Water-loving couple charts course for expansion
When Jim and Ginny Niebauer purchased their first sailboat, neither of them knew how to sail. But as their expertise grew, so too did their passion to share that knowledge with a new generation of sailors.
The Niebauers have owned and operated Austin Sailboat Rentals on Lady Bird Lake for nearly four years, and this spring they plan to expand operations to Lake Travis and Lake Austin, where they will offer youth sailing camps, Jim said.
“This is the year we’re going to grow in the area,” he said. “We think there’s a need for it. In the communities where our locations are, the people we’ve had love our business.”
Austin Sailboat Rentals is open year-round and offers sailing clinics, lessons for adults and children, and spring and summer children’s camps. The company also offers a variety of rental watercraft, including small and large daysailers, sea skimmers, catamarans, kayaks and stand-up paddleboards, Ginny said.
Glass-bottom illuminated kayaks complete with light-up paddles debuted in 2015 on Lady Bird Lake and Barton Creek.[/caption]
Last February the company introduced its glass-bottom illuminated kayaks, which feature custom lights and glowing paddles that are used for guided eco-tours on Lady Bird Lake and Barton Creek. Jim said the nighttime illuminated eco-tours provide an alternative for residents and visitors who enjoy experiencing Austin’s waterways but want to avoid mid-day summer heat.
“People love it. It’s really fun,” Ginny said. “We’re the only company in Texas that has full glass-bottom kayak tours.”
The Niebauers plan to continue to improve and increase operations and are considering an expansion to Lake Pflugerville in the near future, Jim said.
“It’s going to be an exciting challenge going from one location to three locations, but growing is a good thing—it’s what we want to do,” he said. “We’ve got our business down; we’ve done it three years in a row full-time, so this is the year we want to expand.”