Tag Archives: earthship

It’s Official

It’s official that I am now and official Earthship aficionado.

I don’t quite have that piece of paper in my hands yet, but it’s in Kat’s hands so I figure that’s close enough. She will be receiving one of these herself at the end of the month. Then we’ll both be official.

In other news, I found our very own ice wall on our property as I was wandering around it a while back.

It’s not that tall, maybe 3m (10′) but it is a lot of fun to look at. If I were more adept at image manipulation I’d put some Lego persons doing the ice climbing thing on it.

It’s April and that means highly erratic weather up here in this part of the world. Some days it’s nice and sunny and all of the snow is melting, then the next day you get this.

I also managed to snap a shot of a chickadee in mid-flight on his way out from the bird feeder. (Left side of the picture)

Mix in some rain, ice rain and heavy wind with all of that and you never really know what the next day will bring from mother nature. It hasn’t been very cold, so I guess there are some good parts.

As you may know I’m up here at the trailer taking care of things while Kat is away down south. While some might imagine this means wandering around in my underwear eating hot dogs and KD all the time, let me put those thoughts to rest. This is what I had for dinner tonight.

Those are baked chicken thighs in a peanut/salsa sauce with mashed sweet potatoes (with added pecans) and some sweet and sour purple cabbage. For those who know me, you know that I do most of the cooking when Kat is here, so eating well isn’t a problem. The only difference now is I have to do the dishes as well 😛 I’m sure I can handle this burden that has been placed upon me.

Stay healthy!

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Earthship Island, Day 11

Here we are having another warm day down here in the tropics. I think the lowest tempurature we have recorded is 24C (around 78F). The lowest humidity we have recorded is 53%. Obviously I’m from a colder climate and not used to these things, but I could comfortably run around with nothing on 24/7 here. Of course the locals and the tourists might get upset about that. Swimming and snorkling really helps to cool you off. I could happily do that every day, and most days I have.

In our various walks around the island, we have found whole coconts washed up on shore. I opened one yesterday and found it had an interesting white seed looking think floating in the coconut water.

I am no coconut expert so I can’t tell you what it was. That was also the coconut that was in the best shape out of the three now that I have pried apart. A machete or other large knife would be really handy for that.

I got up this morning and the sun was just coming up, shining on the clouds, so I took a picture.

That’s the fun thing about changing timezones across the world: you can adjust yourself to pretty much any schedule you want.

If you recall that picture of low tide I posted on the first day, well we haven’t had a tide as low as that since. The low tide this morning was low enough that the long strip of dead coral was exposed out of the water so Kat and I took that opportunity to go check it out.

This first picture is where it connects with the shoreline, just down a bit from where we are staying.

When you’re standing on it, this is what it looks like heading out to sea.

We walked out to the end and then I took this picture of the two Earthships. You might think we were out in a boat for this picture, but I assure you we were standing on solid ground.

Here is a picture I took looking back east towards the sun.

Looking back towards the direction we came, you can see Kat wandering towards me along the exposed coral.

This last picture is looking out to sea. I even captured a big ship on the horizon.

Fishing is a big thing here. There always seems to be some boats out in the water, especially at night. There are larger vessels further out that have very bright lights. We see them dotting the horizon when we go to bed.

Things here are pretty quiet right now. We really need a drill to do some of the projects so we’re idling around waiting for that. We fill our time with walks, swims, meditation and anime. It’s not a bad life.

Earthship Island, Day 3

So it looks like what’s going to happen with the blogging is Kat and I are going to alternate days. It’s really the only sensible way we can have enough time to make a post. If we both tried to post on the same day, we would spend all day on it and we do want to have time to work on other things.

That being said, today’s post is going to be Earthship technical.

So we showed you what the front of the tropical Earthship looked like last time, now we’re going to look at it in more detail. This first picture is from the side.

The first thing to note is the planters in this Earthship are outside. They are what you are looking at just beyond the bamboo railing. This also means they are part of the berm.

If we zoom in bit you can see this:

This is the outside end of a vent tube. Air it does provide, but the berm does not cool it like it would if the pipe were metal instead of plastic. Also, I don’t think the depth of the planter is quite enough to cool the pipe enough anyway, but to check that we would need some sort of remote, underground temperature sensor. One must also keep in mind that, in situations like this (i.e. building in a country like Indonesia), we’re pretty much building with whatever is available. There are several things in this place that could make a big improvement if only a different material had been used, but you use what you have.

If we head up onto the roof and look back at the planters, you can see the collection trench for the rain water. They used dead coral for the silt filter. There is a tonne of it lying around on the beaches here.

