I love this time of the year. The days are getting longer, and old friends are returning to Coracle Cove…like these Goldeneyes with their beautiful markings and a most interesting courtship ritual.
Coracle Cove is located at Four Mile Point on Sechelt Inlet, a beautiful, pristine environment, and this is the time of the year when wildlife begins to return, with new sightings waiting to be seen almost every day.
This trio were very interested in what was below the water, diving repeatedly to break off the mussels that had attached themselves to the bottom of our dock. This is a handsome male who’s attracted two female companions.
But it was his behaviour that really got my attention, as I had just read about it earlier that morning. The image above (courtesy of Bird Note) is his signature courting move. He thrusts his iridescent green-black head forward for a moment, then whips it back so that his nape touches his rump and his bill points skyward. Finally, he slings his head forward and makes a high buzzy call while splashing water outward with his feet.
Apparently it’s a genuine turn-on for female goldeneyes. But he’s a rambler. After she lays their eggs, the goldeneye male abandons his mate and parental duties. It’s common conduct among ducks
It was a real privilege to have witnessed this courtship ritual and I’ll be watching more carefully to see it again, usually just around dusk.
Four years ago I launched Insider Tips. It was a logical next step to the ten-years of monthly e-letters that I’d been sending out to my former guests who had stayed at Coracle Cove. I enjoy sharing my beautiful community, particularly with people who are thinking of visiting for the first time. Blogging enables me to respond quickly to what’s happening, and I think there’s an audience that’s interested in timely, insider information on the Sunshine Coast.
In this blog I provide information about the Sunshine Coast – my favourite places for an afternoon hike, new restaurants and old – where we’ve really eaten and will actually go back; upcoming festivals and events – when & where to get tickets… all that good stuff that will help you have a better experience when you next visit the Sunshine Coast. That’s what I’ve been doing since we first opened Coracle Cove to visitors to the Sunshine Coast and it’s one of the appreciative comments I keep hearing from my guests.
Fine Dining at Chasters
But I have a bit of a confession – it’s really just a labour of love. In order to write meaningfully about all of these great Sunshine Coast experiences, I need to research and experience all those experiences myself. My wife and I moved to the coast in 1974 and this blog is a great excuse for us to continue experiencing all the great things that this beautiful place has to offer. And now that we’re retired, we have a more time to do just that.
I also love the challenge of taking better and better pictures and there’s lots of great opportunities for that on the Sunshine Coast – a picture is worth a thousand words – so for all you speed readers, I’ll include a few pictures of this great place we get to call home. Like this one, taken early one morning. about this time of the year, from the seawall in front of Sechelt – one of my favourite places for a quick walk.
I hope you’ll find these postings helpful and I invite you to return for more timely information on Insider Tips http://www.coraclecove.com
And for the speed readers, you can find more of my images on Instagram (@coraclecove) and on our Coracle Cove Facebook page.
The weather’s been crazy lately – freezing temperatures, wild wind storms… oh, and did I mention the rain? Will will it ever end? Well, there’s a few signals out there, that better weather may be on the horizon. Nature is pretty good at reading and sending out its own signals. It’s had a lot of practice. We’re surrounded by quite a few of nature’s creatures at Coracle Cove and when we slow down long enough to watch and listen, we pick up on those signals.
Birds migrate over great distances in search of a steady source of food. They have an amazing ability to know just when to start moving on to greener pastures. Like these Goldeneyes who showed up a couple of weeks ago. There’s just a small flock of maybe a dozen or so, and they like to feed on the mussels under our dock. They usually hang around for a month before heading further north to begin their breeding cycle.
This Surf Scoter showed up a couple of days ago. It was a new sighting for me and it wasn’t until I got the binoculars on its colourful beak that I was able to verify its ID.
Mergansers are relatively common throughout our winter months, easily identified by their crested head. My favourite, however, is this Hooded Merganser with a large white crest which he fluffs out to attract a mate. Hooded Mergansers are a sure sign of the approach of Spring and breeding season.
Although not a migratory bird, Eagles also travel in search of food and salmon is at the top of their shopping list. Our resident family of Eagles return each year after feasting elsewhere on spawning salmon. Their call is easily identifiable and we first started hearing it a few weeks ago. This year’s family seems to be made up of at least one or two adolescents who still have their brown head feathers and this handsome fellow who is the dominant Partiarch of the family.
