One recent Friday afternoon, the sky was clear blue and the wind was nil. Debbie Krueger ushered a group of adult siblings, their husbands, three daughters, and their grandkids down the dock to her husband Dennis, in his straw sun hat and Bermuda shorts. He gave his safety spiel on boat traffic, how to avoid fighting the tides, and how to get to the beach from the harbor. No need to fear the neighboring sea lions and otters jumping into the boat. Krueger said since he and his wife bought the 22-year-old business in 2004, he’s never had a problem with the local wildlife. And depending on the amount of bait fish, dolphins swim by the dock for a visit. Every two or three years, in the spring or fall, an immature whale will get separated from their group and find it’s way into the harbor, where the otters and sea lions prefer over the ocean.
“We’re so blessed here,” Dennis Kruger said, after explaining the summer hasn’t been too bad, business-wise. The weather has made a nice come back, and it looks like it’s going to hold. “I mean people come from all over the world, and then they come back from kayaking and it’s just like holy cow, wow.”
In a mere hour, Kruger had lowered his fleet of 12 Sit-In Necky and Old Town kayaks into the water five times over. He met an extended family from Las Vegas who have rented a beach house in Cayucos every year for the past 15 years, another family from the Netherlands who came for the sun and the seals, and a local Cuesta student who regulars the rental place before her 3 p.m. shift at the Morro Bay Best Western. One little kayaker couldn’t have been older than four-years-old.
“I recommend people come here,” said Dominike Tambazidis, the local student who rented a single kayak. Rentals are first-come, first-serve, and go for $14 the first hour and $10 per hour after that. There are group rates as well, tours, and sales. Kayak Horizons is now offering Nalu 12.5 Ocean stand up paddleboards for rent as well. The Paddle Sports Store sells new kayaks, life jackets, paddles, waterproof and breathable outerwear, booties, gloves, sandals, dry bags and other watersport accessories.
“In my free time I like to come out here and enjoy Morro Bay, all the great adventure that is out here. I love it because Dennis’ kayaking is so convenient... It’s beautiful for the eye to see. Morro Bay rock is right on the water,” Tambazidis said.
The Kruegers are efficient. Debbie, a former banker, runs the waiver forms and the payments and gears up the customers, young and old, in life jackets, while Dennis moves the kayaks in and out of the water.
“It’s so nice having my wife down here,” Dennis said. “So I don’t have to go up and down the ramp like a crazy person.” The two of them keep open seven days a week, year round, as the weather is calm even in the month of February. College kids help out so they can get a break every once in awhile. On Dennis’ days off he likes to ride motorcycles. He goes fishing in the surf. He and Debbie work in the yard at their house in Morro Bay.
The Kruegers moved to the area 18 years ago from the Reno area after falling in love with Morro Bay. Dennis ran a construction company. Their daughter joined them from Reno and now lives in San Luis Obispo. They have three grandchildren.
“This is how you get to spend your life. It’s not a bad thing you know,” Dennis laughs. He said he likes to brag about the beauty of Morro Bay and works with the Tourism Bureau. “You see some of the nicest transient boats going up and down the coast due to being next to the yacht club. People heading down the Sea of Cortez or something. You see some pretty amazing watercraft.”
“With the sea lions and the otters and the harbor seals and all the different bird life and the boating, it’s like that perfect combination of what you want to do outdoors in a recreational sense with your family, but it’s in a really mellow setting,” he said. “It’s not like you have to go out in the ocean or go out in the waves or anything.”
Kayak Horizons has the most unobstructed view of the Morro Rock natural wonder, pretty much any photo one dares to take in the kayak is a keeper.
Another group lined up at the end of the hour that Friday. “Let’s make it happen,” Dennis said, as he lined up a couple doubles and a single for a couple and and a group of kids and grandparents. Being a small business the Kruegers are always tracking the traffic, but they are getting a normal amount of kayakers for July.
Dennis tells the incoming group to try to synchronize their strokes. He lets them know the heaviest person sits in the back, and the couple bursts into laughter as the female in the couple begrudgingly takes the rear seat. The mood is as relaxing and calm as the water. For the Kruegers, this is how they get to spend their life.