Bigger blue(s)

I don’t often see comments here regarding using the AR’s( Alpacka rafts) in sea locations, so thought I’d put my 2 cents in. Since getting back from Canada ( where i used the raft lots too) I have been staying with friends near Port Melbourne, and so have been paddling my YY ( Yukon Yak) out on the bay- 2-3 times a week since July mostly ( for those based/ familiar with melb) along the bay from Sandridge LSC/ Ferry terminal/ port Melbourne down towards Sandringham/black rock/Ricketts point marine park areas. ( BTW- it is possible to go UNDER princes pier wirth the raft and come out just behind the Tasmania Ferry if you don’t want to go out into the boat traffic area)
Although the AR’s are not fast- my avg is 4-6 km/hr mostly - they handle pretty choppy conditions real well, and with feathered paddles dealing with windy conditions are not that hard. Last week I took the raft to Freycinet NP in Tasmania for a packrafting trip and managed to cruise around the hazards ( that’s the name of the mountains) and bays there- magnificent- lots of marine life- and even tho- Tasmania fashion- conditions were varied and got’ interesting’ on the water some of the time- the raft ( and well, i guess the ‘paddle holder’ too) managed very well. I also got lots of interest from onlookers and day visitors/ hikers who were around at times i was inflating/ setting up and landing - so it’s nice to promote the rafts and community. I know most of you use the rafts on rivers, but it’s good to know that they work well on nice coastline exploration trips too.

Merry Xmas and safe rafting


I’ve been using mine in the salt water a bit too, always in the surf though (mostly down at Ocean Grove). It’s great fun, they catch the waves really easily. A good substitute for ‘proper’ whitewater when the nearby rivers aren’t high enough.

Nice post and pics nearenaf. I’d love to get down to Tassie but wouldn’t know where to start! So many great rivers and coastline to explore.

Craig…pics man…pics!

I’ll have to try this surf thing out. Couple of nice reef breaks at Cronulla actually.

Arrrrgh, no pics, sorry Darren! I usually head down with a mate or two, but they’re surfing at the same time I am (albeit on boards). The raft catches waves so easily that often you’ll be trying to get out past the break and end up getting caught in a wave, dragging you back to shore. Every time you catch a wave the raft ends up absolutely full to the brim with water, it’s amazing how much the raft weighs when it’s like that. I’ve tried using the spray deck but found it wasn’t worth the hassle, however the new 2012 one would probably perform well.

As far as equipment goes, I keep the paddle on a leash and use a conventional surfing leg rope so the raft doesn’t get too far away from me. Having two ropes attached to the raft isn’t ideal but at least you don’t lose any gear. Other tip is to deflate the seat, as it’s not required for safety purposes and it makes the raft much more stable. Remember to close the valves or else they suck up water.

If you’re near the surf and have got a spare hour or two I highly recommend it :slight_smile:

I always have some sort of weight lashed up front- if not a pack then i use a stuff bag filled with sand/ pebbles etc ( which also means when i get out i just ‘return’ the resource to the environment and reuse the stuff bag- how much more recycling can you get :slight_smile:
the front weight helps substantially with fwd motion AND helps to keep the ‘nose down’ for incoming waves etc- which means the raft does not get effected by wind trying to tip/ flip it over when paddling into wind/ waves- and seem to ride the waves very nicely. if it gets exciting you will get water in- but the deck helps- and on big trips when i expect some long sessions with water immersion i have a little super light bilge pump ( kayak type) which works well. I also leash my paddle but mainly so that when i have a snack/ drink etc and place the paddle on deck the wind gusts does not send it ‘days ahead’ of me as it were… hand paddles are not that efficient ( i know, i know…)

My mate and I went to the back beach at Rye a couple of months ago, and took the rafts out.

We were having a blast, as mentioned above, the rafts catch waves very easily. I’m not a surfer so dont really know the size of what were were in, but I guess up to about 5ft the rafts are awesome, and paddling out is probably more fun than catching the waves back in… crashing through the lip of a wave as its about to break is really thrilling. As the waves got bigger, maybe 6ft+ (don’t quote me) it became impossible (for me) to get through the break and I spent an hour or so just trying to keep myself away from the very rocky shore down there. A few times I paddled up the face of a wave and got totally inverted and flipped off backwards, which is also a thrill and would’ve made for great photos, but its hard, hard work chasing the raft (I leashed the paddle to my leg), emptying, paddling back out and getting hammered, over and over again. That said, i would love to be doing just that right about now :slight_smile:

I live just next to the pier in Brighton (melb) and been doing plenty of bay time in the area. When you get a solid south westerly wind enough swell wraps in behind the pier that you can catch some waves in relatively clear water, especially at low tide when the waves break on a sand bank with deeper water either side so you can avoid getting swamped on the sand. As Craig says, when you get swamped by a wave the boats become incredibly heavy and can be hard to empty out.
Nearenaf, I agree that keeping the nose under control in the waves definitely helps, I put a strap across the front tie downs that hangs near my feat in the boat so I can brace the nose with my feet as required. Johhny and I glued some patches on for thigh straps on the weekend and keen for some bay swell to see how they add to the handling.

Whilst gluing Johnny and I argued about wave size (see Johnopower post surfing at rye), which ended with him stating that surfers understate wave sizes and me claiming that the rafts would get smashed in anything greater than 3-4ft. Either way, we did agree that a trip to the prom (Wilsons) for an overnight paddle around the southern tip would be awesome. Thinking about heading down on a friday night after work to tidal river, then on the saturday morning walking into little oberon bay, paddling round to about roaring meg (overnighting somewhere) and then onto sealers cove, and walking out and back to melb sunday night. Total paddle of around 30km with about 15km walking. Should be very doable providing it not windy and the surf is not bigger than 3ft…

Johnny if you want to make it more multisport (as per your multi-sport post) we could take our bikes, park at the national park entrance, ride to tidal (lock up bikes), walk, paddle, walk and then ride back to the park entrance. We can even race if you want, though you know how I feel about racing, a bit similar to how you feel about my wave height judging.

As a lifelong surfer I reckon paddling out in anything I’d call over 2’+ on a packraft is unlikely without serious wetting. Maybe if you know your beach reading skills well and pick a gap.

A surfers’ 6’ might look triple overhead to a lay person. There’s no use arguing with this. Think of surfers’ measurements simply as some random index which only the initiated understand, rather than as an actual height allowing comparison for the lay person. Like arguing around the campfire as to whether the climb you did today was a solid 21, or a soft touch 22. Both look absurd to the lay person.