Kayaks Held Hostage!

Sea Kayaking

After five years of research, phone calls in foreign languages, delays because of pandemics, kayaks held hostage(shipments), and limited responses, we did it! We ran our first exploratory trip to the Marquesas Islands, Tahiti.

This location has been on the Expedition Engineering (EE) bucket list for YEARS and has been the most delayed exploratory trip in the history of EE. But are we ever glad we persevered? We were confronted with more obstacles than almost any other exploratory trip before we had even arrived.  But we have officially graduated this trip from “Exploratory” to a standard trip offering because it is such an incredible place to explore.Kayaks Held Hostage

What, you may ask, made this trip so difficult to get off the ground?  A combination of remoteness, pandemics, language barriers, and shipping kayaks across an ocean!

The Marquesas is an Island group that is one of the most remote in the world. The closest continental land mass is 5000 km away and the closest island group is Tahiti, 1200 km away. There are only two guesthouses on the entire island group (12 islands) and the only commercial way to get there is either by a cargo vessel which takes tourists once a month, or sporadic flights from Tahiti. Just getting there is difficult.

The Marquesas is an administrative division of French Polynesia. When making our first phone calls and inquiries into charter vessels, we came across a major language barrier. No one spoke English. After numerous attempts, we eventually “hired” one of our French Canadian friends to act as a translator when making these calls. Along with the language barrier, was a cultural barrier.  The French were not very forthcoming with answers or email responses. There were a lot of unknowns when we finally landed!Sailing Tahiti

And of course, no story would be complete with out the pandemic!  We started putting this trip together a year before the pandemic, and with the world on travel hold, well you know the story. Once we were allowed to travel again, we spent a couple years focusing on our foundational trips again before launching into an exploratory trip.

The last major hurdle that we dealt with was shipping a fleet of kayaks from Myanmar to Tahiti. Our kayaks were stored in a shed on a small Island, in the South-West corner of Myanmar. We had to figure out how to get the kayaks from this little island, across a major river to Thailand, and then by truck to the port where our kayaks would be loaded onto a cargo vessel headed for Tahiti. With many delays between each of these segments, they finally got to the port. A wooden box was built for the kayaks, and finally we breathed a sigh of relief when our boats were finally heading across the ocean to Tahiti. But somewhere along the journey, the shipping agency doubled the cost of shipping. With our kayaks held hostage and our trip ready to go, we had no choice but to concede.  So we now have a very expensive fleet of kayaks in the Marquesas. But finally all the pieces fell into place.Sea Kayaking Tahiti

The very last step was sending out an email to our “extra adventure clients” and the response was incredible. Three trips booked up immediately, and we were off to the races- very excited for the exploration to come.

Stay tuned for the next blog post about the Adventures sailing, kayaking, hiking and diving the Marquesas Islands.

Spoiler alert: Luxury Catamaran, Oceanic Manta Rays, the highest waterfall in Tahiti, and downwind kayak runs with the lush volcanic peaks enticing us along!