When Gareth first told me he'd arranged for a boat trip, I imagined ripping through the oceans on a high powered speed boat. I'm not an avid sea-farer, especially when it involves bouncing around on rough currents. I get motion sickness on a floating dock. Needless to say, I wasn't exactly thrilled. He told me the name of the company giving us the boat tour was Ocean Shores Electric Boats. I changed my mind's image to a choppy ride on the ocean on a runt of a machine with the annoying buzz of an electric scooter.
Boy, was I way off.
Ocean Shores Electric Boats was a pleasantly surprising treat. A short jaunt down Point Brown Avenue, we were met by Jim Kimzey, owner of Ocean Shores Electric Boats. It would've been a shorter jaunt if we hadn't made the mistake of looking for their storefront on the ocean side of the avenue. When we approached Jim's business, I actually wondered how we were going to get a boat from his store to the ocean and if it meant hitching it to our Hyundai, I figured we were in for a long day.
His storefront is rather deceptive, especially if you aren't familiar with the inner workings of the town of Ocean Shores. You figure, it's a smattering of family owned businesses, vacation houses and the big ocean. If you came upon this:
would you expect to find this in his backyard?
Hidden within the town of Ocean Shores are 23 miles of interconnected fresh waterways, lakes and canals, and Ocean Shores Electric Boats sits on the bank of one such waterway. Jim, along with his wife Nancy, operate a boat rental business that offers hourly rentals of 21-foot Duffy Cruisers . Now in its third year, the business offers a wonderful hands-on boating experience.
Their website at www.oselectriboat.com touts "If you can drive a golf cart, you can drive an electric boat." Jim, a warm, personable gentleman, was gracious enough to accompany us on a tour of the waterways. While patiently tutoring us on the simple mechanics of the boat, he entertained us with his personal story of chance and fortuitious coincidences that brought him and his wife to Ocean Shores after a career with the Department of Health. He educated us on maritime rules and pointed out various wildlife and points of interest along the water route.
The boats are enclosed and can heated on those cold days, making them accessible year round. They seat up to 10 comfortably, providing the ideal setting for family or group outings. During warmer weather, you may cruise with the large zippered windows open or closed in any combination. Gareth got to captain first, but I got my turn eventually. Even though I'm biting my lip in concentration, it's actually quite easy to steer. It needs only a light touch, and of course, at 7 mph max, dont' expect it to turn on a dime.
While I loved steering, I found myself distracted by the scenery and being the picture-taking passenger on a smooth & leisurely boat ride was more to my liking. The cruising speed was just enough to allow me time to relax, enjoy, and wait in anticipation of what was around the next bend or island.
I learned that fishermen had the right of way and I had to steer clear of their lines. In No Wake zones, we could shut to motor down and just float along past beautiful houses, waving back at their friendly owners.
Each boat has a motor that is very quiet and, since they are electric, there are no exhaust or fuel fumes. The boats are powered by a bank of marine batteries that are operational for up to ten hours. Renting the boat is like a renting a car, with a contract signed and rules explained. If requested, a navigator can be provided, but maps of the waterways are available on the boat. Rental fees are very reasonable, especially if a large group shares in the cost, making them ideal for small parties.
Make the electric boat tour a part of your itinerary the next time you travel to Ocean Shores. It's a tranquil and fascinating way to get a different perspective of coastal town. Who would've thought you could have fun on another body of water at Ocean Shores that wasn't the Pacific Ocean?