Florida Master Naturalist Rachel Wells is the tour manager at Riding The Waves. Rachel is very familiar with the area and has been a paddleboard tour guide in the past Cheryl was on the working with a customer one day when she noticed his email address the words "CraigCat." After a quick internet search she saw the small catamarans on a website, then found a place to rent them in Marco Island. She suggested to Russ they go and check them out. "We've lived near the water in Florida for 25 years, and it was by far one of the best experiences I've ever had," she said. "It was so relaxing and we had such a good time ... all the way home we were brainstorming ways how we could make this work in Englewood." Having a background in business and accounting they decided to purchase two boats and test the waters (pun intended) for awhile. Soon a rental space became available at Skip's Marina on Placida Road, and now they have seven rental boats housed there. 38GASPARILLA ISLAND September/October 2017 So what is a personal catamaran? The boats are designed not only for fun, but also with safety and simplicity of operation in mind. They have high-density, roto-molded, foam-filled pontoons, making them nearly unsinkable. The vessels turn in such a way that makes it almost impossible to capsize, and they’re easy to access from floating docks that sit just a few inches above the surface of the water. Russ and Cheryl found Florida Master Naturalist Rachel Wells and offered her a job as tour manager of the business. Rachel is very familiar with the area and has been a paddleboard tour guide in the past. The first guided tour was in January of 2017. “Business has been great,” Rachel said. “We’ve been very well received by people of all ages – from young adults to grandparents.” The owners invited the staff from Gasparilla Magazine to come out for a tour in July and we were elated to go. Rachel was an energetic and knowledgeable five-star guide. After giving us an introductory lesson on how to operate the boats we started out slow to get comfortable with the navigation. Riding The Waves tour guide Conner Pressly poses with his mom, Cheryl (owner) and Florida Master Naturalist/tour guide Rachel Wells near the docks.
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