Preparing the Slackraft for Escalante

In a month I’m back in northern Arizona for an Expo and afterwards hope to have another crack at the Escalante River (left) in southern Utah. I had a good look around last year at both put-in and take-outs, doing everything short of actually paddling the river. This time round it’ll be a month later so hopefully warmer and if the river’s too shallow (they say there’s been little snow this winter), that suits me fine. We proved on the Fitzroy last September that wading through the shallows pulling your packraft is most agreeable and good leg exercise.
I’m also pleased to say I’ve persuaded the Mrs to come along, and not only that but to come with in the expedition-untested Sevy Slackraft I made over the winter by cutting the outer hull chamber off a cheap PVC pool toy to make a slimmer cheap PVC pool toy resembling something you might enjoy paddling. Seeing as she’s half my weight it ought not sink on her as it did for me, and I’m happy to carry the food and camping load in the bombproof Yak.
There is a chance of course that the Slackboat will catch a buried stick and rupture as Jeff’s did a few times on the Fitzroy. Having learned from that experience, to give the Slacker’s floor a chance I’ve glued on a sheet of ‘ballistic nylon’ I had left over for the same floor protection purpose on my first Alpacka. Best not to read too much into ‘ballistic’, but as I happened to have some going spare it’ll be better than a cheap PVC tarp or cheap tent nylon fabric.
First I applied a few runs of double-sided carpet tape to save on glue, though this tape works out at nearly £1 a metre. I then laddled on some EvoStik and finished the whole job off with a seamless montage of duct tape. See pics below. The finished boat weighs less than 2.1kg (4.6lbs) and packs up more compactly than the Yak. Rather worryingly, as I deflated and then sucked the last of the air out to make it roll up compactly, the inside air was heavily laden with glue vapour. I’m expecting a headache or a high soon. The EvoStik tin did say not for use with soft vinyl as well as other materials, but as the boat held its air well for over 24 hours after gluing, the glue can’t be said to have dissolved the boat – maybe it just permeates. In fact it doesn’t – first go out on the sea it all came apart, so maybe ‘Nevo’-Stik is a better name. I should have used the same glue I did on the Alpacka, but that costs nearly as much as the Sev.
So, with a bit of care and luck, my re-socked paddling pool ought to last the three-day outing down the Escalante. And if not we can both squeeze into my Alpacka Yak, making sure we dispose of the shreaded remains of the Sevy in a responsible manner.
Assuming the plan rolls out [it didnt’], the river runs fine and the weather is good, they’ll be news on that caper at the end of May.

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