Escaping through Smuggler Cove

If you are looking to get away for the weekend or wanting a short side trip from Vancouver, the Sunshine Coast is a beautiful destination and Smuggler Cove, with its pristine beauty and colourful history makes for a great escape.

Shortly after leaving the parking area you’ll reach the first of several wooden walkways that cross over flooded areas and skirt around small ponds. If you’re lucky you might see beavers busily building the dams which have caused this flooding.

The 1.3 km trail winds through a diverse rain forest habitat with several twisting Arbutus reaching above the canopy, and continues with outlooks onto the cove itself, as well as Welcome Passage and Georgia Strait beyond. In the near distance you can see several islands, including North and South Thormanby and Texada.

During the summer months the cove is often full of anchored sailboats and other pleasure craft. You’ll see large boats navigating carefully through the narrow entrance to the cove, hugging the far shoreline to avoid several rocks lying just below the surface.

The cove has a colourful history dating back to the late 1880’s when it was first used to smuggle Chinese labourers into the United States to work on the expanding network of railways. The head tax required to enter the country was prohibitively expensive forcing them to resort to other means.

Later, American Prohibition, spawned a burgeoning industry for many Canadian boat operators, attempting to make ends meet during the Depression. Small, fast boats would load up with illicit liquor from stills on nearby Texada Island, to meet up with their American counterparts in international waters, 12 miles offshore. Each side of the sale would hold a torn dollar bill, to match up as proof of purchase.

Getting There:  Head north from Sechelt along the highway for approximately 10 minutes  and watch for the well-marked sign to Smuggler Cove. Turn left and follow this winding road until you reach a small parking area, where the trail begins.

Follow this link to return to our website www.coraclecove.com

 

Posted in Favourite walking trails on the Sunshine Coast | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Escaping through Smuggler Cove

Walking Holidays on the Sunshine Coast – # 5 – The Sechelt Seawall

IMG_5365The seawall in front of Sechelt is one of my favourite walks and I visit it throughout the year. I captured this winter sunrise a few years ago and love its intense colours.

However, the real attraction of the Sechelt Seawall for me is the opportunity to get in a very pleasant half-hour’s exercise with an interesting and incredibly scenic walk. My walk usually starts at Snickett Park with its beautiful large-rock outcroppings and views of the Trail Islands.  There are a few heritage cottages at this end of the seawall built almost a century ago when Sechelt was a stopping point for the old Union Steamships that travelled along the coast.

IMG_3838

Halfway along the seawall is the grand Tori Gate, built in 2002 by the Timber Framers Guild of North America as a gift to the community. The Tori Gate serves as an entrance to the Sechelt Pier which provides a great vantage point to look back at Sechelt. There’s an interesting set of pictures depicting how the shoreline looked during the Union Steamship days, and includes a historical description of the various buildings. IMG_5935

The seawall continues along through the Sechelt Indian Band Lands, where you’ll often see fishing nets hanging up to be repaired. The real treat can be found at the end of the seawall, five majestic totems staring resolutely out to the ocean.  These totems were carved in the mid 1980’s to honour each of the four tribes which came together to form the shishálh Nation, and the fifth to celebrate their achievement of self-government status, one of the first Indian Bands in Canada to do so. The shishálh have carved over 25 totems over the past few decades and these five are fine examples of this beautiful west coast art. the totems of Sechelt

Follow this link to return to my website  www.coraclecove.com

Posted in Favourite walking trails on the Sunshine Coast | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Walking Holidays on the Sunshine Coast – # 5 – The Sechelt Seawall

Coracle Cove – hot tub offers more than a great view

A recent Trip Advisor review for Coracle Cove was headlined “Best view from a hot tub in BC!”  We’ll let you look at the accompanying picture and you can judge for yourself, but as you read this blog, we hope that you’ll learn that there’s more to a good hot tub than a great view.

