Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Powell Lake Summer Adventure

Summer's the time of year to go "up the lake," Powell Lake that is. It's about 51 km long with three major arms radiating from centrally located Goat Island. That gives you about 480 km of picturesque shoreline to explore. An interesting fact about Powell Lake is that it was carved by an ice-age glacier, leaving it up to 1,100 feet deep in some places. Ancient trapped sea water can even be found at the bottom.

Whether you have a day or want to spend several days, Powell Lake is a great summer getaway. The Shinglemill Marina has a public boat launch and swimming beach. The nearby Shinglemill Pub and Bistro is a great place to have dinner and drinks on the deck to watch all of the boat action, especially on Friday and Sunday evenings when cabin owners launch and recover their boats. There is also a boat lauch and swimming beach at Mowat Bay.

Want to spend the night? Try a houseboat or even a float cabin. Contact Lakeside Floating Vacations. If you've never experienced a float cabin, I highly recommend it. You will be staying in a part of Coastal BC history. Powell Lake is one segment of the Powell River Forest Canoe Route and has several water access campsites. If you don't have a canoe or kayak of your own, you can rent one from Powell River Sea Kayak or Skeeter Jacks.

Like to hike? The Sunshine Coast Trail also skirts the lake on the southwest side. Car campers have lots of options. We like the Willingdon Beach Campsite. It's within walking distance of town and is right on the water of Malaspina Strait. For lakeside camping there is Haywire Bay.

Want to read more about Powell Lake? Try Up the Lake by Wayne J. Lutz.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Refuge Cove, BC

This week we took an overnight cruise up the Strait of Georgia to Desolation Sound. Our first stop was Refuge Cove on West Redonda Island for fuel and to visit the general store.

Refuge Cove has a long history of providing products and services to loggers and residents of remote Coastal BC. Today, the most frequent customers are boaters arriving in everything from small runabouts to huge yachts. Moorage is available, but a spot may be hard to find in the busy summer months. The fuel dock has both gas and diesel. Propane, water and ice are also available. There is a small general store with everything from fresh vegetables to hardware. Other services include a coffee shop, post office, laundromat, garbage service and Internet. Looking for a free book to read? There's a shelf for paperback trading next to the store.

The "summer" season runs from June through September. If you can cruise in June or September, the docks aren't crowded and the pace is much slower. Prime time is July and August. Expect lines for fuel and some parking problems to get to the store.

The Refuge Cove Store has an excellent book section. They carry a large selection of nautical and regional titles. We are proud to announce that they now carry Up the Lake and Up the Strait by Wayne J. Lutz. If you are looking for a place to refuel and restock while in Desolation Sound, go to Refuge Cove. Pick up one or both of the Coastal BC Stories to learn more about the area. Can't get to Refuge Cove? You can purchase the books online at and have them sent right to your home.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Coastal BC Cruising

This week we hoped for some good weather to take an overnighter on the chuck. On Tuesday, we started to follow our friend Ken in his new 28' EagleCraft down to Gibsons (also see Christening Mr. Buttercup). We were doing fine in his wake until we rounded Grief Point. The wind driven swells were not a problem for him, but our 24' Bayliner was really pounding. It was safe, but really slow going, so we opted to turn around and go back up the lake to our float cabin.

Today's better, so we are heading north to locate the Gibsons Yacht Club in Desolation Sound. They should be in Grace Harbour off Okeover Inlet. If not, we plan to head over to a favorite anchorage of ours in Theodosia Inlet. Either way it should be fun to be out on the water again, AND before the summer crowds.

If you would like to read more about cruising in Desolation Sound and the Strait of Georgia, Up the Strait is the book for you.

It is available for purchase at or at several locations in the Powell River area.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Stick on a Float

Our cat Stick Tail has become quite the international traveler. After having lived the majority of his life (12 years) with us in our home in Pomona, California, he moved north in February to stay with Mom in Bellingham. To get there, he flew with us in the cabin on Alaska Airlines. This month, he took the international leg of his travels. He continued north, this time by car and ferry with mom to Powell River for a two week visit. Traveling in his case isn't popular (you can hear his protests from quite a distance), but he relaxes on the back seat of the car, sleeping most of the way.

