Gerry's Kayaks reopens after hurricane hiatus

Kathryn Cargo By Kathryn Cargo

Dec. 4, 2017 at 10 p.m.
Updated Dec. 5, 2017 at 6 a.m.

Gerry Wyant, right, owner of Gerry's Kayaks, helps University of Houston-Victoria students Sophia Espinoza, left, and Treysi Diaz embark on the Guadalupe River for kayaking in 2015.

Gerry Wyant, right, owner of Gerry's Kayaks, helps University of Houston-Victoria students Sophia Espinoza, left, and Treysi Diaz embark on the Guadalupe River for kayaking in 2015.   YI-CHIN LEE/YLEE@VICAD.COM for The Victoria Advocate

Victorians can now paddle down the Guadalupe River again in Riverside Park with Gerry's Kayaks after the business reopened.

Owner Gerry Wyant, 67, sent his first kayaking group on the river Sunday since the business closed because of Hurricane Harvey. He was able to open his business because city officials reopened a portion of Riverside Park where the boat ramp is located, which now has a paved parking lot.

"I'm looking forward to getting rolling again, and I really enjoy putting people on the water," he said. "I enjoy the people who go kayaking - I'm a people person, and I love people having fun and having a good time."

With Wyant's business, kayakers begin at the boat ramp and make their way down about 4.5 miles of the river to The PumpHouse Riverside Restaurant and Bar area where Wyant picks them up. A week before he reopened, he and his wife kayaked the river to make sure it was safe.

The kayaking trip had about five rapids before the hurricane but now only has two, which makes the ride less challenging, Wyant said.

"Without those giving you that fun part where it speeds you up a little bit and gives a challenge of paddling, it becomes a lazy river, although there are two rapids that are fairly good," he said.

Wyant said he thinks heavy rains could move the soil and sand around in the river, making more rapids in the future.

Around the first turn of the river after someone starts a trip, there is a tree down in the water, and the current pulls kayakers toward it, Wyant said. He said although the kayaker will have to paddle to avoid the tree, he didn't have any trouble with it, and neither did his first group of kayakers.

Many of the former river banks have eroded, and the river is wider in some parts, Wyant said.

"There are a lot of trees down, especially on the left bank," he said. "Many trees that used to be on land are in the water - still upright - but no longer have a land base but have a water base."

Although Pebble Beach was washed away, Wyant said there are a few more sandy beaches than there were before.

Because most of Riverside is still closed with the exception of a section of the south side of the park and the area near the boat ramp, Wyant can't access his kayakers as easily, which is a worry of his.

Usually his customers don't have any issues, but if a kayak malfunctions and it's not an emergency, Wyant will have to go to the boat ramp, go into the river and retrieve the kayak.

Wyant's concession stand, the Snack Shack, which was housed in a small city building, remains closed. He said he has to wait for the city to repair the building before he's able to reopen the stand. Before Hurricane Harvey, customers could drop in and rent kayaks at the Snack Shack. Now they must make a reservation by calling Wyant.

He said he plans to run his kayaking business through the winter on Saturdays and Sundays. He plans to open for more days of the week next spring.

"It's so gratifying to see people have a good time on the water," Wyant said.


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