That trench channels the water along to the shown pipe with the screen over it. As the depth of the water increases in the trench, it will eventually drain through this pipe and into the red cistern.

This is a pretty decent setup, but there is one thing that would make it even better. If they had attached the screen to a sleeve that could easily be removed then (a) it would be easier to fix when it is damaged and (b) in the event of a tsunami you could quickly remove the sleeve and replace it with a cap. This would save your cistern from filling with sea water, which in the aftermath, it would be very desireable to have some fresh water, especially on a small island that has no natural source of water.

Unfortunately, the water channeling on the second Earthship here isn’t setup the same as this one. On Earthship2, it is channeled right into the cap of the cistern, which has been removed and a screen installed over top of it. The problem with this is that they embedded the edge of the screen in mortar, which you would think would make it quite secure, but as we discovered, both screens have suffered damage on Earthship2, one of them almost completely detached. With the screens embedded in mortar, this will not be an easy thing to fix. Had they done it the same way as Earthship1, the fix would have been simple.

On to the solar system.

There are four panels for Earthship1 and the system seems to be working just fine. We have DC based LED lights inside, as well as DC water pumps for the toilet and shower. There is a tiny 500W inverter with a single socket on it that we have been using to charge our phones and tablet. No issues to report there.

Earthship2, however, is currently without power. This is because its batteries are dead. We’re not sure if that is going to get fixed either as none of us are going to shell out the big bucks for new batteries. We contacted Earthship Biotecture, but haven’t received a reply yet.

I bet you’re wondering what that big black strip in the middle of the roof is there for? Well, let me show you a better view.

So the idea here is that this long, black metal duct will heat up in the sun and draw hot air into it. The vent tubes should then provide fresh air that is pulled into the main living area that is cooler. You can see one of the curved roof vents at the far end where the hot air is to be expelled.

The problem is there is nary a whisper of air coming from the vent tubes so inside isn’t really all that cooler than outside, especially at night. Things only really cool down if there is a nice stiff breeze blowing through the screen door.

At the opposite end of Earthship1, you’ll find this big black barrel.

This is supposed to provide solar heated water, but it has some flaws. The first one, is it’s made of plastic, so if the sun is shining on only part of it, the rest of the barrel doesn’t conduct that heat because plastic is an insulator. Secondly, not much of the barrel is actually exposed to the sun, so you’re really only heating a small amount of water at the top.

We noticed this when we took a shower today and we had full sun out. The water was almost down right cold. Again, this is probably one of those situations where they used whatever they had available, not necessarily what was most ideal.

I thought I would give you another look at the planters from above. It doesn’t look like they planted any food vegetation in these, just a bunch of grass and other things that were growing close by. We did find an aloe plant growing on the side of Earthship1 though, which for us Canuks who sun burn easy is a great thing to have.

Moving inside, if you look up at the ceiling you’ll find four of these screen vents to let the hot air out.

I you look above the front door, there are two big screen vents. As you can see, the screen is quite damaged. Replacing it will be quite the challenge as once again, it has been embedded in mortar.

This is our shower. It works quite well, though the water isn’t warm. It is gravity fed from the barrel on the roof. There is a pump that turns on to refill the barrel when it finds the water level has dropped.

This is the splash guard wall for the shower. I think all of us here are pretty unanimous on liking the look of the plastic bottles with the ends that look like stars or snow flakes.

This is our toilet. It too is working quite well. It is filled from a greywater well from under the planters. Everytime you flush, a pump comes on to refill the tank.

Lastly, we have the sink. We can wash our hands here, but you don’t want to drink the water as there isn’t a full filtration system setup in this Earthship. We brought a water filter with us so we can fill it from the tap and get drinking water without having to buy water all the time.

That takes care of most of it. There is some minor damage to the walls and floors, which apparently is due to earthquakes. It has made some of the doors difficult to open as a result as they rub on the floor now.

Earthship1 is in pretty good shape, but E2 isn’t. It doesn’t have the same facilities, the power isn’t working, so the pumps for the plumbing aren’t working either. There is no bed or bed frame and no lights, even if there was power. We are supposed to be working on making a bed frame another furniture for E2 but without power or proper tools, this is proving to be challenging.

I should also mention the humidity factor again, as it destroys a lot of things left lying around, especially anything made with iron based metal. Screens are rusted, tools are rusted, Kat found a can of nails that had all fused completely into one mass. It also doesn’t help that there is probably a lot of salt in the air from the ocean being so close by.

