Up the Lake and Off the Grid
Margy has written in to describe the small float home where she and her husband live full-time far off the grid and far off the paved road in coastal British Columbia. Thank you Margy!
In 2001, my husband Wayne and I took a flying camping trip in our Piper Arrow. We landed in Powell River BC, took our gear to a seaside campground, and ended up staying a week. We rented a small boat to go up the lake for a picnic and discovered the world of float cabins.
Powell River is about 100 miles north of Vancouver. Nearby Powell Lake is a long, deep glacial-carved fjord that was cut off from the ocean. In the early 1900s, a paper mill was built, taking advantage of the water for power generation and the vast forest. Early mill workers built float cabins as inexpensive hunting and fishing getaways. Since then, they’ve been handed down generation to generation. Once in a while, float cabins are sold publicly.
For several years, we’d been looking for a place to retire. At first sight, we knew this was it. We made an immediate offer and it was accepted by the builder/owner named John.
Our float cabin home is 25 minutes up the lake from the Powell Lake Marina in a protected bay called Hole in the Wall. The cabin’s foundation is a 40’X40′ cedar log float lashed together with steel cables. It’s anchored to a sheer granite cliff in water about 90′ deep, plenty of room to rise and fall with the seasonal lake levels.
The cabin is off the grid except for cell coverage using a booster. Learning the skills we needed to live off the grid was a lot easier with John’s help and support. Since the purchase, he’s become our good friend and mentor. While we still worked near Los Angeles, he kept an eye on things. Now that we live here year round, he continues to help with maintenance and construction projects.
The 675 ft2 (62.7 m2) cabin is built on top of a raised deck. The downstairs has two bedrooms (one for storage) and a bathroom addition including a compost toilet and tub. An open concept kitchen and living room take up half of the first floor and is our core living space. A large upstairs loft is our bedroom. It’s plenty of space for two, especially with the whole outdoors at our doorstep.
Our power sources include solar, wind, and an experimental wood stove thermoelectric generator. During winter, when there’s limited sunshine, we use a small generator to boost our battery banks. We use propane for a stove, refrigerator, and lighting. A Kozi woodstove keeps the cabin warm. Without it, we couldn’t live here in all seasons. Fresh water is a necessity. For us, a hand pump at the kitchen sink draws water from the lake below. Boiling makes it safe for drinking and cooking.
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Photographs by/courtesy of Margy Lutz. You can read more about her float cabin on her blog.