Thursday, December 3, 2015

Tiny House tribes

The original hope, eons ago it seems now, was to cross into Florida within hours of the end of hurricane season. According to the insurance company, that didn't happen. But NOAA has a different idea of when a hurricane could spin up to romp across the land. Kintala did, in fact, cross into Florida within hours of the end of the OFFICIAL hurricane season. That's good enough. Our southbound journey has given way to “being here.”

It took a 31 hour motor in the ditch to get from Charleston to Jacksonville. It seemed a bit unfair. With the exception of a couple of hours up near Charleston there was virtually no wind. Yet a constant 4 to 5 foot swell harried the boat all the way to the breakwater in Jacksonville. Well, it didn't really bother the boat so much as wear out the crew. The good news is that the tiller pilot / wind vane didn't mind the swell at all. Note to self; a cruising boat without a working auto helm is not really a cruising boat.

A thing we sometimes do while on an overnight passage is to listen to downloaded pod casts, often a TED talk taken from NPR. One we listened to on this last run was a discussion of tiny houses. We live in a tiny house so it was interesting to hear what other people think of our lifestyle. It was thoughtful, though most of the discussion revolved around urban living and tiny houses / apartments making use of “private” space while sharing “public” spaces with others living in tiny houses. At that particular moment Kintala was far enough off shore that the coast off our starboard side was just a glow of lights. Off the port side lay the Atlantic for thousands of miles. Opinions of urban living and shared spaces don't reflect that part of our reality.

Some of the motivations for living smaller and lighter seem to be shared, be it in a tiny apartment in the city or a modest sailboat out in the big. The less one owns, the less one has to earn to support what is owned. There is more time to pursue the art of being human. Access to community is enhanced though, it must be admitted, there are different dynamics between the tribes formed on land and those of gypsy cruisers. One of the differences most stark is not how the members of the tribes interact within the tribe, but how the tribe relates to the society at large. Land tribes of living simpler, smaller, less cluttered lives remain embedded in that larger society. They challenge many of the precepts of that society from the inside. They are exposed to the dangers and failures as well.

The cruising tribe of tiny floating houses puts distance between itself and that larger society, rejecting it more than challenging it, and working to be less exposed to those dangers and failures. It would be nice to have some grand scheme to help reduce the dangers and fix the failures. On the other hand, when a house is on fire the first impulse is to run.

I suspect a good portion of the cruising tribe thinks that America's house is on fire. It may not be (as my fire-fighting brother might say) a fully involved structure fire. But the kitchen is getting smokey and the door to the attic too hot to touch. Getting outside is not a bad idea. (I picked the kitchen because that is where families tend to gather, and the attic because that is the home of the crazy uncle of family lore. America's family is chock full of crazy uncles.)

It is likely accurate to suggest that those who share my bit of the cruising tribe haven't really abandoned America's house. But we are standing around in the driveway, waiting to see what happens next. We don't get too far from the open ocean, our on-ramp to non-American shores. On the ICW we know there are empty places hard to reach from land and not populated enough to be targets for the crazy. Deep down we hope the house will be okay, with maybe a little damage to be covered by the insurance company. But we are not sure.

And we are not going back in there until we are.

1 comment:

Matt Mc. said...