The Tail of Two Boards

Monday, August 3, 2020

While we were camping at Alice Lake at the end of June I was able to get out for several paddles. I grew up in Squamish so it is always nice getting to go back home. I remember Alice Lake having darker coloured water as a kid. And the childhood folklore was that it was very dirty water. I recall my older brother Mwalu telling me a story about himself, or one of his friends, seeing a soiled diaper float by while they were playing in the water. Upon reflection, the story was likely untrue or a one-off event with a busy parent losing hold of a diaper. I am inclined to think the former. In any case, the water is still murky, perhaps even more so than my childhood memories. But I suspect that is just the terrain and mountain wash-off.

I did a few morning and evening paddles over our camp. In the evening there was a pretty strong wind blowing across the lake, but still fun to play in. At the end of my first-morning paddle while removing the fin from my board I heard a faint buzzing/whistling sound. It seemed to go away so I didn’t pay much attention to it. At the time I feel like I justified it as the buzzing of an insect.

Then on the last morning of our stay, I went out again for an early morning paddle. The lake was peaceful and serene. While I was packing up my board I heard a splash in the water behind me. I turned around to see what it was and I was amazed to see an eagle splashing out of the water. It did a small loop around before circling up to perch on a tree.

It was just after that in the ensuing silence as I watched the eagle, waiting patiently for it to soar again, that I heard the whistling buzz again. This time I realized that it wasn’t an insect. Rather it was coming from my board. Fortunately, my board was wet enough that as I searched its contours I was able to spot a tiny area of bubbling. It was right along the tape seam but there was a small leak to my board (check out the video below). A tiny leak is perhaps a better descriptor as I hadn’t even noticed a change in my board’s stiffness throughout our three-day stay. But now that I noticed the leak it dawned on me that my board had felt softer on my pivot turns through my last paddling sessions.

A tiny leak along the tape seam of my board.

Fortunately, my board was still under warranty. Annie had gotten it for me for my birthday present last September. And the great thing about Blackfin boards (iRocker) is their warranty. This was one of the factors that lead my oldest brother, Vital, to get his Blackfin board a few years before me. His research found that they had a good reputation for their solid construction, a two-year warranty compared to many other board companies with one-year warranties, and a super high weight capacity for the Model XL. And I knew that they were good with their warranty and customer service since my brother had put his to the test for his paddle. The carbon thread to the joint of his three-piece paddle was fraying so he inquired if anything could be done. They sent him a new paddle no questions asked. And it was a good thing because he would eventually break that paddle, i.e. the fraying one, on our Point Grey adventure. But this was all before my leak issue.

When I contact iRocker all they needed was my board’s serial number and my order number to process my claim. I had worried beforehand that I was going to miss the better part of the summer with having to send in my board for repair or replacement. I was even going over in my head how I would go about convincing their customer service to send me a new board rather than repairing my old one. That I would prefer to hold onto my old board until the new one arrived and continue to paddle. The leak was a nuisance that could lead to more issues in the future, but it was not stopping me from using the board. But, it turns out that I didn’t even have to ask. One day coming home from work I arrived to find a large box waiting for me in our kitchen. They sent a full replacement no questions asked! That is a rock-solid warranty! Kudos iRocker and Blackfin!

My Blackfin Model XL’s. My original 2019 board on the left and the new replacement board, 2020, on the right.

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