Mainly kayaking photographs taken on the Isle of Man and beyond.

Monday, 21 July 2008

Kayaking Isle of Man - Intercontinental Kayak 2.

4 weeks ago I took a 3 piece Rockpool Alaw Bach and kayaking gear from the Isle of Man to Vancouver Island, Canada! The Rockpool has just returned home after its epic 10,000 mile journey - so how did this go?
We were booked to fly from the Isle of Man to Manchester airport with FlyBE in order to pick up our connection to Vancouver. FlyBE would not even discuss carrying the kayak on board their plane. At a loss for a while I eventually discovered FCX on the Isle of Man. They were brilliant and took the utmost care with my boat. They delivered it bang on time to Terminal 2 at Manchester to meet us for our connecting flight. Total cost for carrying it to and from the Island - £100.
Having picked up the 3 pieces we presented them to Zoom, the low cost Canadian airline. We knew beforehand that they would take kayaks at a cost of £60 each way. We did not have to pre-book and there were no size or weight limits specified in their information pack. Nervously I explained that the bubble wrapped 3 piece sea kayak, which assembled measured over 17 feet, and with my kayaking gear stuffed inside weighed 35 kg, was a single kayak and not 3 kayaks. They clearly had not been confronted by such a colossus before. Like FCX they were also brilliant, and without question checked in my boat and posted it off down the priority/fragile ramp. They charged me £60!
The kayak arrived in a special area of Vancouver Airport completely in tact. It spent the next three weeks being transported around Vancouver Island in the back of a Ford Explorer where it fitted perfectly disassembled, with the rear car seats down. It spent many nights in our hotel rooms and was used on average every other day for about 3 hours in many different stunning locations.
On our return from Vancouver Zoom were equally obliging, charging me $100 for the transfer. FCX were also equally efficient collecting the boat from Terminal 2 Manchester and delivering it to the Island the following day and with the utmost care. Unfortunately the same care that Vancouver Airport showed my fragile kayak was not extended to the boat by Manchester Airport. I do not know if it is usual for them to place fragile priority packages on the standard suite case conveyor belt but that is what they did. My girlfriends suite case was badly ripped on arrival at Manchester and unfortunately I have discovered significant but repairable damage to the cockpit gel coat. It looks like this section has been dropped heavily on its side.
So is it worth it? Well total transfer costs were about £220. It costs about £25 to hire a kayak on Vancouver Island for the day. I used my kayak for 8 trips which would have cost £200. Clearly on top of carriage I had packaging (£60), the kayak ( £2400) and now damage repairs/insurance to pay for. On a purely financial basis it is not worth it. But the privilege of paddling such a great kayak in fantastic locations made it worthwhile it to me and yes, I would do it all again!
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