We brought our hot tub in by a barge and used a crane to set it up on our waterside deck, just a few feet from the briny ocean.  There is an incredible view throughout the day and well into the night – a variety of work boats, sail boats, motor boats and kayaks pass by during the day; the water changes from flat calm in the early morning to gentle ripples as the first sun strikes the water; lights from the distant shore twinkle across the water as the evening sky darkens.

We know that our hot tub is an important part of the Coracle Cove experience and we take extra steps to ensure that the water is professionally managed to ensure that it is a completely pleasant experience.

Typically, hot tubs are treated with a mix of harsh chemicals which can irritate sensitive skin. Instead, we use an enzyme based spa conditioner which is an environmentally friendly, non-toxic, non-allergenic compound. Each week, we have a water sample computer analyzed to ensure that it is sanitary and properly balanced.

We want our guests to have a completely enjoyable experience at Coracle Cove and we understand that a hot tub should offer much more than a great view.

Follow ths link to return to our website www.coraclecove.com

 

Posted in More about our waterfront suite at Coracle Cove | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on Coracle Cove – hot tub offers more than a great view

The Birding signs of Spring on the Sunshine Coast

We’re hearing lots of old familiar sounds these days, more signs of Spring. This Song Sparrow is one of the earliest singers and also one of my favourites. He has a beautiful song, with several bright notes followed by a sequence of warbles and trills . Listen to this recording – you may recognize it as one you’ve been hearing recently.

In nearby Sargeant Bay, the red-wing Blackbirds have been singing for a couple of months. It’s the males who sing in the birding world,  to both announce territory and attract their mate. The blackbird not only has a distinctive song but also flashes its brightly coloured shoulder markings while issuing its territorial call.  Red-wing Blackbirds can be found in marshy areas, often perched upon the furry seed heads of long cattails. 

 

The woodpecker family doesn’t sing but that doesn’t stop the males from drawing attention to themselves as they seek their mating partner. Instead they use their beaks to drum on trees and snags in the early Spring to announce their presence.

The most obvious is the drumming of the Northern Flicker with its impressive red slash across its cheeks. This common species inhabits our gardens at Coracle Cove and has discovered that drumming on chimneys and metal flashing produces a louder sound.

While homeowners ofter worry that these birds are drilling into the wood of their houses, this isn’t the case, but rather an ageless courting ritual that does no damage.  One way to get a closer view of these colourful and interesting birds is to hang a feeder filled with a suet mixture, as we’ve done here. Be sure to have your camera ready.

Return to our website @ www.coraclecove.com

Posted in Bird Watching on the Sunshine Coast | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off on The Birding signs of Spring on the Sunshine Coast

Sunshine Coast Day 4 – things to do in Halfmoon Bay

Smuggler Cove is our destination this morning – a half-hour drive up the highway, just past Halfmoon Bay. This morning’s walk should take no more than an hour and will give you a great introduction to the pristine beauty of the Sunshine Coast.

Smugglers1

Bring your binoculars, as the first half of this well maintained trail system is joined together with a series of boardwalks traversing over and around small marshy lakes, and offering good birding opportunities. Later the trail opens to  sweeping views of Welcome Passage and Thormanby Islands, and at this time of the year, you’re also likely to see several sailboats moored within the protected confines of the cove itself. Follow this link for more information and pictures.Screen Shot 2016-04-24 at 8.52.08 AM

For lunch, drive back toward Sechelt, but turn right at Redrooffs Road, and then 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 the two stores you can put together a pretty good picnic lunch. Then carry on down to the end of this little one-lane road to the Government Wharf for the best “restaurant” view you can imagine.

After your leisurely lunch, it’s time to hit the road again, but we’re not going too far.  Continue driving along Redrooffs Road for about ten minutes and you’ll find another Sunshine Coast Secret.

