Friday, June 15, 2018

Baby Buster

Baby Buster hanging out in my thyme pot.
I've written about one of my cabin regulars several times, Buster the Garter Snake. He (or a look-alike) makes an annual appearance in May and hangs around until fall. This year, he showed up on the transition float a few weeks ago. It's a little late, but things seem to be happening slow this spring. I know it isn't last year's Buster because it's smaller, hence the name "Baby Buster."

You can read more about garter snakes at my other posts:

Buster the Garter Snake
Buster's Finally Back
Buster's Back... 
Coastal BC Reptiles: Common Garter Snake
 
Having a garter snake living on the garden float is good for organic gardening. Mice like to nibble nice tender shoots. Buster helps us keep them out of the garden area. Garter snakes also like to eat frogs. That helps keep the non-native bullfrog invasion under some control.

Baby Buster sunning on the deck.

Baby Buster is only about 50 centimetres (20 inches) long. He can grow up to about 1.5 metres (3.5 ft) long. His distinctive coloring is yellow stripes on a dark brown body. Always alert, his bright red forked tongue flicks out to monitor the surroundings. If disturbed, he slides through the cracks of the float to the shelter of the logs underneath. From there he can watch and listen for a quieter time to resurface and get back to soaking up the warm rays of spring sunshine.


Or take off for an undulating swim in the lake below. Click on the video above to watch him go.

Do you have garter snakes where you live?

Thanks for visiting my post this week. I'm linking up with Camera Critters and Saturday's Critters. Check them out for more great animal pictures. -- Margy

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Always FREE Kindle "Up the Lake" by Wayne J. Lutz

The book that started it all!

Up the Lake
Coastal BC Stories

from


Head up Powell Lake to experience life in an off the grid float cabin, take a boat to world famous Desolation Sound, ride a quad into the back country and fly overhead for a unique view of this incredible place. Read Up the Lake by Wayne J. Lutz and see how much fun it can be.

Print for $9.95
Kindle for Free
E-Book for Free
(prices may vary in Canada)

Visit PowellRiverBooks.com 
for more information and 
additional titles in the Coastal BC Stories series.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Float Cabin Living: How was your cabin built? Cabin Raising

Cabin Raising

Our float cabin home gets walls.
Wayne and I both grew up in the city. Our lives were focused on becoming specialists, a teacher for me and aviation for Wayne. Schools didn't emphasize trade classes, especially for the college bound. In fact, they were starting to phase them out completely. There just weren't many opportunities for us to learn the skills of self-reliance in a generalist sort of way.

Next came the roof joists.
One of the things we loved immediately about Powell River was its different sense of purpose and people's self-reliance, people like John. He took all the trades programs the local high school had to offer. He learned construction and mechanical skills working with his father and brothers.

There isn't anything John can't do, or won't try. His education and life led him to be a generalist extraordinaire and accomplished entrepreneur.


Our cabin during construction next to John's #1
After John completed the cedar log float (see Float Construction), he started building the cabin on top of the deck. He designed it and completed construction mostly on his own.

For heavy or difficult tasks, his brothers and father provided assistance.

Looking through the opening for the front door
On one of our rafters you can see size specifications written in permanent marker. That led us to ask about blueprints. His answer was simple, there weren't any.

John designed our cabin in his head and built it as he went. That's talent! And his attention to detail is amazing. We couldn't have asked for a better cabin to call home.

When we purchased our cabin in 2001 it took several days to complete the paperwork. We didn't feel comfortable sleeping indoors until everything was final so put our tent up on the deck.

Camping on the deck until torrential rain drove us indoors.

Over the years we've made a few changes: solar and wind power, a bathroom and porch addition, a new paint scheme, extra docks front and back, a floating woodshed, and of course, my floating garden.  Now we love our float cabin home even more.

Our float cabin home at Hole in the Wall, Powell Lake BC.


Want to read more about float cabin construction? Here are a few posts and a video.


Jack-of-All-Trades
Ceiling Insulation
Pine Paneling
Let There Be Light
Under Construction
Bathroom and Porch Addition Nears Completion
A New Coat
Finishing the New Front Deck
Float Cabin Raising Video

Let me know if you have any questions.

Thanks for visiting part of my world this week. For more great posts from Our World Tuesday, click here.

And also a meme called Through My Lens by Mersad.

And Tuesdays with a Twist at Stone Cottage Adventures. -- Margy

Monday, June 11, 2018

Float Cabin Living: The Series

Wayne and I purchased our float cabin home in 2001 while on a flying camping trip that landed us in Powell River, British Columbia.  That camping trip brought us to a new Canadian home on Powell Lake. It also brought us to life in a new country when we became Canadian Permanent Residents in 2008 and citizenship applicants in 2017.

Wayne and I were both raised in the city and lived in the Los Angeles area. Moving to the small town of Powell River was a big step, living in an off-the-grid float cabin was a huge leap. But it was the best thing we could have ever done.

