“Shipwrecked Minimalist”: A Border Crossing Story

“Shipwrecked Minimalist”: A Border Crossing Story

It was time to leave Atlantic Canada. Guillaume and I thoroughly enjoyed our tour, but the date was October 5th and we needed to head south or commit to an icy winter in New England.

How does one leave Nova Scotia with a tiny house? Dragging our heavy turtle shell behind us, the drive up and around the Bay of Fundy would take two full days and cost approximately $500 (gas, insurance, depreciation, maintenance, tires, license and registration, campground, etc…). The other option was to put the house on a boat, which sounded expensive but ended up only costing $425. BINGO, our decision was made!

THGJ waiting in line for the ferry ride

Before feeding our tiny house as a snack to an iron giant, we filled our own bellies with a classic local dish at a nearby diner – the rappie pie.

rappie pie
Rappie Pie



Now this might look disgusting (perhaps like something you’ve seen your dog hack up), but I assure you, it was utterly delicious. Imagine a plate of Thanksgiving leftovers that is gelatinous and crisp in just the right areas.

Getting on board the Nova Star ferry from Yarmouth to Maine was humorous to say the least. The dockworkers were entertained by our little house and did everything they could to insure a safe loading. We drove straight into the ship’s underbelly, easy as pie. Three men strapped our house down to the floor using a thick metal rope tautly attached to iron eyes.

It occurred to me that if this ship would sink, our little house would be forever chained in this position. Perhaps a school of fishes would make the tiny house their enormous palace, deep in the Atlantic. A few barnacles would decorate our reclaimed siding and purple seaweed would provide a lush garden. It would be a treasure for some deep sea diver to curiously discover, years and years from now.

A Tiny House inside a Ferry
Tiny House GJ Inside the Ferry

I had another thought. A morbid thought. If the ship did sink, all of Guillaume’s and my possessions would be lost. Our house, our clothes, our computers. . . everything. We too, would be lost. Even Salies. I suppose that would make funeral arrangements rather simple for our families, with no burden to box up or give away.

Our tangible presence in the world could be swept away with one salty wave, but we would be leaving a messy virtual world behind – facebook photos, bank accounts, this website.  I am a shallow footprint in the sand. Easily erased. The idea left me feeling satisfied and sad at the same time.

The worst part of the boat ride was that Salies was required to be kenneled on the lower levels of the ship. It was loud and scary down there, and she was all alone. I left her food and water, her bed and a few toys. We were only allowed to visit her once during the long voyage, and she was VERY happy to see us. Poor pup.

Salies being abandoned for the rideFerry kennel

During the 10 hour trip, Guillaume and I scoured the horizon for whales or dolphins. Alas, we never saw one. The shore was just out of sight, so aside from choppy water, there wasn’t much to see until sunset.

Sunset on the sea
Sunset at Sea

Finally our phones alerted us that we were back on American soil, which was oddly relieving. Customs was much easier coming back into our own country. They searched the house, but unlike the Canadian border police, no one bothered to ask if we had any guns. Perhaps they assumed we did and didn’t care.

Next up, finding a lobster dinner in Portland, Maine.





  1. David FB
    November 17, 2014 / 1:14 pm

    Interesting details about the ferry. I live on the west coast of Canada and we have a whole ferry system. But much of it is sheltered waters so no tying down vehicles. Dogs have to stay below but owners can hang with them or visit.

    But your journey was more open ocean and the Bay of Fundy has a huge tide. And it was a much longer trip. Thanks for sharing your adventure.

  2. Californian
    November 17, 2014 / 9:57 am

    Suggestion: Get some Bach Rescue Remedy for animals (preserved with glycerin) and put it in Sallies water for a 5-7 days to remove the trauma of the boat trip. Stresses like that take their toll on animals the same way they do on humans. Rescue Remedy is also great for humans if you find yourself over tired or under unwanted stress. You can get it at any health food store, organic markets (i.e. Whole Foods), and many large chain drug stores.

    If you can’t find the one specific for animals, just get the regular RR (preserved with brandy). You only use four drops, so in a big bowl of water it would be fine, otherwise you can put the drops in a little boiling water first to take off the alcohol, then put it in her water and her food. In addition, you can drop four drops along her spine.

    Love your blog! Happy trails to you three! (from a Bach Flower Therapy practitioner)

  3. Sandy
    November 17, 2014 / 9:41 am

    I love your posts. Reminds me of our family pulling a 22 foot travel trailer onto a ferry in Washigton State in the 70’s. But only for 2 hours and no dog — just 3 kids!! Hope you enjoyed your lobster!!

  4. nritz1
    November 17, 2014 / 9:17 am

    Ten hours at sea! Seeing Salies locked up in the corner of that cavernous space broke my heart, as I’m sure it did yours. The reunion in Portland, Maine, must have been joyous.

    • User Avatar November 17, 2014 / 9:19 am

      Yeah, she handled it like a champ though! She was sooooooo happy to see us when we visited her in the middle of the trip. We got to play in that huge bay for a little bit.

  5. denise hubbard
    November 17, 2014 / 9:09 am

    I do not like the idea of having to kennel my dogs at all . They are not use to that type of treatment they are thought of as family members .And that would be like kenneling my husband or kids . As when traveling and looking at hotels to stay at , people have the choice to stay at pet friendly hotels or not . The public should have the choice in the case of travel on boats as well . There should be a section of pet friendly rooms where you can go and STAY with your pet till the trip is over . I have talked with other people about this issue and everyone seems in agreement and they can not understand why it has not been done aboard boats . Till the time that this happens ( Pet Friendly Rooms ) we wlii not be choosing to travel using any boats ,ships , ferries ect . As with many other people I have talked to . Think of the amount of money making that has been lost because of this one issue . And they were crying because of low passenger bookings and not bringing in enough money to cover running costs . JUST SAYING – SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT !!!

    • User Avatar November 17, 2014 / 9:13 am

      We definitely agree with your vision. We were completely torn. To be honest, they gave us the option to leave our pup in the tiny house (or in our car) during the whole trip, but they would not allow us any visits in the cargo bay. We had to pick between two bad options. We were also hoping that the kennel situation would be better and that they’d let us visit her more often. That didn’t happen… She handled it like a champ though, but looking back into it, we probably should’ve left our dog in our house.

    • John
      November 18, 2014 / 4:56 pm

      It is not by choice, it is maritime law that the animals must be kennelled.it was not so long ago that animals had to,travel in the belly of the plane, and if it is a large dog it still has to travel in the belly.

  6. November 17, 2014 / 8:38 am

    I am a shallow footprint in the sand. Easily erased. Love your insight. and posts

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