Monday, 26 September 2011

Six months in a leaky crate

We began the world’s longest camping holiday just as daylight saving was coming to a close back in March, and this weekend the little hand sprang forward again – proving time does indeed fly when you’re having fun.

Container living: it’s not so bad (image courtesy of The Dominion Post)

The title of this entry is a misnomer, of course. Our shipping container doesn’t leak, as such, but unwanted moisture in the form of condensation has been the biggest issue we’ve had to deal with. Possibly the only issue, really.
To mark an enjoyable half-year of living in our tin box, here is a list of ten top tips for happy container living.

1. On warm still days, open up all the doors and windows and hang your rugs over a fence. Perfect for drying out the container and it’s floor coverings – and letting in the fresh air.

Fresh air is our friend, so we let it in whenever possible

2. If attempting the open-doors policy on a less-than-still day, constantly check the gas-powered fridge to ensure that the pilot light hasn’t been blown out by a stray gust of wind. If it has, re-light immediately.

Checking the status of the fridge pilot light means
grovelling at floor level to squint at the gauge.

3. The container has no porch or eaves, so don’t leave your gumboots standing upright when you retire for the night. It never rains in the Wairarapa, but if it does, your wellies make perfect cold water reservoirs for unsuspecting feet the following morning.

Our patented gumboot rack solved the ‘reservoir’ effect

4. Thou shalt remember to connect the power unit to the photovoltaic panel each morning. This powers our main light for free, so make sure you suck up that sunlight!

This tiny panel gives us free lighting – if we remember to connect it during the day.

5. Take the iPod out of the stereo before turning the generator off. If you don’t want to break into your own boom box to just liberate your personal music device, you’ll have to turn the generator on again to just to get it out.

6. Make sure you don’t run out of gas. Heating cooking and refrigeration all depend upon this and without those, the container can go from being a cosy home to just a shipping container in no time at all.

7. When leaving the portaloo, hang onto the door until you reach terra firma. It is permanently mounted on a trailer with access via a rather steep ramp. Rose neglected to do this one frosty morning, and reached the ground much sooner than expected.

Caution: this ramp can be hazardous.

8. Try to leave torches in the same place as you got them from. We have stacks of them, but they’re always somewhere else when required – possibly the same place as biros and estranged socks.

9. Check the wind direction before peeing outside. Obvious, really.

10. Don’t try to run the toaster and the microwave oven simultaneously. They are both power-gobbling monsters and our generator doesn’t like it one bit.

Bonus tip: Always keep your sense of humour. This will protect you from almost anything and remind you that living in a shipping container is actually a fun adventure – even after six months.

Some ‘graffiti’ left by Kate when the supports for our veranda
beams were cemented in place.


  1. Hi. Just thought I would let you know how much I am enjoying your extremely well written and vibrant blog. I really look forward to reading it at the end of each week. Well done! And keep it up! Polly

  2. Should have added a kiwi living in Brisbane......

  3. Hi pollypearl
    Thanks so much for your lovely comment. The Crate Outdoors is s work of love, but we love it even more to get feedback like yours!