We get lots of questions about what it's like to live in a float cabin. This series will answer some of the most frequent ones we get. 

  1. Does the cabin move around the lake?
  2. What is the weather like?
  3. What happens during storms?
  4. How do you stay warm?
  5. How do you get power? Propane, Solar, Alternatives
  6. Do you have a telephone, television and the Internet?
  7. How was your cabin built? Float, Cabin
  8. Why did you choose to live in a float cabin?
  9. Can you have a garden?
  10. How can you live in such a small space?
  11. What do you DO with all your time?

People don't always ask about the bathroom, but I'm sure they're thinking about it. And how we handle all of our waste. Most people do. I'll answer all these questions, but I won't try to do it all at once. Each week on Tuesday I'll post a new installment. Stay tuned.

If you can't wait, you can read more of my posts under the topic of Float Cabin Living in the sidebar. You can also visit the PowellRiverBooks.com website to get information about my husband Wayne's Coastal BC Stories series of books. Many include chapters about cabin life and Powell Lake.

If you have other questions, please leave them in the comments section. I always enjoy writing about our life up the lake. -- Margy

Saturday, June 09, 2018

"Off the Grid: Getting Started" by Wayne J. Lutz

This is the newest and thirteenth title in the Coastal BC Stories series. Unlike previous books about adventures and life in a float cabin home, this book is a how-to guide for people interested in moving out of the city and off the grid.


Wayne J. Lutz

From the author of the Coastal BC Stories series, Off the Grid: Getting Started provides more detail about what it's like to live off the grid. What are the essentials you’ll need and how do you get started? This practical how-to guide considers all aspects of remote living and moving off the grid, including site selection and the creation of your own utilities. Investment and ongoing costs of backwoods living are evaluated based on a  building-block approach. This book is designed for those who seek an evaluation of basic remote lifestyles and how to make it happen. If you've ever dreamed of living away from town in an off-the-grid home, you'll enjoy reading Off the Grid: Getting Started.


Smashwords ebooks for $2.99

Click here if you need a Kindle or Kindle App.
Also available from additional online vendors.

Or go to PowellRiverBooks.com for more ordering information. -- Margy

Thursday, June 07, 2018

Float Cabin Living: Does it move?

Our float cabin soon after we purchased it.
One of the questions we often get is, “Does your float cabin move around the lake?” People think it's like a houseboat, which is understandable. Float cabins aren’t something you see every day.

Before we discovered float cabins on Powell Lake, we knew about the fancy floating homes in marinas such as Sausalito, Portland, Seattle and Vancouver. You may have seen a float home in the movie Sleepless in Seattle. Tom Hanks and his son lived in one.

Cedar log float with cabin floor installed.

Floating homes typically use steel and concrete float structures (yes, they float) rather than lashed cedar logs like the ones on Powell Lake.

Floating logging camp from BC Archives.
Float cabins were originally used for housing and buildings in remote logging and fishing camps. Coastal British Columbia is known for its fjords with steep cliffs plunging right to the sea. Building land structures would have been difficult, if not impossible. Also, floating camps allowed the operations to move easily from one area to the next.

Old timer still in use.
On Powell Lake, float cabins were originally built by paper mill workers from the Powell River Company. Powell Riverites were heading “up the lake” to fish, hunt and just get away. Powell Lake is fjord-like (see "Ancient Sea Water in Powell Lake"). The huge cedar logs for the float structures were plentiful. Wood to build the cabins and shakes for the roofs were right at hand. Floating cabins were a natural.

Stiff leg and cables to shore at low water.
Float cabins on Powell Lake are much the same today. They are typically no frills cabins used by locals as weekend getaways. A few are available for rent. The cabins are attached to shore by steel cables (preferred) or heavy rope. Cement anchors often serve as extra stabilization. As the lake rises and falls during the seasons, the cables or ropes may need to be adjusted.

Towing a float cabin down the lake.
While a boat can tow a cabin fairly easily, they usually remain in the same place throughout their life in a leased water lot. On occasion, you will see a cabin moving up or down the lake for repairs. Since the cabins are almost exclusively boat access only, it can be easier to do major upgrades at the marina or along the lake shore near town.

In "Weathering the Wind," you can read about how our friend John created an ingenious system to dampen the strain on the cables during wind and waves. After major storms it is important to check to make sure your cabin is still attached properly.



If you want to travel around the lake and take your house with you, a houseboat is what you need. But if you love your location and want a permanent home, a float cabin would be for you. It sure is for us. -- Margy

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Float Cabin Living: What is the weather like?

Wayne and I love watching the changing seasons at our float cabin. That's probably because we came from Southern California.

Here in southwest Coastal British Columbia we have moderate weather.


Summers are sunny and warm with only a few hot spells of 30°C. Fall and spring alternate between sun, clouds and rain with temperatures to the low double digits. Winter has more cloudy and rainy days with temperatures occasionally below zero and moderate snow on 10-15 days. As Canada goes, we're balmy.

