After the Carolinas' severe drought shut down Chip Traub's boat-based business a year ago, the idea of jumping right back into the water may seem a little strange. Traub, however, believes it's going to work.
Traub, along with wife Julie, began an exclusively online boat rental service, wylieboatrentals.com, on Lake Wylie. For the Fort Mill couple, this venture puts them in the same boat as everyone else when it comes to weather.
"Pray for rain," Julie said. "That's all we can do."
If Mother Nature cooperates, this can be their dream job.
"This is something that she and I love to do," Chip said.
Chip, who sold boats at Wher-Rena Boatland in Lake Wylie before the company announced it would close earlier this year, is the first person to admit boating businesses on Lake Wylie depend on water being up and access being easy.
"When you can't sell boats and put them in the water, that's a problem," he said.
But it was another lesson Chip brings from his time at Wher-Rena that is helping him make a splash with his new business, a lesson he learned from would-be customers.
Now, the Traubs man a fleet, including a 24-foot pontoon and four waverunners. All five boats are 2008 models, and the popularity of wylieboatrentals.com already has the Traubs planning to add a larger pontoon next year.
"It's a beautiful boat," Julie said of the pontoon. "It's been very popular. Our weekends are crazy. We're booked through the middle of July."
In fact, all of the vessels were booked for the Fourth of July two months ago, Julie said. The Traubs are finding all sorts of customers, from out-of-town guests only in for a short stay to parties, groups of couples and even boat owners who need a larger pontoon for a special occasion rather than their bowriders, fishing boats or other power boats.
Interest has been so high that the Traubs often send interested renters that they can't serve on a particular day to other rental spots on Lake Wylie, such as Tega Cay Marina and Pier 88 Yacht Club at River Hills Marina.
Wylieboatrentals.com is a "mobile business," she said, in that customers can book a boat or waverunner online and have it delivered to Buster Boyd Access Area or other spots on Lake Wylie that customers prefer.
Rentals are available in all-day, half-day and weekly time slots. All-day rentals run 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays and weekends, and half-day rentals last any four hours within that same span. Costs range from $170 for a half day and $350 for a full day to $950 for an entire week. The price includes everything except fuel, which the Traubs get at the "land rate" at local service stations.
Reservations can be made online or by calling 370-2628.