Friday, July 26, 2019

Cabin Journal: Beds, Bugs and Birds

Carrots are gone and the beds are ready for planting.
Float cabin living has lots of outdoor activities. Garden beds need to be cleaned out and replanted. Bugs (and all sorts of insects) come out. Birds return to nest.

June 4, 2019

Before we unloaded the boat after a trip to the States, we did a quick walk around the cabin deck. I could tell from a distance that the carrots in the floating garden had gone to seed in our absence and had three foot stems with white flowers on top. They wouldn't be good to eat, but were pretty in their own way. My garlic was about a foot tall and volunteer arugula was flowering bright yellow. There wasn't time to attend to gardening chores that night, everything could wait one more day.

June 4, 2019

The next thing I noticed was a Yellow Jacket paper nest beginning under the eaves near the kitchen window. That would need immediate attention after dark when they are at rest. I checked another favourite nesting spot under the overhang on Gemini's windshield. Sure enough, another nest. We got home just in the nick of time for both. Wayne shot them with wasp spray then knocked the nests into the water for good measure!

June 6, 2019

Barn swallows come to nest every year. We enjoy their company, but when they try to nest under the front porch we have to shoo them away. We've tried several ways to deter them. This year I swept down the nest beginnings and put a broom in its place. I had to keep sweeping and moving brooms until the swallows took the hint and found a better spot.

Coming home is always exciting, especially because we never know what we might find. -- Margy

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Composting in a Plastic Barrel

My former wire bin composter.
Last summer I lost the location for my wire bin composter. I'd used it for years to compost my garden and kitchen scraps at our float cabin home. I had to find an alternative that could be handled on the cabin deck or in my floating garden. One method I learned is called chop and drop.

Chopped garden waste for mulch.
Chop and drop works well for garden waste. As plants are trimmed or removed, the residue is chopped into small portions and used as mulch in garden beds and plant containers. The majority of my composting needs are taken care of in this manner.

Cutting a plastic 55-gallon barrel in half.
It doesn't work as well for kitchen scraps because the smell can attract critters. I decided to compost kitchen waste in a 55-gallon plastic barrel cut in half. Barrels in my town are $35. Check nursery, building and farm stores, or use a large plastic bucket or trash can that isn't too deep.

Now that my first batch of soil is ready to use, I'm starting over.

Composting in a Plastic Barrel
Step by Step

A kitchen compost container.
Cut the barrel in half. Drill drain holes in the bottom. Make two composters or use one half as a planter.

Place four inches of soil in the bottom to start.

Use a kitchen compost container for fruit and vegetable trimmings chopped into pieces.

Layering chopped plant matter, Rot-It and soil.
When the container is full, spread the contents over the layer of soil.

Add garden trimmings if you have them.

Sprinkle with compost accelerator. I use Rot-It.

Moisten with water.

Add 1" of soil over fresh items.

A cover cut to fit and a plastic mesh cage.
Cover with a porous material and surround with a cage to keep small critters out. If you live in bear country, enclose your composter.

When it's time to add a new layer, stir the ones below first.

Continue layering waste and soil until the barrel is full.

Let your composter rest with it's porous cover on for several months while the organic matter decomposes. Periodically moisten and mix to encourage the composting process.

Compost turned into rich soil in 8 months.

Your rewards will be less kitchen and garden waste going into the garbage stream, and free rich soil coming into your garden.

Do you do compost? What process do you use? Do you have any tips to add to my post? -- Margy

If you've ever dreamed of living away from town in an off-the-grid home, or in town with a simple lifestyle, you'll enjoy reading Off the Grid: Getting Started.

Smashwords ebooks for $4.99

Or go to for more ordering information.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Cruising the Northern Strait of Georgia

Backing into John's side yard.
Our Bayliner 2452 spends the winter on Powell Lake at our float cabin. She gets a fresh water bath and doesn't have to contend with things growing on her hull. On the way back to the Westview Marina we stopped at our friend John's for annual maintenance.