Oystercatchers search along the shoreline for small mollusks and use their long bills to pry the shells open. Like the others in this blog, they return to our area at this time of the year and when I heard that they had arrived I immediately set out with my camera to take some pictures.
Birds are like old friends who have left our lives and then return. In this case, we’re doubly happy to see them because we know that the warmer days of Spring are not too far away.
Follow this link to return to the Coracle Cove website.
I’m celebrating my 100th blog with a look back at some of my Favourite Fall Memories. I call September the “endless summer month.” Maybe it’s because I’m retired that I have the time to really enjoy and appreciate the blue sunny skies and warm temperatures, but it still seems like a bonus.
The hot days of August are behind us so there’s less thermal wind during the day. The morning water is flat, creating beautiful reflections.
As each day passes, the sun rises and sets a little further south and is lower in the sky. This can result in the most amazing sunrises that make you want to jump out of bed and grab your camera.
Sometimes there’s a little mist in the morning, hanging gently over the calm, flat water.
And then at the end of the day, the low setting sun repeats its amazing colourful display over our western shoreline.
I’ve put together a video of some of my favourite Fall Memories – I hope you enjoy these as much as I do.
How often do you get to visit an internationally acclaimed artist in their own studio and watch them working at their craft? I’ve got my own dance card filled in for this much anticipated weekend of creativity and I’ll be updating this blog on my Facebook page as the weekend progresses. Follow me as I visit an amazing array of creative talent.
This is a great weekend getaway where you can take a scenic coastal tour of 135+ galleries, artist studios and more. You’ll have a chance to meet the artists in their studios and experience the vibrant arts and culture community on the Sunshine Coast. There’s no pressure to buy, just a weekend for you to see some new art, talk with the artists and most of all, to enjoy the experience.
Last year there were several opening night receptions taking place up and down the Coast. Goldmoss Studio in Roberts Creek was definitely “the place to be”
Artist: Brett Varney
Artworks in Sechelt celebrated with more food and music and a demonstration by contemporary artist Donna Swain. It was a magical experience watching this image emerge on her canvas.
Saturday morning broke with unexpected sunny skies and I was really looking forward to visiting my “best of the best” list of Arts Crawl participants in the Roberts Creek area.
This is it. Design, a glassworks studio, is tucked away deep in the woods of Upper Roberts Creek, and this modernistic studio, filled with treats both inside and out, is now on my official visitors’ must see list.
Further up the road, as I drove deeper into the forest I found yet another hidden jewel, just down a roadway behind this interesting street marker.
Andrew Dunkerton came to the Coast in 1975 and has lovingly crafted his beautiful post and beam studio from the trees on his small acreage. Andrew’s love of wood carries on into the studio where he has created beautiful Northwest Coast style masks and bentwood boxes.
My next stop was filled with more surprises. Goldmoss Gallery, with polished concrete floors, high ceilings and large windows offering magestic ocean vistas beyond would not be out of place in an urbane setting were it not for the majestic tall cedars surrounding the gallery. Goldmoss, which opened in 2010 provides a mix of work by local artists Bon and Lee Roberts as well as others from afar, and their goal is “to provide original fine art to established and emerging collectors.”
Artist: Sally Michener
Sunday brought forth another sunny morning. It was going to be a perfect day for a drive up the Coast to visit a special studio in Halfmoon Bay. But first I wanted to re-visit the studio of Laurie Rolland. Laurie’s small tidy studio in Davis Bay belies her status as an artist whose pottery has been displayed internationally and held in both corporate and public collections (as well as my own)
George Pratt’s studio was the last on my list and I was looking forward to my visit. Like many artists that I had met this weekend, George was drawn to the Coast as much by its lifestyle as its beauty. His work is widely collected in North America by private individuals and corporations and several large works have been commissioned for public display in Canada. Some also have been presentation works for foreign dignitaries including Prince Phillip and Bill Clinton. I was greeted by several of his creations as I walked up the driveway.
His home based studio, set on five acres of rock and trees offers inspiring panoramic views of Welcome Passage and Thormanby Island. More recently, this talented artist has turned to painting and coming inside his studio of vibrant colours was like a fine dessert to end this wonderful weekend.
I’m really looking forward to this year’s Art Crawl. The studio guide has just been published and I know that I’ll be in for a very full weekend.
Follow this link to return to my website at www.coraclecove.com or to read some of my other recommendations for the Sunshine Coast.
