First Float with the Alpacka Yukon Yak Packraft

It’s about time I got this thing wet! Back in December I picked up a Alpacka Yukon Yak when they went on sale. I’ve been dreaming about floating one ever since I learned about them. In fact, since I was a kid I’ve wanted the Sevylor Trail Boat, which is no longer made, to be able to able to float the East Fork of the San Gabriel River. When I learned of the Alpackas, which are a modernized, more rugged version I knew I’d get one some day.

My boat is a standard Yukon Yak, with the Wilderness Spray Deck. I have a 4 piece paddle that is pretty light. I should be able to fit it in a backpack no problem.

I was a little nervous getting out there at first. I’m not a great swimmer, and I’ve only kayaked once before. Serbrina and I rented a tandem kayak at the marina one time. I’ve read Roman Dial’s book on Packrafting though so I had a good idea of what to expect. I did what he recommended of using the boat with the spray deck stowed at first. Open boating is what they call it. I got pretty wet as I was not very smooth with the paddling. Eventually I got the hang of it, learning how much paddle to use for both steering corrections and speed corrections. With practice I was able to maneuver the boat into good spots to take photos of the wildlife. It’s not a fast boat by any means, so it’s pretty forgiving if you get it pointed the wrong way. Just a couple corrections and you’re back headed the way you want to go. Just a like a moto or a bike, you look where you want to go and not at what you’re trying to avoid.

I floated around for about an hour, maybe an hour and a half. Eventually paddling about 2 miles zig-zagging around the lake. At one point I landed on the shore and installed the spray deck to get used to that. It’s a weird feeling, confined, but warmer and drier. Not completely dry, but drier. I think a custom made bag for the bow would be perfect to store some water or snacks in. I can just about reach it with the deck on, but could easily adjust the deck to get to it.

I was the only person on the lake and at times it was a little creepy. It was so quiet out there. The wind wasn’t even blowing so the water was still. Here’s a short video of what it was like out there. I need to rig up the GoPro for the next float as I couldn’t paddle and shoot video with this camera. Sorry for the watermark too, just crop it out in your mind.

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