Thursday, March 19, 2020

Exploring Bellingham, Washington

Euclid Park near Lake Whatcom in Bellingham.
Wayne and I are practicing social distancing. If we cross the Canadian border to return to Powell River, self-isolation for fourteen days is required.  We don't have COVID-19 symptoms, so we are staying in Bellingham where we can still go out responsibly.

Life has changed a lot. I order groceries and supplies online from Fred Meyer and pick them up in the parking lot already bagged. We stay away from crowds, but do go out once a day for a drive, to walk or visit an uncrowded park.

Well maintained and uncrowded trails through a wooded city park.

While the Coronavirus pandemic is happening and we are staying in Bellingham, I will not be writing new posts for the Powell River Books Blog. There's lots of existing content to enjoy. Use the list in the sidebar to get caught up on your favourite topics.

We discovered a beautiful beach on Lake Whatcom at the end of a trail.

I also invite you to join me at the Margy Meanders Blog. I will be sharing some of the places Wayne and I visit here in Bellingham while using social distancing and safe health practices.

Seeing signs of new spring growth was uplifting, especially right now,

I highly recommending getting out in nature right now. Our minds and bodies need the soothing respite it offers.  What other things have you been doing to help you cope at this difficult time? - Margy

Posting to Sky Watch Friday. Go to the Sky Watch Friday website and you'll see sky photos from all over the world!

Stop by and take a look at a meme called All Seasons.

And a Wednesday linkup My Corner of the World at Photographing New Zealand.

Saturday, March 07, 2020

Update: Float Cabins for Sale on Powell Lake BC

Our float cabin on Powell Lake.
Wayne and I love living in our float cabin home on Powell Lake in all seasons. The days are getting longer, evenings are expanding and spring is on the way. It's my favourite time of the year to enjoy lake life.

Right now there are still a few float cabins 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: 11875 Powell Lake is a rustic float cabin located in safe and private Serenity Bay. Anchored in a beautiful spot next to Goat Island, it is about 20-25 minutes up the lake from the Shinglemill Marina. The cabin comes fully equipped including a 12 foot Lund aluminum boat, propane tanks, compressor, generator, winch, chainsaw, cellphone booster, plus much more! This is an affordable opportunity to secure your spot up the lake. The asking price is only $65,000. Click here for more information, or contact Josh Statham of Royal LePage at 604-485-2324.

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 $184,000. Click here for more information.

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 at a reduced price of $299,000. 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

Sunday, February 02, 2020

"Dancing in Gumboots" Edited by Lou Allison and Jane Wilde

Have you wondered about what life would be like if you had taken a different path in your youth?

Books like Gumboot Girls and now Dancing in Gumboots make me think? Both are anthologies of memoir vignettes by women who moved to Coastal BC in the 60s and 70s. Their stories are opposite to my choice.

I followed my conventional upbringing until I retired. It was then I followed my heart and moved to live off the grid in Coastal BC.

Dancing in Gumboots: Adventure, Love and Resilience - Women of the Comox Valley (Caitlin Press, 2018), edited by Lou Allison and Jane Wilde, follows in the footsteps of Gumboot Girls.

Dancing in Gumboots shares the lives of 32 women who followed their hearts and dreams in the 70s to Vancouver Island's Comox Valley and the nearby Gulf Islands.
We spent the summer together on the boat, exploring the islands and bays and sailing the straits of Barkley Sound. Brenda Dempsey in "Beyond the Valley"
There is a safe way to be awakened: hook up with another like-minded soul. Josephine Peyton in "Quest for Community"
We gathered oysters, dug for clams and fished. Parksman Pete ran the campground and, from time to time, he'd give us odd jobs to help stretch the dollars. Monika Terfloth in "I Took the Scenic Routes "
Friday was mail day, and all the cabin dwellers came into town for supplies and to get together with friends at the Likely Hotel. Gwen Sproule in "Home is Where the Heart Is"
After every spring season, we set up another camp, this time at the Courtenay Fairgrounds, where we staffed the kitchen for the annual Renaissance Fair. Cara Tilston in "Finding Home"
Many of the youthful arrivals to the Comox Valley have remained in their adopted community. You can read more about these amazing women at their Gumboot Girls Facebook page.

Powell River and Lund also had an influx of adventurous young people during the 60s and 70s. Here are some of their stories.

The Eden Express is a memoir by Mark Vonnegut, the son of famous author Kurt Vonnegut. Mark purchased vacant rural farmland near Powell River that became a haven for people who wanted to get back to the land and live a simple life. It later became Fiddlehead Farm, a hostel for like-minded people.

In The Way Home, Terry Faubert tells her story about coming to Lund, north of Powell River, and building a home for herself and her son. It wasn't easy for a single mom. I was honoured to be asked to help during the editing process of this memoir by a friend from the Powell River Gardening Club.

Adult Child of Hippies was the story of Willow Yamauchi growing up in Lund, a magnet for young people during the hippie and draft dodger movement.  Willow became a CBC Radio producer and interviewed me for about my float garden. The book is full of pictures from that period of time.

The End of the Road was a film recently produced by a Powell River area local Tai Uhlmann about the Lund counter-culture era.

