Start a Canoe Rental Business

Learn how work can provide an independent, outdoor lifestyle.


| July/August 1984



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"A vagrant current or a slight rise in the river had carried off their raft, but this only gratified them, since its going was something like burning the bridge between them and civilization." (Mark Twain, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer)


PHOTO: MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF

Like many other MOTHER EARTH NEWS readers, my wife, Leslie, and I dreamed of one day cashing in our urban ways for a healthier, outdoor, self-reliant lifestyle. About five years ago, we finally quit our nine-to-fives and left town for the country. Aware that such an abrupt transition might be pretty tough for us born-and-bred-in-the-city folk, we took a job managing a campground near the banks of the Peace River in Florida. This work was OK for a while; at least we got to be outdoors. But it soon started to bother us that we were not working for ourselves. What self-employment enterprise could we find?

We looked around and realized that the answer was practically on our doorstep: Right next to the campground was an intriguing owner-operated business called Canoe Outpost. Run by a couple about our age, Canoe Outpost was a boat livery, with canoe rental and other basic paddling equipment. And judging from the number of satisfied customers driving in and out every day, it seemed to be doing very well indeed! It gradually began to dawn on us that while we were busy supplying tourists with city conveniences—electricity, hot water, a clean swimming pool—our neighbors were providing their customers with the chance to get away from urban ways and lose themselves in the peacefulness of nature. Suddenly, taking care of someone else's campground seemed infinitely less rewarding than running our own canoe rental business.

Canoe Rental Business   

One evening after a particularly busy weekend at the livery, Leslie and I wandered over to pay our neighbors a long-overdue visit. We got to talking and discovered that our new friends were doing so well in the canoe rental business that they were on the verge of franchising. And they just happened to know of some property for sale on the Withlacoochee River, in case we might be interested.

You bet we were!

Within two months we'd borrowed money from relatives for a down payment on the land ... put all our savings into a used van, a canoe trailer, 16 canoes, and some camping gear ... and finished setting up an outdoor enterprise for ourselves. We called our rental offshoot the Withlacoochee River Canoe Outpost. And today, three years later, business is booming. About the only thing we regret is that we didn't dive into this line of work sooner!

Perhaps you, too, are on the lookout for a getaway home-business opportunity, and live (or would like to live) near a navigable river. Well, here are a few pointers, which we've picked up the hard way, for you to mull over before you take the plunge.

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nazmulh100
5/14/2016 2:20:23 AM

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