Wayne at the helm.
Once in the water, we used the sunny skies and calm winds to take Halcyon Days out island hopping around the northern end of the Strait of Georgia. It was a spur of the moment trip so we decided to visit marinas near restaurants for easy dinners.

We stay at Discovery Harbour Marina quite often. It takes less than two hours to get there and we can call ahead for reservations. There's a large shopping centre next to the marina where we ate at the Riptide Pub. They have Dinosaur Bones (beef ribs), a favourite of mine.

At our assigned dock space.

Wind was in the forecast so we stayed two nights. I took advantage of the showers in this full-service marina that's an excellent provisioning stop for boats heading through the Inside Passage.

Navigating the Strait of Georgia on a calm day.

We timed our departure for slack water in Discovery Passage and to fish for salmon at the southern tip of Quadra Island. No luck.

Heriot Bay Inn and Marina
Our next overnight was at  Heriot Bay Inn on Quadra Island. We like it so much we visit several times each season.

We got fuel and arranged moorage. We relaxed in the sun until dinner on the outside deck at their Herons Restaurant.

Heriot Bay is on the eastern side of Quadra. The original inn was built in 1895, rebuilt in 1912 and updated since.

Our spot on the dock at Heriot Bay.

We really enjoy staying at this laid back marina. They have diesel and gas, and offer slips for boats large and small. For provisions, the Tru-Value market is within walking distance.

The final stop for our Northern Strait of Georgia island hop was Gorge Harbour. Passing through the narrow gorge entrance we finally spied some of the First Nations petroglyphs.

One petroglyph is the reddish colouration in the middle.

Gorge Harbour is a modern marina next to a full-service resort with cabins, RV park, store and the Floathouse Restaurant. It's very popular for boat club rendezvous and large vessels.

Little Halcyon Days in front of  the big boats at the marina docks.

After a great meal and a restful sleep we headed back to Westview Harbour in Powell River. We stopped at Mystery Reef to try salmon fishing one more time. Wayne hooked one but it got away. That was just as well since it's catch and release until July 15 to give native stock a better chance to spawn.

Thanks for cruising with us on the Northern Strait of Georgia. You can read more about our boating adventures is Farther Up the Strait. Each chapter takes you on voyages to remote inlets and anchorages. E-books are available online in Kindle, Kobo and Smashwords. Print formats through Amazon, many online booksellers and locally in Powell River at Coles. -- Margy

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Summer Cruising Part II

Going slow through Thulin Passage.
With calm winds, we treated ourselves to another cruise, this time up the Strait of Georgia to Squirrel Cove on Cortes Island.

We're lucky to live so close to world famous boating destinations. In about an hour, we were looking for a spot on the Squirrel Cove public dock (first-come, first-serve). It's small and popular with islanders and tourists. With power, it cost $20 for our 25-footer. Boaters resupply at the general store and many anchor in the large all-weather cove.

Halcyon Days at the end of the Squirrel Cove public dock.

We were lucky to find a spot on the shore side of the dock even though it was tricky to reach with the extremely low spring time. Not long after we got there, a prime spot on the outside opened up so we pulled Halcyon Days around and tied her up for our overnight stay.

Relaxing and reading in the shade on shore.

We spent the afternoon reading and then went to the Cove Restaurant for an early dinner served by Flying Squirrel Takeout. Crispy calamari and fish tacos hit the spot.

Historic Refuge Cove general store.
The next day we motored across to Refuge Cove on West Redonda Island. We've been here many times for fuel and last year stayed overnight. Refuge Cove has a long history of providing products and services in remote Coastal BC.

In summer, visitors arrive in boats large and small. Overnight moorage is first-come, first-serve at a dollar a foot.

Halcyon Days at sunset with the store and restaurant in the background.

