Category Archives: The Lake

Fish Finder ≠ Fish Catcher

Spent a nice couple of hours out on the lake today doing some fishing. It was sunny with a light west wind and a little cool at about 8°C. While I was picking up some minnows I received a tip about a spot in Moore Bay from a local guide that was producing yesterday, but for me today, nothing.

I then went to the other end of Moore Bay were I’d been with my brother inlaw and caught fish previously. This spot is the “Fall Spot” and is supposed to be very good around this time of year. Upon arrival, the fish finder lights up and is “beeping” so much I turn off the fish alarm. Below is a screenshot of the Garmin echoMap.

Lots of fish but no takers!

Well, they may have been on the finder, but refused to get on the end of my line! After about 45 minutes and several passes over multiple areas that claimed to have lots of fish, just one nibble and that might just have been my wishful thinking.  I gave up and boated back to the cottage empty handed, but still enjoyed my time out on the lake.

Cottage Opening 2016

Opened the cottage a little early this year, the Thursday before the traditional May long weekend. I took a few days off and came down Wednesday evening. Part of the early opening was a group ride that was taking place in the Kenora area, billed as a “Spring Training Camp” which seemed like a lot of fun, and it would be nice to have the water running for a hot shower after the rides.  Plus, Gail & Gord are coming down on Friday and staying at the lake until they take possession of their new house in Saskatoon sometime in June. 

After last years pump problem where it wouldn’t prime, but in the end noting seemed to be wrong with it after I dragged it into town for servicing, I was a little apprehensive about this years startup. But, no problems! It started up just fine on the first attempt and after starting at about 6:30am I had the bulk of the cottage opening chores done by 8:30 and was sitting down with a cup of coffee and waiting for the hot water tank to do it’s thing.

 Being pretty lazy and enjoying the quiet. After a trip to town to look for an Apple power adapter for the laptop (unsuccessful) and enjoying the first Chip Truck of the year, it was time for a nap. Life roles at a different pace at the lake, well, at least for me. 

I’m thinking there are not too many people around right now as Netflix ran fine all evening without buffering. Normally, on a summer weekend, the wireless bandwidth is getting sucked up by all the neighbours and the Internet slows to a crawl, making Netflix almost unwatchable. 

The weather is cool at 0°C and drizzling, in fact right now it’s snowing kind of hard . HArd to see in the photo, but it’s like a micro blizzard which I’m sure will disappear momentarily, right?


The planned big group rides for the weekend have been cancelled because so many guys bailed because of the weather forecast. I guess I’m on my own. If there is a break in the weather I’ll take a spin over to Rushing River and if things really turn around perhaps a longer spin out to Minaki and back.

Caddy Lake

The first cottage experience in my life was the Caddy Lake cottage. I don’t have a lot of memories about this place as I was only 3 at the time, but a couple of them are quite vivid. The one that stands out the most is in fact probably  family legendary, and it involves a car.

Here we are, my sister Gail and myself in front of the cottage, next to the driveway, which is on moderate slope. This will become important later. I think Gail is restraining me here so that I’d hold still for the picture as my arms seem to be pinned behind me.

Gail & Garry at Caddy Lake Cottage
Gail & Garry at Caddy Lake Cottage – October 1955

Before the cottage was built and before the driveway, it looked like this when you’re standing at the cottage looking towards the lake, down the hill.

Down the hill to Caddy Lake
Down the hill to Caddy Lake – May 1955

By dad and Grandpa built the cottage by hand. And “by hand” I mean no power tools, in fact there was no electricity at the cottage. Every board cut with a hand saw, something that is almost unheard of today. Lighting was by candles and kerosene lamps. A wood cook stove was the main source of heat in addition to cooking. No microwave, no blender, no dishwasher, no washer, no dryer, no indoor plumbing!

One story I’ve been told was that my mom and some of her friends were there with us kids and I guess it was cold so they loaded up the cookstove with coal (or coke, not sure which) but apparently they over did it as the story goes. The coal expanded, lifting all the round cast iron covers off the top of the stove and it is said that the whole stove was glowing red.  I’m not sure how they resolved that but there was quite a bit of panic as they thought the wood stove might set the whole cottage on fire.

