Saturday, August 18, 2018

Coastal BC Insects: Yellow Woolly Bear Caterpillar

Yellow Woolly Bear Caterpillar

This year I've found a new type of critter in my floating garden. First I found two when I pulled out overgrown lettuce plants. The next I found on beet leaves used as mulch under my broccoli, so I'm not sure which plant was the attraction.

I'm pretty sure it is a caterpillar of the Virginian Tiger Moth (Spilosoma virginica), a white moth with small black spots on its wings.

Yellow Woolly Bear caterpillar on a beet leaf.

The larval stage is known as known as the Yellow Woolly Bear or Yellow Bear caterpillar. Even though the name implies they are yellow, actual colouring can be from white, to beige, to yellow and even dark red and brown. No matter what the colour, the woolly bear name comes from long its covering of long hairs.

Virginian Tiger Moths and their Yellow Woolly Bear caterpillars are common throughout North America. Caterpillars are abundant and feed on low growing plants, shrubs and even tree leaves in yards, gardens and natural settings.

The caterpillars are voracious eaters. After about a month of eating their fill, they search for a place to pupate.  Then, in about another month, they emerge as an adult moth.

Adult moths are commonly found from late spring to fall. They are especially attracted to lights. I'll have to put a light out in the evenings to see if I can get a picture of one of the moths to update this post.

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

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Cruising the Chuck to Johnstone Strait

Passing through Seymour Narrows.
Another week of warm weather, blue skies and calm seas drew up back out in our Bayliner. Here in Coastal BC we call it going out on the chuck, or salt chuck. Chuck is a Nootka First Nation word for water. Add the English word salt and you get a term for the ocean.

To reach our destination we had to plan carefully to get through Seymour Narrows, a constriction between Johnstone Strait and Discovery Passage on the east side of Vancouver Island.

Through the narrows.

Seymour Narrows is affected by tidal currents up to 15 knots. This creates a dangerous condition except at slack water when the tidal direction reverses. Large cruise ships and tugs towing large loads time their passage along with smaller power and sailing boats.

The narrows is 5 kilometres long and 750 meters wide. During slack it's like a congested freeway that doesn't seem so roomy when shared with a large log boom or a massive cruise ship.

A unique breakwater of tanker cars and huge tires.

After dinner at April Point Resort and an evening at the nearby Campbell River Discovery Harbour Marina we set out early in the morning to catch the low water slack tide. With no wind, it was an easy passage to our destination for the night, Browns Bay Resort.

The marina at Browns Bay Resort.

We chose this destination because Johnstone Strait is well known for salmon fishing. Just north of the resort is a popular spot for trolling and jigging for salmon. After checking in and finding our slip we headed to the Floathouse Restaurant for dinner. Fresh steamed clams, mussels and prawns along with a crisp Caesar salad were a perfect choice.

The floating restaurant at Browns Bay Resort.

With full tummies we headed to the fishing grounds. You can't always be lucky, but we did catch great views of cruise ships heading for Vancouver at high water slack through Seymour Narrows.

A passing cruise ship heading for Vancouver.

Late at night we watched a large fish vessel dock up at the Browns Bay Packing plant. The next morning it offloaded its catch. Salmon is big business in this area, both recreational and commercial.

A fish boat at Browns Bay Packing.

We got up early to fish once again. Again, no luck. But any day fishing is better than any day doing anything else. It was only thirty minutes after the tidal turn so we headed back south through Seymour Narrows. I'm sure we'll be back to fish again, and a great meal at the Floathouse.

At our slip in the Browns Bay Resort marina.

If you don't have a boat you can visit Browns Bay Resort by car. They have an RV park and tent sites, and cabins and floating suites if you want to stay overnight. While you are there, you can arrange for adventure tours and fishing expeditions.

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

A new meme is All Seasons. Stop by and take a look. -- Margy

Thursday, August 09, 2018

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

Available Online

Farther Up the Strait
Coastal BC Stories

Boating on the Strait of Georgia, British Columbia, and the islands to the north. Stories of the people and places of coastal British Columbia, where the mountains drop into the sea and lifestyles focus on self-reliance and a different sense of purpose. This book, based on the original Up the Strait, has more great boating stories and adventures.