Overall, we’ve settled in and getting by, but Katrina’s living quarters are a little less than desireable and we need to improve on that.

Earthship Island, Day 1

I just have to start by saying this post has been sheer agony to make. It took over an hour to copy, edit and upload 12 pictures. You’re lucky I have a lot of patience or this post would never have happened.

So with that outof the way, let us begin.

We arrived in Bali two days ago. There were some really freaky clouds over the islands as we were approaching the airport and I managed to catch a picture of them.

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We deplaned and headed for this massive sea of people waiting to get through customs. Overall I think our wait was about 40min.

I should mention that unlike other countries, customs for Indonesia only takes one person at a time. No couples or full families. Obviously if you are traveling with children, they can approach the counter with you, but all adults are done separately.

That being said, the custom’s agent I had only said one word to me during the entire encounter: “Next!” He called next, I gave him my documents, he looked at them, stamped my passport and I was on my way. Kat’s experience was the same.

We then gathered our luggage, which thankfully all arrived with us, exited the international terminal and immediately went back in through the domestic terminal. It was about this time that we realized we were wearing the wrong clothing.

To say that it is hot here just doesn’t do it service, It’s about +30C (85F), which by itself isn’t that bad until you add the 80-90% humidity. All you want to do is wear as little as possible because everything just sticks to you.

Anyway, we eventually got our last flight, which was delayed a fair amount. I was afraid I was going to pass out and miss it as my head kept nodding off.

By the time we landed it was getting close to 22:00 local time and we were really tired. As a result I was not prepared for the onslaught of hyenas that look like taxi drivers that almost literally pounce on you as soon as you come in sight.

At one point we were completely surrounded by them and all I could think of was that scene from Monty Python’s Life of Brian when Brian is surrounded by the peasants and yells at them to F-off. Fortunately I managed not to do that.

We eventually found someone to take us to a hotel close by where we could spend the evening. We crashed for the night and got some much needed bed rest.

The next morning proved interesting as both my credit card and debit card were declined when I tried to pay for our room. Fortunately, Kat’s debit card was still accepted.

We still had to figure out getting a local SIM chip for my phone so we could make phone calls and have internet access. That also proved challenging as apparently I had to re-unlock my phone before we could do that.

Needless to we got that done and got hooked up, otherwise I wouldn’t be having this conversation with you now.

After that, we needed some cash. Kat used her card again and we were then able to find someone to take us to the ferry.

It was about a two hour drive, and the cab driver totally ripped us off, but we made it to the boat and hopped on. The boat ride was about an hour and a half.

Finally we made it to Poto Tano, where Suji, our local contact guy was waiting to take us to the island. That was just on a small boat, it may have been able to seat eight, but not with a bunch of luggage.

After all that, we arrived here.

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This is the place that Kat and I are staying at until the end of the month. Right beside it there is another Earthship.

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The second one is where Katrina, a fellow Earthshipper, is supposed to be staying, however it has a few issues. More on that shortly.

Here is a picture of the big hill on the island. We haven’t been up it yet, but when we get there I’m sure we’ll tell you about it.

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This is the view from our front door at high tide.

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Here it is again t low tide. All of that brown rocky looking stuff is coral.

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Here is a picture of Kat sitting on our bed and Katrina heading out the door.

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Now let’s get into some of the issues. First of all, as far as Earthships go, this design is not really temperature stable. All of the temperatures we have taken so far have only differed by one degree, if that, between inside and outside. The humidity inside can often be worse and that is the main reason for the heat issue: no way to deal with the humidity.

The humidity is doing other things besides just making it uncomfortable. It’s making the adobe plaster peal off the wall.

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There are several spots like that one above. You can also see spots like the one below where the wall was covered by things and has been saturated by moisture.

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That won’t be staying on there much on longer.

Remember I mentioned issues with Katrina’s Earthship? Well the first thing is it isn’t complete. It was just acting as storage. The solar system isn’t working there as the batteries are dead. This also means the water pumps aren’t working either.

We did move out all of the building material, swept it out and made a spot for Katrina to sleep, but she still needs to come over to our place to use the washroom.

As we were clearing out her Earthship, we discovered some interesting residents. It’s one thing if your house has bugs or mice, but who do you call when your house has crabs?

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It’s been an interesting first day and I haven’t covered it all, but I’m running out of battery so I need to close this up.

Interesting thing about this island, it can be raining all around it, but it will still be nice here. Have a rainbow.

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There have been quite a few trials, and still more to come, but so far nothing we haven’t been able to handle. I’ll leave you with this sunset.

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