Off Gridding – Cape Breton Island


So the original plan, some twelve years back, was to build a cottage on our land in Cape Breton.  But things change, Florida happened, and the cottage plan went on the back burner – not forgotten, but paused.  We’ve owned the 4.36 acre lot on Bras d’Or lake for some time now.  Over the years I did some of my own clearing, mainly to cut in a path to the lake through the dense bush.  Four years ago I paid someone to cut a road in, and although they never finished it to the degree I’d hoped, the road is good enough for now.  Once the road was in I had a 10 by 12′ shed brought in, used primarily for storage.  Because we are somewhat secluded, my fears came true last year when I arrived to find the shed door ripped open.  Anything worth anything was taken, well, almost.  A bummer, and not much the local RCMP could do.

Luckily, I kept the chainsaw and a few tools  hidden in the bush, so they were not taken.  The chainsaw is a must, as every visit brings with it a couple more trees fallen across the roadway.  Once I got over the initial pissed off phase, I set about repairing the door (not an easy task when your closest hardware store is a Ferry away), I then went on with my business of slowly clearing the trees towards the water.  I didn’t make a hell of a lot of progress, but in the photo below you can just begin to see the water from the roadway.DSCN0453

In the late summer of this year I paid someone to come in and properly clear the 150 feet from the roadway, to the lake.  Here’s a sample of the mess I made up until that point:


I also had my contractor lay down a 40 foot gravel pad for our eventual travel trailer.  The clearing and pad was done in my absence, and unfortunately, I will not get to see it with my own eyes until next summer.  The photo below was sent to me after the work was completed. Cannot wait to see it to see it in person!land3

Now that the land is cleared, I’m hoping to start looking for the trailer in the Spring.  I’m probably looking at something between 26-30 feet, hopefully under $10,000.  I figure I can get something 5-6 years old for that price, in decent shape.  One slide out would be nice, but not a must.  I had considered having electricity brought in, the lines currently run to entrance of our lot (about 200 yards from where the shed currently sits).  It would cost me about $5000, however I’d also have to clear a further 20 feet of brush along the entire roadway, which I feel will open the area up too much.  Hence, off grid is where I’m looking to go.

looking out to the roadView looking out towards the gated entrance.

So, my primary considerations at this point are:

Off grid power.  I will most likely invest in a small generator also, but will look at installing solar panels and marine batteries.  Lots of interesting alternatives to contemplate.

Next, water.  Once the trailer is in, I will have to relocate the shed.  My plan is to install a trough on the shed, collecting rain water into a barrel.  Drinking water will be bottled, so that’s not a concern.  Getting water into the trailer system is something I need to plan for.

Third point, how to deal with running water in the trailer, and more importantly, dealing with the waste tanks.  The trailer will be permanently parked, so figuring out how I am going to drain and dispose of the waste tanks is a real challenge.  There are no dumping stations close by.  Now the trailer will only be used about 2-3 weeks of the year, so this may factor in my available options.

Another big one is security.  Given the fact that I’ve already been burgled, how do I keep the trailer itself from being stolen outright, burgled or vandalized?  I had thought of acquiring an old shipping container to lock up my valuables, but there does not seem to be any reasonable options in the Cape Breton area.  With the advancements of solar power and WIFI options, I’m hoping I an come up with some type of security to deter would be criminals.

These are the initial issues I want want to sort out as I begin my quest to set up our off grid adventure.  I’m hoping to gather more information over the winter months. Youtube has been helpful.  My plan is to chip away at this, and post updates as they come.  Any helpful comments or referrals are welcome.

Cape Breton is calling, and it’s time I answered.  I can’t wait to wake up to the view below:

Water View

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