I don’t have a bucket list, but those who do might consider adding a tour from James River Batteau Co. For those of us who value experiences over things, it offers an experience unlike any other to share with friends and remember fondly for a lifetime. I hesitate to heap praise so lavish that it triggers suspicions of paid advertising, but the praise is warranted, and no one paid me to write it.
The tours are led by life-long friends Will Smith and Will Cash, who share a passion for batteau culture on the James River. They founded their company last year to share with the public the joy they have experienced for decades. It is infectious.
To avoid the need for a spoiler alert, I will omit the fascinating history the Wills provided about a method of transportation that was once vital to our region’s economy and culture. As they used a pole to propel our batteau down the James River from the Scottsville boat launch, they interspersed just enough education to allow for both enrichment and conversation with friends. When they reached a shady spot away from the sun, they served on the boat a board of delicious meats, cheeses, and dried fruits. They provided cups and an ice bucket for the beverages we brought on board, local lager, wine, canned cocktails, and a batch of Manhattams. Batteaumen’s revelry earned them a reputation as “lovable rascals,” and we did not dare disrespect that legacy. As we ate and drank, Will Smith, a talented musician, serenaded us with covers of Dylan, The Rolling Stones, and, of course, Old Crow Medicine Show’s James River Blues. As we returned to Scottsville two hours after we left, the sun set over the river.
The batteau company remains relatively unknown, but that is bound to change. Booking now might be wise, before it’s too late. There I go sounding like an ad again.