James here, folks.
Like everybody else, we have been in shock for the last few weeks. You know the rabbit in the headlights? We’ve been like that only the car and the rabbit froze for the three whole weeks. That is why you wouldn’t have seen much from us on social media lately. We were considering packing it in, to be honest.
2020 was going to be our year. We finally got our ducks lined up after years growing the business the hard way. We had absorbed the savage Insurance Hikes of 2019. In January we had a new bus ready for the road. Staff were lined up with dates to start back. We had devised a new Activity Calendar that would allow us to put folks into boats every day. I was enjoying learning about business after a lifetime fixing diggers. But that was all Before Corona (B.C.)
Like the whole world, our lives changed with the arrival of the Coronavirus Pandemic. Nothing I say here will differ to anyone else’s story. We don’t have to document this as it will stay with us forever. More intelligent men than me will write verses about it.
From a business standpoint, we lost April, May and June instantly. To put that in context, we work April – September and have to generate and pay for everything in those 6 months. All the school tours in April and May were gone. The Rafting in April and May was wiped out. The Summer school tours – not a hope.
The hardest part was the staff. Our staff are the glue that holds this business together. They have been with us since we started and they have watched me “faking it til I make it” for years. Anyone in business today knows how hard it is to tell their staff “eh, there’s nothing happening so I can’t pay you and there is no work and I don’t know when there will be”.
That was the worst part of this whole shit storm for me. These are my friends. I know what bills they have to pay and the situations they are now in. I know we are all in it together but as an employer, I feel that I am responsible. I feel that I have let them down. It’s because of our staff that we have come such a long way already. So I feel that I need to fight for them.
What has also inspired me are the other local businesses who have gone to great lengths to stay afloat. The small business community of Ireland are helping each other and there is no sign of them going away. We do need all the help we can get. Shop local if you can but more importantly, shout about what you have on your doorstep. Remember the community spirit when this passes – and it will pass – and don’t be in such a hurry to spend everything in the nearest shopping centre. If any good is to come out of this, it should be that small businesses get busier after Corona than they were before.
There is also the personal fact that I have put too much time, money and energy into this business for a bug to bring it down without a fight. So I am staying put, staying safe and waiting for the bug to die. Our whole world might have been turned upside down but like everyone else, we will surface again. We have been knocked sideways before and we have always found a way through rough waters. We are working on it and making plans for After Corona (A.C.)
We know that at some stage the lockdown restrictions will eventually be lifted. We know there will still be social distancing rules and financial strains on us all and that’s why we are going to be doing things differently. The river isn’t going anywhere and we feel that people will want to enjoy the outdoors again. We think there will be massive changes in peoples attitudes. The pace might be slower. Folks will want to get some fresh air and bring their children outside again. That is why we will be replacing the kids’ Summer camps with Family kayaking trips.
There is no point listing what we WON’T be doing after the lockdown but here’s a few things we will be doing:
- Kayaking Experience up to 8 persons
- Kayak/Canoe Rental on Boyne Blueway
- Family Kayaking Trips
- Floating through Time River Tours (on inflatable Rafts)
- Adventure Race Kayak Training
All bookings and enquiries will be made by phone on 086 734 2585 as our booking engine is temporarily closed. We expect to be back out and at it through July and August (depending on the Lockdown of course). We are ramping up the social media machine again and we’ll stay in touch. For now, stay safe, stay at home and we’ll see you on the Boyne again when this blows over.