Optimist Training LLC is a Mom & Pop family-operated mini-outfitters and shuttle service on lower Lake Wylie and the Catawba River based out of Fort Mill, SC. We have a limited fleet and offer rentals with or without shuttle service, guided river tours, and paddling instruction. We also run a kayak shuttle service if you already have your own boats.
Thank you for supporting our local Mom & Pop business!!
BY APPOINTMENT ONLY
Payment required in advance. PAYMENT = RESERVATION!
Currently we can float 12 YOUTH or small adults up to 150 lb on sit-on-tops AND 8 ADULTS up to 400 lbs in cockpitted recreational kayaks. We also offer a tandem sit-on-top and a heavy-duty sit-on-top fishing kayak as well as two 15' canoes. See below for pictures.
YOUTH = UNDER 18 YRS + UNDER 150 LBS
PRICING FOR RENTAL ONLY - NO SHUTTLE
(You pick up the boats from our home office in Fort Mill and return them to us. Clients must be able to transport equipment safely, profess adequate experience on the water, inform us of their intended destination, and sign a waiver which includes equipment replacement cost agreement.)
Kids and Youth sit-on-top Kayaks - $20/day
Cockpitted recreational adult Kayaks - $30/day
Sit-on-top adult fishing kayak - $40/day
Sit-on-top tandem or Canoe - $50/day
PRICING for RENTAL + SHUTTLE for lower LAKE WYLIE, or FORT MILL DAM to RIVERWALK or RIVER PARK
$30 surcharge for single
Kids and Youth sit-on-top Kayaks - $25/day
Cockpitted recreational adult Kayaks - $35/day
Sit-on-top adult fishing kayak - $45/day
Sit-on-top tandem or Canoe - $55/day
PRICING for RENTAL + SHUTTLE to CATAWBA NATION, LANDSFORD CANAL
$40 surcharge for single
(for more about the Spider Lilies paddle at Landsford, go here)
Kids and Youth sit-on-top Kayaks - $45/day
Cockpitted recreational adult Kayaks - $55/day
Sit-on-top adult fishing kayak - $65/day
Sit-on-top tandem or Canoe - $95/day
A day rental is considered 8 hours or less; most adventures in our area take about 2-3 hours, but if you want it for longer just let us know and we'll work something out. Exact pick up and drop off times can be determined based on our availability and your desired schedule. No returns after 9 PM. $5 fee every 30 minutes for late returns with 15 minute grace period. Rentals include paddles and life jackets. We recommend you wear clothing that feels comfortable when wet, and wear shoes with a heel strap. Crocs can be slippery and we don't recommend. Old sneakers are tough to beat on the river.
We're located in the town of Fort Mill across from the Wing King. If you need us to drop off and pick up boats for your trip, we add a shuttle fee which is already added to the rates above "+ SHUTTLE".
Due to our limited fleet, rentals are dependent on availability. We're a small outfit so please call or text 803-616-1568 or email email@example.com for reservations. Valid state drivers license or ID and completed lease agreement with replacement costs are required. Optimist Training reserves the right to inspect the boats upon return and determine the cost of any damage within reasonable wear-and-tear parameters. PLEASE RESPECT YOUR RENTAL EQUIPMENT AND TREAT IT LOVINGLY. PLEASE DO NOT DRAG BOATS OR PADDLES ACROSS ROADS, GRAVEL, HARD SURFACES, OR EVEN DIRT PATHS (WHICH MAY CONTAIN ROCKS). BOATS AND PADDLES SHOULD BE CARRIED FROM TRANSPORT TO WATER AND VICE VERSA, NEVER DRAGGED OR SCRAPED. PADDLES SHOULD NEVER TOUCH ANYTHING EXCEPT AIR OR WATER.
We prefer cash, Venmo, Paypal, or Zelle as payment but also can accept credit cards with an additional 3.5% processing fee. Payment made at the time of reservation.
Yes you may call us on the fly to see if we have availability on any given day, but reservations are a good idea. We require 24 hours notice for cancellation; less than 24 hours notice for cancellation incurs 50% of cost of original agreement. Renters must sign lease agreement for each boat and waiver of liability for each participant and agree to replacement costs for all equipment.
IF YOU HAVE ANY DOUBT THAT YOUR GROUP CAN MANAGE CARRYING OUR RENTAL BOATS WITHOUT EFFORT OR HARM TO YOURSELVES OR OUR EQUIPMENT, PLEASE CONSIDER OUR GUIDED TOURS OR SHUTTLE SERVICE!! WE'LL DO IT ALL FOR YOU!
WHERE TO PADDLE?
