Falling for the Sunshine Coast – Part 1

When I was working, the Fall season always seemed like a glass half empty.  But, now that I get to play all year round, I have time to appreciate its true beauty. I find myself looking forward to its approach, knowing of the opportunities to  capture its many colours…  like these golden leaves floating with some kelp in the bright, low lying sun.

But it’s not just the changing colours of the leaves. The sunsets and sunrises of the Fall season are a much celebrated event. I won’t try to explain why this happens; it’s just the magic of the season. As each day draws to a close, there is an eager anticipation, watching the sun tuck behind the hills to the west and waiting for the colours to emerge.

I captured the image above  on a Halloween evening, a few years ago, and then just a couple of days ago, this image of the same hillside presented itself.  I’ve been using the camera on  my iPhone quite a bit lately and used the HDR function to take this picture.  I’m quite pleased with the result. The two pictures of the same scene seem like mirror images, with the vividly coloured clouds as brackets on each side of the hills. I’m not sure which I prefer – which do you like?

To see more of these images of the Fall season at CoracleCove, visit my website www.coraclecove.com where you can see a short video of some of my other favourites … enjoy!!

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Four Ways to Paddle the waters of Sechelt Inlet

The early morning is one of my most favourite times of the day. Whenever I can, I’ll head down to our waterside deck with a cup of coffee and yesterday’s newspaper to sit and enjoy the peaceful morning water. More often than not I’ll be entertained with a parade of all sorts of interesting boats. Here’s a few recent pictures.

watching the boats going by at Coracle Cove

The inside waters of Sechelt Inlet have been discovered by a wide range of paddling enthusiasts, gliding over the water in boats of all different sizes.

First Nations – Pulling Together

The Dolphin Spirit is a First Nations war canoe, and she’s a regular visitor during the summer, often training for a Pulling Together Journey which is held each year along the coastal northwest.  Pulling Together was the brainchild of Ed Hill, a local retired RCMP Staff Sargeant. The annual journeys bring together crews of law enforcement officers and aboriginal youth and elders, who paddle or pull together, down or along the traditional waterways of the province, visiting many of the First Nation communities along the way. Ed Hill knew the benefit of police officers working with the First Nation community and this was the start of an annual tradition that’s still going strong.

Dragonboating in Sechelt Inlet

We also have a very active dragonboating club on the Inlet, who freqently bring their large boats out our way. The Sunshine Dragon Boat Club, formed in 2004, has a membership of approximately 125 members, and includes a large contingent of breast cancer surviving paddlers. They offer several programs and practice times weekly and keep their two international standard dragon boats very busy. This weekend they held their annual MacKenzie Cup Regatta.

outriggers practice in front of Coracle Cove

In addition to the dragonboats, we also see several of the smaller outriggers practicing their paddling and technical manouevres. Coracle Cove is located at Four Mile Point on Sechelt Inlet, and makes for a good paddling workout for these 4 and 6 person crews. Each year the Howe Sound Outrigger Race attracts a large contingent of local and international entrants.

Paddlers Challenge – checking in at Coracle Cove

And finally, we enjoy seeing the colourful kayakers, sometimes just a lone boat glidiing over the calm early morning waters and occasionally a flotilla, heading up the inlet to one of the many mairine parks. Sechelt Inlet is a narrow stretch of protected water and is ideal for both novice and seasoned kayakers.

This picture was taken a few years ago during the Paddlers’ Challenge Series, a summer event, organized by Halfmoon Sea Kayaks. Each week they organize a kayaking challenge on a different part of the Sunshine Coast. This particular event dubbed, the “poker paddle” was lots of fun, as the paddlers completed a circle route around Sechelt Inlet, stopping in at various check points to collect playing cards to see who could make up the best hand. In this picture they were checking in at the Coracle Cove dock where our guests were handing out the cards.

Now, I think you have to agree, there aren’t too many places where you can see all of this activity, up close, as these pictures will attest… and that’s why we love living on Sechlet Inlet.

