Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Log Burning for Dry Rot

Starting the burn with a propane torch.
If you own a house, you know how bad dry rot can be for the integrity of your structure. Imagine you live in a cabin built on a float of cedar logs. Cedar is the most durable wood for construction. It is slow to saturate, making it a perfect choice for float structures.

But all wood deteriorates over time, even cedar. On a cabin’s float, the most exposed logs are the ends of the brow logs. They are the cross members on top of the float logs which are partially submerged. If you lose a brow log, you weaken the steel cables that tie all of the logs together. So goes the foundation, so goes the home.

Monitoring the burn with water buckets and extinguisher handy.

Pinpointing the burn sites to remove all dry rot.
One end of our central brow log has been subject to dry rot. We need to catch it before it becomes too advanced. The solution is burning. It seems like an extremely dangerous solution, but it’s very effective. You burn out the rot much like a dentist drills out a cavity. Once you get down to good wood, you stop the burn. You can tell how much based on the intensity of the flame. The charred wood then acts like a natural sealant, protecting the good wood from further rot.

Our good friend John is what we call an “aquatic engineer.” He’s well versed in these things. John brought his propane torch up to the cabin ready for some log dentistry. Wayne readied buckets of water and a fire extinguisher, just like a good dental assistant.

Extinguishing the flames and watching for flare ups.
It was really scary to watch the flames lick high under the deck and for such a long time, but a combination of torch application and water splashing controlled the burn. Finally, it was done. Whew! Several applications of water and careful monitoring throughout the day allayed my fears of my home going up in smoke.

While he was at it, John took the torch to the ends of the other two brow logs as a preventive treatment. They are even more critical to the integrity of our foundation.

It’s always nice having John’s expertise to help us learn the skills needed for off-the-grid living. He’s been a great friend and mentor.

Wayne has written several books about our off-the-grid life in a float cabin. They are available in both print and e-book formats from most online booksellers.

Up the Lake – Our discovery of float cabin living.
Farther Up the Lake – More cabin life stories.
Off the Grid – How we live in a remote water access cabin.

If you have any questions, we invite you to leave a comment or use the email link in the profile. It’s not the life for everyone, but it isn’t as hard as you might think.

Thanks for visiting part of my world this week. For more great posts from Our World Tuesday, click here. -- Margy

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Mourning Cloak Butterfly

The Mourning Cloak butterfly (Nymphalis antiopa) is common throughout the United States and here in British Columbia. It emerges early in the spring when temperatures reach about 10° C. When Wayne and I were out riding our quads in early April, there were everywhere, leading the way along logging roads and trails. The Mourning Cloak is easy to identify because of its large size and dark maroon-brown wings fringed in yellow and a band of bright blue spots.

The Mourning Cloak feeds on flowering plants, but it chooses willows, poplars, and similar woody plants to lay its eggs. That way, when the larvae emerge they have their food of choice.

After hibernating through the winter, Mourning Cloak butterflies emerge to mate and lay their eggs. At this point, they are about a year old, having overwintered in sheltered locations under logs or forest debris. With the mating ritual complete, their wings become tattered and they die. To me, the life cycle is reminiscent of salmon going upstream to spawn just before their bodies give out.

New butterflies emerge from the larva stage in late July and spend a week or more feeding before going into a dormant stage. They emerge again in the fall for another feeding frenzy. It’s probably this lifestyle that allows them to live longer than most other butterflies.

One of the guidebooks I use regularly at the cabin in Insects of the Pacific Northwest by Peter Haggard and Judy Haggard (Timber Press, Inc., 2006). Each entry includes photographs by Peter Haggard who holds a BS in wildlife management and worked as an agricultural inspector in California. Judy Haggard has a MA in biology and works as a wildlife biologist. I especially like this guide because of the photographs. They make identification easier and more precise, especially when I can get a photograph of my own to compare.

Camera Critters Thanks for visiting my post this week. I'm linking up with Camera Critters and Saturday's Critters. Check them out for more great animal pictures. -- Margy

Friday, June 26, 2015

Coming Soon: FREE Kindle E-book "Up the Inlet" on July 3-5

Each month I have special offers for my Kindle readers. Don't miss this exciting opportunity to get a free book about boating in Coastal British Columbia.

Click Here from July 3-5

for a FREE copy of

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. More coastal cruising adventures beyond Up the Strait and Farther Up the Strait

Always free for Amazon kindleunlimited subscribers
or just $5.99 regular price.

Check here if you need a Kindle 
or free Kindle App.

If you enjoy the book, consider writing a review at Amazon.com

Happy reading! - Wayne

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Summer Showers

Of course we like summer sun, but with the minimal snow pack this year it's nice to have some showers in between.

Looking south on Powell Lake from the sandy beach at First Narrows. We got a little rain, but hardly enough to moisten the soil.

Today is Sky Watch Friday. Go to the Sky Watch Friday website and you'll see sky photos from all over the world! -- Margy

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Dropping the Homemade Barrel Anchor

Removing excess rebar.
Two weeks ago, I shared how we made a new anchor for our float cabin’s log boom.