The Roberts Creek Mandala Project is an amazing undertaking having evolved from a humble creation of five friends who came together one weekend to paint over some negative graffiti. Eighteen years later it has become a week long community event, bringing together over 500 painters.
The overall design is laid down in white latex paint by the mandala’s crew of organizers and then the community gathers to paint a specific “canvas” and share their artistic vision.
Paint, brushes, and all other necessary implements are supplied and creativity is encouraged in this sacred space of focused intention. Children of all ages bring the Mandala back to life each summer.
There was definitely a festive mood when I visited the mandala a few years back. It was the final day of painting and the sun was shining brightly, music filled the air and several vendors had set up booths. Later that day there would be a celebration with more music and dancing.
You can find the mandala at the foot of Roberts Creek Road, at Chak Chak Point overlooking the gentle waters of Roberts Creek as they flow into the beautiful Salish Sea.
Most of us remember our first car – mine was a ’51 Chev, which I bought for a hundred hard-earned bucks. I worked part time pumping gas and the mechanics in the back were always pretty good about helping me to keep it running. I learned a lot about fixing cars.
1951 Pontiac Chiefton – not much difference between Pontiacs and Chevs back in the day
A few years later, after working all summer in a remote fishing cannery, I came home with enough money in my pocket to pay for my next year of university, and became the proud owner of a 1961 Chev Impala Hardtop. It was sky blue and I’ve got lots of great memories of driving around in that beautiful car.
1961 Chev Impala lots of memories in this baby
The Festival of the Rolling Arts, also known as the Sleepy Hollow Rod Run and Show’n Shine is coming up soon. It’s an all weekend event where we get an opportunity to walk down memory lane, remembering the cars we owned and those we once dreamed of owning.
Old classic cars usually start showing up in our community during the week, and on Friday the Rod Run rolls out at 6:15pm. Last year’s run had 416 classic cars winding their way for 30km, through 3-4000 spectators, lining the highway on both sides from Sechelt to Halfmoon Bay and then along Redrooffs Road.
The drivers are always amazed at their warm welcome from the enthusiastic cheering crowds. They make signs, dress in costumes and place couches/ lawn chairs in their driveways, with a number of barbecues and house parties in full swing. I’ll be gathering on Redrooffs Road, just before the Halfmoon Bay Fire Hall, where I’ll watch and party with my my son’s in-law’s. One year my two sons from Vancouver jumped in at the head of the parade in their old vintage motorcycles.
Next morning, in downtown Sechelt, the main street is blocked off and lined with cars parked on both sides, stretching for several blocks. This is definitely a walk down memory lane, where you get a chance to have a closer look at these beautifully restored cars. Check out this great video by local blogger Duane Burnett
and here’s a sampling of some of our local entries:
1929 Model A Ford
1932 Ford Phaeton
1930 Model A Sport Coup
1967 GTO – one of the first muscle-cars
If you haven’t seen this show then you’re in for a real treat, and if you can’t make it this year be sure to mark your calendar for next year’s event – it’s always the second weekend in August – and that’s always a great time to visit the Sunshine Coast.
Follow this link to return to Coracle Cove Waterfront Suite
Any festival that’s been happening year after year for over 30 years has obviously found the right formula for success. The Sunshine CoastFestival of the Written Arts has been described as “Canada’s longest running summer gathering of Canadian writers and readers.
This year is the 32nd anniversary and another full slate of outstanding Canadian writing talent will be here to talk about their books. If you like reading, then the festival is a great place to hear about new work from your favourite authors, but it’s also a great introduction to others whose names are less familiar and a few about whom you know absolutely nothing.
In fact, in previous years’ festivals some of the new names have often been the best presenters and “in some instances, the hands down biggest hit of the Festival.”
The Festival takes place this summer over a four-day weekend, August 13-16. Jane Urquhart and Camilla Gibb are featured speakers this year and you can check out the full program at http://www.writersfestival.ca/
Does this incredible weather have you thinking about summer plans? Whether it’s a weekend getaway, or a full week of sheer bliss, there’s something on the Sunshine Coast for everyone, and every day. Here’s 15 great ideas to help with your summer planning and five more if you read through to the end of this blog.
There’s over 100 km of coastline, including Georgia Strait, Sechelt Inlet, and its two inlets. The views are great, they never end, and the water is waiting to be explored.
