July 22, 2022
Want to head out for an adventure in Defiance County?
Look no further than JT Adventures. The business, owned by Jeremy and Terri Bishop, offers pontoon rides and kayak rentals for those wishing to have some fun on Defiance’s waterways.
“We’re trying to connect with people and to get (them) out with nature,” said Jeremy. He said it’s great to have families, especially those that live in town, come out to enjoy the waterways. “It’s a lot different being on the water than on the asphalt.”
Terri said she loves to see people get excited about being out on the water. “We do this because we love it,” she said. “We love when (customers) come back from a cruise and say they love it too.”
Jeremy said that people have a lot of fun on the water. “Like the kids – you see their faces just light up,” he added.
JT Adventures offers 22 kayaks, two of which are tandem, for rent as well as one pontoon for cruises. The business offers “in-person” hourly cruises on the weekends at Pontiac Park, weather permitting. Weeknight cruises and group kayak rentals are available by reservation only, by visiting JT Adventures at jt-adventures.com or calling 419-980-7038. The weekend cruises will last through October.
The Bishops decided to start JT Adventures after the COVID pandemic hit in 2020.
“My husband and I used to go to Independence State Dam all the time,” Terri said. “Somehow, we ended up with six kayaks and someone said we should rent them out.”
The couple worked on a business plan for about a year, getting input from city officials including Mayor Mike McCann as well as Lisa Beecher, a consultant for the Ohio Small Business Development Center.
Originally, the couple decided to just rent kayaks. Later, McCann suggested pontoon rides as well.
“I got the business plan approved without the pontoon,” Terri said. “We started renting kayaks at Independence Dam State Park.”
Kayakers would get in the river and travel to the park’s campgrounds, where they would be be picked up by the Bishops.
While the business started with just kayaks, pontoon cruises were added this year. The couple got a call from a friend at Five Span Marina about a pontoon for sale that allowed them to add the cruises.
“When we got the pontoon, we came here (to Pontiac Park),” Terri said.
JT Adventures is set up on the weekends, weather permitting, at the boat launch at Pontiac Park for rides.
“If it’s nice out, we’re out here,” Terri said. “Next year we’ll start in June, as long as the docks are in.”
JT Adventures also is taking part in the Friends of Independence Dam State Park’s Dey of the Dam Kayak River Adventure on Aug. 6. Participants will be traveling by kayak from the Dey Bridge on the Tiffin River to the Independence Dam Campground, located on the Maumee River. Terri said the trip should be really nice as participants will be able to see several eagles nest during the journey. Those who are participating in the Dey of the Dam can rent kayaks from JT Adventures.
The Bishops said they have had individuals as well as large parties take pontoon rides and reserve kayaks throughout the season. “We had Glen Park come out with six residents,” Terri said. “We has a bachelorette party. We had a family from Oregon come out and take a cruise.”
The business had a reservation for 17 kayaks at the beginning of June. “That’s the biggest party we’ve had,” Terri said.
Pontoon cruises can carry a maximum of six people. Lifejackets are available on the pontoon as well.
Individuals that take a cruise or rent a kayak from JT Adventures can get more than great memories. Herb Delventhal, a long-time kayaker from the area, made the Bishops a large wooden paddle with JT Adventures on it. Those who take a pontoon cruise or rent kayaks can get their photos taken with the paddle as a keepsake.
“We take pictures of those who ride with us, if they want, and put it up on our website,” Terri said.