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Searching for trolls along Chapman Creek


Brookman Park, SecheltLast winter, heavy rainfalls overloaded Chapman Creek, causing it to spill over its banks in some sections and washing out part of the trail. That section of the trail has now been bypassed, with a new pathway and a serious set of well constructed stairs leading back down to follow the creek.  While I was curious to see what had been done, I was even more interested in planning an adventure for my grandchildren, looking for trolls, hiding in the forest.

IMG_2883If you’re coming from Sechelt, the trail is accessed just past the big sandy beach at Davis Bay, and just before the small bridge you’ll find the parking lot and a small playground.

IMG_2884You’re never too far from the creek and soon after I had started, the sounds of traffic were replaced by flowing water and the plaintiff call of a Swainsons Thrush hiding somewhere in the brush.

IMG_2882The trail is well maintained with this footbridge recently built over a perennial wet spot.chapman creek gnomes

I was on the look-out for trolls and was soon rewarded with this pair carved into the aged stump of an old growth cedar that had been logged decades ago.


…and then, just as quickly, another appeared right in front of me. These stately faces were carved several years ago by Terry Chapman, using a chainsaw. Terry started carving at a very young age, making boats and figures from bark found along the riverbanks of the Fraser River. He now lives in Ladysmith where he has his own gallery.


I had heard that there were several trolls along the trail, as many as seventeen. Some are quite obvious and others… well, they’re hiding so you keep your eyes open and sure enough I was rewarded with another pair further off the trail, and then two more. trolls


My time was running out and finally I had to turn back. I’d had a great walk through the woods, took a few pictures and had spotted a few trolls. All in all, not a bad outing. My count for the day – seven, but I’ll be heading back with my grandchildren to see if we can find a few more.

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Summer Days on the Sunshine Coast – your first day

The Sunshine Coast is an easy and affordable option for anyone needing a few days away from the daily grind. Imagine taking a stunning ferry ride to another world where the pace is slow, the scenery is breathtaking and the people are friendly.  The  Sunshine Coast is on Vancouver’s doorstep, and it’s only a scenic 40 minutes away, waiting to welcome you to BC’s best kept secret. In this series of seven blogs we’ll unlock the secrets and share some of our best insider tips to help you get the most out of your precious time away.

BC Ferries – Mini Cruise

Our first piece of advice is to get an early start to the day. There’s less traffic on the early morning ferries and you’ve just gained some extra hours for your getaway. Once you’ve boarded the ferry, grab your camera and head up to the outside deck. You’ll get some great pictures as the ferry winds its way through several small islands.

Lower Gibsons is our first destination, so break away from that pack of cars, turn left at the traffic light and follow this quiet country road. Lower  Gibsons was originally a fishing settlement and still holds some of that maritime charm.  There’s a good variety of galleries, coffee shops and some great gelato. Mike’s Gelato was recently named by Vancouver blogger 604 Pulse, as one of the Ten Best Places to get Gelato in the Lower Mainland.

Smitty’s Oyster House

Hungry for lunch? Head down the stairs beside Molly’s Reach where you’ll find Smitty’s Oysterhouse.  They offer the freshest of seafood and you’ll be seated at a communal table just a few feet from the salty brine. After lunch, walk along the boardwalk or head out onto the wharf to look at all the boats. There’s even a floating garden.

Sechelt is only a 25 minute drive from Gibsons so you’ve still got lots of time before your 3:00 check-in. You might even want to pick up a few supplies before-hand so that you can fully relax on our waterside deck after you’ve checked-in. There’s an IGA store along the highway, and a good wine selection at the Lighthouse Wine & Cold Beer store, just as you come into Sechelt.

dinner at the Lighthouse

Keeping with the relaxation theme, our dinner recommendation for tonight is casual and there’s no need to get dressed up. The Lighthouse serves good pub-style food and has a large variety of seating areas, including two large waterside decks offering great views of the busy little harbour and Sechelt Inlet beyond.

After dinner head back home and return to your favourite seat on your other waterside deck. As the evening sets in you’ll be treated to an amazing display of stars set against the dark, dark country skies. Are you starting to feel relaxed…. wait till you see what we’ve planned for tomorrow.

