Alpacka Packraft ~ gluing on floor protection

My floor got pretty scratched in shallow-river France as you saw on the other page. Alpacka say just treat it with a film of Aquaseal, but I’d rather act preventatively. I managed to track down what claimed to be a piece of ballistic nylon on ebay for a tenner. It seemed coated on one side but didn’t look like it would stop a bullet. The uncoated side absorbs the glue so makes a good seal difficult. I tried to get a local dry suit maker to do it for me properly, but after some dithering they lost interest so I DIY-ed.
You need the right glue – there’s good advice on the Alpacka website, but the glues in the US cannot be bought or even sent here. In the UK, with plenty of RIB making know-how, I reckoned this this Polymarine glue was the best for my needs. It cost £15 for 250ml and was only just about enough. You also need a hand roller. I spent a lot of time tracking down even that correct term and finally found one in a B&Q DIY shop for a couple of quid. It’s used for laying down lino, or for you to press the two surfaces together once the glue has become tacky.

sulpk09

Patch added to my current (3rd )Alpacka

My work was not perfect and may need a few more dabs aroud the edges over time. One tip Alpacka gave me was to run a bead of Aquaseal around the edges. I did this on the leading edge which is just beyond my heals – the secondary place of wear, after one’s butt. A full length piece of floor protection may not be needed, but I had the material and figured there’s less chance of the vulnerable leading edge getting abraded and peeling off if it’s way to the front and away from the main pressure zones. I don’t wince now when I run aground, and the extra layer also adds a little thermal protection to the floor, so keeping the legs from getting cold. The other day I spent the day in a near-freezing river (in a drysuit) and can’t say I noticed the cold in the legs. It adds maybe 8oz (250g) or about 7% to the weight of the boat, but in this instance it’s worth worth IMO for a more durable boat.

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