Add Boating to Your Waterfront

As industrial uses along waterways recede, an increasing number of communities are finding ways to beautify and make use of these amenities. But maintaining a waterfront park can be a challenge, costing money and resources. The good news is that there are simple ways to boost the number of people visiting your waterfront while also raising revenues to help with upkeep and upgrades. Adding a boating concession is one smart strategy.

Q: We're interested in further developing our waterfront by creating a concession where patrons can rent boats. What should we consider?

A: Adding a boating concession is a great idea, whether you choose to add pedal boats, canoes or both. People love to visit parks along a waterfront, and riding in a pedal boat or canoe is a great way to experience the water.

Not everyone who visits your park will be familiar with rowing a canoe, though, so if you really want to maximize your attraction, be sure to include pedal boats as a simple, safe alternative.

Pedal boats don't require a large up-front investment, and they can deliver an impressive return. In a busy environment, it usually only takes a single season to pay for the boats.

In addition to the boost to your revenues, you'll also be adding a fun, active amenity to your park. Pedal boats and canoes alike are a great form of exercise.

Q: What about safety? Aren't there risks to offering pedal boats and canoes?

A: Be sure to keep boaters' safety a top priority by offering life jackets. While not all parks require life jackets, many do, and younger riders should always wear a life vest. In addition, you should check with local authorities, as there are some areas where life jackets are required for everyone.

Pedal boats that are 100 percent foam-filled are also a safe choice, as the foam promotes flotation, which means if a boat gets damaged, its flotation level won't be affected.

To avoid accidents, look for a pedal boat with a steering wheel that's designed to turn in the direction riders want to go.

If you are adding canoes, look for boats designed for commercial use that won't tip easily.

Q: What should we know about maintenance?

A: When you purchase the right boats, you'll be able to enjoy a season of usage without worrying about maintenance. Fiberglass offers the longest lifespan of any material for pedal boats. It is easy to clean and durable, so it can handle rocks and other obstacles in the water that might damage other materials. In addition, pedal cranks should be equipped with inboard and outboard bearings. Look for self-draining pedal wells and seats so you won't need to bail out or dry off the boat.

Q: What else should we consider?

A: Be sure to put your boat concession in a highly visible location, and post signage so people know where to find you. You also should promote your new boats in any literature you send to patrons, as well as via social media outlets.

You might also add a concession stand nearby, which will help draw people in and increase revenues even more.



Kay Park Recreation