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Our New Off-the-Grid, Boat-Access, Oceanfront Cabin in British Columbia, Canada

View of off grid waterfront cabin from the water

This post kicks off what is going to be an extensive series on cabin and boating life which will be based on our very recently having bought an off-the-grid, boat-access oceanfront cabin in British Columbia, Canada.

We’ve been on the hunt for a vacation property for a few years.

Initially, we looked at lakefront cabins in the interior of British Columbia which would be about a 5 to 7 hour drive from our home in the greater Vancouver area.

We even put an offer on one on the Shuswap but got scooped by a higher bidder at the last minute.  Looking back that was fortuitous.

Fast forward a couple of years and growing forest fire problems throughout the interior of BC and we decided it would be better to buy a vacation property both closer to our home so we could zip up there on weekends and out of the primary forest fire zones.

The problem is there aren’t many lakes near us.  But there’s plenty of ocean.  Most oceanfront homes cost millions which is millions above our budget.

There are a series of Gulf islands close to Vancouver that are popular places for vacation homes but again, the waterfront ones are millions.

And then it occurred to use why not get a boat-access property. We live minutes from a boat launch and several marinas.  Yeah, we’d have to buy a boat (update: we did buy a boat) but that cost would be more than offset by the lower cost of boat-access properties.

We started our search and found an absolute beauty a short 20-minute boat ride from the closest boat launch (and marina).  All in, the journey to the cabin is 30 to 40 minutes which is something we can easily do for short weekend visits.

While not far distance-wise, when there it feels hundreds of miles outside of the city. There are a few cabins to one side of us but that’s it.  No roads. Not much boat traffic.  It’s remote and stunning.

We put in an offer the same day we checked it out and ended up getting it.  We are thrilled.  Our kids are now old enough (ages 6 and 9) to where a vacation property is feasible (it’s tough when they’re toddlers) and young enough to have many summers growing up on the water.

As you’ll see below, the cabin is rustic and fairly old. But it’s in good enough shape to serve nicely as a summer vacation home.  If things work out, we’d like to ultimately rebuild in several years but for now we’ll use the cabin as-is.  The real gem of this property is the fact it’s on the water with some great decks and a dock.  That’s where we’ll spend our time.  The massive forest surrounding it is also a perk.

Here are photos of the cabin and the property

As you can see, the cabin is on a large rock outcropping up pretty high.  There are three decks plus the dock.  Two decks are lower and one is up by the house.

View of off grid waterfront cabin from the water

View of water from upper deck

Lower deck with tree growing in the center of it

Lower deck over the water

Gangway to floating dock

The interior is small but in good shape for Summer.  It’s comprised of an open concept living room and kitchen.  A small bathroom and a loft with a bedroom.  

View of open concept living room and kitchen in off the grid cabin

View of kitchen area in the cabin

Small rustic kitchen in off the grid cabin

About the property

  • It’s set in a remote fjord near the City of Vancouver.
  • The cabin was built in 1975.  It’s about 900 sq. ft.  It has one bedroom (loft) and a loft. It also has a couple of bunkhouses on the property.
  • The property is a large 3/4 of an acre.  Most of it is wild rising up into the forest behind the house which suits us.  We’re not into a vacation property that requires expensive and labor-intensive landscaping work.  We’ll keep it wild.
  • Current power sources include propane and a couple of solar panels.  Improving the energy source is one of our priorities.

Our immediate improvement plans

  • Buy a boat.  I’ll be writing extensively about buying and owning a boat in this article series.
  • Repair some of the decking.  It’s usable but the decks are the main area so we want them in excellent shape.  One requires a railing.  We’ve already hired a contractor who does work in the area and routinely hires a barge for moving materials to the sites.
  • Research and invest in additional off-grid power sources.
  • Subscribe and get satellite internet.  The realtor, who lives in the same area, says satellite internet works great.
  • Some minor aesthetic improvements… but our aim is not to spend all of our time improving the place. It’s a get-away to relax which is why we chose a cabin that’s in decent shape.
  • Beyond that, we’ll see how it goes. We’ll know more once we spend a season up there.  We bought it after the prime season so won’t really get to use it for several months.  Late Fall and Winter isn’t exactly a good time to spend in an off-the-grid, badly insulated cabin in Vancouver, BC.

What we plan to do at our cabin

For us, it’s purely a recreational property. We have no plans to rent it out on Airbnb or VRBO.  Instead, it’ll be a recreational cabin in the summer where we can do the following:

  • Swim
  • Hike
  • Fish
  • Boat (tour around in our new Hewescraft, kayak and paddleboard)
  • Relax
  • Grill
  • Host friends and family

We definitely want to get hot tub and sauna up there in due course as well.

Related: 15 Things You Need to Know When Buying a Cabin