The Work We Do: Jay Damuck, Shelter Island Kayak Tours

My name is Jay Damuck and I’m the owner of Shelter Island Kayak Tours.

I usually come down here at nine in the morning, after opening up my little shop in the middle of town. I set up my equipment for the day, and usually the phone starts ringing right around 9 or a little before 9. I do my first kayak tour at 10 in the morning, so it’s a busy morning usually.

This is my 25th season. I started out doing it part-time with my lawn business, but I prefer this. But I phased out of that and do this full time.

I went on vacation to the Keys and saw somebody doing kayak tours and took one of their kayak tours and I felt like, why don’t I do that on Shelter Island?

My favorite part of the job is definitely taking people out kayaking. Sometimes the other stuff isn’t as fun, but once I get launched and paddling up the creek here with people, it’s fun. A lot of it is that I take out first-timers and they’re a little apprehensive at first and then in a couple of minutes they seem to relax and enjoy it. That’s a good part of my business. I get to go out on the kayaks a lot. I miss it if I don’t get out for a few days. There’s very little boat traffic here, very little noise. Even on the busiest weekends, it’s very peaceful here.

I have a little garden shed in the 18 Bay restaurant parking lot. Years ago, I used to sell kayaks, so it was a little retail spot. I used to meet the people for the kayak tours there, but now I don’t use it very often. It’s just sort of road exposure.

I have some regular customers. I’m having one of my regular customers come down soon. It’s a woman and her daughter and her grandson and they’ve been doing this for like 15 years. They drive down all the way from upstate New York just to do this kayak tour. The boy is 10 now, so he’s been doing this since he was really tiny. Most people are first-timers, though. They just see me on the internet, they drive out from Queens or Brooklyn, like a bunch of young people in  a couple of cars, and pile out and go kayaking. 

“The Work We Do” is a Suffolk Times multimedia project profiling workers on the North Fork. It is made possible by Peconic Landing in Greenport. See photos on Instagram @thesuffolktimes.