Enjoying a cold one at the Upcoast Summer restaurant.
The fuel dock has gas, diesel and propane. The general store has everything from fresh vegetables to hardware. Other services include a post office, used books, showers, laundromat, garbage service and Internet.

This trip we didn't bring any food to cook. We went to the Upcoast Summers restaurant for pizza at lunch and hamburgers at dinner.

Convenient parking at the Lund hotel dock for $10 for 2 hours.

We started early the next morning so we could stop in Lund to deliver some of Wayne's Coastal BC Stories books to Deborah at the Tug-ghum Gallery and have breakfast in the remodeled historic Lund Hotel, now called The Lund Resort at Klah ah men.

Trolling for salmon near Powell River.

What would a cruise on the Strait of Georgia be without trolling for salmon. When it was catch-and-release, we hooked one. Now that we can keep our catch, not a nibble. But as they say, a bad day fishing is better than a good day __ (you fill in the blank).

Thanks again for cruising with us on the Northern Strait of Georgia. You can read more about our boating adventures in Farther Up the Strait. Each chapter takes you on voyages to remote inlets and anchorages. E-books are available online at Kindle, Kobo and Smashwords. Print formats through Amazon, many online booksellers and locally in Powell River at Coles. -- Margy

Friday, July 19, 2019

Available Online: "Up the Strait" by Wayne J. Lutz

A Great Book
for the Boating Enthusiast

Up the Strait
Coastal BC Stories

It's cruising time again. Jump in the boat and head up the Strait of Georgia with us to magnificent anchorages and exciting adventures. Drop your hook in world famous Desolation Sound, discover hidden coves and meet some of the locals. Read Up the Strait by Wayne Lutz and then join us for the cruise of a lifetime. You may never want to leave. 

Go to for more information.

 Print for $12.95
Kindle for $2.99
E-book for $2.99 at Smashwords
(prices may vary in Canada)

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Cabin Journal: Mason Bee Hotels

A Mason Bee  in a nesting block.
Since 2016, I’ve encouraged native Mason Bees to nest at my cabin. Mason Bees are solitary and docile. I look forward to their emergence from my homemade bee hotels each year. Here are some of my cabin journal excerpts.

April 4, 2019

Mason Bees should be coming out soon. One sunny afternoon I decided to refurbish my two repurposed birdhouse bee hotels on the front porch, so I got out my acrylic paints. The front edges got a red touch-up and the eaves a bright white coating. The roofs got a fresh layer of forest green. Then I added bundles of cardboard tubes designed specifically for Mason Bee nesting.

April 6, 2019

Wayne moved the storage box with full nesting blocks from last year to the front porch where the rising sun would reach them. Just in time. The first male emerged today.

June 1, 2019

After a lengthy stay in the States I checked my Mason Bee hotels. I was worried I there wouldn't be enough tubes for the bees to seal up their eggs. The tubes were full, but the enterprising bees cleaned out the wood blocks and filled them up again. I still see a few bees hanging around so I added more cardboard tubes. It’s gone from two nesting bees in 2015 to over 100 this year. Next year I should have twice that many to help pollinate. I love giving Nature a helping hand.

Here's more about Mason Bees:

Readying My Mason Bee Hotels 
Revitalizing a Bee Hotel
Drilling Nesting Blocks
Building a Simple Bee Hotel

Do you have native bees where you live? Here's a resource to get started. Also, plant pollinator friendly flowers in your garden. Bees need our help. -- Margy

Friday, July 12, 2019

Cabin Journal: Bumblebees in Daffodil Tents

Bumblebees in Daffodil Tents

Bumblebees come early each spring to my floating garden. Their arrival coincides with the blooming of my daffodils. The bumblebees like them for two reasons. First, they have pollen available when most other flowers haven't bloomed.

Second, the conical centres provide a protected spot for the bees to rest overnight in the cool weather.

A bumblebee waiting out the cool morning weather in its daffodil tent.

