Workamping in Maine: Second Month on the Job
Our second month working here at Acadia Bike & Coastal Kayaking in Bar Harbor, ME has gone by in the blink of an eye. The moderately paced days of June quickly turned into fully packed days of July, as tourists from all over arrived in Bar Harbor to enjoy its’ summer beauty and moderate temperatures. July 4th appears to almost be the unofficial start of summer here on Mt. Desert Island, much like some parts of the country refer to Memorial Day. The streets are definitely a little more crowded, the Bar and Bridge St. at low tide have quite a few more people on them, the restaurants and bars have more patrons and the harbor has more boats present. All of that adds up to more bicyclists and more kayakers to assist in enjoying their experience at Acadia Bike & Coastal Kayaking.
Customer Service - Betsy
My days in the office are filled with welcoming guests & answering questions. I am still amazed by how many connections can be made with customers. I guess having lived in five states and having traveled through many, many more over the past year has provided me with a laundry list of places & attractions to talk about.
Business has definitely picked up the last few weeks. We have been told it will continue to peak thru August. It sure does make the days go by quickly. I am still surprised that weekends are our slower days. Vacationers are typically coming and going and getting all settled on Saturday. Sunday seems to be their day of planning once arriving in the touristy town of Bar Harbor. Monday morning they are rip-roaring and ready to get out and explore what the carriage roads have to offer by bike and the sites of Frenchman Bay by kayak. Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday seem to follow suit with lots of happy vacationers looking to enjoy what Mount Desert Island is all about. As peak season arrived, the office started being open longer hours (8 AM - 8 PM). Toward the end of July we experienced our first bike sell-out. We then began recommending reservations to anyone and everyone as the only way to guarantee a bike for a certain day.
Kayak tours are hard to come by as well since we seem to fill them up as quickly as the kayak coordinator, Kristina, can add them. Obviously the amount of tours is dictated by the amount of guides available. They do everything they can to add the maximum amount of tours in a day. With all the bike rentals and more people checking in for kayak tours, the office rarely is without customers. As the opener in the morning, I was often greeted by people already lining up outside the door to get first dibs on the bikes or check-in for their morning kayak tour. After 15 minutes of getting everything ready, you better be prepared to hit the floor running when unlocking the door at 8 AM sharp!
May & June were filled with retired folks and young couples (sans kids) while in July we have transitioned to more families with kids. We’ve been told it will remain this way until after Labor Day when schools start back up. We will then find our days filled with helping much more relaxed vacationers. While most people we deal with are happy to be on vacation, vacation with kids adds another level of stress. Thanks Mom & Dad for taking me so many places and making it look easy. Your planning made everything go smoothly. While the customer is always right, there are days we would like to have a sign stating “Your lack of planning, does not constitute an emergency on our part!” Without a doubt, we do what we can to keep everyone’s vacation full of smiles & sunshine!
Work has been enjoyable as a customer service representative at Acadia Bike & Coastal Kayaking. Getting to spend our summer exploring Maine has been delightful. I really enjoy this life as a workamper. Learning new things + Exploring new places = Happy Betsy! If you are curious about the world of Workamping, see our note at the end of this post.
Driver - Russ
People love to kayak when they visit Bar Harbor! Who would have ever thought that when you realize the water temperature in Frenchman’s Bay will probably max out in the mid-50’s during the season. But when the sun is shining, the air temp is in the mid to upper 70’s, and there is a light breeze with calm seas, there is no better view of Bar Harbor and the surrounding landscape than from a kayak on the water. The days of not quite full tours from June have turned into almost every tour being maxed out with 12 customers. (12 is the maximum number allowed for one guide according to Maine state law.) And the days of five to ten tours per day has evolved into days when we’ve had as many as 18 tours in a single day. Coordinating this many tours, for this many customers, with this many guides requires a little planning, the teamwork of all involved, good weather conditions, and of course, a little luck! With that many tours launching, there is a tour at least every 30 minutes and sometimes only 15 minutes apart.
As the volume of kayak tours has increased, it has become even more important to know the exact times of high and low tides on the Bar. Low tide allows us to drive out onto the Bar and launch tours directly from the Bar. Through some trial and error, we have determined that we get a window of approximately three hours before and three hours after low tide to drive onto the Bar. So that equates to about a six hour window around low tide with drive down access to the Bar. However, you can never let your guard down when the tide is coming in. If you drive down onto the Bar three hours after low tide, you better be unloading boats quickly and be keenly aware of where your van and trailer are parked as the waters of Frenchman Bay return to cover the Bar. Yes, I must admit I’ve driven off the Bar with up to six inches of water under the van and trailer! At that point you’ve put all of your faith in the van starting and driving quickly up off the Bar. So far, so good. And not something I would test every day.
Another thing that allows us to execute this many tours in a single day is a word that brings a smile to every guide and driver when they hear it. TURNAROUND! So what is a turnaround you may ask. Well, it is any opportunity on the daily schedule of kayak tours where you can have a group returning from a tour and then have a group beginning a tour within 15 minutes or less. For example, if a kayak tour is scheduled to return to the Bar at 2:15 and a group is scheduled to depart from the Bar at 2:00 (or 2:30), we are able to leave the boats on the ground and turn them around with the next group. This may not seem like a big deal but not having to load and unload seven boats (six tandems and one single) from the trailer is a good thing. And most importantly it gets the customers on the water quicker since they don’t need to wait for us to unload boats. So a turnaround is good for everyone. On a good day we can turnaround half or more of our tours.
Well, enough technical kayaking talk. In summary, July has brought some long days, lifting a lot of boats, launching a bunch of kayakers, driving through crowded streets, and answering a lot of questions about the tides and the Bar, but at the end of the day I’m still having a great time enjoying the weather outside, meeting happy people on vacation and working with some good fellow employees at Acadia Bike & Coastal Kayaking. Bring on August!
If you are curious about the world of Workamping, checkout Workamper® News the company that coined the term Workamper® back in 1987. They offer a free membership that allows you to search for jobs and receive the digital version of their magazine. If you do opt for the gold membership which includes additional features like a resume builder & printed magaizine, we would love if you would mention that you were referred by Russ & Betsy simply by using the code AMB103.
RUSS & BETSY'S WORKAMPING REVIEWS / UPDATES:
Acadia Bike & Coastal Kayaking (June - October 2017):
Amazon Camperforce (October - December 2016):
- Arrival at Amazon in Campbellsville
- Amazon Camperforce Week #1
- Amazon Camperforce Week #2
- Amazon Camperforce Week #3
- Amazon Camperforce Week #4
- Amazon Camperforce Week #5
- Amazon Camperforce Week #6
- Amazon Camperforce Week #7
- Amazon Camperforce Week #8
- Amazon Camperforce Week #9
- Amazon Camperforce Final Recap