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Kayaking on Sechelt Inlet

Pedals & Paddles celebrated their 21st season on the Sunshine Coast with an Open House this weekend at their fabulous new location on Lamb Bay, just 5-minutes away from Coracle Cove. This is a perfect location to put in a kayak with its protected bay and several nearby islets to explore.

Owner, Laurie Reid is delighted with her new location, situated at the base of Mt. Richardson, saying it has allowed her “to put the pedals back into Pedals & Paddles” as the 78 acre site is riddled with a network of old logging roads just waiting to be explored. Her staff are just in the process of finishing a one-hour green level loop for novice riders and in preparation they’ve added mountain bikes to their line of rentals.

Pedals & Paddles offer rentals for kayaks, canoes and stand-up paddle boards and the latter has become an extremely popular water sport on the protected waters of Sechelt Inlet. They also offer a number of guided tours, both in the morning and evening, as well as once a month under a full moon.

The staff is extremely professional offering personal instruction for new comers to the sport. They provide all of the regulated safety equipment and take the extra time to ensure that you are properly prepared before you set off. The protected waters of Sechelt Inlet are appropriate for beginners, yet also enjoyed by experts for its easy access and spectacular scenery.

Imagine going from city to wilderness in just 2 hours. Sechelt Inlet offers abundant opportunities for viewing wildlife on the water, land and in the air. In the short time I was there I saw eagles soaring in the sky and seals bobbing their heads at the water’s surface. A few weeks ago, while in my own boat I saw a black bear at the shoreline and have been hearing recent reports again this year of dolphins frolicking in the water nearby.

Pedals & Paddles is just a five minute drive from Coracle Cove making it a great option for our guests looking for some outdoor adventure, and whether you’re just a newbie wanting to try something new or a seasoned expert, there’s a variety of choices to meet your needs.

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Hummingbirds at Coracle Cove

As a novice birder, I’ve approached this new-found interest with enthusiasm, and one of the great things that I’ve learned about birding is that it has a season. Migratory birds set off from distant points south, and arrive here on a schedule that has been in place for eons. The arrival of the Rufous Hummingbird is a much anticipated event among local birders here on the Sunshine Coast.

Hummingbirds are of course, are extremely hungry after their migration, which could have been up to 9,000 kilometres long. They’ll stay for most of the summer, providing us with lots of entertaining moments and opportunities for taking pictures like these. It’s one more reason why you should bring your camera when you come to stay at Coracle Cove.

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Spring Birding at Coracle Cove – Part 2

Spring is here and as you can see from this image, we’re having a little trouble keeping our bird feeders filled here at Coracle Cove.


spotted towhee at feeder

I took this photo from the outside deck off the suite and caught this Spotted Towhee in the act. He’s a bit bigger than most of the others and has a real preference for these black oil sunflower seeds.

Song Sparrow belting it out

We have a large variety of LBJ’s (little brown jobs) mostly from the Sparrow family. This male Song Sparrow has one of the most beautiful mating songs which they sing upon arrival in the Spring to establish territory and attract a mate.

White-crowned sparrow

I think this White-crowned Sparrow is a particularly handsome chap with his black and white stripes, and he’s a pretty good singer as well.


This is another of those LBJ’s that are sometimes difficult to identify. It looks like a sparrow but the yellow wing and tail feathers ID it as a Pine Siskin, one of the flock of Siskins in the opening image of this blog.

All of these images were taken just a few feet away from our feeders so be sure you bring your camera when you come to Coracle Cove.

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72 hours on the Sunshine Coast

The Sunshine Coast is BC’s best kept secret, with endless stretches of craggy coastline, winding trails through verdant green forests, and a laid back vibe that compels you to slow down. Newcomers often joke about this slow pace, but we embrace it, calling it coastal time, as it allows us to discover the beauty that greets us at every turn.

But how do you unlock this secret Pandora’s Box on coastal time when all you’ve got is precious little time? Here’s a fail-proof plan to make the most of your Sunshine Coast visit in 72 hours or less.


1. Get an early start to the day/ 11:30 am 

Take an early ferry – there’s less traffic in the morning and you’ve just gained a few extra hours for your getaway. Once you’ve boarded the ferry, head up to the outside deck. You’ll get some great pictures like this as the ferry winds its way between several small islands.

