With the hustle and bustle of city life, sometimes it’s hard to find peace and quiet. But what if we told you a relaxing escape is just a kayak or paddleboard away? Oh, and it’s literally in the heart of Bay City? This is Float Paddle Center!
Husband and wife owners Rick Learman and Kristi Kozubal have day jobs – he’s an attorney and she works for the Michigan Small Business Development Center – but Float is their passion. This one-of-a-kind business in Bay City got its start during a conversation about the Millennial economy. Turns out paddlesports are growing incredibly fast in that generation. Long story short, Learman and Kozubal did their research, combined it with their love of the outdoors, and figured out a way to bring something new to Bay City just in time for the 2019 Tall Ships Celebration. “Getting out on the river is natural for us,” Learman said. “Boat life is the best life.”
You’ll find Float Paddle Center – with a growing lifestyle brand of retail goods – right next to the Ted Putz Nature Area at the corner of Salzburg Avenue and S. Wenona Street (next door to Bay City’s greatest bar & deli, The Wanigan Eatery).
Customers can rent single- or tandem kayaks and stand-up paddleboards to launch into the Saginaw River just a few steps out back of the shop.
“It’s quick and easy to get on the water,” Kozubal said. They’ve had to get creative – as the park doesn’t include a kayak launch yet – but they’ve made it work with rubber mats and grassy slope areas along the shoreline. Their dream is to have a launch put in at the City-owned park and they’ve even begun discussions with the City to improve the area.
If you’ve never been in a kayak or on a paddleboard, Learman and Kozubal say it’s surprisingly easy, even for beginners. It also helps that their business is on the west side of the Saginaw River, away from the commercial shipping channel.
During the week you do have to make a reservation at least three-hours in advance, but on the weekends they’re regularly open from 10am-6pm. There are solo rentals, as well as rentals that fit two adults, or one adult & two children (or a child & a dog). Of course, rentals come with lifejackets. Prices start at $25 for a single kayak or paddleboard for 2 hours. Tandem kayaks begin at $40 for 2 hours.
When you’re on the water you’ll see Bay City from a whole new view. The bird watching is simply incredible – especially near the Michigan Sugar Trails on the Middlegrounds. Paddlers have also seen a lot of non-feathery friends, such as mink, deer, and beaver. Whether you’re looking to find a moment of zen, enjoy the wildlife, or just try something new – you’ll want to check out Float Paddle Center. “The peacefulness of the water is remarkably calm,” Learman said. “It’s quiet even though you’re in town.”
Book your paddle today. And always, whether on land or water, Go With The Float.
Story By Rebecca Suhr courtesy City of Bay City.