Westport Paddle Club Surfaces On The Saugatuck

When Downunder closed earlier this month, kayakers and paddleboarders mourned the loss of a rental and launch facility on the Saugatuck River.

Karen Jewell mourned the loss of her job.

For 9 years she ran the Riverside Avenue shop, and worked as an instructor. The day before it closed, Robbie Guimond — owner of Bridgebrook Marina, just a few hundred yards away — and his wife Taryn Bolotin saw Karen at Garelick & Herbs. He asked what she’d do next.

“I’m not sure,” she said.

On the spur of the moment — justlikethat — Taryn suggested she run something similar out of Bridgebrook.

Karen Jewell gets ready to paddle.

That was the day before Labor Day. Last Saturday — at the Slice of Saugatuck — Karen’s Westport Paddle Club opened for business.

Quicker than you can paddle, she had created a website, made an Instagram account and printed business cards.

She provides many of the same services as Downunder: kayak and paddleboard rentals, lessons and tours. Next year, she’ll add kids’ camps.

Westport Paddle Club is not a retail outlet. But Karen will help people buy kayaks and paddleboards — making suggestions, and offering resources.

With a 30-foot dock, Bridgebrook is a perfect spot. And the location is even better than Downunder. There’s a beautiful view of the Saugatuck Rowing Club next door; it’s further from I-95 than the store was, and the entrance is away from the busy street.

Westport Paddle Club is open Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday from 10 to 5, and weekdays by reservation. Click here for the website, email karen@westportpaddleclub.com, or call 203-998-1519.

Life on the Saugatuck River is good!

7 responses to “Westport Paddle Club Surfaces On The Saugatuck

  1. Smart move. Good fit. Best of luck.

  2. This is great news! My son and I love renting kayaks and paddling out to Cockenoe, Sprite, Goose, Sheffield and other islands when visiting Westport. Helping people enjoy and connect to the river and sound will, I hope, also pique understanding and interest in protecting and enhancing water quality, estuaries and wildlife.

  3. Quick moves to take advantage of a business opportunity – I like that! That said, I hope that Westport Paddle Club will make sure all renters are briefed on proper use of waterways, interfering with boat traffic, safety, etc so we don’t have another situation like we did years ago with renters from Downunder wreaking havoc on our waterways and having to be rescued in some cases.

  4. This is great news for those of us who love being out on the water enjoying the river in an eco-friendly vessel especially when slips are in such demand and limited supply in Westport. Thank you Karen for being so nimble in switching gears.

  5. It’s great to know that Karen isn’t leaving. She’s been a great asset to Saugatuck hard working and dedecated.

  6. Fantastic for so many reasons. We have Kayakers in the family. I know that the results mentioned by Dave Stalling will follow.

  7. I still have visions of the paddleboarders and kayakers going down the Saugatuck one fine October day….. all dressed in Halloween costume…. it was a wonderful sight!

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