Saturday, May 19, 2018

Ode to Bro

When Wayne and I came to Powell River in 2001 our first friend was John. You can't be friends with John and not love his dog Bro, Brody if you are being formal.

Bro lived a long, well traveled life. If John went anywhere, Bro was always at his side. That ended sadly this month when Bro left this earthly world to go meet his maker. As Bro would say...

I was living in a shelter on Vancouver Isle,
When John and his family came to visit awhile.
I used my best Black Lab attitude,
And soon enough they were wooed.
We took a ferry ride to Powell River,
to a loving home that would last forever.

During my eighteen years with John,
I've been everywhere, man.
I've been everywhere.
I've been to...

Last Chance
Powell Lake
Goat Lake
Duck Lake
Princess Louisa
Last Resort
Goat Island
The Head
St. Vincents
Olsen's Landing
The Eldred
Frog Pond
Rupert's Farm
Rainy Day
Hole in the Wall
Our Float Cabin
And Best of all
My Westview home!

And many more, man.
Many, many more.
I've been everywhere, man.
I've been everywhere.

Thanks John for the best life
a Black Lab named Bro could ever imagine.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Coastal BC Plants: Salmonberry

S is for Salmonberry

Salmonberry buds ready to burst forth.
There are signs everywhere when spring arrives. On a quad ride we found beautiful bright pink (sometimes purple) salmonberry flowers just starting to open.

Soon they will bloom and the green leaves will emerge. Later they will have ripe orange-red berries to nourish humans and animals alike.

A lone salmonberry bush next to a creek.
Salmonberry plants (Rubus spectabilis) make a rambling bush up to four feet tall. They can make a huge wall of brambles if the conditions are right. This one on a rock riverbank is a standalone. They have small thorns, especially towards the bottom of the branches.

A ripening salmonberry.
The sawtooth edged leaves come in sets of three. The fruits come in yellow, salmon and dark red raspberry-like berries. You will find them in coastal regions from California to Alaska. First Nation people used the roots, leaves and berries for medicinal purposes and as a food source.

The berries are juicy, but sometimes bland in flavour. But that doesn't matter to the forest dwellers.

A ripe Salmonberry ready for eating.

As an early flowering and fruiting plant, it's a favourite with birds and animals. Hummingbirds are attracted to the brilliant flowers, small animals enjoy the tender leaves, and of course the bears love the ripe fruit after a long winter's nap.

I remember picking and eating Salmonberries as a child on camping trips with my parents. Those would have been California Salmonberries. Now I get to enjoy their British Columbian relatives. Do you have any fond Salmonberry memories?

For ABC pictures from around the world, stop by the ABC Wednesday blog. This is the twenty-first round of the meme originally established by Denise Nesbitt. It has now being maintained by Melody and her team. -- Margy

Monday, May 14, 2018

Float Cabin Living : Do you have a telephone?

Our float cabin home on Powell Lake, BC.
One thing we really like about our float cabin is that it's off the grid. We have all the comforts of home (because it is), but with simplicity.

A telephone makes our life in a remote area more comfortable. It provides a measure of safety that wasn’t available to pioneering families, but we keep our calls to a minimum so they don’t interrupt our lifestyle. Here's what we use.

Satellite Telephone Service 

Image from
We started with a satellite telephone for emergencies while flying. An advantage of satellite service is it works outside of landline and cellular areas. In North America there's Iridium and Globalstar (the one we used).

Disadvantages include high cost, outdoor use unless you have an external antenna, you need good sky exposure for optimal signal strength, and signal degradation occurs in rain and wind (when we wanted it the most!). So next we explored cellular options.

Cellular Telephone Service

Signalboost Desktop wireless at cabin.
Our cabin is at the ragged edge of cell reception. Digital coverage reaches 5 to 8 miles. To improve our connection, we added a Wilson cell booster package with an external antenna. Indoors there's a powered booster and an antenna to distribute the signal a sort distance. 

Cellular advantages for us include: a more consistent indoor connection, lower overall cost (by no means cheap), and we don’t have to stand under an umbrella juggling a phone to keep it aligned with a satellite on a windy, rainy night.

Other Communication Options


Our Midland walkie-talkies
Two-way radios have a price range from cheap with limited range and frequency controls, to expensive. We chose a Midland GXT1000 that has a range of 36 miles. We use these on hikes and quad rides. Walkie-talkies have a push-to-talk button and only one radio can transmit on a channel at a time. They are not private. Anyone within range on your channel can listen, but in the bush they are handy.

Handheld and Base Station Radios

Marine band radio in the barge at the cabin.
Two-way radios allow you to send and receive. Advantages include: some are cheaper than cell phones, there's no service contract, and no monthly charges. Disadvantages include: you can only communicate with someone on the frequency you are using, they are limited by distance, and calls are not private. Antennas and base stations can extend the range. We use three handhelds, one for boating, one for logging roads, and one in the plane. In addition, our barge has a marine radio that works on the lake.

