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Old 11-20-2008   #71
Chip's Avatar
SE, Wyoming
Paddling Since: 1986
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 1,098
Mallards vs. Coots

Lots of different ducks about. Hence, a few thoughtsó

Alpacka sent me an early raft to demo. Amazingly light by virtue of very thin fabricó I'd expect to have to patch it rather often on streams with sharp rock, willow stubs, etc. Rather than let the test boat scrape on shore, I disembarked in the water and waded it in. One weird hazard of such extreme light weightó when you get out, the wind blows it away.

Performance wasn't thrillingó my legs barely fit so most of my weight was at the stern. Given the poor trim, it was hard to paddle a straight line and the boat weathervaned like mad. Hard to keep it pointed downstream through a wave train (and I don't fancy backwards rapid-running). Paddling across a lake with a wind was bloody awful. When I jammed a loaded pack in the bow, the trim improved and it tracked better, but it was uncomfortable, with my feet wedged.

What I'd use it for: backcountry trips across watery country, e.g. muskeg or tropical forest with shallow lakes, ponds, swamps, etc. that can't be crossed on foot and are tortuous to detour around. Running multi-day whitewater would be chancy, I'd think.

The Incept Sally looks great for backpacking in and a 1-2 day dash outó first descents and flash stunts. But the inflatable tubes eat up what little cargo capacity a hardshell would have.

For self-support trips with a backpack approach, there are quite a few open ducks that weigh less (25 lbs or so) and would hold a fat drybag so you could at least eat and sleep with reasonable comfort. I've done trips with solo paddlers in 2-seater ducks: reasonable handling and good load capacity.

My favorite is the Jack's Pack Cat, that's stable, tracks well, weighs about 25 lbs. and can carry more gear with a lower center of gravity than a duckie. I've got one of those old Coleman plastic packframes that can carry a big load in and then shed the straps and rig as a gear frame.

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For eight days on the Escalante (UT) we took a single Pack Cat and a 2-seater as a gear-hauler. Here they are pulled up in a tributary. Notice how low the loads are rigged. The seating is very comfortable and adjustable. For backpacking or fly-in trips, having two tubes that roll small really helps to make a compact load. (Some people use the seat and foot frames to make up a backpack.)

I talked with Jack about building lightweight tubes (somewhat tougher than the Alpackaraft fabric) and aluminum framesó it could be done, given the do-re-mi. But it'd cost a minimum $2500. So I'm still thinking about it. . .

Some people are duck-hunting fanatics. I'm a duck-paddling fanatic.

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Old 11-21-2008   #72
Durango, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1988
Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 3
Ducks are fun, as a paddler you should just have the confidence to go out and paddle whatever you want to try out. About every new boat design out there is termed dorky at one point, then people get in and say, "sheeeeeit, this is pretty fun!"

I just ducked the whole GC from Lee's to Diamond Creek. I loved it, being on the water and the moment of terror when you realize how big that wave actually is!!! I rode through the Gems on a 18footer and thought that it was big, but I appreciated the water-level feel of ducks and kayaks...

Just bought a shredder so there is my love affair

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Old 11-22-2008   #73
Chip's Avatar
SE, Wyoming
Paddling Since: 1986
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 1,098
The GC is a rip in a duck. I'd paddle like a madman into the big waves and ramp off the crests: airtime. Sky between the tubes.

Took a few swimsó definitely worth it.
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Old 12-15-2008   #74
hotchkiss's Avatar
Pejivalle, Costa Rica
Paddling Since: 1993
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 188
Duckies rule! I don't care how long you've been a kayaker, learning to ducky big or steep water in a ducky is terrifying. West Water is far and away more fun in a ducky than a kayak.

That said, I've only been in one twice. Still, what a great time. Dorky or not, a ducky narrows the gap between the class 2 kayaker and the class 4 boater. You don't have to spend hours in a pool learning to ducky roll, just get your ass in the boat. Ducky's are great watercraft, dorky or not.

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