Thursday, December 29, 2011

Stovepipe Refinishing Before and After

Wayne's been busy. One of his recent projects was to finish woodstove refinishing. In October, he did the surface with Tremclad High Heat Enamel that resists heat up to 650°C (1200°F). It's thick and covers well. Brush strokes smooth out during the drying process for a smooth finish. There was plenty of paint left to do the the stove chimney pipe all the way to its exit on the cabin wall.

As you can see, the stovepipe was in need of some major TLC. After Wayne finished painting it, he still had enough left in the can to give the stove surface a second coat. Even with daily fires since October (almost 24/7), there have been no cracks or peeling. Tremclad seems to be the perfect product for the job.

Now it almost looks like we have a brand new stove for an investment of about $10.00. Well, that and a little work on Wayne's part. - Margy

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A Slice of Life

Through the trees up on the hill, you get a slice of Hole in the Wall and our log boom with its floating stump collection.

The boom protects our float cabin from storm driven wind waves, and floating wood debris. You can read more about our life in a floating cabin by clicking here. -- Margy

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Seaside City

The Powell River region was first inhabited by members of the Sliammon First Nation. It had everything they needed for a good life: a freshwater lake and river, surrounding forest for food and building materials, the ocean for food and transportation, and warm summers and mild winters.

By the 1880's, loggers were drawn to the pristine forests to harvest the massive old growth trees. Word got out about the wonderful natural resources. In the early 1900's, the remote site was transformed almost overnight into a pulp mill with its own company town. In 1912, the first roll of paper came off the machines and mill workers were living in brand new homes in what is now called the Historic Townsite.

By the 1930's, it was the largest paper mill in the world. Homes for the large workforce and supporting businesses spread to the communities of Wildwood, Cranberry, and Westview.

Today, seen from Malaspina Strait, Powell River rises from the sea, surrounded by mountains and forests just begging to be explored. -- Margy

Friday, December 23, 2011

Sunrise, Sunset

On the shortest day of the year, the sun cooperated and we were able to get an accurate measure of sunrise and sunset at the cabin.

Standing on our porch looking due south, this is what we saw. The sun rose above the ridge and treetops at 9:45 a.m, and it promptly set behind the trees surrounding our neighbour John's bay at 11:43 a.m.

That's a little less than two hours of direct sunlight, if it's not a cloudy or stormy day.

That doesn't make our solar system work very well. No wonder our poor batteries are struggling. When we first got our cabin, we had four hours of sunlight in winter. But the trees have grown taller in the last ten years. Good thing we have a little wind and thermoelectric power. Even so, our backup generator has to help us out. -- Margy

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Rebecca Rock

Living in Powell River we have both fresh water (Powell Lake) and salt water (Strait of Georgia) at our doorstep. That makes it a perfect place for boating, kayaking, fishing, scuba diving, skiing, and all kinds of water sports.

When I stay at the condo in town, I look straight across the strait to Vancouver Island. I can see the beacon on Rebecca Rock blinking to warn mariners of the extensive underwater (and above) dangers.

Even BC Ferries give these rocks a wide berth. -- Margy

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Freezing Nights

Official winter is almost here, but freezing nights can't seen to wait. Most of my garden plants are annuals, so I don't worry about saving them. But there were two that I felt needed a try this year.

First was my rhubarb root. It's in a medium sized pot on the transition float and I worry about it not having enough soil for protection. The other was my beautiful geraniums in the repurposed BBQ planter. I enjoyed them so much this year I thought maybe they could survive with a little help.

I used the same method for both. First, I hired the local wood rat to trim everything back (just kidding, she did it on her own.) I didn't have any mulch handy, so I used crumpled newspaper to give the surface of the soil an uneven cover, hopefully creating air pockets to keep the surface, roots, and stems from freezing.

I then covered the paper with soil to keep it in place. We get some pretty strong winds this time of year. If it works, great. I will have a head start on flowers next spring. If not, I can start all over again. The nursery always has lots of geraniums even in early spring. -- Margy

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Inexpensive Bathroom Shelf

When John was remodeling for us, he moved our bathtub from the storage room to the new bathroom. One challenge he encountered was the tub's direction. In the storage room, it was a left hand installation. Now it needed to go right, leaving the tub's end open and quite ugly.

Rather than adding a panel to close the hole, he built a simple storage shelf. John had a leftover 1 by 12 of finished pine. A few cuts, screws, and the tub now has an attractive, and functional closure. The natural wood matched the window frames, but I wanted a bit more colour in the room.

