The owners of The Activity Shop are on a mission to get visitors in the right-sized boat for the right body of water for their Maine vacation.
Whether the customer stands 5 feet 5 inches or 6 feet 2 inches, and is ready to paddle in a freshwater pond or saltwater bay, husband and wife Chris Muise and Amy Grant will tailor the right kayak or canoe to the setting.
“I’ve always had a love of canoeing,” Muise said.
“I love kayaking and I always have,” Grant added.
Muise and Grant already operate Peninsula Metamorphic Arts and Learning in Blue Hill. They offer summer camps and creative and educational programming year-round for children. They always wanted to add more, outdoors, nature-oriented classes and activities. Their acquisition of The Activity Shop enabled them to do that.
A registered Maine guide, Muise also is a former boat builder, so repairing, rigging and and orienting and educating paddlers is a perfect fit.
The Activity Shop has 100 kayaks and canoes that it rents out by the week to Maine vacationers. The craft also are available for a single weekday.
“Ninety percent of our business is connected with vacation rental properties, both with agencies and through private management,” Muise said.
“We deliver free of charge seven days per week to Deer Isle and Stonington, all of the Blue Hill Peninsula and Surry, Orland and Bucksport, Ellsworth and Trenton. There’s a delivery fee to go Downeast — beyond the Sullivan Bridge — or to Mount Desert Island.
Most canoe and kayak rentals are by the week and follow the same rental pattern as vacation cottages.
“Rent a cottage in Brooklin and it can be waiting for you when you arrive,” Muise said.
Single-day rentals are available weekdays only at the Blue Hill town landing, the East Blue Hill boat launch, Wight’s Pond in Penobscot and Walker’s Pond in Sedgwick.
The shop will take reservations the day before the rental is needed. Muise explained that the shop needs to look at weather and tide charts to determine a time.
The Activity Shop provides lifejackets too.
New to the business this season are paddle boards.
“These are for the ponds and they’re great,” Grant said.
The Activity Shop also has bicycles for rent. However, Muise notes that there really are not many places to safely ride on the Blue Hill Peninsula. They will deliver bikes to people staying on Cape Rosier in Brooksville, Naskeag Point or Flye Point in Brooklin or Newbury Neck in Surry.
As a family, the couple, who have two school-age children, River and Liliana, like to paddle in Blue Hill’s inner harbor.
“It’s a large body of water, but it’s salt water,” Muise said. “It’s tidal. We have 12 feet of tide here,” unlike Maryland’s coast, which is much shorter, for example.
There is quite a bit of sightseeing to do from the inner harbor.
Muise rattled off a list, which includes lobster boats, yachts, Blue Hill Mountain, the Blue Hill Country Club and golf course. You can swim in the harbor when the temperature warms up a bit in July or August.
“You can stop at Sand Island to have a picnic,” Muise said. “There are beautiful homes to look at from the water. It’s a very safe place to paddle.”
There are lots of birds to see too, Grant added.
The family also likes to paddle in Walker’s Pond, which is shared by the towns of Sedgwick and Brooksville.
Walker’s Pond has a public boat landing with picnic tables and a small sand beach.
“Sedgwick and Brooksville have done such a great job,” Muise said. “Kudos to them.”
“As a couple, we like to go to Wight’s Pond,” Grant said. Wight’s is in Penobscot.
“It’s so quiet,” she said. “It’s just so beautiful.” There is a short 15-minute paddle down an inlet to get to Wight’s Pond, which is a narrow body of water. Public access is available from a tiny parking lot off Western County Road.
McHeard Cove (the harbor in East Blue Hill) also is good for paddling.
“You can get to Long Island, Jed’s Island, Newbury Neck,” Muise said.
Reservations can be made online, but Muise speaks with each customer over the phone to discuss his or her needs and experience level.
So far, the business has been a great addition to the family.
The couple employs five part-time and two full-time staffers during the summer at the shop.
“It’s a short window but it’s great for college students and other seasonal employees such as teachers,” Muise said.
“We’ve met so many nice people,” Muise said. “They’re so excited to be in Maine.”
To make reservations or learn more, contact Chris Muise and Amy Grant at The Activity Shop (139 Mines Road, Blue Hill) at 374-3600 and www.theactivityshop.com.