The highlight of his trip north was visiting the float cabin. He also got his first boat ride. He had to stay in his carrier all of the way, but got lots of comfort on Mom's lap. Once at the cabin, he settled right in. The beauty of the float cabin is that it is surrounded by water. Back in Pomona, Stick had to stay indoors all of the time because of coyotes. In Bellingham, he lives in an apartment style condo, so staying indoors is also the norm. But at the float cabin, he was able to have the run of the place.

For Stick, the cabin was like a giant cat climbing apparatus. He discovered the stairs (the first he has known) and got a kick out of running up and getting a "birds-eye" view from the loft. At first, he was very cautious outdoors, as can be expected. He finally explored underneath (that's where the mousies live) on the last day. I peaked underneath and could see him gingerly walking one of the float logs, careful not to get his paws wet. I'm sure he would love to go back, if only we had a Star Trek transporter beam.

I've been amazed at how quick Stick Tail adjusts to new environments. Upon arrival at a new location, we confine him to the main living area. We hold him for a few minutes and then allow undisturbed exploration. After several hours, we give him access to bedrooms. This way he doesn't hide under the beds right away. Usually after one day he has a favorite sleeping place. And the litter box has always been found without any "accidents." A friend warned me that cats don't adjust to new places, but Stick has done exceptionally well. Do you have any cat travel experiences you would like to share? Let us hear from you. -- Margy

Monday, June 11, 2007

The Christening of Mr. Buttercup

Our friends Ken and Sam (Samantha) from Gibsons have ever so patiently waited to get their new boat. In my March 23 post, you saw it in the Campbell River shop. This weekend, they took possession of Mr. Buttercup, a 28' EagleCraft that was custom built for them at Daigle Welding and Marine, Ltd. The classic workboat design has a rugged aluminum hull. The bright yellow cabin gives it a sunny disposition, and inspired its name. Ken and Sam chose to have twin 150 hp Yamaha outboards to power their craft. With those, they can get 37 knots. Mr. Buttercup will get them there both in style and fast.

Over the weekend, Ken and Sam took Mr. Buttercup on a few shake-down trips. Today, Ken "soloed" Mr. Buttercup from Campbell River to Powell River while Sam "followed along behind" in the car on the Comox ferry. Wayne and I were able to stay in touch with Ken along the way by cell phone and radio.

We were to meet Ken at the fuel dock to assist with his arrival (he's still learning how to use those two big honkin' twins). Just before he got there, the Coast Guard came in to get fuel. So when Ken rounded the breakwater, they jumped to help him dock and secure his lines. Earlier, Ken had jokingly said to "bring lots of help." But I don't think this is what he expected!

Jim, the Wharfinger, found a spot for Ken and personally assisted with his docking. The South Harbour doesn't have lots of open spots, so Mr. Buttercup had to raft up next to Fish Finder. Jim always finds a way to make it work!! This weekend, the Gibson Yacht Club is in town for their annual cruise up the Strait of Georgia to Desolation Sound. Ken and Sam are members, so everyone had to come over to see the new boat. Ken (on the right) and Sam (still on the ferry) are like proud new parents, and I don't blame them.
Here's wishing you many happy trips to come! -- Margy

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Swooping Swallows

It's spring in Coastal BC and our flying friends are busy nesting. You've already heard about my woodpecker ( Rat-a-Tat-Tat & I Hear You Knocking But You Can't Come In) and bat (Bats in My Belfry) experiences. We've also had lots of swallow activity.

So far we have identified three types of swallows around our cabin. It seems surprising, but they all fly together while feeding on the multitude of insects over the lake. The Barn Swallows have been trying to build a nest on our cabin. They worked on it for over a week, but the foundation gave way and it fell. So far we don't see any evidence of a new one.

This year we installed five bird nests. They seem to be popular with both the Violet and Green Swallows and Tree Swallows. The Violet and Green Swallow is distinguised by the continuation of its white breast up and over the eye. The Tree Swallow does not have this extra white extenstion.

