River Mist Kayaks in Bristol Mills rents sit-on or sit-in kayaks, paddleboards, and tandem kayaks for use on the Pemaquid River – a launch site is just across the street from River Mist Kayaks – or at one of the local ponds.
“We bring them to your location in the truck,” proprietor Ron McCrary said. “Sometimes people want to rent a kayak for a week while they’re staying at a local cottage or cabin. Sometimes they’re just passing through and want to rent one for a couple of hours. We work with people to make sure they have the experience they want at a good price.”
The delivery is free if there are at least two kayaks being rented for a full day.
Costs range from $30 for a single kayak for a half-day to $60 for a full-day tandem kayak rental. McCrary said he negotiates with people who want to rent multiple boats for a group, or want to just give kayaking a try for a couple of hours. Child-sized kayaks are available, as are personal flotation devices. The couple is hoping to extend the business to include basic instruction for new kayakers next year.
Because they live on the premises, they can be present to provide kayaks very early in the day. “If someone wants to get an early start, they can call and make arrangements for an early pickup time,” McCrary said.
“We’ve been very appreciative of the support we’ve received from our neighbors and fellow townspeople,” said McCrary’s wife, Karen Farnsworth. “Not a day goes by that we don’t get a thumbs-up or honk and a wave from people. That means a lot to us.”
It especially means a lot because after they opened their business for its first season this spring, a smaller kayak rental business opened across the street on town land, right on the river. It was unexpected and threatened to derail their new business in its first year.
Farnsworth and McCrary were dismayed, but kept to their business plan and kept their thoughts and work positive. “Everyone’s been so positive,” Farnsworth said. “About a third of our customer base comes from local people; that’s the kind of support we’re getting.”
McCrary said he worked hard to make sure most of the items he rents are made in the U.S. “That’s important to us,” he said.
River Mist Kayaks is located at 1181 Bristol Rd. in Bristol, just a few miles from downtown Damariscotta. It is open every day through the summer and the owners plan to remain open into the autumn. To reserve a kayak or make arrangements for pickup or delivery, call 975-2332.
Farnsworth also operates a flower and wreath stand on the property.
“When we moved here, I was very excited about starting a business,” Farnsworth said. “I envisioned reopening Busy Bee Ice Cream here.”
Unfortunately, the town’s rules had changed in the meantime, and the ice cream business was not in the cards. “The area had become a lot more residential,” she said. “But I was able to begin my greenhouse business.”