Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Remembering a Fierce Fall Storm

Float cabin in 2001.
Last week I posted about installing anchor cables at our float cabin. One of my readers, Elizabeth, asked how they worked.

Storms in fall and winter are the worst. Low pressure systems build in the Gulf of Alaska, swoop down Vancouver Island, cross the Strait of Georgia, and head up Powell Lake. With the lows come rain and high winds. It's the wind that causes the worst damage.

Our first boat.
We bought our cabin in Summer 2001 and had several weeks of wonderful weather. The next Thanksgiving (the U.S. kind in November), I got a week off from work and went to Powell River on my own. The weather was partly sunny for my boat trip up the lake. Good thing, I'd never driven a boat alone before. Thankfully, John rode in formation to make sure I made it okay.

Stiff leg at low water.
After a few nice days a storm moved in. The rain was heavy and strong winds made the cabin jerk forcefully back and forth on her ¾” steel cables anchored to the cliff. On the backwards swing, the stiff leg (a log that prevents the cabin from hitting the cliff) bounced off the rock, sending reverberations through the float and into the cabin. With daylight, everything calmed. Whew!

Cliff anchor bolt with cable needing replacement.
The next evening a new low slammed into Coastal BC. The steel cables and their anchor bolts had been weakened the previous night. Just after dark, the wind blown motion of the cabin ripped a steel cable free. With the greater range of motion and stress, another cable snapped. With each gust of wind, the cabin swung far out into the lake, only to snap back, causing the stiff leg to ram into the rock wall.

Adding a second anchor cable.
The motion was constant and nerve wracking. The lake wasn’t safe to navigate, so there was no way to leave. To say the least, it was a very long night. Fortunately, the remaining cables held and I could talk to Wayne (still in California) via our satellite phone for moral support. You might think a night like this would have scared me away, but I love the cabin, and know John built it skookum (strong) to be safe in all kinds of weather.

You can read the whole story in Up the Lake and learn how I got the nickname Frontier Jane. If you have a kindle or e-reader, Up the Lake is free from Amazon, Kobo, Smashwords, and many other online e-book sellers. -- Margy


  1. I bet that put the wind up you, so to speak. I would not have liked that on my own. We were battered by very strong winds of 60mph+ last night! but because we are not always floating we were sitting in the mud quite comfy xxx

  2. Wow, I would have been scared to death! We are used to tornadoes and high straight line winds but to be slammed around all night by yourself would be frightening!

  3. I loved that book - hope everyone else gets to enjoy it too - I bought it a year ago or so. That was one scary night - especially bad when you are alone and in the dark of night. Glad you felt ok about being there.

  4. I wondered about that when we have those big wind storms here in BC.


We welcome your comments and questions. - Wayne and Margy