You might have been to Annapolis a million times, but you've never really seen it until you've seen it from water level, sitting in the cockpit of a kayak, paddling through the harbor. That's what Dave Young will tell you as you shove off from his dock floating at the end of Third Street.
"What a great way to see Annapolis, even if you've been here before," he says. "The State House dome, the Naval Academy -- seeing those same landmarks from the perspective of being on the water is a thrill." And he should know. Dave's been running his paddle sports business on the corner of Severn Avenue and Third Street in Eastport since 1990.
Annapolis Canoe and Kayak sells and rents canoes, kayaks and paddle boards, plus all the related gear and equipment you need to spend a day -- or a lifetime -- out on the water. There's large warehouse packed with racks of paddle-powered boats of all colors and shapes.
"Our business plan involves stocking a wide range of boats so people can try them out on the water before they pick which one to buy," he explains. "We have a demo fee, but that comes right off the cost of the boat, even if you buy the boat a year down the road."
The location has been key to its success. "We're lucky because we're here on Spa Creek," Dave notes. "People can head upstream above the drawbridge where it's more protected and there's less boat traffic. They can go up to Truxtun Park and see the wildlife and have an easy paddle. Or they can go out onto the open water of the Bay for a more challenging experience, depending upon their level of experience."
Here in "America's Sailing Capital," where a sailboat or powerboat can cost as much as a new car or even a waterfront condo, Dave Young can get you out on the water for as little as $1,000. That's the investment for an entry-level kayak, paddle and life jacket, all the basics you need for a lifetime of adventure.
"It's a relatively inexpensive way to get out on the water," he says, "and you can go places in a kayak that you can't reach in a larger boat, you can get to areas where not many people have been."
All the boats Dave sells can be strapped to the top of your car -- except for the inflatable ones. There's an inflatable paddle board that folds up and fits into a back pack. This portability gives you the option of launching at any of the wide range of world-class paddling sites within a few hours' drive of Annapolis, whether it's the upper reaches of the Potomac or the pony-pocked marshes of Assateague.
"It's a great lifestyle," Dave notes. "You're being active, you're appreciating the environment -- it's one of those things where you're out there and you're surprised by how much time has passed by. With the same boat, you can go slow and have a laid-back day or really dig in and get a great workout."
Dave started working at the shop right after graduating from St. Mary’s College. The business had just opened in 1990 as Spring River, one of four stores in the region. When the owner retired in 2007, Dave bought the assets for the Eastport store with a couple of partners. He manages the business with two or three employees in the winter and up to eight employees during the summer season.
For the future, Dave says, "We're always looking for a new product that's fun, but basically we're going to continue to carry people-powered craft that can be car-topped, so that people can get out on the water easily and have fun."
Annapolis Canoe and Kayak
311 Third Street
Annapolis, MD 21403
MainStreets Annapolis Partnership