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@Work: Virgin Kayak and Canoe Outfitters

Nov 25, 2004 – The only problem customers of Virgin Kayak and Canoe Outfitters might run into with owner Brian Updyke is that he could have difficulty keeping his passions separated.
He is so passionate about sea kayaking that in his off-hours, although he does tours seven days a week in season, he goes kayaking solo. He says when he is out on the sea alone, "Sometimes I sing, sometimes I pray and sometimes I just enjoy."
His other passion is native island history. He says, "We have only been on these islands a couple hundred years. They were here for thousands of years."
One of the two featured tours of Virgin Kayak is through the National Historical Park and Ecological Preserve at Salt River Bay, the site of Christopher Columbus' only landing on U.S. land and the only known Taino ball court in the Virgin Islands.
His passion for Pre-Columbian culture is so great that he has a room full of replica Indian artifacts he has made, forged from local clay. Customers on the tour are treated to a narrative on Columbus' landing and also details about the Taino and Carib cultures.
This passion has taken him on a singular journey to get an authentic canoe made by Caribs. The canoe is being made using traditional methods from a 100-year-old tree by Caribs in Dominica and should be delivered to St. Croix in the spring. The canoe will hold 10 people, and Virgin Kayak will be using it for tours of Salt River.
He says, "This is how people got from island to island for a thousand years, and it has been missing from the Virgin Islands for 300 years."
Other featured tours are coastal sea tours that begin or end at Cane Bay beach. There is a building behind the Cane Bay Beach Bar where customers get outfitted for their trip or can look at kayaks to purchase.
Customers do not need to worry about their safety as they head out into five foot ocean swells toward the Wall where the depth goes from 40 feet to over 13,000 feet.
Brian will explain not only how good the life jackets are, but how well they let the kayaker maneuver to do what is necessary. He is an accomplished kayaker and prepared to handle just about any situation.
Virgin Kayaks was one of the first to get into the pedal kayaks back in the late 90s. Although he admits "purists" might have problems with the pedals, he sees them as being very efficient and, with the rudder, much more manageable.
Virgin Kayaks also sells kayaks so Brian is very knowledgeable about what is best for each individual. For himself he has three different kayaks – one for surfing, one for long trips and one for short outings.
He has lived on St. Croix for 15 years. Before he began running Virgin Kayak full time six years ago, he managed landscaping at Carambola.
Taking care of much on the business side of Virgin Kayaks is his wife, Jill.
They can be reached at 778-0071.

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