Sargeant’s Bay has been a favourite of mine for a long time – a perfect horseshoe-shaped cove with piles of driftwood stacked haphazardly along a pebble beach – and most likely you’ll have the whole area completely to yourself. If you’re interested in birding, this is a rich habitat with over 150 species. Spend as much time as you like here – with benches and lots of logs on the beach, pull up a seat, relax and soak in this pristine setting.sushi bar 5517

Our dinner recommendation for tonight is Sushi Bar 5517 in Sechelt at that address on Wharf Street. If you are a sushi afficionado you will not be disappointed but they also have a great selection of other Japanese dishes. The menu offers a very broad and creative selection of sushi – one of my favourites is the Alaska roll with salmon, crab and avocado. Be sure to order the Gomaae, a wilted spinache salad with sesame-peanut dressing.

If you’re not into sushi, there are two other restaurants nearby – The Old Boot and Daphne’s. After dinner, it’s time to head back to your favourite waterside deck to watch the stars come out. Keep an eye out for those of the shooting variety.

Follow this link to see more of our suggested itineraries or click here to return to our website.

Posted in Favourite Places to Eat on the Sunshine Coast, Suggested Itineraries for the Sunshine Coast | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Sunshine Coast Day 4 – things to do in Halfmoon Bay

Bird Watching Holidays on the Sunshine Coast – Cormorants at Coracle Cove

We continue to have periodic visits from these majestic birds throughout the year, and can often see them perched on our dock with their wings outstretched. Most studies suggest that Cormorants spread their wings simply to dry them, although some breeds do flap their wings as a courtship display.

Cormorants are adept divers and take most of their prey during underwater pursuit, propelling themselves with large webbed feet.  This Double-Crested Cormorant feeds mostly on schools of fish in open water, while Pelagics will dive much deeper, pursuing small fish at depths of up to 150 feet.

Cormorants nest in colonies, typically producing 3 or 4 eggs with a relatively good survival rate among hatchlings. The chicks leave the nests, forming small groups called creches. They continue to form larger groups, until, at the age of about one month they belong to very large creches. The dutiful parents still come to feed their offspring in these super-creches.

 The Cormorant population is relatively stable now, after suffering a serious decline in the middle of the last century from DDT and other toxins. Recently, however, some jurisdictions have legislated a culling of the population, based on pressure from fishermen and fish farmers who see Cormorants as competitors and marauders. In most cases, these claims have proven false as the birds often take fish of no commercial value.

Fortunately, we have neither of these industries near where we live, and we can continue to enjoy these beautiful birds. As always, remember to bring your camera when you come to stay at Coracle Cove.

click here to return to our website www.coraclecove.com

Posted in Bird Watching on the Sunshine Coast, More about our waterfront suite at Coracle Cove | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Bird Watching Holidays on the Sunshine Coast – Cormorants at Coracle Cove

Thanks to Sechelt Farmers Market for a great Spring-time dinner

Here’s another sign of Spring – the first day of the Sechelt Farmers Market. I’ve been watching the calendar for the past few weeks, anxiously waiting for this day to arrive.

I have a cold frame and if I can find a few lettuce seedlings to tuck into the warmed soil,  I’ll be noshing fresh garden salads in just a few weeks.

I was in luck, and as you can see from the picture there was lots to choose from. Naturally I ended up with more than a few seedlings – two different varieties of lettuce, some arugula, kale and Pak Choi – but my container garden is well on its way.

But I also came home with much more than a few seedlings. Tonight’s dinner has taken on a special Spring time theme inspired by a few more of my treasured finds at the market.

We’re starting off with some fresh Camembert made from local goats milk and then a flavourful micro-greens salad. The little jar of pesto that I found,  made from wild nettles and cashews, will go perfectly with fresh asparagus and nugget potatoes. Then I’ll  fire up the BBQ and cook an old favourite – beer-can chicken. For dessert… fresh strawberry cobbler. Now that’s a great spring-time Sunday dinner – thanks Sechelt Farmers Market for the inspiration!!