Other Cabin Technology Posts

Wilson Signal Boost for Cellular and Internet
Telus Wireless Internet with USB Key
Canon Portable Printer
Xplornet Satellite Internet (can also be used for phone service)

These are some voice communication used by people in a remote areas. Evaluate your communication needs and options before making a decision. For us, cellular was the better choice augmented with radio communication.

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. -- Margy

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Always FREE Kindle "Up the Lake" by Wayne J. Lutz

The book that started it all!

Up the Lake
Coastal BC Stories


Head up Powell Lake to experience life in an off the grid float cabin, take a boat to world famous Desolation Sound, ride a quad into the back country and fly overhead for a unique view of this incredible place. Read Up the Lake by Wayne J. Lutz and see how much fun it can be.

Print for $9.95
Kindle for Free
E-Book for Free
(prices may vary in Canada)

for more information and 
additional titles in the Coastal BC Stories series.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Float Cabin Living: The Series

Wayne and I purchased our float cabin home in 2001 while on a flying camping trip that landed us in Powell River, British Columbia.  That camping trip brought us to a new Canadian home on Powell Lake. It also brought us to life in a new country when we became Canadian Permanent Residents in 2008 and citizenship applicants in 2017.

Wayne and I were both raised in the city and lived in the Los Angeles area. Moving to the small town of Powell River was a big step, living in an off-the-grid float cabin was a huge leap. But it was the best thing we could have ever done.

We get lots of questions about what it's like to live in a float cabin. This series will answer some of the most frequent ones we get. 

  1. Does the cabin move around the lake?
  2. What is the weather like?
  3. What happens during storms?
  4. How do you stay warm?
  5. How do you get power? Propane, Solar, Alternatives
  6. Do you have a telephone, television and the Internet?
  7. How was your cabin built?
  8. Are there rules for living on the lake? 
  9. Do you have a garden?
  10. How can you live in such a small space?
  11. Do you have neighbours?
  12. What do you DO with all your time?

People don't always ask about the bathroom, but I'm sure they're thinking about it. And how we handle all of our waste. Most people do. I'll answer all these questions, but I won't try to do it all at once. Each week on Tuesday I'll post a new installment. Stay tuned.

If you can't wait, you can read more of my posts under the topic of Float Cabin Living in the sidebar. You can also visit the website to get information about my husband Wayne's Coastal BC Stories series of books. Many include chapters about cabin life and Powell Lake.

If you have other questions, please leave them in the comments section. I always enjoy writing about our life up the lake. -- Margy

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

"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 $2.99

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

Or go to for more ordering information. -- Margy

Monday, May 07, 2018

Float Cabin Living: Does it move?

Our float cabin soon after we purchased it.
One of the questions we often get is, “Does your float cabin move around the lake?” People think it's like a houseboat, which is understandable. Float cabins aren’t something you see every day.

Before we discovered float cabins on Powell Lake, we knew about the fancy floating homes in marinas such as Sausalito, Portland, Seattle and Vancouver. You may have seen a float home in the movie Sleepless in Seattle. Tom Hanks and his son lived in one.

Cedar log float with cabin floor installed.

Floating homes typically use steel and concrete float structures (yes, they float) rather than lashed cedar logs like the ones on Powell Lake.

Floating logging camp from BC Archives.
Float cabins were originally used for housing and buildings in remote logging and fishing camps. Coastal British Columbia is known for its fjords with steep cliffs plunging right to the sea. Building land structures would have been difficult, if not impossible. Also, floating camps allowed the operations to move easily from one area to the next.

Old timer still in use.
On Powell Lake, float cabins were originally built by paper mill workers from the Powell River Company. Powell Riverites were heading “up the lake” to fish, hunt and just get away. Powell Lake is fjord-like (see "Ancient Sea Water in Powell Lake"). The huge cedar logs for the float structures were plentiful. Wood to build the cabins and shakes for the roofs were right at hand. Floating cabins were a natural.

Stiff leg and cables to shore at low water.
Float cabins on Powell Lake are much the same today. They are typically no frills cabins used by locals as weekend getaways. A few are available for rent. The cabins are attached to shore by steel cables (preferred) or heavy rope. Cement anchors often serve as extra stabilization. As the lake rises and falls during the seasons, the cables or ropes may need to be adjusted.

Towing a float cabin down the lake.
While a boat can tow a cabin fairly easily, they usually remain in the same place throughout their life in a leased water lot. On occasion, you will see a cabin moving up or down the lake for repairs. Since the cabins are almost exclusively boat access only, it can be easier to do major upgrades at the marina or along the lake shore near town.

In "Weathering the Wind," you can read about how our friend John created an ingenious system to dampen the strain on the cables during wind and waves. After major storms it is important to check to make sure your cabin is still attached properly.

If you want to travel around the lake and take your house with you, a houseboat is what you need. But if you love your location and want a permanent home, a float cabin would be for you. It sure is for us. -- Margy