A new business allowing customers to pedal or paddle their way along the Napanee River is becoming very popular among locals and visitors alike.
Harley Cunningham is the brains behind Riverbank Rentals, which opened for business last month, operating from a trailer at the boat launch beside the Waterfront River Pub and Terrace. She offers guests of all experience levels a chance to rent kayaks, paddle boards or a pedal boat.
“We’ve been really well received from what I’ve heard,” said Cunningham. “People are really excited about it. Whenever you’re starting something and it’s your baby you get nervous that nobody’s going to really like this and you have that anxiety, but it’s been awesome.”
This weekend is the fifth week Riverbank Rentals has been in operation and the number of renters has steadily grown each week.
Cunningham provides life jackets for all renters, starting with kids sizes for 30 pounds and up. Renters then have their choice of watercraft, depending on availability.
“You don’t have to stand up, you don’t have to get wet,” said Cunningham. “But it’s a lot more fun when you do. But you can go on your knees the whole time on paddle boards and it’s just as fun and just as challenging on the core.”
She says the Napanee River is also the perfect spot for beginners to try out a new activity.
“It’s so calm, it’s perfect paddling conditions,” she said of the river. “Lake Ontario and some of the other lakes, you have the wind and the waves to compete with.”
She says motorized boaters have also been great at not creating a wake when coming into the boat launch and respecting the renters.
To help make her business plan a reality, Cunningham enlisted the help of Tracey Snow, business development officer with the County of Lennox and Addington.
“It’s free counselling,” Cunningham said of speaking with Snow. “No matter where you’re at in your business plan. For me it was like I have this idea, what do I do next? She introduced me to the right people and suggested different avenues that I can do down.”
Cunningham has also teamed with her next door neighbours, the Waterfront River Pub and Terrace to offer a ‘pints and paddles’ promotion, where guests of legal drinking age can get a two hour rental and a coupon for a pint of locally brewed beer at the pub for $30 on Fridays and Saturdays from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Riverbank Rentals’ hours of operation are Fridays and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sundays and holiday Mondays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The cost is $15 an hour for the first two hours and $2.50 for every additional 15 minutes after two hours.
At the end of the season, which weather permitting will run into October, Cunningham plans to donate three per cent of profits to the Town of Greater Napanee’s grant fund. Next year she will donate four per cent and five per cent each year after that.
“Just doing my part, Napanee’s been kind to me,” she added.