Clinton Lake Marina expands with unique self-serve kayak rental kiosk business; plus a Shark’s Surf Shop sighting at the lake

Moriah Budreau and Mike Ray, Clinton Lake Marina employees, talk about the business' new Shark's Surf Shop line of clothing on May 9, 2024.

I don’t know what it says about me that I refuse to kayak due to a fear of running out of gas. Whatever the case, I’m in the minority because kayaking has become very popular, so much so that there is now a new rental service at Clinton Lake.

And, it is self-serve and always open.

The owners of Clinton Lake Marina have installed a kayak and paddle board kiosk in the parking lot of the marina, which is located within Clinton Lake State Park west of Lawrence. The kiosk — kind of like an airport locker on steroids — has 12 compartments for kayaks and paddle boards. Users download an app on their phone, which is connected to their credit card, and they get a code to unlock a kayak or paddle board. The lake is just a few steps away.

“We have gotten phone calls all the time for it, so it has been something that’s been on our roadmap as we continue to add amenities,” Peter Meiusi, an owner of the marina, said. “We found this system and thought it was great because even on days that we are closed, you can use it because it is completely self-serve.”

Rental rates are $16 per hour, though KU students and faculty with a KU email address get a 20% discount. Users simply return the kayak to its cage and check back in when they’ve paddled to their heart’s content.

A kayak and paddle board kiosk is pictured in the parking lot of Clinton Lake Marina on May 9, 2024.

The kayak kiosk is just one project in an entire offseason of expansion at the marina. While the kayaks will please those who like their boats small, the marina also made an upgrade for those who like their boats big. The marina added 70 new covered slips, increasing the number of docking spaces for vessels at the marina to 684. That’s an increase of more than 100 slips since 2021.

What’s atop those covered slips, though, is also notable — solar panels. The marina installed several banks of solar panels on the roof of the covered dock, with the goal of producing enough solar power to supply all of the electricity for the dock. That means enough electricity to power the lights, the electric boat lifts, the electric grills and several other accessories that you will find on a well-equipped dock.

Meiusi said the dock has met its goal of being self-sustaining, but it took some unusual seamanship to get there. The system requires a bank of batteries, an inverter and other control equipment. The decision was made to put such equipment in a storage container and install the container in one of the dock’s slips. But to do that, they first had to get the storage container into the slip. So, they ended up building outriggers for the container and “sailed” the empty container out to the dock.

“Floating it out was quite the feat,” Meiusi said.

The end result has been impressive too, so much so that it is getting some national attention. Executives with the solar panel company flew in from North Carolina and Texas recently to see the project because they were unaware of any other marina dock in the country that was getting all of its power from solar panels. It could be an idea that catches on because docks often are in locations that get lots of sun.

photo by: Chad Lawhorn/Journal-World

Clinton Lake Marina added 70 new cover boat slips during the offseason. They added solar panels to the roof of the docks to make them self-sufficient from an energy standpoint.

Meiusi said he and his wife and business partner, Erin Meiusi, decided to undertake the expense — which he didn’t disclose — to install the panels because it fits with their goal to become Kansas’ first “certified clean marina.”

“We are in a state park and we care about the environment,” Meiusi said. “We thought it was cool and unique, but if it helps us be a certified clean marina, that will help us set the standard for other marinas in the state.”

The couple have owned the marina since late 2021. They have been expanding the business ever since. Last year they opened a waterfront bar at the marina — The Knot Bar — on a 150-seat patio on the backside of the marina. They also added 30 courtesy boat slips, which basically serve as a parking lot for boaters who want to come off the lake and spend some time at The Knot Bar, or at the marina’s store or pizza shop/deli.

This offseason, the marina was busy adding some stalls of a different type — nine new bathrooms. They’ll even be equipped with nostalgic posters showing everything from vintage Jet Skis to old-time swimsuits.

“Not everybody goes to the store, not everybody goes to the patio, but everybody goes to the bathroom, so we wanted to make it as killer of an experience as possible,” Meiusi said.

But there is one project that Meiusi is particularly excited about, in part because it is a blast from Lawrence’s past. The marina recently acquired the rights to use the old logo and branding from the once-popular Shark’s Surf Shop that was a fixture in downtown Lawrence for more than 20 years. The location closed in 2019, eliminating one venue for a little escapism for anybody who wanted to pretend that Kansas is next to the ocean.

While the Clinton Lake Marina is not carrying everything that Shark’s Surf Shop once did, it is selling T-shirts and tank tops with the Shark’s logo, infused with the marina’s own “float local” branding.

“We have done a limited run to start things off, but we have some other color options and designs waiting in the wings,” Meiusi said, saying other products besides T-shirts and tank tops might be possible. “We think people will be excited about it and we’re always open for new ideas with it.”

Other projects at the marina include:

• Expansion of the business’ No Coast Boat Club. As we reported a couple of years ago, the Meiusis and partners opened the boat club business, which sells memberships to people who can then use the many boats that the club has to offer. The club expanded its number of boats to eight for this season, with the inventory ranging from a double-decker pontoon boat to a runabout to wakeboard and ski boats to fishing boats. The club sold out all of its memberships last season, but the new boats will allow the club to slightly expand its membership this year. The marina also operates a traditional boat rental business, where people who don’t have a membership can rent a boat at hourly rates. That fleet expanded as well during the offseason, adding a 16-person double-deck pontoon boat.

• The marina’s Knot Bar now will be booking live music every Friday night during the summer boating season. In addition, on the first Friday of each month — beginning in June — the marina will host its “Float Fridays” celebration in the parking lot. That includes music, food, beverages and games.

• The marina is partnering with Lawrence-based Lava Yoga to offer waterside yoga sessions. From 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. on Saturday mornings during the summer, Lava Yoga will be hosting classes on the back dock area of the marina for a small fee.

• As business at the marina has grown, parking at the facility in the state park has not. Meiusi said he’s working on solutions for that, but this season the marina will offer a free shuttle service for people who have to park farther away from the main docks of the marina.


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