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how to get a kayak from the airport – a short tale

Posted Jul 27 2007 12:00am
first time on the water

well, I did get on the lake just before dark yesterday. There was no way my moody boat was going to PR without a dip in it’s home lake first. A ceremony that every kayak I’ve ever had has gone through. They must touch the water the very day they come home.

driving down in driving rain

The drive to Chicago was a bit hairy. We had torrential rains for quite some time. Wisconsin is in a hard drought right now due to our friend El Niño sending our rain to Texas instead. It would figure that the day I drive to Chicago, we get soaked.

So… Thank god for Google maps. It took 3 stops, one on each side of O’hare airport, to finally pick up the Alaw Bach. First I had to run to the broker’s office on the west side to get papers and pay them the $60 for their work. They were located in this little business park that was actually lost in a vortex of parking lots and urban green space. I could see the roads all around the coprate park, but once in you were on your own. Just remember when a building says “suite”. It means, “if you’re lucky enough to find us that would be sweet!.


Next it’s off to US Customs where those poor saps work in a dingy little building with the atmosphere of a morgue. Funny, they had a long counter with lots of windows, keeping the “customers” from the long corridor of little tan cubical. Their advantage is that they can’t see you from the cubical, so you don’t get help until someone has to go to the bathroom and notices you. Of course now they are in a rush to get relief and not all that happy to see you either. Luckily though, after a series of questions, the officer stamped my paperwork and sent me on my way.

filling out forms

Next it was off to BMI (British Midlands) to actually get my kayak. Their warehouse is lost in a mess just to the south of the airport. Once we found them I worked with a nice woman who had to use 4 computers around the room to complete the task of clearing my boat. She does not need to go to the gym!

Then I worked with this really kind man who was just totally insistent he use a fork truck to carry the boat and that the jeep was pulled right up to the door. I kept saying it was really light and I’d be happy to just carry it. Well, he would have none of it.

on the forktruk

loaded in the jeep in chicago

Once loaded up. I could’nt resist pealing back a bit of the packaging. That is when I saw the kayak was blue. I was feeling cursed again by blue kayaks. But at the time I didn’t know about the mood ring aspect yet. So I was feeling like, hey It’s blue, but it’s still beautiful.

peal back the packing and . . . it's blue?

So I hit the highway again and after 31/2 more hours I was back in my yard getting a proper look.

the tail

Mike did an amazing job with the gradient to the bow and tail. It looked even better than I had imagined in my photo shop work up. The stars are offset and mix from black, to silver, to gold. The big one on the back likes to turn lilac.

in the yard

I put the Alaw Bach together in the yard and checked out every little detail and stared at it like a new love. Lost in the colors, lines and curves. Then I loaded her up onto the jeep and ran out to the lake for a little play time. While there I met a guy who follows the blog. He had a short test paddle as well. Now last time I was in a Bach was in Wales and conditions were such that I was focused on the handling in lumpy water. Which is of course where the Rockpool really excels. Here in the calm I could get a better feel for the speed the little thing has. Quick turning, and amazingly stable on the secondary.

nice roller

As a roller the Alaw Bach is, well really quite fantastic. I’ve always considered the Romany to be one of the best rolling sea kayaks out there, but I can hand roll the Alaw Bach with almost no effort. Even easier, I dare say, than my Anas Acuta. It really is a dream to roll. The back deck is nice and low. Of course for some the front deck is a bit high. Yet, for my rolling style the front deck is not an issue.

Oh, and did I tell you my kayak is Purple?

puple in the living room

Again, I can’t thank Mike enough for really coming through for me. He didn’t have to honor a promise that he didn’t make. But he did. For that he deserves a lot of respect. He’s an honorable guy. Rare in this world. One thing is certain, when you own a Rockpool kayak you are part of something very special and it will be an honor to paddle this kayak on the Chasing the Ana trip and it’s a privilege to share it with you.

For more pictures go here.

To learn more about Rockpool Kayaks visit their website at

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