A 55-gallon barrel, bag of cement, an old boom chain, sand and rocks from the beach, and water from the lake made an inexpensive weight.

We used rope to connect to the anchor.
John came up to help us with the drop. He chose heavy-duty rope rather than steel cable. It’s debatable which lasts longer. Steel rusts, rope deteriorates when exposed. John got 1 ½ inch Steel-Strength Polypropylene. It’s strong, less expensive, and safer to work with.

John laying out the rope for the drop.
We needed 200 feet of rope to reach the bottom at 120 feet and swag inward to the log boom. Extra isn’t a problem. Not enough? Well, that’s an expensive mistake. We chose to set the anchor with the water at the mid-point. That way, the log won’t be pulled underneath during high water, or sag too much during low water.

Melting the end of the rope.
John first removed the rebar protruding over the edges of the barrel. It was needed to hold the boom chain in place during curing. Now, it would be a hazard during the drop, possibly snagging the rope on the way down.

Next, John melted the underwater end of the polypropylene rope with a propane torch to keep it from fraying over time.

Knotting the rope to the end of the anchor's boom chain.
John knotted the rope around the ring of the boom chain embedded in the anchor. John knows knots. This one will tighten when pressure is applied. He then used waterproof tape to secure the tag end to keep it from floating loose.

Moving the raft with the tin boat.
Wayne used our tin boat to push the cedar log raft out to the drop location about 45 degrees from the end of the log boom’s corner, and about 50 feet distant.

That gave it a good pulling angle to keep the boom in position.

John pushing the barrel anchor overboard.
Once the drop location was reached, John gave the barrel anchor a shove and it went right to the bottom. Wayne took the raft back to the dock, and returned with just the tin boat. John picked up the floating rope and snugged to the boom log, taking out the slack.

He chiseled a notch in the log for a secure attachment, used a log staple to keep the rope in place, wrapped the log three times, and knotted the end. We had some extra rope, so John weighted the end down with a piece of old boom chain. You never know when you might need to make an adjustment.

Tying the rope to the ends of the protective boom log.

The last step was to cover the exposed rope with mill felt. This will help reduce sun damage. Now we have two anchors at this critical point on our log boom. If the old steel cable one installed in 2000 breaks, we have the new “steel” rope to take over. Now that’s a good feeling for the stormy winter months to come.

Thanks for visiting part of my world this week. For more great posts from Our World Tuesday, click here. -- Margy

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Update: Float Cabins for Sale on Powell Lake BC

It's the first day of summer, the most beautiful season of the year!  Lots of warm sunny warm days and cabin owners are enjoying the good weather. Along with the weather, the Powell Lake real estate market has turned hot! Despite recent sales of some prime properties, there are still lots of float and land options right now! Purchasing our float cabin was the best thing we ever did. Why don't you come up and see what Powell Lake has to offer.

Powell Lake Cabins and Properties

Are you interested in getting a cabin of your own? Here's an updated list of cabins and properties up the lake that are for sale. Some are through real estate agents, so you can get more information via their websites. Also, there's a unique opportunity to lease a float cabin, you pick the start date.

Powell Lake Cabin for Lease

FOR LEASE - Float Cabin on Powell Lake: A rustic off-the-grid float cabin is now available for lease.  It comes fully furnished and ready for immediate use. Accommodations include two bedrooms plus a spacious loft, a large living room with woodstove, a kitchen with propane range and refrigerator, sink with a hand pump for easy access to lake water, and lots of outdoor deck space. It's located in a protected bay twenty-five minutes from the Shinglemill. Call now and be ready to experience all that Powell Lake has to offer. For more information, contact John at (604) 485-2471 (evenings only).

Powell Lake Cabins and Properties For Sale

MLS LISTING: Harry at RE/MAX has a listing for a float cabin in a beautiful spot about a kilometre north of First Narrows on the left (mainland) side. Built in 2002, it has four bedrooms, perfect for family and friends. A large 50x50 cabin float plus an extra 24x24 float give plenty of room. It comes fully furnished with a good breakwater, bathroom, shower, fridge, stove, and lots of extras. Annual costs include a $500 yearly water lot lease and $250/year taxes. The price is $129,900.  For more information click here, or contact Harry Zroback at (604) 483-8333 or harry@powellriverrealestate.com.

MLS Listing: A rare 95 x 300 ft. freehold lot and land cabin nestled among tall evergreens just 10 minutes up the lake from Mowat Bay or the Shinglemill. It features a breakwater, dock, ramp, and walkway to the 880 sq. ft. cabin with 2  bedrooms plus a loft, flush toilet, shower, and solar power. Sit outdoors on the deck for beautiful sunsets. Enjoy swimming, fishing, water sports, or explore secluded hiking trails to Inland Lake. All this for the very reasonable price of $189,000. For more information click here, or contact Harry Zroback at (604) 483-8333 or harry@powellriverrealestate.com.

