Maine Kayak opened a second location July 1, offering outdoor enthusiasts the ability to rent kayaks for a paddle on the Sheepscot River in Wiscasset. “We’re really excited about this spot,” said owner Alvah Maloney.
The rental office for Maine Kayak’s Wiscasset location is on the Creamery Pier, adjacent to Sprague’s Lobsters. The launch site is at the nearby Recreational Pier.
The new location will bring more visibility to the company, which has existed since 1999 and has operated out of New Harbor since 2006, Maloney said. He hopes the expansion of Maine Kayak’s rental program will lead to the expansion of its guided tours as well.
Leading paddlers on a journey from Maine Kayak’s site on the Pemaquid River in New Harbor to its sister site on the Sheepscot River in Wiscasset is one of many possibilities for the future, Maloney said. The immediate focus, however, is getting Maine Kayak’s rental program established in the new location.
Maine Kayak began in 1999 as a whitewater kayaking instruction business, a product of an assignment Maloney completed while a student at Unity College. Maloney developed a recreation program for the assignment, and it became his business upon graduation.
Whitewater kayaking, however, is a niche activity, Maloney said, and he expanded the offerings of Maine Kayak to include coastal sea kayaking classes and tours to reach more customers. The business was mobile in its early years, with Maloney traveling from his home in Unity to the site of kayak launches daily with all the equipment.
When gas prices skyrocketed and the economy began to falter in 2006, Maloney saw a need for a permanent location. He opened up shop in New Harbor, which became the headquarters for Maine Kayak’s rental program and guided sea kayaking trips.
New Harbor offered “incredible amenities,” with access to sea, lake, and river kayaking, “but it was off the beaten path” and getting word out about the business was a challenge, Maloney said.
With the increased visibility in Wiscasset, Maloney hopes the new location will help the business expand and increase its offerings at both locations, which currently include kayak and paddleboard rentals, guided day trips and overnight sea kayaking tours, and whitewater kayaking instruction and trips in northern Maine.
Maine Kayak is starting small in Wiscasset, with only a few single and tandem kayaks available for rent, Maloney said. Renters must stick to a designated area of the Sheepscot River for safety reasons.
While level 3 rapids exist up the river after high tide, the designated area consists of calm water perfect for beginning kayakers, he said. Kayakers can view a tremendous variety of wildlife on the river, including a rookery of blue herons.
“It’s amazing and it’s right there,” he said, pointing to the spot on the river where the rookery can be found.
Before anyone can take a kayak on the water, Maine Kayak reviews a checklist of safety instructions, the designated area for the kayaks, and provides the paddler with a life vest. The paddlers are then led down to the Recreational Pier at the waterfront, where the kayak is launched, and the Sheepscot River is experienced from a new angle.
Maine Kayak employee Hauns Bassett will be the face customers will most likely see in Wiscasset. “You can get a lobster at Sprague’s and then rent a kayak from us,” Basset said. “It doesn’t get much better than that.”
Kayak rentals range from $25-$35 for two hours, and $30-$40 for four hours. Maine Kayak is open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday. For more information, go to mainekayak.com.