Where: Cypress Bay
Who: Wayne Adams and Catherine King
by Ryann Anderson
Freedom Cove is a floating paradise found in Cypress Bay, near Tofino, B.C. The float home, which is actually more of a mini-island, anchors just offshore of the bay.
For homeowners Catherine King and Wayne Adams, the opportunity to turn their long-time dream of living off the grid literally took them by storm. They started construction on Freedom Cove in 1991 after a storm blew wood onto their doorstep. The couple was renting an apartment in Tofino, exploring the area and looking for places to build their home, so they decided to use the wood to get started. Though they hadn’t originally pictured a float home, they knew they wanted to live away from the city. “We both knew that we wanted to live out in nature because we’re both artists inspired by nature,” says King. “Everything was pointing in the direction to do it now. The wood appearing was a pretty good sign.” They moved in in February 1992.
Built on top of a decommissioned fish farm, the 12 connected structures are designed to reflect the surrounding coastal nature. The island‘s pieces all consist of reclaimed wood and recycled materials and are painted mostly blue and magenta—the latter chosen to represent fireweed, a symbol of rebirth and regeneration—while the whole thing is covered in greenery – If you need affordable skip bins services check out Adelaide skip bin prices – Glass on the living room floor comes from an old Vancouver hockey arena and offers sights of the ocean below. When visitors arrive, they cross the dance floor made of recycled wood and walk through a set of whale ribs to access the rest.
Freedom Cove boasts four greenhouses and a half-acre garden. “I have created a rhythm so I have steady food year-round,” says King. They often produce a surplus to feed guests, and Adams goes fishing to supplement their diet. “He has his regular spots,” says King, though these spots aren’t too close, since many fish come to Freedom Cove to reproduce, using the island as shelter. “We protect all the fish underneath it,” she says.
King and Adams use a wood stove to heat their home, with driftwood for firewood. Both solar power and a generator provide their electricity. All their water comes from rain-collection systems or a nearby waterfall where a small dam to the cascade and water storage tanks gravity-feeds the water to the island by PVC pipe. Access to this water supply was an important part of the why they chose the site. The land surrounding the island is Crown land, and fees paid to the province and the Alberni Valley Regional District allow the couple to live on the water legally.
Another factor in the decision was that Freedom Cove is relatively protected from the elements—though they still have to deal with some winter storms. “It’s very exhilarating when the storms happen,” King says. “Every winter we do have a certain amount of storm damage. That’s just part of our lifestyle, and we take that as creative inspiration.” The pair refers to their home as an installation art piece that changes every year, depending on the weather and their needs.
The couple welcomes tourists on charters from Tofino to visit their home. “The people come because they are interested in what we’re doing and want to learn and be inspired,” says King. “That’s why we do the tours. We want to inspire people to follow their own dreams. It doesn’t have to be how we’re doing it, but do something that fills [you] up with joy and something that adds to the planet rather than takes away.”
King admits off-grid living comes with its challenges, but she can’t picture herself leaving her floating oasis in favour of a different lifestyle. “[We’ll stay] to the end of our days. That’s what we’re planning.”