2. Lunch & Exploring Old Gibsons Harbour/ 12.30

Break away from the pack of cars as you drive off the ferry, make the first left turn and follow this quiet country road for a few minutes until you reach Lower Gibsons. Originally a fishing settlement, this area still holds some of that maritime charm. Molly’s Reach was the main set in The Beachcombers, one of Canada’s longest running television series. Follow the stairs down to the waterfront where you’ll find Smitty’s Oyster House, and grab a seat at this long communal plank table, located mere feet from the glistening brine.  The decidedly seafood menu offers crab cakes, clam chowder, and of course, a variety of oysters, both raw on the half-shell, and cooked for those less adventuresome.

smitty's outside plank table

After lunch, explore the docks and if you’re lucky you may be able to buy some fresh seafood directly from one of the boats. Walk back up the stairs and head down Molly’s Lane where you’ll find an eclectic collection of shops. Salty Sailor Designs has an interesting collection of art made from salvaged driftwood, including these lovely Christmas trees.  IMG_7885

Walk back up to Gower Point Road and you’ll find Sunshine Coast Olive Oil, a gourmet food store specializing in single-estate and infused extra virgin olive oils. Across the street is the Landing Gallery, which represents many of the Coast’s finest artists.  Greta Guzek is one of my favourites and you’ll see some of her art in your suite at Coracle Cove.

3. Pick up Supplies for Tonight’s Dinner/ 3;00

Tonight’s dinner suggestion is a simple barbecue dinner, so if you haven’t already, you’ll need to pick up some dinner ingredients.  Claytons Heritage Market in Sechelt has everything you need – a nice steak plus some Henry Reid lettuce greens for a fresh, crisp salad … nothing too complicated. The LCB store is behind Claytons and has a great choice of wines and a knowledgeable staff. Now, hop in your car, Coracle Cove Waterfront Suite is your next stop.

4. Dinner on the patio/ 6:00

After you’ve settled in, pour yourself a glass of wine, fire up the barbecue and give your steak some love and attention.   Your private waterside patio table has an exclusive reservation and dinner will be served whenever you decide. After dinner, wander down to our dock and settle into one of these comfy red chairs. Close your eyes and listen… you’re shifting down into coastal time. www.coraclecove.com

Day 2 

5. Breakfast and Walking Tour of Sechelt/ 10:00

The Basted Baker is located on Cowrie Street and has a really creative menu which is also updated constantly… a variety of Bennies served on a lovely soft biscuit, a tempting selection of decadent treats to sweeten the palette, and a latte that is the absolute best, hands-down.

After breakfast, it’s time for some exercise.  Head up Cowrie and turn left at Trail.  Fresh from the Coast is a great little store featuring locally made artwork by over 150 artisans. Talewind Books is few doors away. They’ve  been selling books for almost 30 years and are one of the last of the independent bookstores. Check out their extensive collection of books about all things Coastal BC

Continue walking along Wharf,  toward the ocean until you reach the seawall, another favourite of mine – I walk the seawall at least twice a week, throughout the year.  Turn left and halfway along the seawall is the grand Tori Gate. Walk out to the end of  the pier, where you’ll find an interesting set of pictures depicting how the shoreline looked back in the early pioneer days. IMG_5935

The seawall continues to meander through the Sechelt Indian Band Lands, where you’ll often see fishing nets hanging up to be repaired. At the end of the seawall, five majestic totems stare resolutely out to the ocean.  These totems were carved in the mid 1980’s to honour each of the four tribes of the shishálh Nation, plus a fifth, to celebrate their achievement of self-government status, one of the first Indian Bands in Canada to do so.

6. Lunch in Halfmoon Bay/ 12:30

It’s time to explore more of the Sunshine Coast, so hop into your car and head up the highway. We’ll stop for lunch on the way. Turn left at the second Redrooffs Road, and follow the signs to the Halfmoon Bay General Store. Next door you’ll find the Upper Crust Bakery with a good selection of Paninis and baked sweets. Between these two you can put together a pretty good picnic lunch. Walk down to the end of this little one-lane road to the Government Wharf for the best “restaurant” view you can imagine.

