Take a ride down the Nansemond

Published 10:24 pm Thursday, October 20, 2016

Whether you’re looking for fun exercise, some time experiencing the outdoors, a historical or environmental education, a new perspective on your city or just a chance to “get away from it all,” a trip down the Nansemond River might be just what you need.

That trip is easier to access now than it was last month. This time last year, it was downright impossible, unless you happened to be rich enough to own waterfront property with a boat ramp on the river, or knew somebody who did.

That’s because this time last year, there was no public access for people to put in a canoe or kayak on the Nansemond River. But earlier this year, a canoe and kayak launch opened at Sleepy Hole Park, and just this week, one opened at Constant’s Wharf.

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Now, the only thing stopping you from a relaxing river trip is whether you are rich enough to own a canoe or kayak, which is a lower bar than owning waterfront property.

The benefits of this new access point will be multi-faceted and innumerable. Not to be missed among these, as Parks and Recreation Director Lakita Watson pointed out during Monday’s grand opening, are the opportunities for exercise.

We have many wonderful opportunities for exercise in our city, starting with bodyweight exercises you can do right in your home. If you want to walk, hike, run or ride a bike, there are several trails on which you can do those things, in addition to your neighborhood, if it’s safe enough to do so where you live. If you want to participate in organized sports, there are clubs and leagues where you can do that, too. There are several gyms — with another opening soon downtown — where you can get in your cardio and weightlifting.

However, water sports have struggled in Suffolk, due to lack of access. But the recent efforts of the city to build the canoe and kayak launches are improving that access.

All we need now, to make the river a little more accessible, is a way to rent canoes and kayaks for the day to take out on the river. That way, you don’t have to spend $100 or more on a kayak or canoe — and also have enough space in your home to store it and a mount on your car to transport it — to have fun out on the river.