It’s easy to get out on the water with a guided boat tour. Mermaid Tours offers daily tours of Sechelt Inlet and can pick you up right at our dock.
Sechelt Inlet has it all – fantastic scenery with lots of wildlife, both in the water and on the shoreline, and kayaking is a great way to see it all. If you’ve never tried kayaking before, the protected waters of Sechelt Inlet inlet are the perfect place to get started. Pedals & Paddles have been doing this for over 15 years. They’ll set up with a dryland lesson and all the necessary safety gear, before you even get into the water. Give it a try!!
If armchair kayaking is more your style, and you want a good walk in the woods, then pay a visit to Skookumchuck Rapids. It’s rated one of the fastest tidal currents in the world and that’s an irresistible magnet to white water paddlers. The courage and skill of these kamikaze kayakers, as they try to stay atop the perfect wave, is pretty impressive.
The sand castle competition at Davis Bay produces some incredible sand creations every summer. But you don’t have to wait for this once a year event. Every day, when the tide goes out, a huge canvas of sand is waiting to channel your inner Michelangelo.
The Sunshine Coast is truely one of the most beautiful places on earth, with vast forested areas, networked with an endless choice of interesting trails, just waiting to be explored. Here’s a list of our favourites.
If you like chasing after a little white ball, on a well manicured grassland, you have a choice of three well established courses surrounded by beautiful forested areas.
Summer offers a great line-up of Music festivals. There’s nothing finer than listening to a jazz quartet playing in front of a scenic ocean back-drop. The Gibsons Jazz Festival is coming up soon.
If you’re looking to de-stress or just want to treat yourself, perhaps a spa day is just what you need. Book a massage or pedicure at the Painted Boat Spa and luxuriate in the therapeutic waters and heat therapies of their outdoor Spa Garden.
The Sunshine Coast has a well deserved reputation for nurturing health and well being. Compliment your getaway with a morning yoga class, and then choose either an invigorating hike on one of our fabulous rain forest trails, or a relaxing stroll along the beach.
The Sunshine Coast Festival of the Written Arts is the longest running summer gathering of Canadian authors and readers. The Festival brings together established literary stars and exciting, new voices, in a the beautiful outdoor venue, providing opportunities for writers and readers to mingle and share ideas.
The Festival of the Rolling Arts, also known as the Sleepy Hollow Rod Run and Show’n Shine is an all weekend event where we get an opportunity to walk down memory lane, remembering the cars we owned and those cars we once dreamed of owning.
The Roberts Creek Mandala Project is an amazing undertaking. It first started when five friends came together one weekend to paint over some negative graffiti. Fifteen years later it has become a week long community event, bringing together over 500 painters, who come to paint a signature image in the mandala
Persephone’s 11-acre farm-based brewery not only prides itself on fresh beer, but in a short time has also won several awards, putting it on everyone’s list of craft beers to try. My favourite is the Golden Goddess.
The Sechelt Farmers’ & Artisans’ Market is the largest on the Sunshine Coast, taking place every Saturday morning, and it’s a very popular venue for locals and visitors alike. It’s always inspiring to find locally grown ingredients, picked that morning, to plan your evening meal.
It doesn’t get much better than this – dining on the deck on a beautiful sunny day at the Lighthouse Marine Pub. It’s one of my favourite places to go and I readily recommend my guests enjoy at least one meal on this gorgeous patio.
Photographers often speak of a magic light that happens just after the sun goes down. With the large expanses of water on the Sunshine Coast, we enjoy a big, wide-open sky, and never tire of the magic.
here’s an extra bonus – 5 more things to do if you’re staying at Coracle Cove. We’ve noticed that a lot of our guests don’t want to leave once they’ve arrived. It’s relaxing, the view is pretty awesome, and you get very comfortable. So, if you’re staying at Coracle Cove here’s five more things you might enjoy this summer on the Sunshine Coast
Facing south, we enjoy the sun first thing in the morning and all through the day. The covered deck is a great place to start the day, especially with your favourite morning beverage.
There’s a second, larger deck that literally hangs over the water, providing a great place to do some relaxing summer reading, just as long as you don’t mind the occasional interruption of a passing boat or three.
There’s lots of marine life under our dock, so you’re usually guaranteed to get a nibble or two. It’s a great experience for kids to catch their first fish… now who’s going to put that worm on the hook?
