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Have a FAB staycation in Bedford County

By SYDNEY SEGROVES - For the Times-Gazette
Posted 6/12/21

After a year of stressful indoor living due to COVID-19, summer is here, and with it, outdoor enthusiasts are looking for those fun activities that have been missing for so long. Fortunate residents of Bedford County can find a family, pet-friendly staycation site right in their own back yards called Float-A-Boat, known as FAB, for short...

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Have a FAB staycation in Bedford County

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After a year of stressful indoor living due to COVID-19, summer is here, and with it, outdoor enthusiasts are looking for those fun activities that have been missing for so long.

Fortunate residents of Bedford County can find a family, pet-friendly staycation site right in their own back yards called Float-A-Boat, known as FAB, for short.

FAB is located in charming Normandy, just south of Shelbyville.

Established in 1852, Normandy has a population of less than 200, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Its location just below the Normandy Dam makes the area a great place to relax and play.

FAB offers rentals of kayaks and canoes to float the beautiful Duck River.

With the increase in popularity of kayaking, FAB owner, Karen Steele, sees her location on the Duck River as the perfect area, especially for beginning kayakers or those who are looking for a "family-friendly, nice mellow float."

"This section of the Duck River is pretty mild-not even a Class 1 float. It is typically pretty shallow in most parts," Steele said. "It's a beautiful shady, sunny trip."

She also said that a floater may see an abundance of wildlife along their trip since the Duck River area is home to deer, squirrel, rabbit, and other small game. Fishermen will find this the perfect spot to spend a day, as the Duck River offers a variety of fish, such as trout, smallmouth bass, and crappie.

FAB offers four-mile floats, seven-mile floats, and nine-mile floats.

For inexperienced floaters, FAB offers a helping hand. "We provide the floaters with basic initial training if they have never floated before," Steel said. "We provide basic how to paddle, how to stop, how to turn. Then we let them know of any hazards on the river."

Steele and her crew try to make sure that there are no downed trees or limbs in the way of a relaxing float. In addition, FAB includes safety instruction; they make sure that every boater has the proper safety equipment and life vests.

Steele explains that many upgrades have been made since FAB opened in 2019. There is a new building constructed by IG Renovations, owned by Isaac Garner.

"We were taking reservations by phone back then, but we have upgraded to online booking," Steele said.

This makes the process much more efficient and makes a floating date go smoother."

With the upgrades, FAB now services 100 boats, which is up from their original 50.

This season, they offer single kayaks, tandem kayaks, and canoes for rent.

A major safety feature used now by FAB is the TVA Lake app which keeps track of the currents and weather conditions on the water. This app is free and available for iPhone and Android devices and is a good resource for operating on or around the TVA reservoirs and dams.

"Folks who want a higher level experience will probably want to go somewhere else," Steele said.

She emphasizes that even though there are numerous public places in which to kayak, FAB's private access to the river is a definite plus as "it allows our customers quick access to the river and a private exit."

"We also shuttle your private vessels to and from the river," she added.

FAB loves pets and welcomes floaters' animal family members.

Steele also advises that after a day of relaxed floating, kayakers can catch a quick snack at Sassy Chef Catering right next door, which offers everything from a cheeseburger quesadilla to a cobbler cone.

Yes, that treat is as delicious as it sounds. It's quite popular with visitors, owners said.

So, whether beginning kayakers are looking for their first trip, or experienced veterans want an easy paddle, FAB and the Duck River are primed to service outdoor enthusiasts from Bedford County and beyond.

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