Friday, July 29, 2011

Overnighter to Cortes Bay

Finding a nice day to take our new Bayliner 3058 out has been difficult this summer. But this week, we had two days with sunny skies and calm winds. Our first stop was Lund for fuel (in 2009 we had summer moorage there). Their dock can be a challenge with winds off the strait and lots of boats, but the dock hand handled things nicely. He also said he helped make the flagpole's eagle masthead in a class at school.

Lund is a popular stop for boaters heading to Desolation Sound and points north. In addition to fuel, Lund has the Historic Hotel including a restaurant, a small grocery (with lots of supplies boaters need and want), Nancy's Bakery (very popular with locals and visitors alike), and a few other establishments.

We cruised outside the scenic Copeland Islands and headed straight for Cortes Bay on the south side of Cortes Island. By Coastal BC standards, it isn't very remote (the Seattle and Vancouver Royal Yacht Clubs have fancy outstations here), it is a very protected harbour with plenty of space for anchoring. You will find boats from the most basic to the most ornate within the bay's protective arms.

The bottom is a mix of sand and mud, not the best for holding in a strong blow, but none was forecast. Even so, I had my obligatory dragging anchor dream that night. But I didn't let it "Boggle" my mind and enjoyed every bit of July sunshine.

Heading to British Columbia with a boat this year? Take some time to explore Cortes Island. In fact, the July 2011 issue of Pacific Yachting magazine has a feature article all about it. -- Margy

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Everybody Loves a Parade

This is Sea Fair weekend in Powell River, BC. It is an annual three day event each July. The celebration of our coastal environment starts on Friday evening with opening ceremonies and music, but Saturday is the big day. It kicks off with a parade through downtown starting at 10:00 a.m.

Having a condo on Marine Avenue places you front and center for a great view. Mom and I went downstairs this year to get the best view. Plus we also got the great treats handed out by parade participants: candy, popsicles and even flowers. The Coast Guard is always a big hit, especially since they live in our building.

The evening ended with wonderful fireworks. This year Wayne and I went down to our new boat to watch the display. Lots of fellow boaters went out for a front row view, but even from inside the North Harbour we had a perfect seat. Thanks to all the Sea Fair volunteers for putting on a great weekend for all of us Powell Riverites and visitors alike! -- Margy

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Gardening Update

This year I haven't been able to do much gardening up at the cabin. I didn't plant much because we weren't going to be able to be there to do summer watering. Little did I know Mother Nature would take care of that for me. Last summer we only got two days of rain in the month of July. This year it has been just about the opposite.

My float garden has onions, one struggling strawberry bed (that needs to come out), my perennial herbs, and asparagus gone to fern. I never got a chance to pull what was left of my carrots from last season, so they've gone to seed. My friend Margaret (at Thistle Garden) suggested I let them go and save the seeds. Why not. I probably won't get another chance. At least from a distance the float looks like it is thriving.

On the deck my rhubarb that was doing so well died back to one leaf. I think that's the end of it. Too much rain isn't always a good thing.

But my potatoes in barrels are loving it. and my Scarlet Runner Beans are off to a good start and starting to blossom. This week I get to go up to the cabin for three days. Maybe I'll snitch a potato or two for supper one night. There should be enough for now and later. -- Margy

Monday, July 18, 2011

First Flight

This year we again had great luck with our visiting Barn Swallows. Thanks to a "helping hand" from Wayne in the form of a support shelf for the nest and a pad on the porch roof for first flights gone wrong. Fortunately, this year the pad wasn't needed except to catch all the droppings under the nest.

Here are three babies the day before their first flight. Is that fear or excitement I see in their eyes. The next morning between showers all three little guys took to the skies. But for several days, they returned to the comforts of their nest before heading out on their own.

Hopefully Bert (that's what we call papa) and his lovely lady will stick around to share another brood with us before heading south for the winter. -- Margy

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Under Construction

We've lived in our float cabin on Powell Lake since 2001. In the beginning, while we were still working in Los Angeles, it was holidays and summers. After we quit our jobs (that sounds better than the "R" word), we spend about 75% of the year up the lake. We love to watch the seasons change and enjoy winter almost as much as summer.

Well, there's one thing we don't enjoy during storms, the climb up to our outhouse on the cliff. Yes, it has a nice view, but when it's wet, cold, and dark, it isn't my favourite place.