Choosing between Adirondak chairs on the dock and the hot tub on the waterside deck may be the toughest decision you’ll make all day.
Then again, who says you have to decide – you can do both!!
Summer will be here soon, so start dreaming about your magical moments on the Sunshine Coast.
Watch this video and then come back to our website for more ideas and available dates at Coracle Cove www.coraclecove.com
If you’re driving up the Coast to Pender Harbour you may have a bit of trouble finding it. It’s actually a collection of small communities, who happen to share a body of water, called Pender Harbour. Still confused… this map may help.
That’s Garden Bay near the top of the map and Madeira Park directly below. But there’s much more to Pender Harbour than these two “urban centres.” Communities came to be known by their pioneer families, like Irvine’s Landing, Duncan’s Cove and Dusenbury Island Even Madeira Park was named after the homeland of Portuguese Joe, one of the major players during the early pioneering years. There’s a rich history here waiting to be told and we were looking forward to hearing some of these stories.
Our first stop is Portuguese’s Joe’s home town, Madeira Park. It was quite the busy place a hundred years ago, and still is… relatively speaking. But it’s not that big and right behind the old community hall you’ll find the best burger on the Coast, and if you time it right, you’ll be able to try one. It doesn’t look like much, but trust me, I’ve eaten there a few times myself, and always find lots of excuses to go back. Order the Sunshine Coast Burger – fried onions & mushrooms, real cheddar cheese, melted and a hand made, all-beef patty, grilled just perfectly – like burgers used to be before McDonald’s turned them into something else.
Newcomers to the Coast often joke about how slow things are on the Sunshine Coast. We actually call it coastal time… but folks from the Harbour have taken it to a new level. So get like the locals and slow down, relax and enjoy your burger.
Next stop is the Government Dock where the SloCat is moored. We recently went out on one of their tours and it was great. Captain Mark had a lot of stories to share about the area, and he’s pretty entertaining to boot. SloCat offers three scheduled tours a day – 11:00, 1:00 & 3:00, as well as a sunset tour during the summer. So pick a time and then build your burger fix around it.
Back in the day, before the roads were built, it was much easier to get where you wanted to go by boat, and that’s why Pender Harbour is often referred to as “Venice of the North.” Captain Mark shared with us the early, early history of the area, when over 5000 of the shishalh Nation occupied the area as one of their winter camps.
The Europeans didn’t arrive in numbers until about 1880, attracted by fishing and logging. The fishermen built their shelters as close to their boats as possible, often up on stilts, and hanging precariously over the water. More fishermen were drawn to the area, encouraged by the bounty of the sea and returning to port with a boat full of fish was cause for celebration. Whiskey was the choice of many and soon the area came to be known as Whiskey Slough for all of the empty bottles floating in the small bay.
Today, many of these shelters have been fixed up and converted into beautiful homes. Perched just over the water they are the ultimate waterfront home.
That’s Mount Daniel in the background and it’s a moderate hike to the top where you’ll see the most amazing view. Mount Daniel was an important location for the shishalh, who stationed lookouts on top to guard their territory. It was also a spiritual place where young maidens would be cloistered for puberty rituals and there is still evidence of moonstone circles.
There was a boardwalk over on Garden Bay, used by locals to get to the hospital which was built in 1930. Later the the Hospital was moved to Sechelt, but the original building still stands and is a gallery with one of the largest collections of Sunshine Coast artists.
Along with derelict boardwalks, there are many other images of the past… an old tug boat abandoned and washed up on the shore.
We did a complete circle around the Harbour, going right outside the entrance. We could see Texada Island as well as Vancouver Island in the distant background.
90 minutes on the water for only $35 is a real bargain, especially when you throw in the entertainment. Captain Mark has a background in radio, he’s an active musician and a great story teller. He kept us well entertained with his stories – a healthy mix of interesting information about the area, together with lots of juicy gossip about some of the personalities, both past and present.
Once back on shore, we made a final stop before heading home. The Copper Sky Cafe and Gallery is another option for lunch, where you can enjoy a hearty bowl of soup, a good selection of paninis, or a pastry to go with your cappuccino. Having just had my burger fix, I was looking for the latter and passed on the pastry. But for me, there’s always another day to visit the Harbour so it wasn’t such a hardship. And while you’re waiting for your order, be sure to visit the gallery, which always features a good selection of art from some of the local artists.