The Ark

Welcome to the Eclectic Ark. Here is the story of  my dream home along with some pictures to show you what my project looked like when I first got it.

In the Beginning

June 21 2010

I finally have a float home!!! All these years of blogging, where I kept going on about how I wanted to build or find a float home and it has finally happened. I am over the moon!!

       Meet the Ark

A long, long time ago ( 100+ years),  the "ark", was a one-room schoolhouse. At some point, someone bought it and put it on floats to use as living quarters for a logging camp. I found it on Craigslist in the free section a couple of years ago. At that time the building was being used as a workshop. The slough where it was being moored, was bought by an individual and everyone was given thirty days to relocate.  The owner couldn't find a buyer in time, so at the last minute was giving it away.

 I couldn't afford the towing fee, so a friend and his business partner scooped it. Fast forward to a year later and the tenant they had rented it out to, had skipped town not paying the moorage for months. When they went to check on the place, they found a Bailiffs lien on it saying they had 30 days to pay the outstanding moorage or it would be seized. They couldn't come up with the money in time so I said "if I can cover the bill, can I have the house?" They said yes, so I scrambled and managed to borrow the money from my Dad and best friend Daryl. I wasn't about to let it slip through my hands a second time!

It took almost another month before I could get the house towed back here to Mitchell Island. I had to wait for the tugboat operator to get his boat fixed and for the tides to cooperate so we could rearrange the marina to make a spot for me. Finally on July 14th, we were ready to go and get the house.

I was extremely excited and nervous at the same time. The freshet was still running quite hard, they were doing this with just one boat, and if anything went wrong coming under any of the bridges, I could have lost everything. I didn't want them risking their lives for me and my house, so spent the day praying as hard as I could that everything would go smoothly. I had them phone every hour or so and keep me updated on their progress. They had 60 km of river to navigate and strong tides to contend with.

They made much better time then any of us anticipated. I got a call around 4 pm to tell me they were coming through New Westminster. I jumped in my car and raced up there to see if I could get some pictures of them coming through the bridges. They were moving so fast, that by the time I got there, I only managed to grab a quick shot of them passing under the last bridge. I tried to keep up in the car, but they were flying down the river, so I beelined it back to the marina to double check that everything there was ready for them to dock when they arrived.

My first view of the house going down the river

The last of the bridges conquered

Lots of nervous anticipation and then suddenly there they were, coming around the last corner.

Passing in front of the condos across from us

A few more minutes and Steve had swung the house around and got it lined up with the docks.
A few helping hands to guide it into place and my house was home safe and sound. I was ecstatic to say the least. Everything had gone smoothly for them, the trip was uneventful, unlike the night we brought the Lucky 7 home! ( that was the boat I lived on before getting this place)

The house sat for about a week at the very end of the docks while David finished rearranging things here to find me a better spot. Originally, I was to go on the inside of his house, but there is so much mud in there, it would take forever to clear a spot, so in the end I got put in behind his house. I love this spot as it is right at the foot of the ramp and means I have the least amount of docks to stumble over to get stuff loaded into the house.

The previous tenants had left a virtual mountain of crap behind, so I spent the first week hauling all their stuff out and cleaning the whole place. It was a HUGE job. I literally moved a ton ( 2000 lbs) of stuff in one day.
 ( I know because I weighed it!) It was back breaking work that I hadn't counted on before I could get on with the business of moving my own stuff in.  I then had to wait a few more days until the tides cooperated and gave us some water during daylight hours to finally start my move.

My house was not designed as a house. It was originally a schoolhouse/workshop and as such, had no kitchen or proper bathroom area. There are two rooms in the front of the house that are somewhat finished, a huge unfinished space in the middle and two rooms in the back (these will be a workshop and craft room.) The upstairs has one finished room on one end, a huge space in the middle and a smallish loft on the other side.

 I have been collecting stuff from the free section of craigslist for the last year and have probably eighty percent of what I need to finish the job. Some door skins and paint will be my first expenses as I try and get the two front rooms ready to live in. The next project after that will be to rearrange a wall or two and get my bathroom framed and plumbed in. By that point it will be a livable space and the rest will get done when I have time and money.

It is SO AWESOME to have elbow space again. I am capable of living in small confined spaces but I am really liking the variety of rooms to play in. I have already started on my room upstairs. I am loving it so much I am having a hard time leaving it to work on the rest of the house.I'm a river rat again and I LOVE IT!!!