My big memory of Caddy is waiting in the back seat of the car at the top of the driveway as our parents were packing up to go back to Winnipeg on a Sunday night at the end of the weekend. We were given strict instructions to stay in the back seat and don’t touch anything!

"The Car", and our family cottage at Caddy Lake
“The Car”, and our family cottage at Caddy Lake – October 1955

We’ll, I’m almost 3, and a guy and this is boring so before long I’m hanging over the seat playing with the steering wheel. The car is a manual transmission “3 on the tree” an apparently the parking brake is not set. I manage to shift into neutral and the car starts rolling down the driveway towards the cottage in front of ours, and the lake. This is not good.

Just then my dad and Grandpa come out of the cottage with their arms full of stuff only to and see the car picking up speed going down the driveway with Gail and I in the back seat. They literally drop everything, run down and get behind the car and manage to stop the runaway vehicle before we can cross the road and hit the neighbours cottage.

I’m not exactly sure what happened after that but I’m sure I was in a bit of trouble that probably ended with a spanking. I’ve blotted that part from my memory.

Power outage

A 27 hour power outage follows a violent 5 minute storm where severe winds cut a swath just down the road from us and take the tops of two hydro poles. Where are those candles again?

We’re just getting ready to start dinner and this storm blows through and takes out the power. Nothing too unusual for lake life, but little did we know at the time that this would be one of the bigger outages in our experience of 30+ years.  Dinner was to be salmon with hollandaise so we switched to something simpler, mainly because the hollandaise sauce requires the blender, which requires electricity.

We call Hydro One which has a fantastic phone service for tracking power outages and providing updates. 400+ customers in our area without power and an estimated restoration of 8:30pm, then 11:30, then 2:30 am then… we went to bed.

The next morning, still no power. Off to town for some coffee and breakfast. On the way back, there are multiple crews of 6-8 guys each working in our area, yay!

Time for some investigation, I’ve never seen power line repairs up close. It’s 12:45 and the truck below is working on Thunder Ridge Road a short distance from the cottage.

Working the line
Working the line

This is one of the trees that went down. Being on the Canadian shield these big trees have very shallow roots due to the rocks, and are quite susceptible to being knocked down in a storm.

Downed Giant - The tree on our road that took out a power pole further up the road.
Downed Giant – The tree on our road that took out a power pole further up the road.

Trees get snapped like match sticks but surprisingly the phone lines stayed intact in spite  of being dragged all over the place and phone service was never interrupted.

Wood and Wires - One of the snapped trees and the telephone line, 3 feet off the ground.
Wood and Wires – One of the snapped trees and the telephone line, 3 feet off the ground.

 

Here one of the bucket trucks is working to get things straightened out before replacing some poles further down the road.

Line Work from the Bucket
Line Work from the Bucket

 

Here is the culprit for our roads outage. Lines are down to the right (our cottages direction) and straight back to another pole up behind Smith Camps.

Snapped - the pole on our road and in the distance the 2nd snapped pole.
Snapped – the pole on our road and in the distance the 2nd snapped pole.

 

A closer shot. The poles are almost 40 years old. First installed when the road was put in and 6 years before we started to build our cottage.

Snapped Close-Up - line down in two directions from this "T" intersection
Snapped Close-Up – line down in two directions from this “T” intersection

 

I continue down the road and over to Smiths Camps and up a steep hill to where the 2nd crew is working to set a new pole.

Pole Placement - lifting the new pole into place alongside the old.
Pole Placement – lifting the new pole into place alongside the old.

They have a very cool machine or tracks that can drill hole as well as lift and position the pole. Here its getting the new pole into position to drop into a hole that the backhoe has prepped. But there is a catch, literally. The arm on the machine is at its limit and it’s not quite clearing the old pole. To avoid the delay and hassle of repositioning the machine, the crew boss is up the pole and pushes it over the top.

Up and Over - The machine was at it's limit and the pole needed a helping hand to get over the top to save having to reposition the machine.
Up and Over – The machine was at it’s limit and the pole needed a helping hand to get over the top to save having to reposition the machine.

 

It’s in the hole and they are jockeying it around to get it nice and straight.