7. Escaping through Smuggler Cove/ 1:30

Head back up the highway, continuing north for just a few minutes, watching for the turnoff to Smuggler Cove.  The first half of this well maintained trail system is joined together with a series of boardwalks traversing over and around small ponds, created by a busy family of beavers. Later the trail opens to  sweeping views of Welcome Passage and Thormanby Island, before looping around to Smuggler Cove, so named for its colourful history. Nowadays, however,  you’ll see only sailboats instead of sleek rumrunners of the Roaring Twenties.Smugglers1

8. Dinner at the Lighthouse/ 6:00

The Lighthouse is all about enjoying one of the most amazing views on the Sunshine Coast. It’s casual dining, on an expansive outside deck, where you can watch all of the action – speedy water taxis racing to and from the dock, float planes landing, and pleasure boats heading off to another adventure.  Anything from the menu with seafood is recommended –  Warm Seafood Salad, Baha Fish Tacos, Seafood Curry Hotpot, and of course their Fish & Chips… or if you’re feeling more carnivorous, try the Braised Lamb Shank or the legendary Pile Driver.

Day 3

9. Breakfast at the Bakery – if you haven’t already had breakfast, pop into The Bakery in Sechelt for quick service, great coffee and a good selection of baked breakfast goodies. Extra Tip: pick up a few goodies as a treat after your hike into the Skookumchuck.

10. The Eighth Wonder of the World & More/ 10:00 – all day

The Skookumchuk Rapids could very easily be considered the Eighth Wonder of the Natural World.  Twice a day, close to a trillion litres of water flow through the constricted opening of the Skookumchuk Narrows, creating one of the world’s fastest tidal currents. skookumchuck3

Ebb tides create huge whirlpools, strong enough to suck down a large log and send it popping into the air as it frees itself from the swirling vortex. North Point is your best viewing site. On a Flood tide, the water flows in far too fast for the narrow, constricted, opening, creating a powerful standing wave which kayakers love to surf. The best viewing site for flood tides is  Roland Point.skookumchuk kayaker

So now it’s time for some math… you need to time your Skookumchuck experience so that you arrive just before the tidal surge is at its strongest – ebb or flood. Use this link to determine the best time for today, then calculate – it’s a one-hour drive from Sechelt and a 40-50 minute hike from the  parking lot – so it’s a simple matter of working around the Skookumchuck times to fit in the rest of the day’s activities. You’ll be glad you took the time to do so and here are my recommendations for experiencing the rest that Pender Harbour has to offer:

10a. SloCat Tour – located in Madeira Park at the Government Dock they offer a 90-minute tour of the inner harbour, at 11:00, 1:00 & 3:00.  The tour is a good way to get out on to the water and and Captain Paul will entertain you with stories and gossip from both the past and present. Check out this link for more information.SloCat Tour

10b.  Mini Art Crawl – with over a dozen galleries and studios in the Pender Harbour area, representing a wide variety of styles and disciplines, there are lots of options to experience some original art. My favourites: Copper Sky Gallery (Madeira Park); FiberWorks Studio (along the highway, just after Madeira Park); Flying Anvil  Studio (Garden Bay turn-off); Motoko Gallery (Garden Bay)

10c. Lunch at the Garden Bay Pub – another large waterside deck awaits you,  overlooking a marina with all manner of boats coming and going. Home of two summer week-end music festivals, they also feature live music every Sunday.Garden Bay Pub

11. Dinner Options in Sechelt/ 6:00

Sheila & I love to cook so when we go out for dinner the bar is pretty high. Fortunately, there are lots of good options in Sechelt, and rather than giving you a specific recommendation we’ll let you choose the one that matches up with exactly what you feel like eating tonight.  Follow this link for the restaurants that we always return to.

restaurants in the Sechelt area


Day 4

12. Breakfast at the GumBoot/ 9:00

It’s your last day on the Sunshine Coast so we’ll reluctantly work our way back to the ferry. The Gumboot Restaurant, is located in The Heart of Roberts Creek and definitely falls into the coastal time category.  Try the Buddda Bowl… you’ll get a large healthy plate, mounded high with steamed greens, shredded raw carrots and beets, baked tofu slices, and brown rice with a rich and flavourful peanut sauce. If you’re into something more traditional, they’ve got that too, but it’s all about staying in coastal time.

