Matt Patrick manages Escape Outdoors in Evans, which could provide kayak and canoe rentals along the canal, pending commission approval. (WRDW-TV / Aug. 2, 2011)
News 12 at 6 o'clock / Tuesday August 2, 2011
EVANS, Ga. -- In the last few years, kayaking has become a popular, growing water sport and now Columbia County hopes it's about to get even bigger.
This week, commissioners plan to approve a bid from a local sporting goods store to start renting kayaks and canoes right along the canal. The plan is to get more people outdoors and on the water.
Matt Patrick manages Escape Outdoors in Evans. He says kayak rentals are getting more and more popular.
"At the beginning of the summer, we started out with nine boats in our rental fleet. Now we're up to over 40," Patrick said. "People are wanting to get out, get more active, get their kids into it."
And those 40 kayaks are about to move to the Savannah Rapids Pavilion. On Thursday, Columbia County commissioners plan to approve a bid for Escape Outdoors to start renting kayaks and canoes right by the water.
"That will put us right there in the mix of where everybody is gonna be and hopefully open it up to an entirely new market. It's pretty exciting for us and we hope to get started sometime in the month," Patrick said.
Patrick said nearly every Saturday this summer, they've rented out all their kayaks.
"Especially when it's 100 degrees outside. You want to get in that nice, cool river water," he said. "It's easy, it's fun, it's cheap, it's good for you ... it's a good workout."
The county plans to use prison labor from the Department of Corrections to build a permanent restroom and kayak rental facility by the canal. The low-risk inmates cut down on costs and should have the cabin built before next summer.
And with summer weekends coming to a close this year, Escape Outdoors is really looking forward to next year.
"Hopefully, this will be a little learning curve before next year really kicks off," Patrick said.
As part of their contract with the county, Escape Outdoors will give 5 percent of its sales to the county for operating in their park. They were the only company that entered a bid for the contract.
Rental prices range from about $35 to $60 and Patrick said they should be in place to start renting by late August.
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