Florida Keys Business
Sunday, April 22, 2012
The launching of a 'paddling paradise'

The owner of the Florida Keys' newest paddleboard shop is a sailor, former mountain bike racer and canoe champion, an outdoor photographer and master dive instructor.

"I realized long ago that my life was meant to be spent outside, not inside," said Scott Baste, 51, owner of Paddle the Florida Keys at Mile Marker 94.4, oceanside, in Key Largo.

Baste and wife Betsy, also 51, opened their shop May 1.

Betsy Baste, who works as a snorkel guide at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, provides marketing expertise for the new family business as well.

For the time being the shop is renting paddleboards and kayaks out of the new location while Scott prepares the showroom, which will eventually sell boards and kayaks.

Last week he was cutting bamboo strips that will cover some of the walls.

"Everything here will be tropical décor," he said. "This will be a paddling paradise."

He pointed to what will become a media room with a TV showing promotional films, as well as book and magazine racks promoting kayaking and paddle boarding and an assortment of nautical charts.

The much larger main room will include sunglasses, sunscreen and an assortment of tropical clothing.

Meanwhile, Baste will deliver and pick up a rental kayak or board from Key Largo to Upper Matecumbe Key at no extra charge. Daily rates from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. are $30 for economy boards or kayaks to $40 for the premium boards and kayaks. The shop also offers "peek-a-boo" kayaks with see-through bottoms and tandem kayaks for $40 and $45 a day, respectively.

Weekly rates are $150 for the basic board and kayak models, $200 for premium board and kayak models and $225 for the tandem kayaks.

A $250 deposit on a credit card is required on the rentals. Baste will bring a portable credit card machine with him when he delivers the kayak or paddle board.

He pointed out some new government-mandated safety rules.

Life jackets and signaling devices are now required for all paddleboards and kayaks, with the exception of boards that are used in the surf and are attached with a tether line to the user's ankle.

Paddles, life jackets and whistles are provided at no additional cost.

Soon Paddle the Florida Keys will sell Kai of Jupiter and Boardworks of California paddle boards. They will also sell Ellie and Seaward kayaks, both Canadian brands.

Call Baste at 305-434-5930 or visit www.paddlethefloridakeys.com

sgibbs@keysnews.com

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