April 2, 2019

Out in the float garden my daffodils are in full bloom. I was afraid we'd miss them. The smaller ones on the cliff have seen their prime, but the large ones are a beautiful sight looking out from our cabin porch. And we aren't the only ones enjoying them, the bumblebees are all over them, even resting inside like before - bumblebees in daffodil tents.

As you can see, I use photographs to guide my drawings. In this illustration, I tried adding shading to the image.  Do you use photographs as a reference for drawing and painting?

If you would like to see my RV travel Friday Paint Party journal entry for today, please click here. -- Margy

Monday, July 08, 2019

Cabin Baking: Pineapple Banana Bread with Pecans

All of my ingredients ready to go.
I had bananas going brown. At the same time we ran out of bread and breakfast rolls. A town trip wasn't on the horizon. What to do? Make Pineapple Banana Bread. Now that we have Xplornet satellite Internet, I went online and found a recipe using items I had on hand at Taste of Home.

Pineapple Banana Bread with Pecans


A measuring cup for wet ingredients.
• 1 cup all-purpose flour
• 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
• 1 egg
• 1/3 cup canola oil
• 2/3 cup sugar
• 2/3 cup mashed banana
• 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1 can (8 ounces) crushed pineapple, drained
• 1/4 cup chopped walnuts (or pecans)


Combine wet and dry ingredients.
Note: My recipe modifications are in italics.

In a large bowl, combine the first five ingredients.

Combine the egg, oil, sugar, banana (about one) and vanilla. I used a large measuring cup.

Add to the dry ingredients just
until moistened.

Greased pan with parchment paper.
Fold in pineapple and nuts. I diced pineapple tidbits and used pecans. I like their flavour.

Pour into two greased and floured 5-3/4x3x2-in. loaf pans. I used a 9x5 loaf pan with cooking spray and a piece of parchment paper to make removal easier.

Bake at 350° for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks.

With fruit, hard-boiled eggs and coffee (with lots of 18% coffee cream) we had a nice late morning breakfast.

What do you do with your over-ripe bananas? -- Margy

Friday, July 05, 2019

Cabin Journal: First Narrows

I've kept journals about life at our water access only float cabin on Powell Lake in Coastal British Columbia since its purchase in 2001. We began as occasional "cottage" dwellers while still working as educators in Los Angeles.

After retiring in 2005, as U.S. citizens we could spend six months a year up the lake. In 2008, we became Canadian permanent residents with no time restrictions. Now as Canadian citizens, our float cabin is an all-seasons home.

Now that you have a bit of the backstory, here's an excerpt from my most recent cabin journal. Starting with Volume 12, I'm including ink and watercolour pencil illustrations.

March 27, 2019

We woke to a light southeast breeze coming through the bedroom window. I checked the weather and it was going to increase by 11:00. That would be the time we would arrive at the Shinglemill Marina on Powell Lake after a quick grocery stop at Quality Foods. I suggested we stay one more night in town. Coming home after a long stay in the States is always hectic. It would give us some extra time to get caught up on mail, town chores and shopping.

It was a good decision to wait a day. The lake was calm and glassy smooth. The sun was low for a good picture of the cabin, but I got a good shot entering First Narrows.

I think the illustrations add a lot to my journal entries and will be great remembrances in years to come. -- Margy

Monday, July 01, 2019

Update: Float and Land Cabins for Sale on Powell Lake BC

Wayne and I love living in our float cabin home on Powell Lake in all seasons. Summer is here and it's the best time of the year to enjoy the lake. Boating, swimming and fishing are incredible on warm, sunny days. Right now there are several float cabins and land properties are on the market, but don't wait too long. They could be gone in a flash. Purchasing our float cabin home was the best thing we ever did. Why don't you come up and see what Powell Lake has to offer.

Powell Lake Cabins and Properties

Are you interested in getting a cabin of your own? Here's an updated list of cabins and properties up the lake that are for sale. Some are through real estate agents, so you can get more information via their websites. Other cabins are for sale by the owners with information on Craigslist or Facebook pages.