After a coat of wood primer, I used Krylon Indoor/Outdoor Gloss spray paint. Our transition float was a safe place for spraying. Now my inexpensive bathroom shelf is the spot of colour I was looking for, and a match for my redone Economy Shop bargain end table. For about $10 for primer and paint for the shelf, I have some really colourful and inexpensive bathroom storage. -- Margy

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Ugly Duckling

On a recent trip to Steveston, BC, I strolled along the docks to look at the fishing boats. Nearby there was a raucous group of birds begging for food. Among the many seagulls there was one large bird.

I didn't know what kind of bird it was, so I did some research online. I now believe it is a juvenile Mute Swan.

His colouring helps him blend in with the neighbourhood gulls, but his size, shape and aggressive nature gives him away. Can you help with my identification? -- Margy

Friday, December 16, 2011

Red Sky in the Morning

You've hear the old mariner's saying:

Red sky in the morning, sailor's warning.
Red sky at night, sailor's delight.

It may be a sign that a storm is on the way, but the sight is still a delight. I woke up at dawn and watched this gorgeous display right out my bedroom window last Monday.

Looks like the mariners in the harbour below have a little time to go out to Harwood Island for a bit of salmon fishing before the storm. It doesn't get much better than this. -- Margy

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Kitchen Magician

John is like a magician at everything he does. I let him know what I need and he makes it happen like magic. Our kitchen storage counter and shelf are two examples. As a part of our kitchen remodel we decided to get rid of our dining table (which we never used for eating) and replace it with a storage unit (which is what we really needed).

I drew a design with the dimensions and gave it to John. A week later, Wayne and I picked it up at John's house. Under our new outdoor porch out of the rain, we got it painted with two coats of semi-gloss white to protect the surface and to blend into our existing kitchen colour scheme. The wide open area on the side was designed to stack cases of pop and other large items.

The long floating shelf under the window holds our electronic devices including cell phones and satellite radio. The tall, deep shelves hold my large canning and water heating pots. I calculated the distance between the counter top and floating shelf to hold my cookbooks. And of course, it wouldn't be our kitchen without a telescope would it? Thanks John. You've worked your magic again! -- Margy

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Hulks at Work

Sunday was sunny, and the winds were gentle out of the northwest, a perfect day to take our new boat out for a spin on the Strait of Georgia. Living just above the harbour makes it easy. We walked down to the dock and off we went. We first headed out to Rebecca Rocks, but outside of the protection of Harwood Island, the swells got larger, so we decided to head over to the Hulks to see if there were any Steller sea lions at the breakwater.

You can read more about the Hulks that make up the Catalyst paper mill's breakwater here. Inside their protective circle, the mill can dock their incoming barges of pulp and outgoing loads of paper.

Today there were no sea lions. Maybe they were out foraging for food in the rich waters surrounding the Hulks. It's a known salmon fishing spot. We headed back to the North Harbour and the gentle northwest wind helped push us right into the dock. From our dock finger we can look up and see our condo on shore. What a wonderful town. Why don't you come visit Powell River? You may never want to leave. -- Margy

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Coastal BC Animals: Steller Sea Lions

Stellar Sea Lions

Each winter, Steller Sea Lions make the long trek from California to hang out in the nutrient rich waters of the Strait of Georgia. We may dream of heading south for warm sandy beaches, but not these guys.

From our condo, we can hear them barking in the early morning light.

When they aren't out foraging along the cement boat breakwater we call "The Hulks," they like to spend their days sunning on the mill pond rocks. -- Margy

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

TJ's Boat Tops Comes to the Rescue

As Grizzly in Bella Coola said, through mid-December is the worst time for storms off the Pacific with strong winds. The same is true here in Powell River. When Wayne came down the lake and checked on our boat in the harbour, here's what he found. Instead of a canvas top with side enclosures, all he could see were poles looking like tree limbs stripped of their leaves.

After securing the command bridge for several days with cover, he set out to find a place to repair the canvas enclosure. There are several in town, but Wayne chose TJ's. What a find. The workmanship was excellent, the turnaround time speedy, and the price very reasonable. A triple header!

Todd Stanhope of TJ's Boat Tops diagnosed the problem as old (1992) zipper seam stitching that couldn't hold up against the strong storm wind. Once the zippers gave, the wind had her way with the canvas and plastic sides. Fortunately nothing was really damaged. Todd's knowledge and experience helped us save our top.