An anemometer next to our wind generator.
Since weather is an integral part of our daily lives, it was natural for us to want to know more.

First we purchased an inexpensive portable weather radio. We listen to broadcasts from the Pacific Weather Centre of Environment Canada. Our weather 25 kilometres  inland varies somewhat, but it gives us a good idea about frontal passage and expected winds. When we hear the reports for Grief Point (in Powell River) and Sentry Shoal (a buoy south of Savary Island), we know what's coming.

Our manual and digital rain gauges.
Next came a digital thermometer. Then a wireless weather station by Acu-Rite that you can purchase at Walmart or other places that sell thermometers. In addition to temperature, it has a digital barometer and humidity gauge (hygrometer). A handheld anemometer gave us wind information, but you had to stand out in the gale to get a reading. (Oops, there goes Wayne off the deck. Just kidding!).

Solar-powered temperature gauge.
Finally we upgraded to an Oregon Scientific Complete Wireless Weather Station. (Eleven years later it's still going strong). It has a rain gauge, thermometer, hygrometer and an anemometer. Our probes are solar powered, the new ones require batteries unless you opt for the expensive professional model. There are also gauges for barometric pressure, indoor temperature and humidity.

The display panel inside the cabin.
The indoor display light is easy to turn on with a touch of the screen, saving batteries when electrical power is off.

The LED screen is easy to read and a memory feature lets us know what we missed while away.


US rain gauge into its new Coastal BC home.
One summer a good friend came to visit by motorcycle. And he had a big (literally) surprise for us. He used to be a fire captain. Part of his duties were to report precipitation to the U.S. National Weather Service. When the devices were retired, he got to keep two. One is now installed at our cabin.

Whether you start small like we did, or graduate to a professional station, watching the weather is fun. -- Margy

Sunday, June 03, 2018

Float Cabin Living: What happens during storms?

We love to be at our float cabin home in all seasons, so we're there for all types of weather. We are relatively safe in Hole in the Wall. The bay, promontory and nearby Goat Island protect us from the worst winds. On the open lake, especially in the area dubbed the “North Sea” just beyond First Narrows, storm winds out of the southeast can whip the water into three foot plus waves.



After storms pass, clearing northwest winds blast down First Narrows creating dangerous waves. I’ve even seen hefty workboats duck into Hole in the Wall for a brief respite. Traveling on the lake in our Hewescraft would be more dangerous than staying put.


The worst damage we've experienced is a dislodged chimney, broken anchor cables (Up the Lake Chapter 4), and a rust weakened BBQ that flew the coop leaving its legs sticking up like a dead bug. That’s not bad. Several cabins have been severely damaged.


The weight of snow on the float could be a problem. Fortunately Powell Lake’s weather is moderated by the nearby ocean. Snow typically sticks only a few days. The biggest problem we have is uncovering solar panels so we can continue to gather the limited winter sun.

Rain is the most common type of storm. If you live in a floating cabin, a little more water isn’t a problem. Thin cracks between the boards on the deck let the water run right through.



The cabin rides easily up and down on its anchor cables as the lake rises and falls from wet to dry seasons.

Additional weather videos you might enjoy include:

A Snowy Day at Hole in the Wall
Windstorm Waterspouts
Mother Nature Blowing Bubbles

So, let it storm and let it rain. We’re prepared. Are you? -- Margy

Friday, June 01, 2018

Float Cabin Living: How do you stay warm?

Our Kozi brand woodstove.
If you are following this series, you've already read about our weather and storms.

Wayne and I couldn't live up the lake in all seasons without a way to keep our home warm.

Nights are longer and temperatures cool by late September.  What most people call winter weather begins in earnest by late October. From then until May (sometimes early June) we need heat.


A rare snowy day.
Our solution is old fashioned wood combustion in our Kozi wood-burning stove. It came with our cabin and has served us well.

To burn wood, you have to gather and process wood.



Gathering floating wood.
Floating wood comes right to our doorstep when the lake level rises. We also use our barge to gather wood to cut and stack.

Our friend John built a floating woodshed for us. Wood is very heavy and you don't want it to weight down the cabin's main deck.

Processing wood for the woodshed.
Wayne learned to use a chainsaw to cut log chunks into stove lengths, then we used an ax and sledge hammer to split the larger pieces.

That is until I got an electric log splitter for my birthday.





Diamonds may be a girl's best friend, but off the grid labour saving devices are more appreciated. Below are some links for more information about heating our cabin home.

Woodstove cooking.
Stocking the woodpile.
Chainsaw maintenance.
Rotating chimney cap.
Chimney maintenance. 
Indoor storage shelf.
Woodstove refinishing.
Woodstove cooking.
Woodstove baking.

Come on in, sit by the fire and get Kozi warm.



How do you keep yourself warm and toasty on long winter nights? -- Margy