We saw its premier at our local historic Patricia Theatre.

Did you come of age during the 60s and 70s? How did you approach those years? Did you maintain a conventional lifestyle or participate in the counter-culture movement? No matter which you chose, would you have done anything different then or now? -- Margy

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Float Cabin Deck Replacement Part 1

Spring 2018 before pressure washing.
My last post was about major maintenance and improvement projects we've done at the float cabin over the last two decades. I left off our most recent one so you can see it in perspective.

Just like any home, it's only as good as the foundation.

After removing the stain aging was evident.
Over the last 22 years, time and weather have taken their toll.

Periodically, we've replaced individual boards and a few supports to extend the life of our foundation and deck, but in 2019 it was evident that we needed to do much more.

Our float cabin's raft during construction.
But first, a little history. Our cabin floats on a lashed together raft of 40-foot cedar logs. Cedar is durable and buoyant. Floats do get waterlogged, but adding plastic barrels underneath gives increased flotation. The best news, our cedar logs are in good shape.

Crosswise logs and steel cables secure the float logs together. On top, pony walls of vertical then horizontal 2x4s are nailed into the cross-member logs. This provides a level platform for the cabin and deck.

The pony walls are then added to the float log foundation.

Vertical 2X6" boards are nailed on top of the pony walls. Throughout this process, everything is double-checked to make sure it's level.

To support the deck boards, vertical 2x6s are nailed on top of the pony walls.

Yellow cedar is best for decking. Next is old growth red cedar. Last is second growth cedar. Most of our foundation was yellow cedar, but a few spots included second growth wood.

A second growth cedar log on top was replaced with an old growth cedar beam.

Our good friend John (and cabin's builder) replaced our deck. When he took off the old boards, he discovered several supports that needed replacing. In particular, a second growth log was rotten. He chose to replace all 40-feet with milled 6X6" beams.

Here are some related cabin construction posts:

Float construction
Extra Flotation Power
Log Burning for Dry Rot
Cable Up - Anchoring System

In Part 2 I'll tell more about the deck replacement process. -- Margy

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Float Cabin Deck Replacement Part 2

Cedar boards heading up the lake.
This is the second post about replacing the cedar deck at our float cabin. In the previous post, I gave you a little history about how our good friend John built our cabin's foundation and deck.

If you missed it, scroll down to the next post.

The Hewescraft is a great work boat.
John did the whole project for us. He arranged for old growth cedar boards to be cut to specification. The largest load went up on our barge.

Extras went up on our Hewescraft. Both of these are great work boats.

To give John the time and space needed to work, we coordinated it with our Snowbird RV Adventure to the States.

John repaired the foundation pony walls before replacing the deck boards.

John replaced the cabin's deck a section at a time. Work went from October through December. We were able to get up to the cabin during construction to check on things and enjoy our off-the-grid home.

The cabin front deck, half old and half new. Can you see the difference?

Here are the results. I love the look and smell of fresh cedar lumber.

The side deck and boat dock looking towards Goat Island .

The rear side deck and dock. John added a bull rail to secure our boats with ropes.

The side and front deck.

The front deck looking towards the transition float to shore.

Waste not, want not. John cut up the old deck boards to become future firewood. What wouldn't fit into the floating woodshed remains on our cedar log work float.

Cut up deck boards stored on our cedar log work float.

Old deck boards cut up and stored in our floating wood shed.

Now we are set for another 22 years at the least. Who knows how long we can live up the lake, but if we are able, the sturdy deck and foundation repairs will support us. -- Margy

Friday, January 10, 2020

"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 $4.99

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

Or go to for more ordering information. -- Margy

Sunday, January 05, 2020

Two Decades of Float Cabin Maintenance and Improvements

Our cabin at the wall of Hole in the Wall.
Our float cabin at Hole in the Wall on Powell Lake, BC, was built in 1997 by our good friend John. He has an extraordinary talent for lashing together cedar log floats and building cabins from the waterline up.

We purchased the cabin in 2001, and with John's expert help we've maintained and improved it. He's a Jack of all trades who never ceases to amaze us.

John and our Cabin #3, the third one he built.

Here are some of the projects I've written about since I began blogging in 2006. Follow the links to see the stories.

Floating woodshed in 2007.
Repairing our log boom in 2008.
Adding barrels for extra flotation in 2008 and 2015.
Woodstove blow back solution in 2009.

Wind generator in 2009.
Bathroom and porch addition in 2011.
Indoor plumbing in 2011.
A new coat and colour of paint in 2011.

New propane stove and refrigerator in 2011.
Custom shelves made by John in 2012.
Upgraded ceiling insulation in 2014.
Pine paneling in 2014.

Making a new anchor in 2015.
Float log burning (carefully) for dry rot in 2015.
Solar system upgrades in 2015.
Enlarging our protective log boom in 2016.

A new front deck in 2017.
Xplornet satellite Internet in 2017.
Float cabin anchor repair in 2017.
Renewed floating garden in 2019.

In writing this post, I was amazed at how many projects we completed with John's help over the last two decades. And there's one more big one I'll share with you in the weeks to come. If you have any questions, please leave a comment and I'll get back to you. -- Margy