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First Floating Cabin Visitors
First Floating Cabin VisitorsJuly 31st, 2008 · stk
Yesterday, we returned from hosting our first visitors at the floating cabin. It was a success! The weather (for the most part) cooperated, the boat didn't break down and we even remembered to bring the cabin key this time! We did encounter a few SNAFU's however
Bruce & Michelle / Langley, B.C.
This summer season seems to be all about the floating cabin, as we're trying to find the best way to get there and work out some kinks and make sure that the boat, "Blue Yonder" is reliable and seaworthy. We were eager to share our love for the outdoors and the unique wilderness experience at the floating cabin, but we were a bit nervous about having our first visitors.
It's fitting that they were Bruce and Michelle, because they were also our first guests in Edmonton, showing up within a couple of weeks after we'd moved. They also like the out-of-doors and have recently gotten into kayaking. They were visiting Vancouver Island for an anniversary vacation and when we found out, we invited them to the floating cabin for a few days.
We had a great time, even though there were a few mishaps: an overloaded boat; a swarm of vicious, stinging bees; and the loss of eight crabs to determined seals. It seems that every trip to the cabin brings up 'interesting challenges' that turn into humorous and memorable events!
To read about the adventure of our first floating cabin guests .... carry on (the narrative is in their own words, as transcribed from the cabin guest journal) ...
Towing Kayaks: Bruce kept an eye on the kayaks, as we were departing from the boat ramp at Toquart Bay. We were so heavily laden that it was a slow ride all the way to the floating cabin!
The adventure begins! After a healthy feast at McDonald's in Port Alberni (just in case we didn't catch any seafood), we followed Scott, Rachel and "the Oop" down to Toquart Bay, in the dust of the logging road (16 kilometers!!!) Once there, we launched the boat and towed our kayaks. Michelle was so concerned about the thickness of the tow rope, but the vote overrode her concerns. Off we go!!Capt. Oop & Capt. Dad: Alex enjoyed poking her head through the canvas roof, looking for whales, steering the boat and letting the wind blow through her hair. It was a gloriously sunny day, with views across the entire Broken Group.
Due to the weight of the five of us and all the food, alcohol and "stuff", we couldn't get up on plane, but the day was sunny and fantastic and the views spectacular, so we were happy to motor along slowly.
Finally, we arrived. The first few cabins came into sight ... then, we saw, for the first time, the cabin. What a setting! Backdropped by magnificent trees and surrounded by islands and a rustic coastline. WOW!"Orange & Blue Man" - Eradicator of bee swarms, the 'Orange & Blue Man' managed to beat back the stinging hoards with his modestly small can of 'Creepy Crawly' bug spray. Humans were again allowed access to the privvy and the day was saved! (Bloody hot with all that gear on, I tell you).
After settling in, we feasted on BBQ prime-rib burgers for dinner. Our only glitch was a bee nest under the stairs that led up to the out-house!! The Oop got stung 3 times, Bruce got stung 6 times and Scott once. The bees were winning! Something had to be done. So we called upon "Orange & Blue Man" (Scott) - dressed in rubber boots, two pair of pants, an orange jacket, work gloves and a hat (we covered his face with window screening material). Armed with a single can of "Creepy Crawly" bug killer (didn't say diddley squat about bees, but what the heck) he went into the swarming fray, mercilessly spraying anything that came into his path. After moments of tense fighting, the mass murderer emerged - victorious - much to the awe and pleasure of the crowd! The bees were dead and it was safe to go to the loo, once again!Dungeness Crab: We instructed Bruce on the fine art of holding, sorting, sizing and tossing Dungeness crab. He put on his game face and dug right in. (It was Scott that got his finger pinched by a crab claw!)
(Whew! Some of us thought it might have been a stressful few days, but the "Orange & Blue Man" came to the rescue!)
After dinner, Michelle and Scott decided to take a short kayak paddle. Two and a half hours later, they came back in the late twilight (near dark). Rachel and Bruce had worn out a plank on the dock, fretting their safe return. With great relief, they were OKAY, but they promptly received a stern lecture about boating safety.
All was good and (after a glass of wine or two) we all went to bed and slept amongst the mighty creatures who came to visit - mice on the dock and a bear on the gang plank.