Positioning the pole with the very cool machine.
Positioning the pole with the very cool machine.

 

With the pole in place he’s moving on.

Pole #1 is done and the Terrex is getting ready to go. Fallen tree in background.
Pole #1 is done and the Terrex is getting ready to go. Fallen tree in background.

 

Moving to the Next Pole - driving by the pole that has just been placed while the lines are finished up.
Moving to the Next Pole – driving by the pole that has just been placed while the lines are finished up.

 

It’s down a steel hill but no problem for this beast.

Like a tank this thing just motors down a very steep incline back to the road.
Like a tank this thing just motors down a very steep incline back to the road.

From this pole, looking back towards our Thunder Ridge Road you can see the phone line in the air but the hot & neutral power lines are on the ground as well as caught up in the trees across the span to the other pole.

Phone but no Power - That line is the phone line but the two power cables are down on the ground. 300+ yard span to the other snapped pole.
Phone but no Power – That line is the phone line but the two power cables are down on the ground. 300+ yard span to the other snapped pole.

 

A little zoom shot back to the other pole shows the lines clearer. The black one is the phone line and the two low hanging silver ones are the power.

Looking Back - From the pole behind Smiths back to the pole on our Thunder Ridge Road.
Looking Back – From the pole behind Smiths back to the pole on our Thunder Ridge Road.

The backhoe is finished his work and is carefully going down the steep hill to drive over to pole #2.

Driver Skill - To get down a steep section the driver is using the bucket as a skid to prevent a forward rollover
Driver Skill – To get down a steep section the driver is using the bucket as a skid to prevent a forward rollover

 

Mean while “the boss” is hooking up the wires. All the hardware on the pole is setup and attached on the ground prior to lifting it into place.

Line Boss - This guy was running the show and he kept the guys on the ground hopping with passing up stuff and positioning the gear etc.
Line Boss – This guy was running the show and he kept the guys on the ground hopping with passing up stuff and positioning the gear etc.

 

Splicing the wires together is quite in interesting procedure. There is a connector device that is a tube into which the wires are inserted by hand. No crimping, no nothing and once inserted into these tube connectors the line is capable of being pulled tight to get the proper sag between poles.

Making Connections - Doing the top "hot" wire 1st
Making Connections – Doing the top “hot” wire 1st

Over at the other site on thunder Ridge Road, a pole is waiting.

 

Bringing in the new lumber.
Bringing in the new lumber.

Once again the pole is lifted into place and the backhoe fills in the hole and guy wires are attached and tensioned. This time they have the luxury of a bucket touch and the guys working up to don’t have to put on the spurs and climb the pole.

 

Working the Wire. Two boom trucks required to free the 300+ yard span from some trees
Working the Wire. Two boom trucks required to free the 300+ yard span from some trees

 

Equipment at work. The track vehicle on the left holding the new pole in place while the backhoe on the right continues to fill in the base around the pole.
Equipment at work. The track vehicle on the left holding the new pole in place while the backhoe on the right continues to fill in the base around the pole.

 

The “hot” wire is attached and they are just removing the clamp device that allowed them to winch the cable up. To lift this very long span they attached a bully to the top of the pole and then ran it down to another pull on the back of the boom touch, hooking it onto the trailer hitch. Then they ran the rope over to another truck on the road and used the truck to tension the cable.

Lots of messing around here as when they were lifting the cable, it was caught in some trees down by Smiths parking lot. They sent the other boom truck and had to work quite hard at pulling the cable free before they could finalize the tensioning.

Removing the cable clamp used to pull the wire into place
Removing the cable clamp used to pull the wire into place

 

With everything reattached a decision was made to cut off the part of the broken pole that was now being suspended soley by the telephone cable. Interestingly enough, these guys were only concerned about the power. It was clearly someone else job to come along afterwards and transfer the telephone cables to the new poles. Bell did that the following day.

Up goes the chain saw…

Chain saw hand up
Chain saw hand up

… and off comes most of the old pole.

Off with the old pole
Off with the old pole

It’s now 6:30pm and the crews are cleaning up and moving on. They were remarkably tidy as no leftover bits of wire snips were left behind. They had to check a few things, remove some grounding wires and do something a short distance away that apparently would not take too long. At around 8:30 the power is on! Yahoo! Good job Hydro One!

