Monday, August 29, 2011

Clean Sucia Island

Boating in the Pacific Northwest has been a lot of fun. First there is the 2452 Bayliner we purchased last Spring for US boating. We keep it in Squalicum Harbor in Bellingham, handy for overnight stays and quick trips to the San Juan Islands.

There are lots of choices for cruising in the Pacific Northwest within easy reach of Bellingham. And I am amazed at how many marine parks are maintained by the state. Most have mooring balls in addition to places to anchor. Some even have docks for shore access and exploration if you don't have a dinghy like us. Last Friday our destination was Sucia Island Marine Park.

Sucia is north of Orcas Island and just below the Canadian border at the southern end of the Strait of Georgia. It is horseshoe shaped with six bays to choose from. For our first stay, we selected Echo Bay. It is the largest and busiest of the anchorages. All the mooring balls (fee based) were taken, so we opted to anchor and swing in the warm evening air.

The bay contained lots of boats, but it didn't feel crowded. Lots of people were heading to shore for thr wooded hiking trails, camping spots, and picnic tables. We put up our chairs on the back deck and enjoyed a picnic dinner with a great view of Mt. Baker.

I speak a bit of Spanish and wondered why they named such a beautiful place Sucia (dirty). It has no bearing on the lovely land, it's because of all the rocky reefs that were dangerous or "foul," another use of the word sucia. I can imagine old sailing ships not wanting to get anywhere near those outer shores.

Check out some of Washington State's marine parks. Here are some guides we use to help:

A Dreamspeaker Cruising Guide: The San Juan Islands

Exploring the San Juan and Gulf Islands
Gunkholing in the San Juan Islands


Sunday, August 28, 2011

My Floating Garden in Our Canada Magazine

This has been quite the year for my floating garden media-wise. First it won a Sunset magazine Facebook gardening picture contest prize and had its picture in the June 2011 issue. Then my garden was highlighted in an article on Duane Burnett's Sunshine Coast website. This month I am very proud to announce that Our Canada magazine has chosen to run a full-page story in their August/September 2011 issue.

I love Our Canada and More of Our Canada magazines. They are completely made up from articles by Canadians about Canadian topics. How great is that? Three years ago, they ran a story by Wayne about our float cabin home. Then they included several of our pictures in their book Our Canada: Picture Perfect. Now the story I wrote about my floating garden has been published.

You can click on the image to make a full-screen image to read the story "A Moveable Feast: Ingenuity keeps this unique garden afloat." Or check out Page 44 in the August/September 2011 issue for the real thing. Subscriptions are available through their website, or you can purchase an online version here.

If you would like to read more about my floating garden here are a few links:

Vegetable Gardening with a Twist
Container Garden Hits and Misses
Double Barreled Watering
All Gardening Topics
Thank you so much Our Canada magazine. And if any of my readers have questions, please let me know. -- Margy

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Angel or Devil

Our good friend John shares his wonderful lab named Bro with us when he comes to visit. Bro can either be a bundle of energy doing his crazy-man dance, or snoozing in a soft spot.

But I think he may have another side that he only reveals to the camera -- devil dog.

Want to read more about this amazing dog? Try these:

Bro the Labrador Retriever
Snow Dog
Bro Drives to the City
Night Watchman

Bro is also an important character in Wayne's Coastal BC Stories books. I don't know how many times we've been out together and someone says, "Isn't that Bro?"

Do you have a special dog in your life? Tell us about him or her. -- Margy

Monday, August 22, 2011

Logs on Fire

Logs floating along my boom capture seeds from the wind or birds stopping by for a short rest. The result is a natural floating garden.

I call this log Bede after the Bede Corporation kit jet airplane. If you go to their website you'll see the resemblance. Here Bede is sporting several tall fireweeds. You usually find them in disturbed soil such as log slashes. But Bede's sunny location is a close approximation I guess. Plus, there's plenty of water for the roots growing down through his cracks and crevices. -- Margy

Friday, August 19, 2011

Swinomish Channel Swing Rail Bridge

You've read a bit this week about our cruise to La Conner through the Swinomish Channel. As we passed the swing railroad bridge at the north entrance to the channel, the sky to the north started to brighten.

The bridge remains open for boat traffic to pass unless a train comes on it's way towards Anacortes.

Tucked along side the bridges over the Swinomish Channel were some classic work boats.

And a funky little community of homes or cabins along the water's edge. One had a big for sale sign if you are interested. -- Margy

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Misty Beach

On our way back from our quad ride to Marg's Manor, we stopped at Misty Beach on Haslam Lake. It's a site that has been developed and maintained by the Wednesday Trail Crew. This group of dedicated Powell River ATV riders has built many trails, bridges, and campsites for everyone to enjoy.

