Monday, August 29, 2011

Personal Experience: Kayak Trip Gone Wrong (And how the Anti's are Wrong Again!)

On 8/20 I took a group of 14 of my friends on a kayak trip in Western PA, a place called 'The River's Edge'.  I've not worked with them in the past, but had read some good things about them.  To get the full story, we need to go back about a week prior to the trip.
I had sent an email to a different outfitter (further upstream, along the same river) that I have used in the past with a great experience, and left a voicemail to make a reservation.  Several days after both of those were sent, I received an email from them that they were booked for that day, and would be unable to meet my needs.  So, I found another outfitter (River's Edge) and made a reservation there.   I did this after reading several comments online stating that people had great experiences with them.
We arrived in time to get setup, sign the waivers, load the shuttle, etc and have plenty of time left to get to the put-in.  When my kayak ('my' meaning 'owned by me, brought from home to the outfitter) it was loaded on the bottom of the trailer.  I normally would have no issue with this, however there was a missing fender on that side.  One of my friends also pointed out the obvious issue, and I went over to inspect it.  When I asked the gentleman loading the boats onto the trailer, he said 'The straps will hold it, and it will be fine.'  I pushed my boat toward the center of the trailer, and it seemed as though he was right, I was able to push it several inches away from the exposed wheel.
Upon arriving at the put-in, we hopped out of the van, I walked around behind to the trailer, and my heart dropped.  I saw this:

I saw this hole, and realized that not only had the straps NOT held my kayak in place, but it had shifted, and laid on top of the tire.  The friction generated by the tire rubbing against the boat was sufficient to burn a hole clean through the boat.  Obviously this kayak is completely ruined.  The bodies do not lend themselves to repair of this sort of damage, and it is clearly not water-worthy as is.
I was upset.  One friend took my fiance aside immediately as she exited the second shuttle which arrived behind ours, and told her she needed to speak to me right away, and it was urgent.  She looked at me across the parking area, and realized something was wrong.  Her calming influence was sufficient to prevent me saying anything terrible, or making a total fool of myself.
One of the co-owners of the outfitter was in that second shuttle, and the fellow who had loaded my kayak so terribly pulled her aside before I was able to talk to her.  He explained what happened, and took her around to show her the damage.  Not only did the tire destroy the side of my boat, it also destroyed my bilge pump.
They returned to their store-front in order to get a boat for me to use for the day, and brought it back.  We waited about an hour for that to happen.  I had told my friends to get started, as they should not lose time on the water, and enjoying the beautiful day because of my problem.  Without exception, they all said they'd wait for me.  They are awesome people.
When the outfitter returned they had a boat for me to use, and a bilge pump as well.  I helped everyone else get into the water, loaded my loaner, and off we went for a day of floating down the river.
Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves well, and I tried to as much as I could under the circumstances.  The highlight of the day was finding a rope swing, and having a blast swimming and falling into the water.  Ironically the youngest people on the trip, and one of the oldest were the ones to enjoy it most.  I did not trust the rope, the platform, or anything else there with my weight.  The others seemed to have no problems with it.
When we returned to the shop, I went to see the owners.  They were both surprised that such a thing had happened, they'd never had a problem in their 5 years of providing livery service.  They did, however, make it right.  They offered to pay me what it would cost to replace the boat.  Without going into the details on that end, they did send me a check for the cost of the boat I had, plus shipping and tax, so I am now able to replace the kayak I had with an identical boat.
They made it right.  I received the check 1 week to the day after the incident, and while the time without a boat is going to be frustrating and aggravating, I do understand that things in life DO happen, and we have to deal with issues as they come up.  They handled themselves professionally, and provided me with fair remission for the incident.  They made it right, and I look forward to doing business with them again, probably next season at this point, as it will be some time until I'm able to receive my new kayak (3-4 weeks minimum delivery time, according to the website).
On a side note, and because I have to get politics involved, I have to point out one thing in this:  The antis are wrong.  According to those who would restrict our freedoms, and take our guns, as soon as someone becomes even slightly upset about something, and they are armed, there will be bloodshed on the streets.  People will shoot each other over parking spaces, traffic jams, and the like was something we heard often recently.  Here in PA we heard it recently because of the Castle Doctrine passing.  We heard people saying such things as a method of using fear to attempt to get their way.
When I saw what happened to my boat, that someone else destroyed it through their own ineptitude, I was angry.  The fact that my property was damaged beyond use, and that my investment of money, time, effort and everything I put into that boat was gone, because of one person's mistake, I felt angry.  I wasn't just angry, I was downright livid.  I also had one of my firearms on me.
Not once did the thought of drawing my weapon ever enter my mind.  Not once did the thought of causing injury to anyone else enter my mind.  Not once did any of the things which the left and the antis claim will happen in that scenario even enter into the mind of the person in that situation.
Not once.
Sounds to me like I had more reason to be upset than over a parking space, and it also sounds to me like they are so far off base with their ideas that gun owners are violent people looking for a reason to start killing that they can not relate with ordinary people.
The important lesson to take from all this?  Be involved when someone else is handling your property, and point out issues, and don't be afraid of expressing your concerns.  At best you avoid the headache I have had, at worst you have a falling out with whomever is handling your property, and have to find a resolution.


  1. I think that you are holding out the part of the story where you used your firearm to coerce the remission from them. It is obvious in your story.

  2. Glad to see you got taken care of, in today's world it seems like customer service and a company doing the right thing is a thing of the past.
    I spent 15 years running restaurants and lounges, so I am the type of person restaurants hate, when the service and food are bad I don't say anything, never come back and tell people about my experiance, ( yes there would of been times I am glad I don't carry a gun).

    Last month my wife and I went to Red Lobster in Little Washington, the service was great, the server was friendly, the Manager was helping and the food was above average.When we were leaving the manager was up front and I pulled him aside (This will bring fear in most managers because they are use to mostly complaints) , I proceeded to tell him about the excellant service and food and how nice it was to see him help out. The point is with everything seeming to be an "I don't care" or "Whatever" attitude I feel it is more important then ever to point out people, services or companies that go all out for thier customers. I commend you on this Blog and giving credit to the company that fixed what started as a bad experiance... Just my thoughts Arty (tinman)

  3. That would be an amusing comment if I had. But the people with whom I did business didn't know I was armed (hence the concept of 'concealed' carry).

  4. Arty, that was sort of my point. It did start out as a bad experience, and I wasn't sure which way I would handle it if it wasn't resolved to my satisfaction. On the one hand, I thought that perhaps I would just drop it, tell people about it, and never do business there again. On the other, I thought about writing a scathing story, spreading it on the paddling blogs, etc. I'm VERY glad I didn't have to decide how to handle a negative outcome. As a business, they really take their reputation seriously, their customers are important to them, and they did provide an excellent service otherwise. The day being as stressful as it was for me, I didn't have the best outlook, and didn't enjoy it as much as the rest of the group did.
    I would definitely recommend this outfitter to friends in the future. They are wonderful people.