Powell River PEAK Ad (May 8, 2015): Updated 40X12 houseboat on Powell Lake. "New 140 hp Volvo engine, full 150 gallon fuel tank, 150 gallon sewage tank (NOT full!), 32" flat screen built in DVD player, sound system, portable gas fire pit, solar panels, 600 watt Yamaha generator, 1750 watt inverter, and much more." Priced to sell at $40,000.  If interested, call 604-223-9510.

MLS LISTING: Curtis Yungen of Re/Max has a float cabin located across from Cassiar Falls to offer. The cabin needs some TLC, so bring your tool belt and enjoy the peacefulness of Powell Lake for the very reasonable price of $65,500. And you even get an 18 1/2 foot Double Eagle boat along with the deal.  Click here for more information and pictures. For more information, call Curtis toll free at (877) 485-2742.

ONLINE LISTING: Here's a float cabin for sale in the Rainbow Lodge area of Powell Lake.  It's 16 x 20 feet with a full upstairs, capable of sleeping eight for large families or friends. It even has a new deck for enjoying the outdoors for $87,000. Call (604) 485-5709 or click here for more information.

CRAIGSLIST LISTING: Float cabin on a 70x45-foot cedar log float in a private location 4 miles up the lake. Two story cabin with four bedrooms; bathroom with shower, flush toilet, sink; kitchen has propane stove and fridge. Comes with 3500 Makita Generator, solar power, inverter, deep cycle batteries, and propane tanks. Other features include Bosch instant hot water heater, woodstove, within cell reception, and much more. Priced to sell at $140,000. Click here for more information and pictures.

MLS LISTING: LandQuest Realty is offering 98 acres with 4,300 feet of lakefront on Powell Lake. In this location there is no zoning or building permits required. It is one of very few deeded properties on the lake, and by far the largest. The property is located in an area called “Rainbow” by the locals. This area is the calmest and warmest part of the lake. The price is $699,000.  For more information click here, or contact LandQuest at (604) 694-7626 or sales@bclandpro.com.

Powell Lake Cabins for Rent

Off-the-Grid Cabins for Rent: This 8.35 acre lakefront property is 16 miles from the marina. Five one and two bedroom cabins all have: pressurized drinking water; septic for toilets, sinks and showers; and propane stoves, lights and hot water. Lounge on your cabin porch, enjoy the meadow, or go down to the lake to fish, swim or just relax. Access is by boat or floatplane only. Water taxi service is available if you don't have transportation of your own. Rates are based on the length of your stay. Go to www.cabin-powell-lake.com for more information or email at info@cabin-powell-lake.com.

Float Cabin for Rent: "Casa Lopez" is in protected Henderson Bay. There are two bedrooms and a one bedroom suite. Amenities include: stove, fridge, BBQ, running hot/cold water, flush toilet, shower, solar power, kayaks (2), and peddle-boat. There's a 7-night minimum at $160 per night. Transportation to and from the water access only cabin can be arranged. "A little piece of paradise." Click here for more information, or call (604) 483-1032.

Powell Lake Cabin Services

Powell Lake Cabin Services: Already have a cabin up the lake? We are always looking for help with projects around ours. Our good friend (and float cabin neighbour) Justin Behan offers services such as cargo delivery, lumber packages, cubes, propane tanks, wood stoves, and anchor and rope supply. In addition, Justin is now a distributor for Sun-Mar composting toilets just like the one we installed in our new bathroom addition. For more information, call Justin at (604) 483-6527.

Powell Lake Real Estate: Want a real estate agent that really knows float cabins? That's Harry Zroback (our man Harry who helped us get our cabin) from RE/MAX. Harry owns a cabin himself, so he's an excellent person to contact for all your "up the lake" real estate needs at 604-483-8333 or harry@powellriverrealestate.com.

Powell Lake Stories

Want to know more about life up the lake. Check out these books from Wayne's Coastal BC Stories series:

Up the Lake (Free for Kindle and e-books)
Farther Up the Lake
Cabin Number 5
Off the Grid
If you have any questions about Powell River, Powell Lake or cabin living, I'd be glad to help out. Just leave a comment or use the e-mail link in my profile to send me a message. -- Margy

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Coming Soon: FREE Kindle E-book "Flying the Pacific Northwest" from July 3-5

Each month I have special offers for my Kindle readers. Don't miss this exciting opportunity to get a free book about flying in Washington and Oregon.

Click Here from July 3-5

for a FREE copy of

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 where recreational aircraft give us the freedom to pursue personal goals. Hints for cross-county and local flying, as presented by a 7000-hour FAA certified flight instructor. For armchair pilots and experienced pros, this book is an escape so realistic you’ll swear you’re airborne.

Always free for Amazon kindleunlimited subscribers
or just $5.99 regular price.

Check here if you need a Kindle 
or free Kindle App.

If you enjoy the book, consider writing a review at Amazon.com

Happy reading! - Wayne