Kingston has kayak space aplenty

The Port of Kingston installed a kayak storage shelter in 2009 at a cost of $135,000. - Tad Sooter/Staff Photo
The Port of Kingston installed a kayak storage shelter in 2009 at a cost of $135,000.
— image credit: Tad Sooter/Staff Photo

KINGSTON — There are plenty of empty racks at the Port of Kingston’s kayak shelter this summer, and it’s not because tenants are out enjoying the sunshine.

The port has had trouble filling spaces in the shelter, which was completed late in the summer 2009 at a cost of $135,000.

“Honestly, we spent a lot of money to build it and we want to see it filled,” harbormaster Kevin Van Vliet said.

The wooden shelter, which floats alongside A Dock, has 18 racks for kayaks of up to 20 feet, and a submerged launching station. Rent is $25 a month per rack. There are about a half dozen tenants renting space in the shelter this summer.

The shelter project began as a response to input from users of the port, said Port Commissioner Pete DeBoer. When the port drew up a master plan update five years ago, a citizen survey showed a non-motorized boat facility as a top priority.

The shelter was constructed in 2009 with a roofline and arching support beams meant to mirror the new pavilion onshore.

Since the shelter opened, the user demand for kayak storage hasn’t materialized in rentals. DeBoer said the issue is awareness.

“Sometimes these things take a while,” DeBoer said. “When people start to find it, people will start to use it.”

Outfitters Olympic Outdoor Center maintain kayak storage in both Poulsbo and Port Gamble. Olympic’s facilities are far from full, said owner John Kuntz, but he expects business to pick up if people continue to downsize homes in the weak economy.

Meanwhile, the Port of Kingston hopes to facilitate a Kingston kayak club, which could help build interest in its facility. Van Vliet said there’s been interest in a club, but no paddlers have stepped forward to organize a group.

Kuntz agreed a club would raise interest in the facility. Olympic Outdoor Center sponsors the Olympic Kayak Club, which has about 150 members.

“You have to have someone really passionate about kayaking to get it going,” Kuntz said.

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