Kimler Sidebar Menu
Kimler Adventure Pages: Journal Entries
The Floating Cabin
We thought we'd introduce you to our floating cabin, which is situated on the wild, rugged and wet western coast of Vancouver Island. It's located in Julia's Passage in the Barkley Sound and a stone's throw from the world-famous Pacific Rim National Park Reserve.
The floating cabin is located off the west coast of Vancouver Island. Not far is the Broken Group Islands and the Pacific Rim National Park. It's a pristine, wild, wet and wonderful land; a kayaking mecca with many coves, beaches and small islands. The wildlife is amazing: black bear, bald eagles, killer whales, sea lions, seals and sea otters, among other creatures. If you like sea food, you'd love this place. Clams, oysters, prawns, crab, salmon, halibut and cod - it's all on the menu.
Over Easter weekend, we took the new boat down for a 4-day trip. It was our first trip to the floating cabin this year and quite an adventure, piloting our "new" boat, which was christened "Blue Yonder" - this happened inadvertently, when Scott radioed to our cabin friends, using the off-the-cuff call sign. It was an hour and forty minute journey down the long inlet, from Port Alberni, to the floating cabin. Traffic was light, but the seas were heavy and we bounced along, singing the theme song to Gilligan's Island.
We had a nice holiday with our friends, Candace and Richard. The weather was especially nice, even though it snowed a bit on the last night. Blue Yonder handled well, although she needs a few repairs and extra gizmos that we'll need to plunk into this particular 'hole in the water'. We're looking forward to sharing this special, wilderness floating cabin with some of our more adventurours guests that may come to visit.
To learn more about the floating cabin, see satellite images of the area, as well as photos ... read on. If you're coming up for a visit, you'll find this post a good primer about "what to expect". If you're likely not ever going to visit, then you'll gain a glimpse of this truly unique, wonderful and diverse area.
A Special Place and Special Times
We feel very lucky to have access to such a special place. The unique location, special nature of the cabin - hey, it floats! - and the bond shared by like-minded people makes a trip to the cabin an adventure.
Normally, we prefer to travel to different locations, rather than go to the "same 'ole place", time and again. We had never purchased a cabin for this reason. This cabin location is so unique and diverse, however, that it changed our outlook. Our daughter, Alex, will grow up having fond childhood memories of her experiences at the floating cabin. Already, she loves going and hops aboard boats like a salty old dog!
There's also a sense of community down at the cabin, for despite the picture, it isn't the only cabin in Julia's Passage. There are about three dozen other cabins, scattered through the long and skinny passage. We thought it would be fun to be a part of this tight-knit community and develop long-lasting friendships.
The Dime Tour of the Floating Cabin
This little cabin has been floating for 50-something years. All were built during a less regulated era. Originally, they provided access to recreation, although now, a few people make their cabins a year-round home.
The 50-year-old cabin is small, but cozy. It floats on large styrofoam blocks and large beams. It sits atop a cedar plank wharf, larger than the building, so there's a walkway, all around. There's a small patio in the front, which roughly faces south, so it catches the early sun and is a warm place to sit on sunny days.
Inside, there is a single "great room", which holds a small sitting area (the living room), a corner kitchen and a dining area. In the back are two (very small) bedrooms. Each has a bunk bed and barely enough room to turn around. There is a bathroom, with a shower and portable toilet. Heat is provided by an stove-oil heater; cooking is done on an old, 4-burner propane stove and oven; there's a full-sized kerosene refrigerator and water can be heated with a small propane water heater. On a cold day, it's very cozy and comfortable inside. In fact, if one doesn't watch the oil-stove heater, you'll be opening windows on even the coldest of days.
Outside, there are four different wharfs that are tied around the perimeter of the cabin. Two are industrial, grated aluminum wharfs, garnered from fish farms. They're great, though they tend to be a tad too bouyant (we don't scrape the mussels, algae and barnacles off these docks, as the extra weight allows them to settle into the water a bit). The other two wharfs are both made of wood and are settling into the water too much - they're sinking! Both of these need to be replaced.
Also attached to the cabin is a small work-shed, on it's own small dock. This holds empty fuel containers, a few tools, some fishing supplies and provides a bit of extra storage, when occupying the cabin. There's also a fish-cleaning station and build-in generator (for watching a movie or a hockey game on television, running power tools or powering the half dozen or so electric lights). Running the generator is noisy, so we tend not to run it, unless absolutely necessary.
There's a rough trail, on shore, which heads back into the woods. There's not much else ashore, as the woods are quite dense, but it's sometimes nice to stretch your legs after being cooped up in the cabin for a couple of days.
There's lots to do at the cabin, although one of the best features about the cabin is the solitude and enjoying peace and quiet. On a warm sunny day, it's fun just to sit out on the porch, listen to the call of seagulls, feel the cool ocean breezes on your face and read a good book.
If you like sea food, you'll be tempted, at low tide, to wander out along the shore to dig for manila, butter or razor clams. If you like eating oysters, they can be plucked from rocks and along the beach. You might even find a pearl! (There's a jar in the cabin that contains the pearls that have been found so far. Though most are small and irregular in shape, there's one round beauty in there!)
Boat rides out of the Passage and into the nearby waters that surround the Pacific Rim National Park are usually in the offing. You might spot a black bear, foraging along the shoreline, or see bald eagles swoop down from their nests to pluck fish out of the water.
Of course, fishing and prawning are always fun activities. We fish for salmon using down riggers, after setting a few prawn traps out, leaving them for a few hours at a time. Cod can be found closer to shore, along the rocks. Sometimes, a crab will find it's way into a prawn trap, which provides a nice dinner appetizer.
We don't have them yet, but we're planning on purchasing a couple of recreational kayaks, so that we can explore the sheltered waters inside Julia Passage and neighboring islands and shores. Day tripping to Alma Russell island for a picnic lunch is always fun.
Longer explorations into the islands of the Broken Group provides stunning scenery, photography and adventure. Heck, you might even be lucky and spot a orca or migrating whale. We spotted a pod of killer whales on our first visit to the cabin, just over a year ago, during the 40-minute boat ride over from Toquart Bay.
While you're reading that book in the sunshine, on the front porch, you might as well toss a crab trap over the edge of the dock. Who knows what manner of sea creature you might catch. It might even be dinner! Don't get too engrossed in your book, otherwise you might miss spotting a passing eagle, sea otter, boat or harbor seal! (Bear have even been known to pass by along the shore).
Social activities at night don't center around the television, but rather games, talking or summer evenings outside with a porch fire (there's even an outdoor fireplace on the porch)! Neighbors tend to visit and gather to watch hockey games or other sporting activities. A night boat ride to a neighboring cabin is a nice way to meet new people and see a million stars, shining above.
The fresh air manages to amplify one's appetite, for some reason, but not to worry - there's plenty of fresh seafood on the menu. On our last night there, we ate the last of the crab, prawn and fresh clam chowder ... a veritable bounty of the sea!
The cabin has a certain magic about it, there's no doubt. If it sounds good to you, then just make mention about heading to the cabin on your next visit to the Hutton House. If you'll miss the mall, the telephone and web browsing ... maybe you should give it a pass. (The cabin isn't for everyone, we recognize, but we don't let it stop us from calling you "crazy").
(It reminds me of a comment made by one of my old oil-patch friends, Louis Klonsky, who once said, "My idea of roughing it is a night at Motel Six"! I don't think that 'wild-man' Louis would be keen on a night at the floating cabin, nor catching crab off the dock, even though he's more than welcome and has provided us a humourous glimpse into some people's idea of a wilderness adventure!