“I guess boats were the first tiny houses”, our onboard-guest came to the same conclusions as we did when we bought Kahu some months ago. Ever since we moved to the 8 meter we call home, we are referring to our Raven26 as a tiny house. Not a far-fetched referral, at least size wise: Even though there is no set definition as to what constitutes a tiny house, a structure under 500 square feet (46 m2) is generally accepted to be a tiny home. Our sailing vessel fits right in there.
But Kahu is not just an ordinary tiny house.
“Whenever people say `wow, that is a small space!`, we tell them `yes, the house is small but the backyard is AMAZING!´”, I could not have said it better than my friend Jen from Hawaii. Our big blue backyard is truly mindblowing and I wouldn´t change it for a million Dollars.
Our vast playground is not the only reason though, why we made this choice in the first place. A choice, we haven´t regretted until now.
Benefits of a tiny house on the ocean:
-) The more of less
There is hardly any better way to learn how little you need and to appreciate what you have than choosing a tiny space. Even before moving to Kahu, T.A. and I were fascinated with the idea of tiny spaces and minimalism. Despite having lots
of things in his house, T.A. had previously been pretty conscious of being unattached to them. It was not an issue to sell, give away, donate once we knew we would transfer to the tiny boat.
For me, letting go of material things had been part of my journey for the last couple of years. I have trained myself in giving up. I forced myself to: I had sublet my apartment in Vienna more than once to go on extended trips. Then, as well as at the time I met T.A., I lived out of my backpack. Even though the latter was undisputably big, it was a backpack after all. 55L are heavy on your body, but you can´t carry that many clothes, toiletries and other so-called necessities.
So we both were in a pretty good state for moving into a tiny space. This said we are still surprised how much storage there is on Kahu. Especially compared with other boats her size, she is extremely spacious and would have the capacity for many more things. Instead, we find ourselves rather thinking of reducing our belongings even more – we simply don´t need much and in the end, you only use the same things day in-day out.
Apart from that, the old saying is oh so true: The less you own, the less that owns you.
When T.A. and I started to look for future living options, we did not think about boats in the first place. Our initial dream was a small community with tiny containers, earth and tree houses. Good idea but the question of where to put a tiny house remained unanswered. According to Wikipedia, this is an obstacle for tiny housing in a lot of countries: “Zoning regulations typically specify minimum square footage for new construction on a foundation, and for tiny houses on wheels, parking on one’s own land may be prohibited by local regulations against “camping.” In addition, RV parks do not always welcome tiny houses.” Therefore, we still would have needed to purchase or rent a property for our tiny house. Not the easiest task as despite the vastness of New Zealand, space here is a premium: In Auckland, for example, house prices went up $15,000 in two months. Even if we could have afforded a property, one issue remained: We still would not be able to travel. I moved away from Vienna to live nomadically for a while, and my feet were itching already after living in Papamoa for some months. With our mobile tiny house aka boat, this problem is solved: We can change our backyard as easy and fast as we want, we pick and choose just according to our mood (and the weather, but that´s another story). The potential for travel is endless.
-) Cheap as
It´s a given that smaller homes are less expensive than larger ones in terms of building, but also maintenance. Whereas boats are no “doubt a whole in the water” and we have needed to invest in Kahu quite a bit, these costs are still minor compared to what we would spend living on land. Moreover, here in New Zealand, there are plenty of amazing bays where you can tuck away. For nothing.
-) Creativity Boost
Sailors as well as people who prefer to “live small”, are known for their D.I.Y. attitude and make-do-approach. When out there on the ocean, we simply don´t have the luxury of a mechanic or electronic on the call or a supermarket nearby. We have to make do with what we have. Repairing and reusing instead of replacing does the trick. Apart from this usual fixing though, we also learned with time how to make our tiny house as functional as possible – and get quite creative doing so. The wooden table we built out of a destroyed cabinet coffer, one of T.A.s English forefathers used when coming over from England by ship, can be placed in 4 – 5 different positions. For now. We keep on exploring and finding more.
-) Only you
aka Off-grid living. Over the past years, the trend of tiny houses grew also because of the growing lack of natural resources, a distrust of governments and consequent wish to become as independent of their services as possible. Living in a home that generated its own electricity and captured its own water, without rent or mortgage, seems to be the dream of many. With a sailing vessel like Kahu, we can be off-grid in a lot of ways: We generate electricity with our solar panel, we go where the wind takes us and nurture ourselves from the ocean. In ideal conditions at least. Unfortunately, we are not completely off-grid … yet: In windless times, we need diesel for our engine; we only have space for 2x2l gas bottles for our stove and the water tank has a limit of 150 l of water.
This said, if someone wants to chip in for an electric engine and a watermaker, we´d be entirely grateful >>
-) Pure nature:
For us, one of the biggest benefits of our floating tiny house is for sure the big blue backyard I mentioned in the beginning. It is an environment we do want to harm as little as possible. We are quite aware that we are still doing our share: We discharge our human waste into the ocean, produce plastic garbage, our engine emits CO2, … the list goes on and on and on. In a tiny home though, the footprints we leave on this planet are naturally a bit smaller due to less consumption in general. Whereas this is neither an excuse nor a hall pass, I rather see it as a beginning with the constant potential for improvement.
These are just our reasons for How and Why, but there are many more arguments why people around the world are making the decision to downsize their homes in order to start living bigger lives.
Even though some people including T.A.s old man still recommend to get a bigger boat for the circumnavigation (not only because T.A. – tall as he is – would not need to bend his head), we are committed to doing it with Kahu. For the moment, we couldn´t live bigger than in our tiny boat with the big blue backyard.