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New owner of Bowen Island Sea Kayaking won’t rock the boat

After one week as a Bowen Islander, Brent O'Malley is the proud new owner of Bowen Island Sea Kayaking.

After one week as a Bowen Islander, Brent O'Malley is the proud new owner of Bowen Island Sea Kayaking. He says he has no major plans to change the business's programming or schedule, but might change the name of the "947" deal which offers locals cheap rental rates after 5pm on weekdays.

"A lot of people don't have 947 numbers who live here so..."

O'Malley says he and his partner came to Bowen from California because they were looking for a co-housing situation, and fell in love with the island immediately.

"We bought into Belterra after one week," he says.

O'Malley says he grew up canoeing in Manitoba and Northern Ontario, and still takes yearly canoe trips in that part of the country with his brother.

He lived in California for 27 years prior to moving to Bowen, and says on the coast his love of canoeing turned in to a love of sea kayaking.

"Mostly just day trips," he says. "But I love being on the water. A passion for paddling, and the desire to be my own boss... both of these things really appeal to me."

When it comes to the idea of running a business on an island that is dependent on the ferry for customers, he says he's not worried.

"Based on the fact that this business has been here for so long, I feel good about its viability," he says.

The business started in 1996 at Mount Gardner dock, with just a few boats. Martin Clarke started out as an employee of the business, and then moved up to manager. He bought Bowen Island Sea Kayaking in 2000.

"I'd say 95 percent of our business has come from people on the North Shore," he says. "I've always done a lot of promotion in North and West Vancouver."

Clarke also points to a poster with a map of the world on it on the wall of the kayak shop with pins marking where customers have come from.

"Last year we had people from 35 different countries," says Clarke. "But I remember one year when we had people from more than 50 different countries."

Now that he's sold his business, Martin Clarke says he's looking forward paying off his mortgage and doing more kayaking.