Go to 
for ordering information.

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

A Four Day Upcoast Cruise

Heading into Refuge Cove.
We treated ourselves to a four day upcoast cruise in our Bayliner 2452. From Powell River we headed up the Strait of Georgia to Refuge Cove on West Redonda Island. We've been here many times for fuel but I've always wanted to spend the night at this active marina.

Historic Refuge Cove general store.
Refuge Cove has a long history of providing products and services to loggers and residents of remote Coastal BC.

In summer, the most frequent customers are boaters arriving in everything from small runabouts to huge yachts.

Overnight moorage is first-come, first-serve at a dollar a foot. 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. We saved our onboard food and had pizza at the Upcoast Summers restaurant.

Docked for overnight at Refuge Cove.

The next morning we waited at the dock for slack tide. We headed up Lewis Channel then angled into Calm Channel. So far all of the waterways have been wide and deep without major tidal influence. That was about to change. Our destination required us to pass through the Yacultas Rapids, Gillard Passage and the Dent Rapids all in one go.

Approaching the Yaculta Rapids.

For a landlubber like me, it was a surprise when I learned that the ocean can create whitewater rapids to rival many rivers. But when the tide changes, the waters calm allowing boats to pass. You just have to know when (thanks to the tide tables) and be quick about it. Slack water doesn’t last long before the tide turns and starts running in the opposite direction.

Blind Channel Resort fuel dock.

We made it through all three rapids in calm conditions then got back up on plane to travel through Cordero Channel to Mayne Passage along the north side of East Thurlow Island to Blind Channel Resort on West Thurlow Island. The resort has fuel, a store and restaurant. The docks were packed and they had no record of our reservation so we got gas and headed out to Johnstone Strait.

Johnstone Strait on a good day.

Johnstone Strait can get some pretty nasty winds, waves and tidal action all mixed into one. Fortunately today, the wind was light.

Exiting Johnstone Strait.

We chose to return to an anchorage we used several years ago on the northwest side of Quadra Island.
Small Inlet has a tight entrance with floating bull kelp, but inside it has protection from wind and good hold for anchors. Wayne dropped ours and we had a private spot for the night with only one other boat a long distance away.

Dropping anchor in Small Inlet or Quadra Island.

We enjoyed a simple cold chicken dinner. Some people enjoy preparing fancy meals on board. With our small galley it's much easier to bring prepared foods. Plus, we enjoy it that way.

The next morning we again waited for slack tide. We had three sets of rapids to cross to get over the top of Quadra Island. The Lower and Upper Okisollo Rapids followed by the strongest one in Beazley Passage (aptly named Surge Narrows) between Quadra and Maurelle Islands.

Motoring slowly through Beazley Passage.

The flow can get up to 12 knots and pretty rough. You can hear them roar just like a waterfall. Beasley is beautiful as you pass through it’s narrow walls. Then you are back in the open and deep waters of Hoskyn Channel. Looking back north I could see my favourite feature, Cowboy Hat Mountain.

Cowboy Hat Mountain on the left.

It's real name is Mount Doogie Dowler. Don't you thing The Cowboy Hat sounds more appropriate?

Heriot Bay Inn and Marina
To cap off our trip we stopped at the Heriot Bay Resort marina. When we are out in the boat it's hard not to go there for a great meal, a trip to the Heriot Bay Store to get a fresh baked pie for dessert and a quiet night at the dock.

I hope you enjoyed your cruise with us in Coastal BC.

Would you like to read more about the area? Check out Wayne’s book Up the Strait and join us for other exciting trips on the chuck.

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

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Float Cabin Living Series: Tiny Home on the Water

Float Cabin Living Series
Tiny Home on the Water

Wayne and I purchased our float cabin home on Powell Lake in BC in 2001. It was the best decision we ever made.

Our float cabin fits the tiny home definition. In fact, it was featured in Lloyd Kahn's book Tiny Homes: Simple Shelter.

