By JULIA BENNETT
The kayak business might as well be unsinkable.
The word as well as the invention itself comes from native Inuit peoples in Alaska: Kayak literally translated means “hunter’s boat.” The small, narrow craft — originally handcrafted from driftwood, whalebone and animal skin — is today most often used by one or two people at a time for racing, fishing or just a lazy float. Fishing kayaks are the most popular market segment.
Kayak Coeur d’Alene owner Chip Dalvini moved to the Lake City in 1999 with his wife and co-owner, Ginger. He’s always been interested in watersports and, after moving to Coeur d’Alene, he bought a kayak. He liked it well enough that he decided he wanted to open a kayak business.
He launched the enterprise 17 years ago as an outfitter that led tours on Lake Coeur d’Alene. Today, the company offers kayak and stand-up paddle board rentals and lessons, as well as kayaks and paddle boards for sale. Dalvini said kayaks can start as low as $150 though he noted that boaters get what they pay for: A good kayak tends to cost a little more.
“There are a ton of great kayaks between the $800 and the $1,200 range,” Dalvini said. “That’s the sweet spot.”
North America is expected to record the fastest kayak sales expansion through 2026, followed by the Asia-Pacific region, according to recent industry forecasts. One trend fueling the growth: Kayaks provide an outdoor experience in an environmentally friendly way.
Dalvini said the first few things he teaches beginners include an efficient forward paddle stroke, how to turn and how to move backward. The most common problem he sees in beginners is that they often paddle using their arms. Experienced kayakers know to use their core muscles. Beginners also often hold the paddle too tight.
“There is a correct way to paddle forward, there is a correct way to paddle backward, and there are all sorts of different strokes to turn a boat,” Dalvini said.
Dalvini and Coeur d’Alene Watersports owner Reuben Rodroguez said July was the busiest time for kayak rentals. The weather and water are warm, and people want to be outside Rodriguez said
Coeur d’Alene Watersports, located at Independence Point on Lake Coeur d’Alene, serves customers from all over the world, Rodriguez said. The business has been open for 17 years and has mostly stayed the same except they ditched a canoe and added paddle boards.
“I would say it is one of the most fun jobs you could ever have,” Rodriguez said. “You are out in the water, you are having fun with customers and you’re meeting people from all over.”
Kayak Coeur d’Alene rents single-rider kayaks for $20 for two hours, $40 for four hours and $65 for a full day. They also offer two-person kayaks for $27.50 for two hours, $55 for four hours and $85 for a full day. Kayak Coeur d’Alene will bring kayaks to the customer’s location, and they will go to places other than Lake Coeur d’Alene. They also offer two kayaking classes. Kayak basic paddle strokes is held on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. and a course on kayak safety is held on Sundays from 1:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. Both cost $50 per person.
Coeur d’Alene Watersports offers single kayaks at $10 for one hour and $15 for two hours. Two-person kayaks can be rented for $15 for one hour and $25 for two hours. Customers can enjoy the kayaks on Lake Coeur d’Alene.