Powell Lake Cabins and Properties For Sale

MLS LISTING: 14131 Powell Lake is beautiful float cabin in a bay of its own with sandy beaches near Olsen's Landing.  The large float cabin is ready for you to use in all seasons. It has two stories with plenty of room for family and friends to visit on a warm summer day for sunning, swimming and fishing. It has 3 bedrooms plus extra space upstairs for guests, full and half bathrooms, and a large open concept living area downstairs with a pellet stove to keep you warm. Solar panels for power are quiet and efficient. In back there is also covered boat parking. All of this for $199,900. For more information contact Warren Behan of Royal LePage at 604-485-2324 or click here.

MLS LISTING:  12940 Powell Lake is a float cabin with lots of deck space for outside summer fun, and a swim platform for the little ones.  The open concept cozy cabin has one bedroom downstairs and a sleeping loft. Features include vaulted ceilings, tongue and groove pine ceiling, tongue and groove yellow cedar floor, wood stove, propane fridge, on-demand hot water, stove and freezer. Also included are a generator, solar system and a composting toilet. All this in a great location that's very protected now for $109,900. Click here for more information and pictures, or contact Warren Behan of Royal-LePage at 604-485-2324.

MLS LISTING:  10100 Powell Lake is a large 1200 sq ft float cabin for sale for $134,900. The cabin has 3 bedrooms that can sleep eight comfortably plus a hide-a-bed for 2 more.  Amenities include an on-demand hot water heater and all the bells and whistles. Custom work throughout must be seen to be appreciated. Click here for more information and pictures, or contact Warren Behan of Royal LePage at 604-485-2324.

FACEBOOK LISTING: This Powell Lake owner is taking offers for a 680 sq ft two bedroom float cabin. I comes furnished, has a water supply from a glacier fed waterfall behind the cabin, an on-demand hot water, and a new composting toilet. All remediation for the upland has been finished with a letter being sent. The cabin will be sold with full approval. Lots of winter sun, zunga tree, year round use. It is located just past the hiking trail to Beartooth water fall. Reduced asking price of $85,000. Click here for more information.

MLS LISTING: Here's an A-frame Powell Lake float cabin in a sunny location on Goat Island just 20 minutes by boat from Shinglemill Marina. Amenities include solar power, composting toilet, shower, on-demand hot water and a new propane cooktop. It has a sleeping loft plus a bunkhouse. The large deck has stairs into water. Everything is in compliance with new water lease rules. Send a pm to the owner on Facebook for more details. The asking price is $128,500. Click here for more information, or contact Harry Zroback of RE/MAX at 604-483-3333.

MLS LISTING: 9742 Powell Lake is a newly built float cabin on the first point past Henderson Bay that just needs a bit of finishing. Large covered walk around deck, great access to shore and bluffs. Two level with 1 bedroom on main and 2 bedrooms up plus a large loft. Wood stove, metal roof and loads of skylights. New "eco john" sewage waste combustion system plus an extra float to build a small shed. The asking price is $179,000. Click here for more information, or contact Don McLeod of RE/MAX at 604-483-8044.

MLS LISTING: 9428 Powell Lake is a two year old float cabin only 15 minutes by boat up the lake in popular Henderson Bay. All new from the cedar log float upwards: new cedar decking, anchors and ropes, 2 x 6 construction, insulation, wiring with full solar power, on demand hot water heater, tub with shower, composting toilet, wood stove for heat and a kitchen with a solar powered fridge and gas range. Cedar and metal siding, metal roof and thermal windows. The asking price is $184,o00. Click here for more information.

FACEBOOK LISTING: Here's a 12-year new float cabin on Powell Lake. It is located on Goat Island before Cassiar Falls and straight across from Fiddlehead. A boat is required to reach this location. Pictures on the Facebook post show that it's beautiful and well-maintained inside and out. The asking price is $185,000. Click here for more information and to contact the seller.

