Find out how to get your kayak across the country without breaking the bank
By Richard Hartman
May 1, 2003
Surf boatertalk.com and you'll find one of the most commonly asked questions to be: "What is the best way to ship a kayak?" The following are some suggestions.
Keep in mind that rules, regulations, and business practices are constantly changing in the shipping industry, especially since the terrorist attacks of
September 11. And before you decide who to ship with, be sure to call the company to confirm details.
Shipping companies consider both size and weight. Kayaks are very large for their weight, so their size is the controlling aspect of the shipping cost.
Shippers use the term "dimensional weight" to derive an equivalent weight that takes the excess size into account. The formula is
((Length x Width x Height) / 194). For example, a 7.5 foot long, 24 inch wide, 12 inch high kayak would be ((90 x 24 x 12) / 194) = 134 "pounds"
A great way to save money is to have the sender deliver the kayak to the company's terminal instead of having their truck come pick it up.
Likewise, the receiver should pick up the kayak from the destination terminal rather than have a truck deliver it to a home or office.
FAA regulations for cargo on passenger aircraft require that airlines inspect the inside of your kayak prior to shipping.
If you wrap your kayak for shipment (and you should), leave one end unwrapped and bring along the tape gun.
Currently, the best ground choice is Pilot Air. Forward Air is a good second choice, with FreightQuote a strong third. The best air choice is Southwest.
Pilot Air is a freight forwarder, a company that works with a variety of truck, rail, and aircraft companies to move packages around the country.
You tell them what you want to ship and how fast it needs to get there, and they tell you the options and associated prices. Pilot Air has their own
nationwide fleet of trucks, so if you ship by ground your kayak will probably never leave their direct possession (unlike other trucking companies
which transfer cargo depending upon geographic region).
You can track shipments on www.pilotair.com, which also lists their local offices. Pilot Air has many more offices around the U.S. than Forward Air,
and their prices are similarly low. In fall 2001 I shipped an Ultrafuge from Spokane Wash., to Hartford Conn., and Pilot Air's cost was $73.70,
including free pick up at my house. They even delivered it right to the buyer's door at no extra charge. "All I had to do was ask", she said.
Despite their name, Forward Air is actually a trucking company. They will generally get a kayak across the country in five to seven business days for
well under $100, and they have a great reputation in the kayaking industry. The downside is that they don't have terminals in every city.
Check www.forwardair.com for terminal locations. If the source and destination cities have Forward Air service, call their 800-number to get a quote.
They'll give you an ID number, which you can then use on the paperwork when you take the kayak to the source terminal.
The folks on the 800-number may claim that you have to crate or otherwise package your kayak. Thank them and simply wrap your kayak in heavy bubble pack,
heavy plastic wrap, or both. The folks at the source terminal have the last word; if they accept a package into the system, it will get delivered.
Package the kayak in a way you can convince them it won't get damaged and you shouldn't have any trouble.
FreightQuote is similar to Pilot Air. They have relationships with many different shipping companies, and can "dial in" the speed (and cost) based on
your requirements. Normally you have to sign up via www.freightquote.com even if you want to get a phone quote.
I explained to Jason Zuba, FreightQuote's sales rep, that thousands of kayaks are shipped around the country - which might be a good revenue opportunity
if FreightQuote were willing to adjust their prices. I cited my examples of $74 for coast-to-coast delivery and he said he could probably match that.
As a result, Jason agreed to adjust FreightQuote's "discount code" for kayakers who call him directly and mention my name (Richard Hartman) and the
"special kayak deal." This pricing is open to dealers and individuals alike (call 1-888-595-5664, ext. 260 - you must speak with Jason Zuba to get the discount).