The trail down from East Haslam Main was a bit steep, but it levels out as you near the water. On the way you pass a classy new outhouse, well away from the watershed into this lake that provides drinking water for the City of Powell River. Dave (supported by Marg of course) is instrumental in many of the Wednesday Trail Crew projects such as this.

Misty Beach is a beautiful spot for lunch, or an overnight stay. On the point there's a picnic table with a dynamite view. The nearby creek adds a calming effect, and the lake invites you to take a dip on a hot summer day.

This ride was perfect for me. It was easy, yet had some challenging spots. And visiting Marg's Manor and Misty Beach for the first time reminded me what a great place Powell River is to live.

Want to read more about back country adventures in and around Powell River? Wayne has written two books on the subject. The first to be released in 2006 was Up the Main. That was followed by Farther Up the Main this year. Both books share stories about places to ride and explore, and are available in print, e-book and Kindle formats. -- Margy

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Up the Main to Giavanno Lake

This year I haven't been able to ride my quad much. In fact, my last ride was in May 2010 with our friend Jeanne who was visiting from Bellingham. That's fourteen months. So Wayne and I called our friends Dave and Marg from the Powell River ATV Club and invited them to join us for an easy ride.

We started at the parking area near Edgehill School on Abbotsford Street. This is a great place to begin a ride right in town. And on this partly sunny Sunday, we had it all to ourselves. That one we never did figure out. Usually it's pretty full on summer weekends.

The Edgehill Trail System leads from town right into the bush. Within ten feet you are enveloped by green forest and lush ferns. The intertwining trails lead to Duck Lake Forest Service Road which connects with logging roads that lead farther inland. Is that Wayne telling one if his fish tales?

From Duck Lake Bridge we headed east on Duck Lake FSR Branch 1. This transitions to East Haslam Main then Giavanno Main. At this point, there is excellent signage posted by the PRATV Club. The trail down to Marg's Manor on Giavanno Lake is unmarked, so you'll have to watch your mileage (see below for information about purchasing a local ATV Trail Guide). The trail was a bit challenging for this rusty rider, so Dave gave me a hand at the worst spot.

Marg's Manor is a wonderful little campsite on Giavanno Lake. Poki's place is on the north end. Marg's Manor is on the east shore where it gets lots of sunlight.There's a tent platform and a covered area for relaxing and cooking if the weather doesn't cooperate. And yes, it's named for my good friend Marg.

Giavanno is a beautiful lake surrounded by towering forest. A dock lets you get out to deeper water to cast a line for waiting trout. Or you can use one of the boats, but please leave them and the oars for the next visitors.

Do you want to explore the great outdoors in Powell River? Would you like a book full of maps and trail descriptions with GPS locations? There's a great book written by Dave, the president of the Powell River ATV Club. It’s called the ATV Trail Guide and costs $25. If want a copy, you can contact PRATV at their website. They are also on sale locally in Powell River at Quality Parts and Guy's Cycle Works. All profits support trail maintenance and building activities. -- Margy

Monday, August 15, 2011

Through Deception Pass at Slack

We got up early to catch low water slack at Deception Pass on our cruise back to Bellingham. This is the other major route from the Puget Sound to northern cruising waters. Because the seas are compressed as they rush through the pass, the current gets very dramatic.

At max flood or ebb, it can exceed 8 knots. That's enough to create whirlpools, eddies, waves, and lots of speed. In short, dangerous waters. But at slack, it can be safely navigated. Thankfully there are tables to tell you when to go and when to wait.

The water at La Conner wasn't at slack yet, so we had a bit of current on our departure, but nothing unsafe. The weather was overcast like the previous morning, but not cold. As we exited Swinomish Channel, it narrowed and passed between higher rock walls.

It is at this point that silt buildup is more problematic. The center of the channel through the drying flats of Skagit Bay is well marked, but at low tide extra caution needs to be taken, especially by sailboats with deep keels.

We got to the Deception Pass area about half an hour early for slack water. We stopped near Skagit Island outside Similk Bay and floated in the calm seas to pass the time. There is one moorage float left, but it sure looked close to the island shore in the low tide.

Once we made it under the bridge we noticed several small boats and lots of people on shore fishing. They were waiting for low slack to catch some of the salmon running through the pass as well.

We dropped a line using Wayne's downrigger. Hope they had better luck than we did. -- Margy

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Summer Cruise to La Conner

La Conner, Washington, is a fun travel destination. Of course, we've been to La Conner by car. But his week we made the trip by boat. Part of the attraction was to transit the Swinomish Channel that connects Padilla Bay and Skagit Bay.

Swinomish Channel is one of two main routes from Puget Sound to northern waters. It was just highlighted in the most recent Pacific Yachting magazine because of the problems with silt buildup from the Skagit River. Dredging is needed, but funding isn't currently available. We wanted to make the trip "just in case" the silt builds up before the funds start to flow.

We left Bellingham in the afternoon and arrived at the northern end of the Swinomish Channel under partly cloudy skies. The channel passes through the shallow flats of Padilla Bay, so following the navigation aids is important. Going aground would really spoil a nice boating afternoon.

