Petaluma may have a river, but that doesn’t mean playing on the water is accessible to everyone.
The high costs and low availability of kayak, rowboat, stand-up paddleboard and other watercraft rentals keeps residents from fully taking advantage of the Petaluma River bisecting the city’s downtown.
At least, that’s what the people behind The Floathouse, a project of the Petaluma Small Craft Center, think.
“Petaluma prides itself on being a ‘river town,’” executive director Greg Sabourin said, “but you don’t have a place that you can easily rent a paddleboard or rowboat.”
By early spring, leaders of the nonprofit organization hope to launch a fleet of fairly low-cost watercraft rentals — everything from canoes and standup paddle boards to sailboats and small electric boats — from a community dock in the Turning Basin, a stretch of the river, which is technically a tidal slough, squarely in the city’s downtown.
“It’s to get butts in boats,” Sabourin said. Sabourin and others behind the project say the Petaluma River should be treated by residents and visitors as a long, watery city park.
On Saturday, that ideal was on full display as six people contorted themselves atop paddleboards under the guidance of Lacey Shelton, a Petaluma yoga instructor. Behind them, young kayak racers with the River Town Racers held their practice.
Shelton, who owns Petaluma Park Yoga, donated her teaching time for the event, which was the second in a pair of paddleboard yoga classes that have been part of The Floathouse’s fall fundraising drive. The money raised from the $75 class will go toward paying for the paddleboards.
A slow-building fundraising success, The Floathouse has raised over $500,000, across nearly a decade through government grants and private donors, for construction. They’re closing in on reaching their goals and need around $70,000 to complete the facility and launch the inaugural rental fleet, according to the website, thefloathousepetaluma.org.
You can reach Staff Writer Andrew Graham at 707-526-8667 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @AndrewGraham88
City of Santa Rosa, The Press Democrat
As Sonoma County's largest city, Santa Rosa’s policy, politics, crime, and economy affect the lives of North Bay residents inside city limits and beyond in ways both obvious and unseen. I aim to document those impacts and give voice to city residents.
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