Monday, April 23, 2018

Float Cabin Living: How do you get power? Propane

P is for Propane Power

When we purchased our float cabin, it came with propane lines installed.

In the city, we were used to natural gas for heating and appliances, but propane in large tanks was new and a little scary.

Now that we are more comfortable with propane, we use it for the stove, a refrigerator, lights and other applications.
Wayne at the outdoor propane shed.

Getting propane up the lake is a lengthy process.

Our Hewescraft lake transport.
Empty tanks go for a boat ride down the lake. Because they are light, we can hand carry them up the dock to the truck. At City Motors or Vanderkemps they become heavy with compressed gas. Back in the truck, the process reverses. A dolly moves the heavy tanks back to the boat for their ride home.

We use 20 pound tanks for our BBQ. There's nothing like a grilled dinner on a cold winter night. The front porch gives Wayne a protected spot to work his dinner magic.  A 20 pounder costs $22 and lasts about three months. That's pretty economical.


We use 40 pound tanks for lights, refrigeration and cooking.  A 40 pounder costs $44 and lasts about a month. Again, that's an economical source of energy. We found an auto-switch Y-valve for continuous propane distribution.


It's tough in winter to generate enough solar power to run electric lights for more than a short time each night. Even on a sunny winter day we only get about two hours of direct light. Our winter alternative is propane light.


In our kitchen we have a Premier propane range. It has four burners and an oven with two racks and lots of room that makes baking easier than in my old oven. The pilot lights use minimal propane and make cooking easy.


We upgraded our old 8 cubic foot fridge to 13 cubic foot Unique propane refrigeratorNow we have all the refrigerator and freezer space we need.

How does a gas flame create cooling. The Gas-Fridge.com website says: "The basic principle is through evaporation. An ammonia mixture sealed inside the cooling unit is heated by a gas burner, which causes it to circulate before it evaporates and creates a cooling effect."

We also use Big Buddy portable propane heaters. One use is in our Hewescraft during winter to make our 30 minute boat rides more comfortable. It mounts safely in the front of the boat's cabin. It has auto-shutoff safety features and runs on either canisters or a 20-pound tank.

A second Big Buddy warms our winter outdoor porch shelter. With a little heat we can still eat outdoors on many nights.


Click below for more information about our various off-the-grid propane uses:
 
Using Propane for Power
Search for a Propane Refrigerator
Freestanding Propane Range 
Kitchen Kapers
Off the Grid Refrigerator Repairs
Propane Lights
Mr. Buddy Propane Heater

Propane makes off the grid living much easier. It's also an alternative in town for natural gas. Do you use propane? What do you think?

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

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

Sunday, April 22, 2018

3 FREE Kindle e-Books from April 20-24

As a special thank you to all of our blog readers, here are three Kindle e-Books just for you.

Pick one or all, they're FREE
from April 20-24

and you don't have to own a Kindle to enjoy them. Just get a free Kindle app for your smartphone, pad or computer. 

Check here if you need a free Kindle App.



Flying the 
Pacific Northwest

Description: Airports of Western Washington and Oregon form the backdrop for adventures in the Pacific Northwest. Take the controls of a Piper Arrow, as your personal flight instructor leads you to out-of-the-way spots. For armchair pilots and experienced pros, this book is an escape so realistic you’ll swear you’re airborne.

Click here for your FREE copy of Flying the Pacific Northwest.




Up the Inlet

Description: Come boating up the inlets of coastal British Columbia, where the mountains drop into the sea, and lifestyles focus on self-assurance and a different sense of purpose. Follow along as we cruise northward from the Strait of Georgia, to Cortes and Quadra Islands, and beyond.

Click here for your FREE copy of Up the Inlet.




http://www.amazon.com/Across-Galactic-Sea-Wayne-Lutz-ebook/dp/B00AR6AOLCAcross the Galactic Sea

Description: Spaceship Challenger is on mankind’s first galactic voyage using a high-tech blend of space jumps and cryogenic hibernation. Captain Tina Brett leads her ship towards the ultimate goal, first contact with alien intelligence, until a navigational glitch changes everything. Then there's a mutiny, or is it something more? Six individuals on an epic journey for the good of mankind.

Click here for your
FREE copy of Across the Galactic Sea


Happy reading from Wayne and Margy
www.PowellRiverBooks.com

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Sunrise Over Goat Island

This month the weather has been a mix of sun, clouds, wind, rain, and even some hail. Is this really spring?


