Paddle board, kayak rental firm plans opening Saturday

May 7, 2013
Laura Essel

Water sports enthusiasts will no longer be on Ten Mile Creek without a paddle board.

Northeast Paddleboard Co., based in Elizabeth Township, is setting up shop on the Maxwell Basin in Fredericktown to rent and sell paddle boards and kayaks. Its grand opening will be at 2 p.m. Saturday.

“There are no bike rentals, no kayaking rentals, no paddle board rentals on the Mon until you get into downtown Pittsburgh,” said Laura Essel of Scenery Hill, manager of the new site at Greene Cove, on a wide creek that feeds into the Monongahela River.

“This is why we think it’s a great opportunity. It’s an environmentally friendly way to enjoy the waterways.”

This will be Northeast’s second site, and it will not be elaborate at first. Essel, literally, will run the business from a tent, renting eight paddle boards and seven kayaks by the hour.

Weather, of course, will be the major factor in operations at Greene Cove, just as it is in Elizabeth, Allegheny County. Northeast’s location there is beneath the Boston Bridge, which carries Route 48 across the Youghiogheny River.

Northeast owner Sandy Steffan said when conditions are favorable, rentals will be available at each venue any day of the week from, essentially, April to October. She said hours will be flexible and “reservations are preferred but not required.” Paddle board yoga classes can be scheduled.

A paddle board resembles a surf board with a slightly dug-out hull in which one person stands or kneels, while navigating with a lengthy paddle. It is not a new piece of water equipment, but one that is unfamiliar to a number of people.

Interest is accelerating, though, and the learning curve isn’t prohibitive, Steffan said.

“It’s much easier than it looks. In a way, it resembles surfing. I’ve had 5-year-olds and 77-year-olds out there paddling away. It’s super easy and super accessible.”

Steffan, 30, of Elizabeth Township, started her business in June 2011. It operates out of a hut under the bridge and is a part-time gig for her. Full time, she manages a legal advocate team for the Center for Victims, a crime victim and witness assistance agency.

She became enamored of Greene Cove during her years at Baldwin High School, when her family had a boat docked there. Steffan said “Ten Mile Creek is a perfect waterway” on which to learn paddle boarding because it is a no-wake zone. Accomplished enthusiasts can be found on the nearby Mon, the state’s recently anointed No. 1 river.

Essel, 45, learned all about paddle boards while working at Steffan’s shop in Elizabeth. Working at Greene Cove should be an easy transition, for she is an outdoors aficionado, an avid kayaker, hiker, biker and skier who has been a cove member for 10 years. Essel likewise owns a business, Laura’s Land-Care.

A Robert Morris University graduate, Essel will handle the Greene Cove rentals by herself at first. She said she is looking for assistants.

For general information or to reserve paddle boards or kayaks, call 724-381-1854 or go to

The number in Elizabeth is 412-720-5058.

Rick Shrum joined the Observer-Reporter as a reporter in 2012, after serving as a section editor, sports reporter and copy editor at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Rick has won seven individual writing awards, including two Golden Quills.

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