If you have a boat in Powell River, or are boating along the Sunshine Coast and Desolation Sound, give Todd at TJ's Boat Tops a call.

Todd Stanhope
TJ's Boat Tops
4607 McLeod Road

Now all we need is some good weather for some happy holiday boating! - Margy

Friday, December 02, 2011

PRB on the Tiny House Blog

In 2008, I discovered a great blog about simple living in small dwellings. The Tiny House Blog is designed, written and lovingly maintained by Kent Griswold.

If you are arriving from my most recent post on the Tiny House Blog, WELCOME!! Stay awhile and see what float cabin living is all about. Some sections that you might find interesting include:

Float Cabin Living off the grid
Float Cabin Construction plans
Gardening in a floating garden
Cooking using a woodstove
Cabin Accessories handy stuff
I've written several articles about float cabin living for Kent's blog:
Our Little Cabin Up the Lake
Living on the Water
Float Cabins on Powell Lake
Float Cabin Moving Day
The most recent article, just posted today, is called "Indoor Plumbing with a Twist." It chronicles the building of a bathroom and side porch addition to our float cabin.

I really appreciate all the support Kent gives to people who are living, or would like to live, in small homes. Head on over to for the rest of my story and many more like it.

You can read more about our off the grid cabin life in Up the Lake and Farther Up the Lake by my husband, Wayne J. Lutz. More information about ordering the print, Kindle and e-book versions is available at our website www. - Margy

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Search for a Propane Refrigerator

Our search for a new propane stove was fairly inexpensive and easy because houses sometimes use gas. Refrigerators are a whole different animal. Home refrigerators are almost exclusively electric.

Propane refrigerators are most often found in small sizes for trailers and RVs. When John built our cabin, he got this used 8 cubic foot model out of an old trailer. It served us well for over ten years, but we yearned for more space in both the freezer and fridge.

We looked online and in several stores, but the RV models are too small. They also aren't finished on the outside because they are designed to fit into a modular unit. At Rona here in Powell River, they carry Unique brand propane refrigerators. They are made in Ontario, Canada, but are distributed throughout North America. It's a home-style refrigerator, but runs on propane. And we could get it in a 13 cubic foot model (they go all the way up to a massive 18).

Because it is larger than the space under the stairs, we changed the location to the end of the sink, a good spot for kitchen use. It's also a good place because we (John actually) had to install a new propane line from our tanks on the other side of the wall.

Look at all that space in the freezer, fridge and doors. It fills up fast, but there's plenty of room for frozen meats and fresh foods.

Our Unique refrigerator lives up to its name. Propane refrigerators work a little different than electric ones. I don't profess to understand the process, but electric models use a gas called tetrafluoroethane, a motor, a compressor and coils to contain the gas/liquid cooling process.

A propane refrigerator has a few more steps including a propane flame powered generator to create ammonia gas, a separator, a condenser, an evaporator (where the cooling occurs), and an absorber. It's a closed, continuous-cycle system as long as the propane is burning.

Here you can see the condenser fins that are part of the cooling process at the back of our top refrigerator shelf.

Propane consumption for our 13 cubic foot model is 1.4 pounds per day at maximum cooling. We have ours set lower. Where we live, a pound costs $1.00. We are still in the process of calculating our actual consumption. We have three 40 pound tanks, so we can run our refrigerator full time (and stove and lights) for over a month without going back to town for refills.

Because burning propane indoors might cause carbon monoxide emissions, the refrigerator must either be vented to the outside or have a monitoring device installed. We opted for the monitoring device. We just have to be careful that the 9 volt battery inside is charged. Otherwise, the propane will be shut off and that would be a bad thing!

If you are in the market for a home-style propane refrigerator take a look. As they say:
It's not just a fridge.
It's Unique! -- Margy

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Working Boats of Steveston BC

As you can tell, I really enjoyed my trip to Steveston BC. Today I want to share about the working boats you will find in the harbour. While there are a few pleasure boats mixed in, the majority are fishing boats and tugs.

The Steveston Harbour is a bit unique. It's located in the mouth of Fraser River.

It's close to the Strait of Georgia to get tidal effects, but it also gets lots of fresh water from the river outflow. This is good for boat hulls and engines. Salt water is more corrosive. Plus, the location gives more protection during the fierce fall and winter storms we get with high winds. Here's a short clip I took from Garry Point Park.

Go on weekends during the winter or most any day in the summer and buy fresh fish off the working boats. Can't beat that for taste or price! -- Margy