John built our cabin and we purchased it from him. Since then he has become a very good friend and has helped us immensely with cabin maintenance and projects. I went to him with an idea and a request. BUILD ME A BATHROOM!

John took the concept to his dad. Eddy loves to develop plans using SketchUp on the computer. Here's his animated rendition of my new bathroom and covered side porch.

Thanks Eddy! You can come up the lake and use my facilities any time. -- Margy

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Up Goes the Frame

John has started constructing our bathroom and side porch. We chose to put it adjacent to our downstairs "guest" bedroom. That way the deck on the front (sunny) side will remain large. The bathroom will be 6'X10' so there will still be a walk-around deck. That is very important to us. Our deck is our land, and we don't want to lose too much.

Inside will be space for a compost toilet, a bathtub (no running water), and storage shelves and cabinets. The window in the bedroom will become a doorway. Then the window will be moved to the bathroom wall. Heavy plywood over the deck is both the "foundation" and the room's future flooring after deck paint is applied.

The first phase of construction included framing the walls and installing some of the siding. It matches our existing siding and the whole cabin will get a new coat of paint so that everything matches exactly. The post and beam in the foreground are the beginnings of the covered side porch. That will be especially nice on both hot and rainy days.

This is so exciting! Thanks Ed and John. - Margy

Friday, July 08, 2011

Site Supervisor

Yesterday I got to go up the lake to personally see how things are going with the construction of our bathroom and side porch addition (also see Under Construction and Up Goes the Frame).

I've had some really good help in my absence. Mr. Ducky has been acting as the site construction supervisor. His report today was that John is doing an excellent job and I'll be "flushing" and bathing in a flash.

The walls are all up except for an impromptu opening for an entrance. John doesn't want to remove the existing window and open the wall to the cabin until the last minute. Here's the view from the new window placement. Nice!

The rafters tying the new roof into the old roof are in place. The perpendicular collar ties will make it even sturdier. The new roof has a shallower pitch so there will be enough head room for Wayne and others over six feet tall. I saw Eddy at Overwaite (I still refuse to call it Save-On-Foods) and he said John has the metal roofing on order. I love living in a small town!

The interior seems nice and roomy right now with nothing inside, but I know once the compost toilet, tub and shelves get installed, it will feel a bit smaller. Probably to you, 6'X10' room doesn't sound large, but in a 20'X21' cabin it's all relative.

With the 6' width, there's still a nice walk-around left outside. I know I'm going to love this new addition in more ways than one. - Margy

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Night Watchman

On July 9, you met our construction site supervisor. Today I would like to introduce you to our night watchman.

At least he's as black as night. Here Bro's watching over our new siding.

Bro is our good friend John's sidekick. Where John goes, so goes Bro, even during the noise of construction while John builds our new bathroom and porch addition at the cabin.

The walls are up. The siding Bro was so carefully guarding is now on the walls and almost ready to paint.

Doesn't my new blue roof blend nicely with the existing metal roof? John does such great work.

In case we may want to enclose the porch some day to make an additional room, John made that section of roof to the same standard as our bathroom's interior ceiling. Who knows - maybe.

The window that used to be in the bedroom is now in the bathroom. Since that made the bedroom so much darker, John created a new larger window for us there as well.

Construction is coming along. I sure will be happy to have a bathroom right in the cabin. When winter comes, I'll especially appreciate not having to climb those four flights of stairs to the outhouse. The comforts of modern living makes it up the lake. -- Margy

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Toilets and Telescopes

When you're under construction, things get a bit messy. The bed in our downstairs guest room is stacked with stuff. And soon, that'll have to be moved for the new siding to go in.

We purchased our compost toilet early to make sure the new bathroom was large enough, including space to pull out the drawer to extract the completed compost. So for now, it's sitting in the kitchen (where we have the most floor space) next to Wayne's telescope.

We got our Sun-Mar Excel NE (non-electric) at Pete's Plumbing here in Powell River. Since then, I've learned there's a new distributor in town, Justin Behan. He also provides other cabin services such as cargo delivery, flotation cubes, propane tanks, and anchor rope supply. You can reach Justin at (604) 483-6527.

