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Paddlers raise money for low-profile dock at Carvins Cove

Dock would make life easier for kaykers, stand up paddleboarders

Roanoke – Jim Pickens and his wife, Lauren, enjoy rowing more than most people.

"I even proposed to my wife on the rowing dock. So I've pretty much run the gauntlet of everything you can do in the sport," said Pickens, laughing. He started rowing in high school in northern Virginia and has competed at various levels ever since.

Carvins Cove, he said, is perfect for rowing.

"One of the things that makes Carvins Cove so great is just the scenery. You're surrounded on all sides by mountains. It has nice flat water, no wind, no waves."

But one thing that's missing is a low-profile dock.  

The special dock is designed for boats like Pickens', as well as kayaks and stand-up paddleboards, which can be too tippy to access from a conventional boat dock.  

This time of year many people drag their boats into the shallow water and hop in.  But boats designed for rowing, like Pickens', would not stand up to the beating.

"A lot of the boats that are in use now, not just in rowing, but in stand up paddleboarding and kayaking, tend to have a little bit more delicate whole surface. So, it's not exactly something you can just drag across the ground and into the water," he said.

In addition, the dock would encourage the year-round use of the cove. 

"When water temperatures are too cold to even get your ankles wet, it’s nice to have that dock to be able to put that foot down, get in the boat and enjoy the cove in November, December, January as well," Pickens said.

Sonya Steffens, a local chemist and stand-up paddleboarding enthusiast agreed. 

"That would be very helpful. Especially in the winter, when you may not want to get in the water to get onto your paddleboard or into your kayak. In the summer it’s nice to get wet, but in the winter it would be a little bit chilly," Steffens said.

Pete Eshelman, director of the Roanoke Outside Foundation, sees lots of upside to a dock that would make life easier for paddle sports enthusiasts. 

And, he sees an opportunity to grow the attractiveness of the region.

"What this project represents another step in the evolution of the region and identifying ourselves as an outdoor recreation Mecca. And one of the things we need to do to continue growing that is to really make it accessible to more and more people," Eshelman said.

Pickens hopes to one day start organized rowing events for middle and high school students.  

"The logical place for all of it to start is with juniors. They tend to have the greatest numbers. So, I really would like to see a high school program start and maybe middle school," he said.

In the meantime, he just wants a good way to get them into the water.

A crowdfunding campaign is underway for those who want to support the initiative.  Organized by Pickens and the Roanoke Outside Foundation, the initiative offers some matching grants and a tax-free opportunity for donors. 

"They can go onto our website they can click the donate button and then in the comments section they mark the donation for Carvins Cove. Everything will be earmarked for this," Eshelman said.

He said he hoped to have the money raised and the dock in place by the time of the Go Outside Festival in October.

Click the following link to learn more about donating to the project: https://www.roanokeoutside.com/donate/carvins-cove-low-profile-dock/