Are you interested in what it's like to live in a tiny home on the water? I just completed a series about what it's like.

Click on the links below to go to the posts. If you have questions, leave a comment or use the email link in my profile.
  1. Float Cabin Living: The Series (an overview)
  2. Does the cabin move around the lake?
  3. What is the weather like?
  4. What happens during storms?
  5. How do you stay warm?
  6. How do you get power? Propane, Solar, Alternatives
  7. Do you have a telephone, television and the Internet?
  8. How was your cabin built? Float, Cabin
  9. Why did you choose to live in a float cabin?
  10. Can you have a garden?
  11. How can you live in such a small space?
  12. What do you DO with all your time?
  13. How do you handle waste?

For more information there are posts under Float Cabin Living in the sidebar. You can also visit the website for information about my husband Coastal BC Stories series of books. Many include chapters about cabin life and Powell Lake.

If you have questions, please leave a comment or use the email link in my profile. I always enjoy sharing about our life up the lake.

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

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Summer Garden Highlights

Four raised beds on a cedar log float.
After a cool June, our weather has warmed with the long days of summer and my garden has taken off in leaps and bounds.

Right now it is hard to keep up with all of the produce coming from the raised beds on my floating garden and containers on our cabin deck.

I kicked off summer by inviting 21 members of the Powell River Garden Club to go on a boat ride up to my float cabin to visit my garden. It was my first "garden party." It was such a hit I plan to do it again next June.

Three tours of seven Garden Club members.

This is the first year I planted garlic in the fall. It made a huge difference in the quality and size of the bulbs. Some were hardneck, my first time trying that variety.

Preparing to hang my harvested garlic to cure.

My red currant plant growing in a large container started producing for the first time. The fruit was too tart to eat raw, but it made an excellent jam.

My Dracaena spike plants have grown from tiny grassy shoots to massive plants in about ten years. This year one plant flowered for the third time. The other plant (pictured) flowered for the first time.

Dracaena spike plant flowering.

I almost gave up on zucchini. After three years of blossom end rot, my plants have been producing well. I think the key has been increased bee action for pollination. I tried a yellow zucchini for the first time and love it.

Yellow zucchini growing in a pot next to a green variety.

How is your summer garden growing? What are some of your hits and misses?

Visit Garden Party at Have a Daily Cup of Mrs. Olsen.

Shared with Your the Star at Stone Cottage Adventures. And Tuesdays with a Twist at Stone Cottage Adventures. -- Margy

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Red Currant Jam

Last year I planted a small bare root red currant. This year it’s grown considerably and developed clusters of berries on previous year’s branches. I was surprised at how many. Last week they all started to ripen at once.

I’ve tasted a few and found them too sour to eat raw. The label said they make good jelly, wine and preserves so I thought I would try.

Removing seeds in a food mill.
Red currants contain a lot of seeds, they’re edible but I didn’t want them in my jam. I washed the tender berries then warmed them in a saucepan while crushing with a potato masher. Still warm, I processed them in a food mill to remove the seeds.

Half seeds, half pulp.
From two cups of mashed berries I got one cup of pulp and one cup of seeds to be discarded.

I added one cup of sugar and one tablespoon bottled lemon juice to my one cup of juicy pulp. Because the berries are tart, no pectin was needed.

Cook until jelled at 220 degrees Fahrenheit.
I heated the mixture to a rolling boil and kept it bubbling until reaching 220 degrees Fahrenheit (the jell point). Because I was using a small pan, it was hard to keep the thermometer away from the bottom so I backed it up with the cold-water test for jelly.

Result, one half pint of jam.
I prepared two half-pint jars and my small water bath canner, but in the end I only got one half-pint jar of jam.

I chose to use it as refrigerator jam. Maybe next year I’ll get a bigger crop to make enough to put up for the pantry.

I'm pleased with the taste. It's a tart tang, but not sour like the raw fruit. The label on the bare root stock was right. The fruit does make a good jelly or preserve.

Do you grow red currants? How do you like to use them? -- Margy