If the bitter cold weather these past few days already has you longing for an early spring, the owners of Paddle Stop New Haven, a new business “serving Missouri River paddlers,” are right there with you.
They are making plans for their 2020 workshops and classes that they hope to begin offering as early as April, if the weather cooperates. They plan to begin taking registrations in March.
Last year one of the more popular excursions was a Full Moon Float with some 50 people joining in.
Plans are to offer a Full Moon Float each month on the Friday evening following the full moon. Other classes, like Intro to Missouri River Paddling and Intro to Stand-Up Paddleboarding, will be offered on a recurring basis as well.
Paddle Stop also will offer experiences, like sunset paddles and Voyager Trips for groups of up to 14 people who will ride in a single 16-foot canoe. Voyager Trips will be held every Saturday and Sunday during the season, which typically runs from April to early November.
Tourists are the target audience, but everyone is welcome to the fun, said Shane Camden, who along with his wife, Stacy, opened Paddle Stop New Haven late last summer in the former public works department building at 1100 Miller St. in Downtown New Haven.
The couple, who grew up in South St. Louis County, have long loved being on the water — from rivers to lakes to oceans.
“We have been fortunate to be able to travel and paddle and surf and enjoy the outdoors,” Camden remarked.
Here in Missouri, they have made countless trips exploring the various rivers. They have participated in the MR340 race that covers the distance of the Missouri River from Kansas City to St. Charles. In 2018, Shane completed the race on a stand-up paddleboard.
Their goal with Paddle Stop is to foster a love of the Missouri River by helping more people be able to enjoy it safely.
“Most people when they get on the Missouri River for the first time, they don’t want to go to other rivers,” said Camden.
Other rivers might be prettier in color, but what impresses Camden about the Missouri is its size, “the mass of it.” But that’s also what scares some people away.
“Our big goal with Paddle Stop is safety and education on the Missouri River, getting people out on the Missouri River, which is something that was really popular up until the Information Age took the wind out of that,” said Camden. “We are going to try to put that back in.
“This business will be focusing on getting people on the Missouri River.”
Classes will be for everyone, from beginners to experienced paddlers.
“Experiences, that’s what we will be going for,” said Camden, noting the Voyager Trips will include a guide, so the passengers can focus their attention on nature and what is going on around them, rather than having to steer a vessel.
They also will offer individual experiences.
“If someone has kayak or canoe experience, but they haven’t been on the Missouri River and they would like a guide to help them navigate it, we will take them out there,” said Camden.
Not all classes will involve the Missouri River. They may be held at a local lake or, “we might even do yoga in the New Haven swimming pool,” Camden remarked.
During the summer, Paddle Stop expects to hold a class or two every day.
In addition to the excursions and events, Paddle Stop also offers a shuttle service. People who want to paddle from Hermann to New Haven, for example, can get a ride back to Hermann.
The shuttle service can be customized for people’s needs and isn’t limited by a radius or distance. Last year the furthest they drove was to Kansas City.
For the few months that Paddle Stop was open last year, it was just Shane and Stacy running the business. This year, they plan to hire additional staff, including at least one driver and a person to operate the shop.
Safety is a priority for Paddle Stop, which is why everyone will be required to wear a PFD or personal flotation device.
“Even I do,” said Camden. “I’ve spent my entire life on the water in some capacity, from lakes to small rivers, larger rivers and oceans, and you need to wear a PFD.
“We also require everyone to have a glow stick and a whistle on the river, especially for night paddling,” he said. “We want everyone to be safe. People aren’t always going to volunteer to do those things, but they might not realize the need or potential danger either.”
The joy of being on the river is mostly about communing with nature and socializing with other people who appreciate the beauty and fun of it. But people who have never been on the river before will likely experience an awe factor as well.
“It really offers a different perspective on things you see from the land every day,” said Camden, referring specifically of the Full Moon Float. “It’s more different than you realize.”
Camden said they chose to locate Paddle Stop in New Haven not just because of its proximity to the Missouri River, but because of the artisan vibe of the downtown area, with businesses like Astral Glass and Pinckney Bend Distillery.
For several years now, Camden’s work has been building custom canoes and paddleboards under the brand name Timber Longboard Co.
He had been building them in his home workshop, but the location on Miller Street, which offers some 15,000 square feet, provides amble space for the construction and storage.
Camden, who studied aeronautical engineering, began crafting boards and boats about seven years ago after he and Stacy went shopping to buy a pair of stand-up paddleboards. At the time, they weren’t readily available in Missouri, and the ones they found were pretty expensive.
He had learned how to make surf boards when he lived in Florida for college, so tried his hand at paddleboards.
“It has gone that direction ever since,” said Camden, noting paddleboards are made just like surfboards, only bigger.
Over the past three or four years, Camden has made 30 or 40 boards and boats a year, each customized to a person’s needs and wants.
With the opening of Paddle Stop, Camden will continue to make boards and boats, but in a more limited capacity, since he won’t have the same amount of time available.
There is an art to building boards and boats, said Camden.
“The way you lay the grain of the wood out so that the grain is highlighted, and in pairing different woods that are different colors with the boards,” he said.
Paddle Stop will provide boats and equipment for people who sign up for classes, but Camden said it is preferable for people to use their own equipment whenever possible, since they will be more familiar with it. That includes PFDs.
The business has three canoes and three kayaks in its inventory, and Camden plans to add up to 10 tandem kayaks for this year.
There are several Missouri River stand-up paddleboards in the inventory, but they won’t offer paddleboard classes on the river, except to very experienced paddleboarders.
“They are much larger than others,” Camden said, explaining that is for a couple of reasons. “The longer the board or boat, the straighter it tracks. If you are paddling one side, the vessel will want to track to the other side. So the longer the vessel, the straighter it will paddle, and the Missouri River kind of has a swirling motion to it because of the wing dams that come out so going straight is important.”
Notable Canoe, Kayak
Last year Camden crafted a 16-foot cedar strip tandem canoe for a raffle to benefit Missouri River Relief.
Before that he built a custom kayak for a man, Mark Fingerhut, who wanted to paddle the entire length of the Missouri River, carrying all of his personal effects, food and camping gear onboard.
The kayak is so large that it can’t be taken out recreationally, since it requires a canoe trailer to move it.
Fingerhut doesn’t have the space to store it, so plans are to hang it up in the gathering space at Paddle Stop, said Camden.
Camden buys most of the wood he uses for his boards and boats from Menards.
“I like Western red cedar,” he said. “I pick through the boards because I can’t have knots . . . That’s always a breaking point for the wood. It’s a weak spot.”
He doesn’t use a lot of tools in building his boards and boats. He starts with wood boards that get cut into strips.
“This gets run through a beading and coving process which rounds this over, and then hollows out the back side. Like a tongue and groove and locks in tight and gives it a larger glue joint, which is stronger,” he said.
“These boards will get manipulated on the forms and twisted, so they are constantly under stress. Then once the vessel is covered in wood or whatever technique I’m using, then it’s a matter of planing with a block plane. Then sandpaper.”
He uses a very tiny saw to cut the intricate pieces and block planes to slice little pieces of wood off at a time. An electric saw is used to cut the large hole where the passenger sits.
Time and patience are a key part of the process. He estimates that it took him 160 hours to complete the cedar strip tandem canoe last year for the Missouri River Relief raffle.
For more information, go to paddlestop.com or call 573-237-2268.