Permaculturing in Portugal

One family's attempts to live in a more planet-friendly way

Yurt makeover

The yurt has been my home for 5 years now. It’s stood up to the extremes of Portuguese weather reasonably well, especially after building a porch to protect the doorway (4 years ago) and covering it with shade netting to stop the canvas disintegrating in the sun (3 years ago). It’s settled nicely into the landscape and as the gardens mature around it, is becoming less and less obtrusive.

The yurt becoming part of the landscape

But the crown wheel cover straps rotted out within a year, then so did their replacements within another year, so the cover has been held in place only by the shade netting since. The perspex crown wheel windows are long gone. They went yellow and brittle and broke up within 2 years, but I simply cover the whole crown with UV-resistant clear plastic with a couple of layers of bubble wrap underneath in winter for insulation. The traditional blue patterning on the canvas has faded to white, it’s lost its decorative skirt because all the ties rotted, and the outer canvas cover itself has acquired a good layer of dirt and algae which might even start sprouting moss soon.

Then last year the webbing straps round the circumference which hold all the covers in place started to fall apart. This was slightly more serious. Rather than simply order replacements, I wanted to find something much more robust to replace them, and to deal with the occasional ripping off of the covers (typically after dark) that the wind is inclined to do in these valleys, and which has meant seeing winters through with assorted slabs of schist and half a dozen small pine trees laid on the roof, and the straps round the circumference tied down to the platform to prevent the wind from pulling them up and off with the covers.

Schist slabs and pine poles to hold yurt covers down in winter

The obvious choice had to be cargo straps. Heavy duty ratchet straps made to perform in all weathers and take all kinds of stresses and strains. So I went for the really heavy duty ones – 5-tonne breaking strain 50mm wide high tenacity polyester webbing – and ordered three for the circumference and three to go over the top of the yurt which would be fixed to rings screwed into the main beams of the yurt platform.

Ratchet straps awaiting final tightening and locking down

Ratchet straps round the circumference of the yurt awaiting final tightening and locking down

I replaced the straps when I removed and replaced the covers for winter. This is supposed to be an annual exercise, but I hadn’t actually done it for the last 3 years so was slightly surprised and gratified to find everything in fine condition. I was also slightly surprised and gratified to find it was perfectly possible to do single-handed. Local friends had given me the nylon outer cover from their 5.8m Mongolian yurt (identical to this one) a while back, so I was finally able to add an extra (and cleaner) outer cover at the same time.

Ratchet straps around circumference and over roof all in place

Ratchet straps around circumference and over roof all in place

The ratchet straps are superb. I’m writing this in a gale that would normally have me nervously listening to every cover-flapping gust, primed to go out to fix down flying ends or recover disappearing crown covers at any moment. The yurt is as solid as a rock and the covers haven’t even so much as stirred. Why didn’t I do this 4 years ago?!

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  1. Suzana December 16, 2015

    Bom dia Wendy. Just a quick note to ask you were you got the straps from? We’ve been looking for them but can’t find them long enough to go around our yurt. Many thanks. Suzana ?

  2. Quinta do Vale December 16, 2015 — Post author

    Hi Suzana. Here – The ones I got for the circumference of the yurt were 20m. I see they’re not listing them ATM, but since this company manufactures them, I’m sure you could request them. Good luck.

  3. Suzana December 17, 2015

    Many many thanks Wendy. Perfect!

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