Right from the start we knew this campervan would be used for sea kayaking.
So the first question we asked converters was, “can we put kayaks on the roof”.
We’d wondered whether we’d have to buy a trailer, something we were keen to avoid.
(More - Pt 1 of this article.)
We were delighted when Simon Poole from Jerba Campervans told us, “Yes, no problem. I carry kayaks on a pop up roof and it’s fine. It’s designed to take a much heavier load than 2 kayak”.
Sorted. Until that awful May day when we realised our roof was collapsing. Two Cetus had been on the roof for two days, and a definite ‘dish’ had appeared on one side. It seemed the edge of the roof was slipping off the side of the van and, unsupported, collapsing.
Take a look at the photo. You can see the bend in the roof from the inside. If you look at the one above, you'll also see how the edge of the roof has slid off the van and is touching the door.
Before you go any further, please read the first part of the story. You’ll see we love the van as a base for kayaking and we had this problem resolved with very little effort by ourselves.
Simon Poole at Jerba Campervans was utterly superb. That's him below with the spanners. I'd buy another van off him any time and would highly recommend him to anyone.
I drove the vehicle down to Edinburgh, where he realigned the roof. He explained it would be a temporary fix to allow us to enjoy our holiday in the Western Isles, but not a long term solution.
Initially, I suspect the roof manufacturers, a German firm called Reimo, tried to back-pedal on the weight limitations of their roofs.
But then Simon got through to the right person who clearly said something like, “come on - this is a duff roof. Bring it back and send them a new one. And make it strong”. In German.
I admit, I’m guessing. I have not had to deal with Reimo at all.
Simon has done all that negotiation. Reimo were keen to explain how tough their roofs are. Vehicles have rolled off roads and their roofs have been intact. The company is proud of their strong roofs.
Yet here was mine. Dished.
No-one has fully explained what went wrong. My guess is that it was built slightly out of shape.
The roof is meant to be narrower in the middle, ‘waisted’ like a ski, not to turn, but to sit on the metal edges on the top of the van.
Ours wasn’t. So under load it splayed out and one edge slid off the van.
The new Reimo roof is a different design. You’ll notice it now has a nose-cone, which might help keep it in place. I was told the roof would also be specially strengthened, but I’m not sure that happened.
We’ve driven around locally with kayaks up there, and left two Nordkapps on the roof for an entire week. No hint of bending yet.
We’ve yet to try a long trip with the roof and kayaks, but that will come soon. I’m heading up to Skye shortly to start filming for the second Volume of Sea Kayak with Gordon Brown and I’ll probably take a kayak.
Just to test the roof.
[edit - as of Sept 2012 (read long term test) we have had no problems whatsoever from our new roof. If I was planning to buy a VW campervan and carry sea kayaks on the roof, I would not go anywhere other than Jerba, as they now have the expertise which, I suspect, other converters might lack]