Business rents kayaks, canoes for Ocmulgee experience

The flotilla of canoes and kayaks floated down the Ocmulgee River on Sunday at a leisurely pace, often letting the river do most of the work in propelling the boats forward.

Brothers Brian and Stephen Adams are hoping that similar groups of boats along the river will be a regular sight on the Ocmulgee every weekend.

The brothers started Ocmulgee Expeditions about a month ago, a service in which customers can rent kayaks, canoes and tubes and enjoy a nice excursion through the heart of Macon. So far, the Adams said, business has been brisk, even though they’ve only been doing paid tours for the past couple of weekends.

The Adams brothers are both river enthusiasts who had bounced around the idea of opening the business for a while, mainly because there wasn’t anyone offering the service.

“This river is one of the most underutilized resources in the entire area,” said Brian Adams, who works as an attorney in Macon. “We’ve gotten very positive results so far. We’re hoping we can grow and be here for a long time.”

Though the brothers have placed rack cards around town and have a Facebook page — which added 150 fans the first 24 hours it was up, Stephen Adams said — word of mouth has proven to be the most effective form of advertising.

“It’s been real grassroots,” said Stephen Adams, a project manager with the Macon Industrial Authority. “When people heard we had bought a bunch of boats at Dick’s (Sporting Goods), word of mouth spread around quickly.”

“I had heard about some of the trips, and it sounded exciting,” said Mechel McKinley-Aiello, who took her first trip with the tour group Sunday. “I’ve always thought the river was underutilized. I wanted to go and check it out.”

McKinley-Aiello, who said she had not been in a canoe or kayak for several years, said the experience was worth it.

“It was just so relaxing, so perfect,” she said. “I’ll definitely be back.”

Brian Adams and some of his customers said the reason why people like the business is its convenience. Ocmulgee Expeditions provides the boats, paddles and life jackets, loads the canoes in and out of the water, and transports customers from their cars to the launch points at either Amerson Water Works Park or Pope’s Ferry. The former trip is about four miles and lasts about two hours on average, while the latter trip is about nine miles and lasts between four and six hours.

“I have my own boat, but it’s really too much of a pain to load it up,” said Jesse Gerwig-Moore, who has already been down the river with his family as part of the tour a few times. “Here, you just pack a lunch and show up, and they take care of everything.”

The service offers regular trips on the weekends and by appointment during the week, Brian Adams said.

He said he plans on keeping the business open throughout the year, but may change up the tours depending on the time of year.

The brothers said the service is open for anyone ages 3-and-up.

The trips are suitable for anyone of any experience level in canoeing, and they provide tips and instruction to novices.

Jessica Underwood, a college student who is home for the summer, said she is a novice when it comes to kayaking but said Sunday’s trip was a real easy time for her.

“I had a great time,” she said. “I’ve kayaked maybe twice in my life, but this was pretty easy. I plan to do it again this summer, and I want to do a longer trip. This is great.”

To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334