Paddle tours catching on

Published 5:35 pm Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Community Editor

Kayaking is for lovers.
At least that’s what Inner Banks Outfitters’ upcoming paddle tours suggest.
Romantics will be able to revel in the beauty of a full-moon shining across the Pamlico River on the full-moon paddle, and they may find their happy places while sipping wine on the shores of Castle Island during a wine-and-cheese paddle.
The wine-and-cheese paddle will launch from Havens Gardens at 6 p.m. Friday. Liane Harsh, owner of Inner Banks Outfitters, will lead the paddlers along the banks of the Pamlico River, through the railroad trestle and around to the south side of Castle Island. The paddlers should arrive just in time for a warm, spring sunset shared over wine, cheese and crackers, Harsh said.
She called Inner Banks Outfitters’ first-ever wine-and-cheese paddle, held in mid-April, an unbridled success.
“We got a lot of compliments,” she said, adding that about 35 paddlers made the trip.
“They all came back with more friends than they had,” she said, smiling.
The tour is $45 a person for anyone who needs to rent a kayak, which comes with a personal flotation device, paddle and lights, and $20 a person for someone with his or her own kayak.
Harsh plans to hold wine-and-cheese paddles about every other month. Currently, Harsh said, she doesn’t have a set schedule of upcoming tours, but she said they will always be held Friday evenings.
Harsh said she tries to be “really safety conscious,” especially with alcohol involved, and always enlists the help of her co-workers at Inner Banks Outfitters for any kayak tour.
That includes Inner Banks Outfitters’ now-monthly full-moon paddle tours. Harsh said she started doing the popular night tour last fall. About 55 people turned out for the first-ever full-moon paddle, while more than 60 joined the second paddle.
“We just started doing it as a regular thing on the night of the full moon,” Harsh said.
She called the paddle a nice break from life’s daily routines.
“Once you’re out there, you think, ‘Why don’t I do this all the time?’” she said.
Inner Banks Outfitters’ next full-moon paddle will launch at 7:30 p.m. May 27. The tour is $30 a person for anyone who needs to rent a kayak, which comes with a personal flotation device, paddle and lights. For people who own kayaks, the tour is free.
Harsh said the shorter kayak tours, like the wine-and-cheese and full-moon paddles, have been more of a hit with paddlers in the community.
“You don’t have to make such a commitment,” she said. “You can always squeeze in a little recreation.”
Other forms of recreation abound at Inner Banks Outfitters, according to Harsh.
Every Wednesday at 6 p.m. and every Saturday and Sunday at 8 a.m., Harsh organizes road-bike rides throughout the Beaufort County countryside. Bikers are asked to show up at Inner Banks Outfitters, located next to Backwater Jack’s on East Main Street in Washington, at the set time. Harsh said the free bike tours usually last about one and a half to two hours. The bikers take a different route on each ride.
Harsh said she saw four bikes on a 35-mile trek last week.
“It’s just amazing to me, coming from Ft. Lauderdale,” she said, adding that she couldn’t dream of road biking in that noisy, crowded city near Miami.
Harsh also will be busy this summer holding kayaking classes for beginning kayakers. The two-day classes, which will be held June 8, June 10, June 22 and June 24, cost $79 per person.
She said the classes have “been a hit.”
Paddlers learn to paddle the first night of the class, and by the second night, most are paddling on their own, Harsh said.
“Repetition is the thing,” she said.
Inner Banks Outfitters also will hold its first-ever rescue class at 6 p.m. June 17. The class, which will teach self-rescues and assisted rescues, costs $35 per person. Harsh said that to participate in that class, paddlers must have a basic understanding of kayaking and be dressed to get wet. The rescues will be performed on the Pamlico River between the Washington Park waterfront and Havens Gardens.
“Getting back in a boat is very difficult in deep water,” Harsh said. “It’s so worth it, so you know how to get yourself out of a problem.”
She said there will be qualified personnel, herself included, helping with the rescues.
Anyone interested in joining a tour or signing up for a class is asked to make a reservation with Inner Banks Outfitters by calling 975-3006.