Posted in Favourite walking trails on the Sunshine Coast | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Eagles active at Coracle Cove

Our resident family of eagles have been extremely active lately. While their nest is hidden  in the forest, as the day begins to lighten they return to their regular perches along our shoreline to watch for breakfast opportunities, and eagerly call back and forth  to each other.

an eagle visits coracle Cove

Occasionally one of the family will perch in our big fir tree and give us a great close up. It’s a magical moment for our guests and a reminder to always have your camera ready.

Bandit

“Bandit” whom I named last year for the band of adolescent brown feathers over his eyes, will this year have his full head of white feathers. His younger brothers and sisters, however, jostle for landing space as they land in the nearby trees. Toward the end of each day, they can often be seen practicing their flight manoeuvres, chasing each other in the sky and calling out with their distinctive high-pitched whistling.

IMG_5785And sometimes, we’ll get another close-up when one of them perches on the railing leading down to our dock… all the better to catch their next meal.

IMG_1752

We often think of eagles as being at the top of the food chain, but only about one in ten actually survive past age three. We’re very lucky as Bandit has several brothers and sisters  Proud Parents

While all this is going on, the parents are never too far away, and should be very proud of their efforts in raising such a large family and beating the odds that Nature so often extracts.

click here to return to our website www.coraclecove.com

Posted in Bird Watching on the Sunshine Coast, More about our waterfront suite at Coracle Cove | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Eagles active at Coracle Cove

Spring birding on the Sunshine Coast – March 31st

These LBJ’s (little brown jobs) are doing a pretty good job of taking over our feeders right now. There’s generally a dozen or more perched in the branches of the big Fir tree next to the B&B feeder, waiting for an opportunity to swoop in and feed. They’re actually Black-eyed Juncos, called that because… well they have black eyes and bird names are usually that way.

This is a great time for birding, with lots of new species arriving each week. There’s a friendly little contest going on between some of our local birders, with the current leader having just passed the 100 mark for the year.  I’m quite a bit off that mark but I do enjoy the annual spring parade of returning species, and I really enjoy trying to take their pictures.

The Juncos are pretty tolerant of human activity, especially when they’re bulking up for mating season, as they seem to be doing right now. I took these two pictures from our B&B deck.  By positioning the feeder just off to the side, I was able to catch them in a natural setting, perched on a branch, waiting to move on to the feeder.

Happy Birding Everyone!!

click here to return to our website www.coraclecove.com

Posted in Bird Watching on the Sunshine Coast | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on Spring birding on the Sunshine Coast – March 31st

Watching the Great Blue Heron at dinner

Like a well choreographed musical, the Great Blue Heron has once again made its grand seasonal entrance to the stage at Coracle Cove, displaying its timeless evolutionary talents.IMG_9516 - Version 2

It brought back memories of another Spring day, when I was able to watch this beautiful bird standing patiently for several minutes, in a shallow basin of water at low tide. It was very focussed, not seeming to notice the close attention that I was paying to it at all, when suddenly its head plunged into the water.

Great Blue Heron at Coracle Cove

 

Great Blue Heron at Coracle Cove

Heron are carnivores and their long legs, neck and pointed bills have evolved to allow them to forage for their water-borne food supply. A further modification in their vertebra lets them draw their neck back into an S-shape. Standing completely motionless, they patiently wait for small fish to move into striking range, and then shoot their head and bill forward with lightning speed to spear their unwary prey.

Great Blue Heron at Coracle Cove

Unfortunately, these heron are themselves, caught in the middle of the food chain. They must be ever vigilant and on the lookout for the sharp-eyed and swift-flighted eagle. As the eagle population has increased, the ungainly flight pattern of the heron is seriously outmatched, and our heron population is now noticeably declining.  Can anything be done, or do we already interfer too much with Mother Nature?

Follow this link to return back to our website www.coraclecove.com

Posted in Bird Watching on the Sunshine Coast, More about our waterfront suite at Coracle Cove | Comments Off on Watching the Great Blue Heron at dinner