PERU — David and Patty Husband, owners of the Kayak Shack at 3999 Route 9 south in Plattsburgh, aren’t getting as much paddle time in as they used to.
But their loss is their customers’ gain.
The thing that’s been keeping them so busy is a new addition to their business, called Paddlesports Centre, offering kayak, canoe and paddleboard rentals, tours and lessons at Baggs Landing on the AuSable River, 3004 Route 9, right below the Carpenter’s Flats bridge.
“We really think this was the missing part of it,” David said. “Now people have a safe place to come.”
Before, he said, customers had to load a watercraft onto their vehicle at the shop in order to transport it to their paddling destination. But now, on the calm, meandering section of the AuSable River, and near a wildlife refuge, Lake Champlain and a pristine water-access-only beach, it’s all right there.
“It’s probably the nicest sandy beach on Lake Champlain,” David said of his favorite destination. “It’s a great place to have lunch and then paddle back up.”
While the new location is tucked in the extreme northeast corner of the Adirondack Park and no permanent structures are allowed, a launch spot, temporary enclosures for the business, and storage areas for the canoes, paddleboards and kayaks are really all that’s needed. That’s a good thing, because the section of shoreline can be underwater when the AuSable River floods.
“We worked on this all spring,” David said. “It’s kind of a work in progress. We’ll be adding things this year and in future years.”
They’re open daily at 9 a.m. for rentals, tours and lessons, weather permitting.
“If it doesn’t have a motor, we have it,” David said.
A completely new fleet of watercraft is featured at Pattlesports Centre, including sit-on-top kayaks in both single and tandem designs, day-touring kayaks for those wanting to cover more distance, and canoes, which work especially well for families with young children. They also feature stand-up paddleboards, the newest watercraft craze.
“Stand-up paddling is the latest and greatest trend in recreation, period,” David said.
Many events, such as Senior Sundays, Family Paddles or Full Moon and Sunset Tours, are held throughout the summer. A calendar of events is available at www.kayak-shack.com. Rentals are available by the hour, half day or full day. While reservations are encouraged, walk-ins are also welcome.
Week-long youth paddling programs are available throughout July. There, young people age 7 to 17 learn paddling and outdoor skills in a safe and fun environment.
The Husbands are leasing the land from a property owner who’s had it in the family for 200 years.
They started their business in 2007, a time when, in order to buy a quality kayak and equipment, you had to travel to Albany or New Hampshire.
“We felt a lake this size needed that kind of a shop,” David said, adding that they don’t do bikes or skis, just watercraft. “We started paddling little nine-foot boats like everybody else and kind of fell in love with the sport.”
They were in the mall for a year and currently have a location at the city beach where they offer rentals when the beach is open. Business has been good.
“It’s increased every year,” David said. “We’re on track to have the best year ever.”
He said that more and more people are deciding to take vacations close to home, as there’s so much to do in the area.
“It’s cheaper than going on vacation for a week,” he said of using a kayak or canoe. “You don’t need to put tires on it or gas in it.”
Kayaks predate canoes and have a long history. There are two schools, the European sea kayak and the Inuit Indian kayak.
“Kayaks have been around for hunting and survival for thousands of years,” David said.
Whether made from seal skins and sticks or hollowed logs, they didn’t tip over and were faster than canoes, especially for a single occupant. Staying warm is easier in a kayak, where operators are sheltered from waves and wind.
Kayak Shack caters to local people, vacationers and beginners who need experienced instructors to get their questions answered. The Husbands still see plenty of room to grow in the area, as the sport has yet to reach its full potential. They’re closed in winter, and sometimes it’s a challenge to let people know that — like an ice-cream store — they’ll be open again in the spring.
They carry everything from nine- to 10-foot kayaks to 16- to 18-foot models made of different materials and in different weights.
“We stock over 40 models of kayak,” David said. “We really have a boat for everyone.”
Prices range from about $300 all the way up to $4,000 for a high-end model. Their main business is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 4 p.m on Sunday throughout the summer. The addition of Bagg’s Landing created 12 new full-time and part-time seasonal positions.
While the technical side of the business is fine, there’s a personal element, too. Boaters can often find friends to paddle with at the new AuSable River location.
“I like the gadgets, but I like the people, too,” David said. “Nobody ever comes back from a lesson or a tour without a smile on their face.
For more information, call 566-0505.
Email Bruce Rowland: firstname.lastname@example.org