Recently I was up early enough to be rewarded with a beautiful sunrise over Goat Island. In winter, the sun moves far to the south across the bay from our float cabin home.


During spring, the sun starts to climb up the side of nearby Goat Island until it crests the top in summer.


There's nothing like a sunny start to a nice, warm spring day.


Now I can get out and continue planting my float garden and deck pots. Is spring late in coming to your area?

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


Monday, April 16, 2018

Float Cabin Living: How do you stay warm?

Our Kozi brand woodstove.
If you are following this series, you've already read about our weather and storms.

Wayne and I couldn't live up the lake in all seasons without a way to keep our home warm.

Nights are longer and temperatures cool by late September.  What most people call winter weather begins in earnest by late October. From then until May (sometimes early June) we need heat.


A rare snowy day.
Our solution is old fashioned wood combustion in our Kozi wood-burning stove. It came with our cabin and has served us well.

To burn wood, you have to gather and process wood.



Gathering floating wood.
Floating wood comes right to our doorstep when the lake level rises. We also use our barge to gather wood to cut and stack.

Our friend John built a floating woodshed for us. Wood is very heavy and you don't want it to weight down the cabin's main deck.

Processing wood for the woodshed.
Wayne learned to use a chainsaw to cut log chunks into stove lengths, then we used an ax and sledge hammer to split the larger pieces.

That is until I got an electric log splitter for my birthday.





Diamonds may be a girl's best friend, but off the grid labour saving devices are more appreciated. Below are some links for more information about heating our cabin home.

Woodstove cooking.
Stocking the woodpile.
Chainsaw maintenance.
Rotating chimney cap.
Chimney maintenance. 
Indoor storage shelf.
Woodstove refinishing.
Woodstove cooking.
Woodstove baking.

Come on in, sit by the fire and get Kozi warm.



How do you keep yourself warm and toasty on long winter nights?

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

Friday, April 06, 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 a 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 away from the grid?
  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 PowellRiverBooks.com 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

Thursday, April 05, 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

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Float Cabin Living: What is the weather like?

Wayne and I love watching the changing seasons at our float cabin. That's probably because we came from Southern California.

Here in southwest Coastal British Columbia we have moderate weather.


Summers are sunny and warm with only a few hot spells of 30°C. Fall and spring alternate between sun, clouds and rain with temperatures to the low double digits. Winter has more cloudy and rainy days with temperatures occasionally below zero and moderate snow on 10-15 days. As Canada goes, we're balmy.

An anemometer next to our wind generator.
Since weather is an integral part of our daily lives, it was natural for us to want to know more.

First we purchased an inexpensive portable weather radio. We listen to broadcasts from the Pacific Weather Centre of Environment Canada. Our weather 25 kilometres  inland varies somewhat, but it gives us a good idea about frontal passage and expected winds. When we hear the reports for Grief Point (in Powell River) and Sentry Shoal (a buoy south of Savary Island), we know what's coming.

Our manual and digital rain gauges.
Next came a digital thermometer. Then a wireless weather station by Acu-Rite that you can purchase at Walmart or other places that sell thermometers. In addition to temperature, it has a digital barometer and humidity gauge (hygrometer). A handheld anemometer gave us wind information, but you had to stand out in the gale to get a reading. (Oops, there goes Wayne off the deck. Just kidding!).

Solar-powered temperature gauge.
Finally we upgraded to an Oregon Scientific Complete Wireless Weather Station. (Eleven years later it's still going strong). It has a rain gauge, thermometer, hygrometer and an anemometer. Our probes are solar powered, the new ones require batteries unless you opt for the expensive professional model. There are also gauges for barometric pressure, indoor temperature and humidity.

The display panel inside the cabin.
The indoor display light is easy to turn on with a touch of the screen, saving batteries when electrical power is off.

The LED screen is easy to read and a memory feature lets us know what we missed while away.


US rain gauge into its new Coastal BC home.
One summer a good friend came to visit by motorcycle. And he had a big (literally) surprise for us. He used to be a fire captain. Part of his duties were to report precipitation to the U.S. National Weather Service. When the devices were retired, he got to keep two. One is now installed at our cabin.

Whether you start small like we did, or graduate to a professional station, watching the weather is fun. -- Margy