The Spark

As a result of the boat show, and a few conversations in the family, we’re now the proud owners of a Sea-Doo Spark. On May 10th, our  1st weekend at the lake we’re getting ready to take it out for its maiden voyage. The weather is not the best. It’s cool/cold, overcast and a little windy. Everyone wants to take it for a spin, but nobody is too keen about how cold and wet it might be. On the Sunday, it’s decided, we’re going no matter how cold it might be.

Getting ready to take the Sea-Doo to the launch site
Getting ready to take the Sea-Doo to the launch site

We hook it up to Scott’s truck, load up the family and head over to Smith’s Camps to put it in the water.

At Smith’s we re-connect with Allen, the owner, and catch up on a bit of the neighbourhood news. Some discussion about launch logistics and Eric and Scott are ready to do it.

Rider Up, ready to launch
Rider Up, ready to launch
Getting Closer
Getting Closer

Down the ramp we go and the trailer and Sea-Doo are christened with their first dip into the frigid water. After all the ice just went off the lake on May 3rd!

We’re not super prepared for this, just super confident. We have no ropes on the Sea-Doo so once it’s set free from the trailer, Eric is on his own.

Well, this is when things get a little interesting. The Spark is not starting and Eric is adrift in the lake!

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Fortunately, we’re in an enclosed area at Smith’s and eventually Eric and the Spark will drift over to a dock. But, there is a small chance he’ll drift out the opening you see in the background and out into the lake. Our boat is not in the water yet. If this happens we’ll need Allen to launch a rescue mission for some serious $$$s.

But that doesn’t happen and Eric drifts over to one of the docks and after several tense / frustrating minutes and quite a few tries, it starts! Let the fun begin!.

Underway for the 1st time.
Underway for the 1st time.

wpid1819-IMG_5405.jpgAfter zooming around the bay for a few minutes Eric returns to take Parker out for a ride. Everybody is pretty pumped and excited.

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Eric and Parker set to ride.

I’m next to ride and I must admit it’s very nice, like a motorcycle on the water.

Garry returning to the dock after the first ride.
Garry returning to the dock after the first ride.

Scott is next to go.

Scott's 1st ride
Scott’s 1st ride

After lots of discussion on how it handles, the speed and acceleration, and how much fun it will be this summer, especially when it warms up, we load the Spark back up on the trailer and head back to the cottage where we had an awesome hot lunch.

Perhaps we’ll need to give this toy an official name, something more than “The Spark”?

The Septic Field Saga – Part 3

Part 3 and hopefully the final chapter for another 30+ years.

After detecting the problem in 2013 and doing the first half in 2014, it’s time to finish of the job.

Pipes 3 & 4 get dug up and replaced. Scott & Eric were a huge help and made the job go so much faster and it’s always fun working alongside the guys on a project.

Scott & Eric hard at work on a Lake Project
Scott & Eric hard at work on a Lake Project

After the dig & dispose, we made a trip into town for a few pipe parts, and a stop at the Chip Truck.  Once back on the job site the new pipes were assembled,  connected up to the system and then covered over. Repair complete.  Well, almost. The next weekend I re-assembled the walkway to the stairs and sometime this summer we should consider some topsoil and grass seed to put the lawn back in place.

The Septic Field Saga – Part 2

It’s August 2014 now and the problem is back. Apparently the previous years fix was just temporary and now we really need to dig into it, literally, in to it, all of it. “It” is the stuff inside the pipes in the field.

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Fully clogged – A section of pipe at the far end of the field

There are 4 pipes going out across the field. It’s decided that we could replace 2 while running the operation on the remaining 2, so the digging begins. Step 1 is to remove the walkway which covers the far end of the field. After doing this and digging part of 1 pipe, the weekend is over.

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The first two pipes are fully uncovered.

On he next weekend Len & Darlene are with us and Len is a good sport and a great help as we uncover the two pipes.

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Full House – Just about clogged solid.

Here is another example of the extent of the pipe clogging. Within 2-3 feet of the head of the pipe the clogging is about 75% going up rapidly to virtually 100% blocked.