All three types of swallow seem to spend only a little time daily in nest building. The bulk of the day is for feeding and aerial acrobatics. They are happy birds. They sing frequently and are fun to watch. Do you have swallows in your area? We would be interested in hearing your nesting and observation stories. -- Margy

p.s. Thanks to Rocky Mountain Pizza in Powell River for free wireless access. If you are visiting, it is within walking distance of the ferry terminal on Marine Avenue. They have fresh baked breakfast rolls and bread, great sandwiches, soups and of course pizza. Stop by for e-mail and good food.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Brave Mariners

Today, we are at our condo. We have an excellent view of the Westview (Powell River) Marina and across the Strait of Georgia to Vancouver Island. But today, we cannot see the island. The distant view is obscured by nearly continuous rain and the water between us and nearby Texada and Harwood islands is whipped into deep swells with whitecaps.

At first, I thought the four boats were forerunners of the summer cruisers, trying to reach either Lund or Desolation Sound. I was sure glad I wasn’t out there and even worried a bit about their passage. I watched from our balcony as they moved slowly north in procession. I was somewhat perplexed about why they seemed to be heading towards the Hulks (cement ship breakwater) at the mill rather than northward towards Sliammon.

The next time I saw them, they were all going south again. I thought reason had prevailed and they were heading for shelter in the South Harbour. Jim, the wharfinger, can always find room if the weather is bad. But no, they kept on going. Then again, they all turned northward. This time, when they did not turn into the South Harbour, I used my binoculars to look at the closest boat. At the stern, I could make out someone in rain gear. The next thing I saw gave me the answer to their strange maneuvers. There was a rod in his hand and it was heavily bent. Here I had been worried about four boats that were in fact taking advantage of salmon running just off shore. You know salmon fishing is either very good or the fishermen are very determined if you see them out on the chuck in such rainy, windy weather.

If you are ever in need of moorage or help while cruising near Powell River, check with Jim at the Westview Marina. To honor his commitment to the mariners of Powell River, and those passing through, the newest book in the Coastal BC Stories series, Up the Strait, was dedicated in his honor. Job well done, Jim!!

Friday, June 08, 2007

Book Launch for "Up the Strait"

On Friday, June 8, Up the Strait by Wayne J. Lutz was officially and appropriately launched at Marine Traders at the corner of Marine Avenue and Wharf Street in Powell River, BC.  Wayne and I parked Mr. Float Cabin in front of the store for a personal meet and greet and book signing with the author.

Up the Strait takes the reader on a cruise up the Strait of Georgia from Jervis Inlet to Desolation Sound with side trips to Campbell River and nature rich Mitlenatch Island. No Coastal BC Stories book would be complete without at least one story about Powell Lake. In Up the Strait you will discover the prehistoric secret trapped at the bottom of the lake. If you've read any of the previous books, you already know John. He and his friend Doug will take you on a boating and biking adventure beyond the head of Jervis Inlet to find giant first growth trees, grizzly bears and magical lakes.

Up the Strait is available in Powell River at Coles Books in Towne Centre Mall and Breakwater Books on Marine Avenue. It can also be ordered in print and Kindle formats from Amazon and many other online booksellers. For more information, we invite you to visit us at -- Margy

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Driving with My Cat

You read about Stick Tail's Alaska Airlines flight from Pomona to Bellingham in "Flying with My Cat." Since then, Mom has been spoiling him rotten. Today, Stick Tail took another big trip. Mom is visiting with us in Powell River, so he needed to come along for the ride. Stick hardly ever goes in the car, except to the vet. I'm sure he associates car rides with painful experiences. Fortunately, he's not a dog. He has had to learn quite a few new tricks in his old age.

Stick started out in his carrier. We didn't want him leaping on the customs official at the border. We were well prepared with his rabies vaccination certificate (within the last 12 months) and his health clearance, but neither was checked. Maybe the officer took pity on us with all the wailing coming from the bag.

After crossing, we pulled over to let Stick out of the bag. After only a few more cries, he settled down in Mom's lap for the drive to Horseshoe Bay and his first BC Ferries ride. At Sechelt, he cried to get in the back seat and there he slept for the remainder of the trip.

Have you ever traveled with your cat? Do you have any stories -- good, bad or funny? Let us hear from you. -- Margy and world traveling Stick Tail