It's always great, when you have guests visiting the cabin, if the sun is shining and on the first pull of the crab trap, there are 6 or more crab!! (Mind you, it's generally pissing with rain, blowing and cold ... and the crab are usually somewhere else ... but HEY ... we can pretend that it's always sunny and there's a billion crab!)
The overweighted boat was anticipated, but the bee's nest, under the wooden steps, wasn't. Michelle was the first to use the bathroom and must've disturbed them. Too bad the Oop was next! She started howling her head off, "This bug is hurting me," she yelled, crying a blue streak. Dad went running to the rescue (right through the swarming buzz, missing any stings), but Bruce stopped about halfway up and got stung a bunch of times.
When I realized what was going on, I picked up the Oop like a log and rushed her down the stairs. It was on my way down that I realized the ground and duff had been disturbed. It looked like something had been digging there.
It was only after I donned all the protection and headed up there with a pathetically small can of bug spray, that I realized that a bear must've discovered the hive and started digging, in an attempt to get at the honey. He must've been successful, because there was a big hole, in the ground (I kid you not, it was "golden color") that the bees were flying from. The hole was about 6 inches in diameter.
I stomped on the stairs and sprayed the hoards of bees that came flying out. The bug spray did the trick and soon, there weren't many defenders. I covered the hole with a bunch of dirt and duff. It seemed to do the trick, as we weren't disturbed the rest of the weekend.
What a thing to discover, eh?
Anyway ... back to the tale ...
The weather was again fantastic. Off we went in the four kayaks - lunches packed and full of vigor. A crab trap or two were set again (our first pull netted plenty of crab - eight - and two were "keepers"! From there, the crab catching became sporadic.) Just across from the cabin, we spotted a black bear and took the obligatory pictures. Awesome!Kayaking: Kayaking through a narrow waterway. Michelle (furthest) had the Oop with her, while Rachel and Bruce follow along. The tide is fairly high here, but when it's low, this passage becomes even more narrow (very startling when you come through here in Blue Yonder, for the first time!)
We paddled up the passage, to the northeastern entrance. Just beyond this, in a small bay, we explored some waterline caves, filled with starfish. Later, we had lunch on a perfect sand beach. After more pictures and shell hunting, off we paddled, into the open channel. We said, "Hello!" to a few eagles and trekked our way back to the a passage that divides the island at high tide.Starfish Colony: On a nearby island, we spotted many starfish, clinging to the rocks and ledges, just at or below the water-line - especially dense colonies in shallow sea caves. It was fun exploring by kayak, because you can get very close to shore and into very inaccessible places.
For us, the tide was too low and we had to portage our kayaks across the rocky channel, to the other side. We paddled our way back to the cabin. The entire trip took three and a half hours.Dungeness Crab Catch: Eight crab sat at the bottom of the 'keeper' tub, at least, they did until the seals bit through the rubber snubber and made off with the lot. When we woke, all that was left was a snubber end and a broken crab leg.
Tuckered out from paddling, we had a spaghetti dinner and relaxed. Bruce headed off to bed early and Rachel, Scott and Michelle stayed up to enjoy a dockside fire. We had netted six good-sized crab, which we suspended off the dock in an old, plastic prawn trap - the lid closed with a rubber bungee cord. All was looking well for a sea-food feast, the following day.
It was a fun day's outing, though paddling with the Oop is very tiring! (The kayak cockpits are wide enough that we can put her in our lap, but it does interfere with paddling and she often ends up with a wet bum!) She's a trooper though and doesn't complain much, although she's often heard to say, "Go faster, Daddy, go faster!!"
The Oop got to paddle with Michelle (out the passage) and Dad (in open water) and with Mom (back to the cabin - because Dad was tuckered out from battling the waves and wind in the open water).
I was a tad worried that the Oop would be cold, during the open water crossing. The wind was up and the waves were choppy. We took on water a number of times, as the bow of the kayak dipped into the water and it washed over the bow and into the cockpit.
I needn't have worried - the Oop had an uproarious time! "Do it again!" she shouted, into the wind, as water soaked us again and again.
When we finally made it to protected waters again and I beached the kayak, I must've dumped out an inch and a half of water out of the boat!
