Launch enables opportunity to kayak

Published 7:43 pm Wednesday, July 16, 2014

BELHAVEN — A kayak launch at Belhaven’s town docks at Wynne’s Gut and a local business have expanded opportunities for residents to explore the area by kayak.

The launch was added into the town’s plans for dockage at Wynne’s Gut two years ago when the town received a grant to build the docks, according to Belhaven Town Manager Guinn Leverett. The launch was implemented in the town’s effort to expand recreational offerings for residents and tourists.

“We would love to see people use it,” Levertt said. “We got a grant to build the dock and it was just incorporated with the dock.”

WinBrandt Creations Owner Ron Winfield said his business, which opened in December, began offering kayak rentals. His store is located in downtown Belhaven by the docks and the launch facilitated an addition to the offerings at Winfield’s business. The business offers sit-on-top style kayaks, which provides a safety factor to all kayakers regardless of experience level, Winfield said.

“As a way to augment our business, we were looking for a way to add a recreational component to our business,” Winfield said. “We made the decision to offer that kind of kayak because you don’t have as many dangers with that style. It makes it safe for kids, especially under the supervision of adults.”

WinBrandt Creations has received a moderate flow of kayaking customers, Winfield said. Upon renting a kayak, customers also get a life vest, which Winfield requires kayakers to have in order to go kayaking with his rentals. There are options for customers to purchase safety gear like whistles and the rentals are only during the day. Winfield also offers instruction to beginners who may be eager to get out on the water, he said.

“For those who have never operated a kayak before, I take them down to the Belhaven beach park,” Winfield said. “I get them in knee-deep water, and I teach them how to operate the kayak and give them the basic skills needed to maneuver and operate the kayak. We advise kayakers to stay within the confines of the breakwater. If we can keep them within those confines, it’s a matter of seeing them from the dock.”

Winfield’s rentals and the town’s kayak launch have expanded the interest of kayaking in residents, according to Belhaven town officials. The area is a prime place to kayak and explore wildlife and wetlands.

“I compliment Mr. Julian Goff, who brought this idea to us,” Winfield said. “He has helped me not only further my business in town, but also further the interest of kayaking in town. I’m glad someone from the Belhaven Town Council has taken an interest in this. I would like to see more kayaking in Belhaven. We want to get to a point we can start promoting tourism to some of the local areas.”