The non-electric version is perfect for off-the-grid living. It comes complete with a vent pipe, roof flashing and composting products. I purchased the optional 1.4 watt, 12 volt fan to help with air movement in the pipe. The fan can be operated using a solar panel or directly from the cabin's electrical system. I'm so excited about getting the toilet set up ASAP (and out of my kitchen!). -- Margy

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Bathroom and Porch Addition Nears Completion

Wayne returned to our float cabin home this week and has sent me some pictures. Our good friend John has completed both the exterior and interior work on our bathroom and side porch addition. You can see that the roof matches perfectly, and John inserted pitch transition flashing to prevent leaks. Now it's ready for Wayne to paint.

Inside the bathroom you can see our new Sunmar compost toilet is installed. And you can see the shelf John built for me. In addition to a place to store towels, it helps finish the end of the tub that was designed to be installed next to a wall. I can also see that John has also installed cedar moulding. He has such an eye for detail.

And our bathtub has been moved from the storage room into its proper position. Now it won't fill up with stuff like it did in the storage room. I can see Wayne has hung our towel rack, and there in the corner is the $1.00 thrift store end table I fixed up. Maybe I'll paint the new shelf to match.

Thanks John and Wayne, I can hardly wait to see (and use) it for myself. -- Margy

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Indoor "Plumbing"

Our new bathroom has been a big project for John (our good friend and builder) and us. Here's how it progressed:

Under Construction - Ed's video
Up Goes the Frame - walls
Site Supervisor - roof beams
Save That Nail - rain delay
Toilets and Telescopes - composting toilet
Night Watchman - John and Bro
Bathroom and Porch Addition Nears Completion

We are trading in our trusty outhouse up on the cliff for an indoor composting toilet inside the cabin. The view won't be as great (looking out through the trees and down the cliff to the the lake below), but the convenience will be appreciated.

Instead of climbing four flights of stairs, we just have to go into another room. No rain, no wind - how civilized.

We chose a Sunmar Excel NE. The NE stands for non-electric. While it isn't hooked up to our cabin's solar powered electrical system, it does have its own panel to run a small fan within the air circulation pipe. That helps eliminate odour, and keeps the air moving around the compost as it processes. We've had our composting toilet in operation for almost a month now, and are very pleased.

We purchased our toilet at Pete's Plumbing here in Powell River. It's important to shop local. There's also a new distributor in town, Justin Behan. He also provides other cabin services such as cargo delivery, flotation cubes, propane tanks, and anchor rope supply. You can reach Justin at (604) 483-6527.

As you can see, the air circulation pipe rises above the roof line and has a built-in rain deflector. There's also an overflow tube just to make sure there are no accidents indoors.

Our bathtub was in our downstairs storage room. Now it's part of a real bathroom. The tub, however, isn't connected for hot or cold water. Our bathtub is a cold weather luxury. In the summer, our natural swimming pool is all we need for a cooling swim or wash.

We'll continue to heat our water on the wood stove. I can fit four large pots on the surface at the same time, and a hot winter fire will get them almost boiling. Add an equal amount of cold water, and you have enough for a nice soak or soaping down. And there's nothing like bathing with a friend to save water.

The bathroom will give us some additional space for storage, but that's another story. -- Margy

Saturday, July 02, 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

Friday, July 01, 2011

Refinishing a Thrift Store Nightstand

I've written about my favourite thrift store several times. When I'm in Powell River, I stop by the Hospital Auxiliary's Economy Shop several times a week. You just never know what you will find. Last week I hit the jackpot again. Treasures big and small abound.

I was out looking for bathroom storage units and was surprised how expensive they were. As Wayne keeps telling me, this is a "cottage." Well, it's also my home. But there's still that thrifty bone in my body. And there it was, sitting in the corner next to the rack of second-hand coats, a 50's style end table with two drawers. The size was perfect for the future space between the compost toilet and bathtub under the new window. And the price was sure right, $1.00. The only thing wrong was the condition of the paint.

I stopped by Canadian Tire and bought a can of Krylon Interior/Exterior gloss spray paint for $4.99 and a sheet of sand paper for $1.00. For a grand total of about $8.00 (don't forget HST), I have a new treasure for my cabin collection. It took the whole can to cover the old white paint with the new "true blue" that matches my handmade curtains. Doesn't it look great? And think about all that great storage for the bathroom.

Have you found any thrift store treasures lately? -- Margy