13. Exploring Roberts Creek/ 10:00

After breakfast wander down the road toward the ocean where you’ll find a beautiful mandala, a community project, re-painted every year by local Creekers. A few steps further will bring you to the magnificence of the Salish Sea and a beautiful, deserted sandy beach where you can walk, explore tidal pools, and collect an interesting piece of driftwood.Roberts Creek Mandala

14. The Waterfalls of Cliff Gilker Park/ 11:00

Cliff Gilker Park is zealously protected by this passionate community.  Its 56 hectares are joined together with a series of well maintained trails and foot bridges that criss-cross back and forth over Roberts Creek as it funnels its way back to the Salish Sea. In a few spots the creek bed drops suddenly, forming four  waterfalls. Several viewing platforms and comfortable benches will allow you the opportunity to sit, enjoy some coastal time and contemplate the beauty of this endless cycle of Nature.Cliff Gilker Waterfall


15. Langdale Ferry Terminal/ 2:45

If you’re travelling during the summer, make sure that you’ve made a reservation for the ferry well in advance. Knowing that you have a guaranteed place on the sailing of your choice,  you can continue this relaxing journey in coastal time. I hope you’ve had a great Sunshine Coast experience.

Check out this interactive map for all of the places mentioned in this blog and then login to your own Google Maps to upload and use while you’re exploring the Sunshine Coast.

Screen Shot 2016-06-11 at 10.13.59 AM

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Summer Days on the Sunshine Coast – a day for relaxing

DSC00756 - Version 3

When I hear the Vancouver traffic report on the radio, I often chuckle, thinking how fortunate I am to be on the Sunshine Coast. This morning, as I was enjoying my coffee down on the dock, I thought it might be fun to send out my own traffic report, and this is the picture that I posted to my Facebook account.

As you may have guessed, today’s blog is all about relaxation and taking time for yourself. This is the fifth in my blog series, Unlocking the Secrets of the Sunshine Coast, where I share my best insider tips to help you get the most out of your getaway.

There’s nothing better for relaxing than a Yoga class and my favourite studio is Yoga by the Sea.   The drop-in rate is only $15 for a two-hour class and they’ve got all the gear you need. The instructors always provide a great mix of both mental and physical activity; the classes are small; and you get as much attention and help as you want. So don’t worry about anything – give it a try.Screen Shot 2016-06-17 at 10.12.46 AM

My dinner recommedation for tonight is the Old Boot in Sechelt.  This is an easy and relaxing dining experience – the food is good, the servings plentiful, and the prices reasonable. The menu is just the right size with a selection of pastas, steak, ribs and seafood. After dinner head back to Coracle Cove and down to your favourite waterside seat on our dock. You’ve had a good day, feeding both the body and the mind, so take some time to remind yourself of how much you have to be happy about.

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Birding at Sechelt Marsh


The Sechelt Marsh is a great place to stretch your legs with its winding trail around a small pond. The pond is fed by both fresh and tidal water, offering a rich habitat, and an abundance of ducks, mostly Mallards together with other common species. IMG_4850

There is a small island in the middle of the pond offering protection to new arrivals, and many rarer ducks have appeared including this Canvasback.


Springtime is wonderful for seeing new young life, paddling closely by the mother, with the male species nearby keeping a close watch for any danger.IMG_8076IMG_9314

The winding loop passes through trees and bushes surrounding the Marsh and can be good for a wide variety of passerines at any season, including Black-capped Chickadees, and White-throated Sparrows.IMG_3751

I always enjoy making several loops around the Marsh, both for the exercise as well as the opportunity to see something I may have missed.

Sechelt Marsh is located north of the town centre on Wharf Road, at Porpoise Bay. More information about birding on the Sunshine Coast can be found at http://www.sunshinecoastnature.com/

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