Perhaps your first question is: what the heck is it? It's called a snorkel spa. It's a hot tub heated by a wood fire. We inherited this one when we bought the house. We've used it 3 - maybe 4 - times since we moved in 2 years ago. Using it is a long, drawn out process. If it's filled with water, it generally has to be drained, cleaned, and refilled. Wood has to be collected and a fire has to be set. The water takes more than 2 hours to heat and the fire must be carefully tended in the meantime. When it's finally ready for use, you get a lovely 20-30 minute soak overlooking city lights and the harbor. That's it until you muster the energy to stoke it up again 6 months later.
You can't come home and spontaneously decide "I'd like to take a soak to ease my sore muscles." Using this spa requires advance planning. To complicate things further, the South Coast Air Quality Management District now has winter-time restrictions on burning wood in fireplaces indoors or outdoors on certain days due to the negative impact on our already compromised air quality. The snorkel spa doesn't seem to be worth the space it takes up. So what should we do with it?
Here are the options I've considered so far:
- Sell it on Craiglist - This would provide more money for plants! However, given the new air quality restrictions, I'm not sure what, if any, market there is locally for a spa like this. Just hauling it away could be a costly proposition for a prospective buyer.
- Use it as an impromptu shed - I need a place in the backyard to store tools and outdoor furniture cushions. The wood top is relatively easy to open and we could add shelves and compartments inside.
- Use it as a koi pond - It's water-tight but would require a filtering system, which I understand involves its own set of headaches. And then there are the raccoons - I wouldn't want to encourage more of their visits.
- Plant a tree in it - Its size would allow a small to mid-sized tree room to develop a good root system. However, there's a good-sized Arbutus Marina right next to it so planting another tree in that location would look goofy.
- Use it as a raised planter for vegetables, herbs or flowers - This option allows us to use one of the sunniest spots in the backyard and eliminates the need to haul the spa away. We could take out the smoke stack and drill holes in the bottom for drainage.