My spring 2004 purchased Alpaca raft was built with the inflation valve on the front of the raft and one lash point adjacent to it. What year did they move the inflation valve to the back and why was it originally put on the front? It seems the front is a very vulnerable spot for the inflation valve. There are two additional lash points 2 feet back from the single bow lash point. I need to securely carry a pack through class 3 rapids. Am I better off just using the existing single lash point on front (will it hold?) or adding one adjacent to the inflation valve? I am concerned that the inflation valve may be overly stressed by having a lash point right next to it.
In my opinion, to carry a pack on your boat adequetely depends on the style/size of pack - we tend to carry day packs along the axis of the raft, using straps across the raft, and carry full sized rucksacks across the rafts, using straps along the axis of the raft. The reason for carrying full sizedd ruckers across is that if carried along the axis of the raft, they tend to fall onto one’s feet, which is annoying, at minimum. To do all this requires 4 tie down points on the front of the raft.
As to tie downs, others have suggested some elastic tie down available from ?REI, but I have recently used 20mm straps with fastex buckles and they were perfect, cheap and easy to make and adjust.
As to adding lash points, I suggest you contact Sheri directly - lash points are easy enough to make, but you need to ensure the bond to the raft is adequate. To glue to these rafts requires a urethane bond, and this means that whatever fabric you have sewn the lash point to will bond to urethane. My rafts came with some spare base fabric cut offs, and for me it would be easy to sew a webbing loop to these and then glue them on with urethane glue (but if doing so, use some strong thread to sew the loops on, such as upholstery thread). I thought that Sheri was able to sell extra lash on points directly - though I may be wrong.
The bottom line is that it you have any problems/questions with these rafts, just ASK. She provides the most amazing feedback/service that I have ever come across, and as well, she has a worldwide monopoly on this type of craft . They are extraordinary boats, and worth every dollar spent …and any dollar spent on modifications along the way, although they are pretty well perfect at the moment!