The following weekend I splice in two new pipes and cover them over.

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Garry splicing in the new pipes.

That’s a wrap for 2014 and we’ll get to the other two in 2015, preferably with some digging help.

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The Septic Field Saga – Part 1

It’s August 2013 and it’s backing up. Never happened before. Another cottage 1st. The “it” is the septic field.

This is not a good thing.

The fluid from the rectangular settling tank is not flowing out into the field. This pretty much puts the cottage on high alert as everything that flows into the tank is about to start spilling out all over the yard.

After probing with a garden host to try an clear any unknown/unseen blockages with out any success,  I decide that we really need to dig into this problem a little deeper.

Repair Stage #1
Repair Stage #1

After digging from the settling tank to the header pipe and across the header a bit I decide to cut out some of the pipe to gain better access to the pipes going out into the field in an attempt to flush them out. In the photo black pipe is the old stuff and white is the new. The flushing seems to be effective so I splice back in the new white pipe and call it a day. Time will prove that this was not the complete answer.

It started off so innocently

I invited the guys to the boat show. We saw some impressive water craft. Drooled over some ridiculously expensive fiberglass. Went out for wings and a beverage and talked about stuff.

 

And then, the next day, it started.

There were a few more discussions and then today we’re in a store looking around. Parker saw lots of cool stuff and had to get into, or on to most of them.

But we really knew what we were looking for and after some discussions about the colour we close a deal on one of these bad boys.

With a trailer and a few accessories. Now somebody is shopping for some more add on gear.

Going to be some fun times at the lake this summer.

Cottage Projects

This last week on vacation I tackles a few cottage maintenance projects. Some required by the passage of time, some required by this years unusually high water levels.

Post Replacement
Post Replacement

The first was to replace a post that had floated away. At the shore end of the newer dock section I suspect that some serious wave action lifted one of the beams and washed out the post. When I built the dock, the post was very far our of the water and with the weight of the beam and deck boards I never thought this would happen and neglected to physically attach the post to the beam. It’s only 9″ long and is a 6×6 so it didn’t need any bracing. So, today it’s cut a new post, jack up the beam,  insert and attach the post to the beam.

The next project is to replace a section of joists that support the walkway from the driveway to the upper deck at the back of the cottage. Apparently we didn’t use pressure treated lumber on this project originally, over 30 years ago, and time has caught up with us.

Walkway Repair
Out with the old and ready for the new

Wood rot has claimed a good section of two 2x10s at the driveway end.  I put in a temporary 2×8 to support one side of the walkway and then unbolt the railing posts and the 2×6 extension boards that support the initial step. Then two offset cuts to remove the bad 2x10s and form a splice for the new pressure treated 2x10s.  Bolt it all back together, remove the temporary support and voilá, good for another 30 years, at least this section anyway.

The next project is a little more challenging. The old section of the dock is tilting down on the shoreward side, quite a bit.

It seems that the crib under the dock has shifted/compressed over time dropping down 4-6 inches. Since the upper deck rests on this edge, it has inherited a bit of a downward slant as well.  After pulling up a few deck boards it seems I did a great construction job here and toe nailed all the deck joists to the top of the old dock section. This will make it very difficult to separate from the dock which was Plan A. Plan A was to lift up the deck, then raise up the joists on the crib to level the dock and then lower the deck back onto the dock. Oh well, Plan B.

Hard at work fixing up the dock.
Hard at work fixing up the dock.

Plan B, after swimming around end checking out the crib is to jack up each end of a crib timber and raise both the dock and the deck at the same time. This required cutting out several dock boards to get access, but is successful in the end.

It was a fairly warm day and the water was about 74°F so it was quite enjoyable to work in a bathing suit and be in and out of the water. Plus with the high water levels boat wakes were keeping the top of the dock pretty wet most of the time.

Part way through the day my super-duper cheerleader and awesome wife delivers a dockside lunch that is just fantastic and we take a break to enjoy the sunshine & view.

The whole thing turned out to be pretty much an all day job with many trips up to the cottage for more tools, lumber etc. Once the repair is completed, boards replaces and everything is cleaned up it’s time to call it a day.