it to back cakes and bread.
A wood stove must have wood. For us, that’s a fairly simple. Especially during high water, the wood floats right to our front porch. All we have to do is scoop it up, cut it up (sometimes) and let it dry. When we are gathering wood throughout the summer, we are dreaming of the cozy fires it will bring during long winter nights.
Storing wood on our cabin’s float is problematic. We want it close by, but not weighing down the foundation for our cabin. Our floating woodshed and a small covered woodpile on our transition float to shore serve this purpose well. For those really rainy and windy nights, we have our small indoor wood shelf that holds about 5 days worth of really dry wood. It takes up a little space in our “guest room,” but no one seems to complain.
We’ve added electrical power with solar panels and a wind generator, but use it sparingly. We have a few low powered lights in strategic locations and use it to run and recharge a variety of devices, including a satellite radio and laptop computers. We have cellular telephone reception with the help of a car antenna, but purposely have no television or Internet access. The easiest way to make a simple life complicated is with too much TV or web surfing. We get enough of that when we make weekly trips to town. Our cabin life on the water may be simple, but is perfect for us.
You can find more information about float cabin and off the grid living at http://PowellRiverBooks.blogspot.com. For information about Wayne’s Coastal BC Stories, come to www.PowellRiverBooks.com. Up the Lake and Farther Up the Lake have lots of information about our cabin life on Powell Lake.
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