Once we passed under the massive double bridge of Highway 20 the channel narrowed with depths between 20-35 feet on a high tide. We watched our GPS and depth sounder to make sure we had plenty of water under us. The channel is plenty wide for boats to pass in both directions, especially with the posted "No Wake" speed throughout.

By the time we reached La Conner, it was almost high tide, but you would never know it from the current. Wayne made an excellent approach to the fuel dock and the attendant met us to help. We decided to stay overnight at the guest dock. He recommended the inside because it gets less wave action from passing boats.

With the strong current, Wayne had to make a few passes. I can't leap ashore very well, so he got us in position and I manned the throttles just in case our position changed. It didn't and we were safely tied up. We were amazed on an August afternoon how much open space there was available. It was good for us, but a bad sign for boating in general.

The quaint town of La Conner is within easy walking distance. We first stopped at the Boater's Discount Center. It has a lot of things packed inside. Some are new, some used, and many unusual. The La Conner Marina has two sections, north and south. Both have long-term, short-term, and guest moorage. It's a lovely place to stroll and boat watch. After dinner it was back to the boat for a calm night on the water -- Margy

Friday, August 12, 2011

Let There Be Sun

Wayne is an avid amateur astronomer. He uses his 8-inch Meade Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope on the deck of our float cabin to explore the dark night sky. When the wind is calm, it makes a perfect platform.

Wayne also uses his telescope during the day for solar observations (with special filters and safety techniques to protect his eyes). And lately due to the 11-year cycle, we've been having lots more sunspots.

Using his small automatic digital camera, Wayne captured this image. Sunspots are predicted to increase through July 2013 so many more opportunities for observations should occur. -- Margy

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Save That Nail

The saying, "save that nail," has come to symbolize our attitude towards sustainability at the cabin. When we first got our cabin, we were true city-folk. But living off the grid for several years has changed our ways.

It was such an important concept for us to learn that Wayne devoted a whole chapter to "save that nail" in his first Coastal BC Stories book, Up the Lake. You can take a look here. Everything we need up the lake has to get there by boat, and everything that needs to be discarded has to go down the same way. So you can see, recycling and reusing is really important for us beyond the economic and environmental savings.

Saving nails and reusing construction materials is also important to our good friend John who is constructing our new bathroom addition. Here are nails he's salvaged for reuse. Construction has slowed due to rain. But our roofing arrived today, so things should get going again. For now, my new compost toilet is residing in the kitchen (unused of course). -- Margy

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

The Colours of Summer

Until a week ago we thought we might not get a summer this year. But now we are having some really great weather with lots of sun without extreme heat like the east and south are experiencing.

Last year I repurposed a BBQ and made it into a planter. This year I planted some geraniums and they now make a bright, colourful spot under my kitchen window.

Out in front, we have several whirlygigs that spin in the cool afternoon breeze. One we call Buttless Bird. Actually, he's Buttless Bird II because he hasn't lost his tail feathers to stormy winds like his namesake.

And in the water you'll find a variety of painted floats and "toys" like our inflatable BC Ferry. Out in our natural swimming pool, you'll find a big blue whale gliding across the water's surface. I've tried go give him a ride, but he's trickier than a bucking bronco.

As you enter Hole in the Wall, you can tell our cabin from the rest. Whether it is summer, fall, winter or spring, our cabin has that warm, colourful lived-in look. -- Margy

Monday, August 08, 2011

Catching Gramps

Several years ago, our good friend John found a used 14-foot tin boat for us. He fixed it up (including some spiffy red paint) and now it's our get-around boat at the cabin.

Wayne just got us some red molded fold-down seats from Cabella's for $29.99. Not only do they look great, but they are SO comfortable.

They mold right to your body and make fishing even more fun.

Speaking of fishing, we went out in the Tin Boat a week or so back, and did some trolling. Wayne has his Scotty Portable Lake Downrigger that he uses off the right side of the boat.

I just let the line out and hand hold my pole out the left side. Wayne had his flasher, cannon ball, and gear down deep. I had my "lucky lure" dragging behind pretty close to the surface.

We went through some floating wood debris and Wayne had to stop to get untangled. I knew we were in deep water, so I just left my line out. Once we restarted, I thought I was hung up on the bottom. Then I realized it was a fish. A BIG fish.

It took some time to reel him in. When I got the fish close to the boat, my line tension was wrong. Wayne leaned over to help, but the reel fell apart and into the lake. So we had to pull the line by hand to get my fish next to the boat. Because we catch and release, we didn't want to take him out of the water, but we estimate he was about 28" long and nice and fat. Not only was it a great experience to catch "gramps," but we were able to pull in the remains of my line and reel from the lake and get it back together to fish another day.

How about your? Do you have any fishing stories? -- Margy