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@ Work: Wind n Surfing Adventures

Dec. 12, 2005 – Richard Metcalfe exudes excitement when he talks about the kayaking and snorkeling options available from his Wind N Surfing Adventures base at the V.I. National Park's Cinnamon Bay Campground.
"Whistling Cay is only a 25-minute paddle and it's got four awesome snorkeling spots," he said, still enthusiastic after more than two decades in the business of renting watersports toys.
Indeed, the opening panoramic photo at Wind N Surfing Adventure's Web site shows the vast acreage of ocean available to people who rent kayaks or sailboats. The company also rents beach floats and mats.
Metcalfe's been floating around St. John since he arrived with his parents, Gerry and Nancy Metcalfe, way back in the 1960s from their home near New York City. After returning to the States for high school and college, he went back and forth between the mainland and St. John for several years. Finally, in 1986, after working for years as a laser technician in Los Angles, he returned for good.
"I came back on vacation and wondered why I was going back to Los Angeles," he said.
Metcalfe started out doing construction with his father, but soon returned to his first love, watersports.
Now 51, he got his start renting out equipment at the Kite, a long-closed bar located where the Peter Bay development now sits. He later had two different spots in Cruz Bay across from the Creek and then worked out of the long-closed Coral Bay Watersports.
"We tried to get bike rentals going, but the park never opened the bike trails," he said.
Fourteen years ago he moved to Cinnamon Bay. Metcalfe said it's a good location for renting watersports equipment. It doesn't have a lot of boat traffic to endanger his customers, it has only a few reefs to get it the way and the area has fairly calm seas.
Laughing, he compared it to Coral Bay where his customers often got into trouble because the wind pushed them into spots difficult to escape.
Metcalfe said Cinnamon Bay is perfect for novice kayakers because the breeze just blows them along.
While he rents sit-in and sit-on-top kayaks, he suggests that people without much experience try a sit-on-top because they're easier to handle.
"It only requires common sense and the ability to paddle," he said.
They also come with a painter attached so kayakers can pull the kayak along when they hop in the water to snorkel.
Wind N Surfing will also pick up people if they want a downwind trip without the effort of paddling into the wind back to Cinnamon Bay.
Metcalfe said he delivers to vacation villas and rents long-term for people who want to do an extended trip around the island.
Alas, Metcalfe doesn't have much free time to get out to sea himself. A family man, he and his wife, Cynthia, have a son, Kainoh, 8. And of course, keeping Wind N Surfing afloat takes a lot of his effort.
"There's no spare time when you run a business," he said.

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