Reminder to self: We need to make/purchase spray skirts for our kayaks - maybe even a double-holer for Alex. Flooding a kayak with cold sea water isn't the best position to put yourself in, when rounding a windy, rugged point!
Anyway ... back to finish the tale.
Cleaning Crab: After seals stole our crab, we used prawn heads to quickly nab six, keeper-sized Dungeness crab during the afternoon! Bruce & Scott clean the crab, prior to boiling.
It rained most of the night and hard at times. We woke to a steady rain. Scott, who was the first awake, had watched a bear walk along the shoreline, crossing immediately behind the cabin. He had also seen two seals, while drinking his morning coffee on the front dock.
We raised the crab traps and it looked as though we could add another "keeper" to the growing collection of crab. When Bruce lifted the keeper cage, the lid was wide open!! The remains of the broken bungee and a single crab leg was all that remained of what was going to be a big part of our seafood feast! Drat and double drat!Texas Hold'em The Oop and Bruce play a mean game of poker, using a colorful deck. (Notice the Oop is drinking a "Kahlua and Milk"? OKAY ... it's a tad heavy on the milk!)
If we were going to have a crab feast tonight, a new plan was required! The chicken drumsticks that we were using for bait were obviously becoming passé to the larger crab. Hmmm ... we wondered ... these two seals .... Hmmmm ... had they pinched our dinner? (Scott did say he had heard a big splash in the middle of the night) Thieves!
Today's plan was to go prawning. Yes, one more chance for a seafood feast!! After careful deliberation over the map and testing of memories, off we boated to the secret coves and hideaways, where the little prawn varmints live. We deployed the two prawn traps into the deep blue sea and headed back to the cabin, where we played cards and chatted, anxiously waiting for the time to head back out and see if we were successful. Finally, two hours had passed and we headed out to check the prawn traps. Success! We hauled in a good supper's worth of prawn and our seafood feast was back on track!Surf & Turf Dinner! Rachel started eating her corn, then took a photo of her plate of food. Life is good at the cabin, with crab, prawn, grilled steak and chicken on the menu!
De-heading the prawn was a new experience for Michelle and Bruce. After a few pricks and a couple of startled jumps (the prawn can flip and jump, out of water) their heads were all off! (Just like the Queen of Hearts - the heads were off!)
The question remained, "What do we do with the prawn heads?" Scott suggested that we use them as bait in the crab trap. Eureka!! Crabs galore!! Within two hours, we had eight keepers and more than enough for a feast!Seafood Fiesta! Letting the good times roll along at the floating cabin is easy when you have good company, good food and a bit of wine with which to wash it down! Cheers!
And what a feast it was! Boiled prawn, boiled crab, grilled chicken and grilled steak - a real "surf and turf" buffet. We rounded out the meal with corn on the cob and steamed carrots. We concocted a variety of dipping sauces to compliment the seafood.
Good food, a nice bottle of wine, friends - the day was topped off perfectly. We could have been eating in the Ritz Carlton or the Bayshore Inn, but no, we laughed and enjoyed the perfect meal in a beautiful cabin. Nothing could have been better!!
"Thanks" is not enough for this kind of experience. We hope to be invited again! Just AWESOME!
- Bruce & Michelle Kilby
Sadly, we have to go home tomorrow - back to the routine.
The sky cleared again, while we put-putted back to Toquart bay. (We actually were able to get on plane, heading back, but Blue Yonder was at full throttle and I didn't want to push her that hard. The kayaks were dancing around a fair bit too - and one even thought it would try being a submarine for a moment!) I guess we consumed enough food and liquor that weight was no longer the issue ... mind you, dumping off 10 gallons of gas and other cabin-bound objects probably helped too.
At the end of the day, I'd say our first cabin guests had a great time (despite any bee stings)! We sent them home with a few extra prawn and crab, lots of photos and happy memories.
During the drive back out of Toquart Bay, at the end of the bumpy, 16-kilometer logging road, we spotted another bear (and took another obligatory bear photo)! Guess Michelle and Bruce spotted it too, as they just emailed across photos from their visit and it included two extra bear shots, which we hadn't seen before!
Thanks for making the trek over guys and being our inaugural guinea pigs! Oh and "Happy Anniversary!"