Here in the Fort Mill area just 30 minutes south of Charlotte, we have both Lake Wylie and the Catawba River, which flows south from the Wylie dam at the Fort Mill Landing to various take-out points along a 26 mile stretch to the Landsford Canals.
Lake Wylie is fun for families with small children or inexperienced paddlers. There are various places to launch including Ebenezer Park in Rock Hill, Nivens Creek in Tega Cay, and Allison Creek in York. There are also several parks along the lake in Tega Cay including Windjammers and Pitcairn but be advised these parks require special parking passes for nonresidents.
For paddlers interested in navigating the Catawba River, the most popular stretch of river in our area starts with a put-in at the Lake Wylie Dam and taking out at Riverwalk in Rock Hill. Depending on water flows, the trip takes about 1-3 hours. There is another take-out a little farther down at River Park; add about another hour or so for that slightly longer trip.
This river moves pretty steadily around 4 mph with moderate paddling at all points. It’s a wide, easy river at most points within our local stretch of river from the Dam to Riverwalk and River Park. There are a few rock gardens below River Park through Upper Landsford Access. Landsford Canal State Park is the most challenging paddle with Class I and Class II rolling rapids along a shallow rock garden. Landsford is outside our regular, local river put-ins and take-outs, but we offer guided tours there, and can help you plan your adventure if you choose to rent and go solo. Check out gopaddlesc.com for more trip ideas and details.
Water levels along this section of the Catawba are dependent on water releases from the Lake Wylie Dam. There are scheduled recreational releases Fri-Sun from April to September. You can find the flow release schedule here. To check water levels on a given day, please go here.
Between 600 and 2000 cfs the water level is considered lower than normal. It’s still navigable, but there will be exposed rocks in shallow areas. Between 2000 and 5000 cfs is considered the optimal level for paddling the Catawba in this section. Over 6000 cfs indicates a strong current and is recommended only for experienced paddlers.
For reservations cancellation please call us 24 hours in advance for a full refund. Less than 24 hr notice will be charged a 50% cancellation fee. No show, no call, no refund. If your entire rental window is predicted to be clouded by severely inclement weather including thunder, lightening, or air temperatures below 50 degrees or unusually high water levels, we will refund 100%.
NO FEEDING OR HANDLING WILDLIFE
Feeding, harassing or handling wildlife is strictly prohibited and poses great safety risks to both people and wildlife.
We practice Leave No Trace Ethics and ask all our guests to respect the places they are visiting.
CHANGES IN POLICY
Optimist Training LLC reserves the right to change our policies at any time.
4 sit-on-top 6' Pelican kids kayaks - 100 lb capacity
2 sit-on-top 5'5" Lifetime kids kayaks - 130 lb capacity
6 sit-on-top 6'6" Lifetime Recruit Youth Kayaks - 150 lb capacity
1 sit-on-top 7'6" Lifetime kayak - 150 lb capacity
2 cockpit 9'8" Lifetime Payette Kayaks - 250 lb capacity
1 cockpit 11’ Perception Rhythm kayak - 275 lb capacity
1 cockpit 10’ LiquidLogic Tuxedo kayak - 300 lb capacity
1 cockpit 9'8" Perception Swifty kayak - 300 lb capacity
1 cockpit 9'5" Perception Swifty Sport kayak - 325 lb capacity
1 cockpit 9'5" Perception Sparky kayak - 350 lb capacity
1 cockpit 9'5" Old Town Otter kayak - 250 lb capacity
1 cockpit 12’ Patriot kayak - 400 lb capacity
1 sit-on-top 12’ Equinox kayak - 420 lb capacity
1 sit-on-top 13’ Wilderness System Tarpon Tandem kayak - 550 lb apacity
1 15’ Old Town Discovery Canoe - 1650 lb capacity
1 15'7" Old Town Rogue River Canoe - 850 lb capacity
4 Pelican kids, 6', 100 lb capacity
2 Lifetime Wave youth, 5'5", 130 lb capacity
6 Lifetime Recruit youth, 6'6", 150 lb capacity
Sit-on-top, 7'6", 150 lb capacity
2 Lifetime Payettes, 9'8", 250 lb capacity
LiquidLogic Tuxedo, 10', 300 lb capacity
Perception Rhythm, 11', 275 lb capacity
Perception Swifty, 9'8", 300 lb capacity
Patriot, 12', 350 lb capacity
Perception Swifty Sport, 9'5", 325 lb capacity
Old Town Otter, 9.5', 250 lb capacity
Perception Sparky 9.5', 350 lb capacity
Equinox fishing, 12', 420 lb capacity
Wilderness Systems Tarpon tandem, 13', 550 lb capacity
Old Town Discovery canoe, 15', 1650 lb capacity
Old Town Rogue River canoe, 15'7", 850 lb capacity