So come on in and let me give you the grand tour ( I have to say, I have a whole new appreciation for real estate photographers, I couldn't get a whole room in one shot so these pictures don't do it justice)


This is the view through the front door, this room will be my kitchen, there is a tiled corner for a wood stove, the other finished room is just to the right, the door you see straight ahead leads out into the main area of the house

Looking to the left of the same room, I have already taken down the wallpaper in these pictures.

Same room, wall to the left

Same room looking back to the front door

The ceilings in the two front rooms look like this

Looking into the second room ( I don't have any other decent pics of that room to show you, it has two windows)

Coming through the kitchen door and looking to the right.  This area will be my main bathroom. I want to put a door from the second front room into the bathroom.
Looking to the left is the staircase to the upstairs bedroom. The space underneath will become a broom closet/pantry space.

Looking straight ahead you can see a fraction of the unfinished space that will one day be a dining room/ living room. The two doors at the back are my tool/craft room(on the left) and workshop on the right

A picture from the back end of that room looking back towards the bathroom area

From the other corner looking back towards the staircase and front rooms. I want to remove the framed- in wall on the right and replace the two windows on the wall with much larger ones to take advantage of the river views.

My tool /craft room with stairs up to the loft, looking in from the doorway. Eventually I want to remove the staircase from this room and relocate it so that I can have that wall space to put cupboards to hold all my craft supplies. ( I love that there is one of the original old school desks still here)

Looking to the left, I have a lovely view of the river out that window, my big desk will be going there
a view from the loft

Looking back into the room from the base of the stairs

The other room that will be my workshop right now has shelves on both sides. I am using these to store my hardwood flooring for now, once the flooring has been used, I will take down the shelves and open up the room to set up my lathe etc.

The bedroom above the front rooms

In between this room and the loft space is a huge room about 40 x16 feet that at the moment is stuffed full of my boxes, so couldn't get a good picture, and forgot to before the movers showed up.

My wonderful crew of movers, still smiling after moving my mountain of stuff

Casper is a happy cat, he has a new friend, Davids cat Smoochie, they get along like peas in a pod, so cute!

Well I still can't believe I managed to manifest my dream home, I'm looking forward to many years of joy and happiness within those walls and the thrill of knowing I will never have to pack up my belongings again!

I have many plans for this place. I  will be holding workshops here, so am leaving the main living area as open as possible. I also want to to do massage therapy here, therefore I  have a room set aside as a massage room that will have an adjoining door to the spa bathroom. I have all kinds of arts and crafts supplies that I can't wait to play with, so will be setting up shops at the back of the house. I want to be off the grid and as self-sufficient as possible, so the plan is to outfit the place with solar panels, propane on-demand hot water, composting toilets, a water desalinator and  floating food gardens with a hydroponic indoor garden for fresh veggies and herbs in the winter.

 I have my work cut out for me, but putting it all together is half the fun. I have no money so am trying to do it as cheaply as possible by recycling building materials and furnishing it off the free section of Craigslist. The decor is thrift store treasures and re-purposed finds. Altogether this will make it a really eclectic home that hopefully will be a refuge during climate changes, end of world prophecies, and whatever else the universe wants to throw at us.

Thanks so much for coming by and visiting us at the Ark, stick around to watch the transformation.

Please share my story on Facebook and Twitter, I would love to inspire someone else to go after their dreams.

No dream is too big or too small,

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  1. What an amazing story. Your house is awesome. It took more guts to do the work you are doing and have done. Keep up the good work and please add more pictures!

  2. Rihanna, you are living my dream! The transformation of your little Ark into floating art has truly been magical, as has the journey. All those difficulties only serve to underscore your happiness now. Beautiful Beautiful!

  3. Rihanna, this is amazing! Since I just found you I am going to have to explore to find the rest of your ark tales. :) Thank you for sharing your dream.

  4. what a great ideal its so smart and effecent inn every way cant wait to see the finished product your a dreamer after my own heart good for you you actually did it!!!! you so inspire me

  5. very interesting!! Would love to see side-by-side updated photos!! I also heart crafting and supplies. We live on a farm and have electricity (would love to get off the grid though). Wood and deisel furnace. Gardening, chickens, etc. You probably could create a small chicken coop/run on your ark. Chicken wire a bit of the porch so they don't fall off, Also I can see a verticle pallet garden would really work for your space requirements! Google it!

    1. Here's a link to updated pictures of the whole house

  6. What Fun and hard work Great Job


Thank you so much for taking the time to leave me a comment, Rhianna

The Eclectic Ark