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Fund Drive Underway for New Dock at Carvins Cove

A low water dock allows easier access to the water – especially for canoe and kayak paddlers as well as shell rowers.

A husband and wife team that moved to Roanoke last year with the goal of bringing the sport of rowing to the valley has led to a campaign to fund a low profile in the boat launch area at the Cove. That dock would make it easier for people to get in and out of kayaks, canoes and rowing shells.

The goal is to raise $23,000 by year’s end, enough to build a 10’ by 60’ dock that would also float up and down as the water level changes at what is Roanoke City’s principal water supply.

The Western Virginia Water Authority operates Carvins Cove and the boat launch/rental facilities currently there. Roanoke Outside Foundation director Pete Eshelman says the Authority is on board with the new dock project. Currently those who rent kayaks there have to wade into the water when they launch.  Revolution Rowing moved here from Atlanta last year and told Eshelman “what was missing was a low profile dock – 5 or 6 inches off the water.”

“This is one of those perfect examples of a public-private partnership,” says Eshelman, who spearheaded the website that lists outdoor activities and the popular Go Outside Festival – GoFest – every October.  Eshelman points to a crowdfunding campaign to build a kayak launch ramp on South Jefferson Street near The Bridges mixed-use complex as another example of where that public-private approach worked. “We’re looking to raise private donations from those that either want to see it or see the value in it – or just want to see us constantly improve access to the outdoors.”

The low-profile dock will provide more stability than trying to step down several feet into a kayak, canoe, rowing shell or onto a paddle board notes Eshelman. Having a dock that moves with the water level helps make it more accessible to those who might be hesitant to step down from the higher dock. That might encourage more people to come out and try a paddle around the reservoir, which is ringed by mountains and makes for a quiet interlude away from city noise.

At the end of the dock another feature he calls a “yack port” and involves railings will enable boaters to slip in and out of the water with even greater ease and stability. “It definitely helps with people that have a hard time getting in and out of the water.”  That might be another enticement during colder months says Eshelman.

Donations for the boat ramp project can be made at Fill out the form, make a donation and in the comments section add that it’s earmarked for the Carvins Cove low profile dock, which Eshelman hopes to see in place before the 2019 boating season.

Anonymous donors will match contributions made and the goal is to have it in place by October. That’s when Revolution Rowing would like to stage some exhibitions at Carvins Cove in conjunction with the Go Outside Festival.

“It will be great opportunity for people to use the dock, but also to see some rowing in action,” says Eshelman. A long term goal for Revolution Rowing is to create a rowing club program for juniors, adults and adaptive uses. It all may begin with funding and installing a low profile dock at the Cove. “This dock is kind of the first step to making that happen.”

Gene Marrano

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