MLS LISTING: 9242 Powell Lake is a land cabin on a half acre waterfront lot with a beautiful sandy beach. It has two bedrooms, a bath with a shower, a large living room with a cozy woodstove. The little kitchen is a perfect .place to prepare meals to enjoy in the glassed-in breakfast room.  A covered front deck is the perfect place to relax on a warm summer evening. There's a lovely garden, a waterside deck and fire pit on the beach, plus a handy sheds for storage and firewood. It’s all ready and waiting for you to enjoy for $279,900. For more information contact Warren Behan of Royal LePage at 604-485-2324 or click here.

MLS LISTING: Freehold land cabin in Henderson Bay, only 10-15 minutes from the marina on a gentle sloping 0.69 acre lot with dock and ramp. The 16' x 24' cabin was built to lock up in 1998 but never finished. On main the level there's a 16' x 12' deck, kitchen and living room area, 1 bedroom with another bedroom on the upper level. The lot is mostly in its natural state for privacy. The asking price is $219,000. Click here for more information, or contact Don McLeod of RE/MAX at 604-483-8044.

FACEBOOK LISTING: Boat access only freehold land cabin on Powell lake 12 mins from the boat launch. It's a furnished 2 bedroom, 800 square foot cabin with solar system, gravity water system, wood heat, propane appliances and 2 large outer decks. There's an 8 x 60' floating dock with metal shore access ramp. Land size is approximately 100 ft of water front by 300ft long. The asking price is $290,000. Click here for more information and to contact the seller through the Facebook Marketplace link.

MLS LISTING: BC Land Professionals is offering a lakefront lodge. The property is 8.35 acres of Crown lease land (renewal due in 2021) with 1300 feet of lake frontage. There are 5 self contained cedar cottages: 3 two-bedroom and 2 one-bedroom. Each has a full bathroom with showers, sinks, toilets, and full kitchens with brand new appliances. Living and eating areas are fully furnished with wood stoves for heat. The fridge, stove, hot water and lighting are propane. Other buildings includes a wood fired Sauna and tool shed. The foreshore and docks are protected by log breakwater. The complete package is priced at $379,000. Click here for more information and pictures. For more information call toll free at 1-866-558-5263, the office at 604-694-7626 or mobile at (604) 483-1605.

MLS LISTING: BC Land Professionals is offering a stunning 1.7 acre island with two cabins that's only a 20-30 minute boat ride from the Shingle Mill Marina. It includes a main cabin, guest cabin, outbuildings, foreshore license and dock. The asking price is $275,000. Click here for more information and pictures. For more information Jamie Zroback at (604) 483-1605 or Jason Zroback at (604) 414-5577.

Powell Lake Cabin Services

Powell Lake Cabin Services: Already have a cabin up the lake? We are always looking for help with projects around ours. Our good friend (and float cabin neighbour) Justin Behan offers services such as cargo delivery, lumber packages, cubes, propane tanks, wood stoves, and anchor and rope supply. In addition, Justin is now a distributor for Sun-Mar composting toilets just like the one we installed in our new bathroom addition. For more information, call Justin at (604) 483-6527.

Powell Lake Real Estate: Want a real estate agent that really knows float cabins? That's Harry Zroback (our man Harry who helped us get our cabin) from RE/MAX. Harry owns a cabin himself, so he's an excellent person to contact for all your "up the lake" real estate needs at 604-483-8333 or

Powell Lake Stories

Want to know more about life up the lake. Check out these books from Wayne's Coastal BC Stories series:

Up the Lake (Free for Kindle and e-books)
Farther Up the Lake
Cabin Number 5
Off the Grid
Off the Grid: Getting Started
Powell Lake by Barge and Quad
If you have any questions about Powell River, Powell Lake or cabin living, I'd be glad to help out. Just leave a comment or use the e-mail link in my profile to send me a message. -- Margy