RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT
As always, 99% of the challenge is time, not ideas…
WHITEWATER BOAT. Status: Alpha Testing. Yes, this is the one in the 2nd roll vid. We’ve been experimenting on:
- More aggressively shaped hull.
Fore-and-ft stability increase.
Heavier-duty, much drier deck.
Additional tiedowns for grab lines, etc.
Quick-release interior suspension system, to improve edge control & allow rolling in some circumstances. (I call this thingamajig the “X-ray” right now because.. well, it has no name and part of it is a big “X”)
The Witchcraft is a non-self bailer design, but we’ve found this new deck is *substantially* drier, avoiding the “floating bathtub” effect. The mid-river re-entry w/ deck is still complex; a real litmus test will be combat rollability.
At the very least, we’re looking at a hull that’s confirmed as higher performance in whitewater and substantially tougher yet than our main boats. With the removable seat design, this also allows the installation of a higher pressure seat. However, we'd say it's much less of a general purpose packraft, more of a specialist whitewater-runners boat.
Outlook: We’d really like to get this available, either with or without the X-ray (pending dev & testing) by late spring, as a custom-built variant on the standard boats. It’s more labor intensive to build as well, so heads up… it’s gonna be a bit more expensive. We’ll bring it out when it’s worthy and continue improving the design from there. We're confident enough we're now announcing on our shop site that those buying for whitewater specifically should consider waiting.
Retro-Modding: Unfortunately , an existing boat can’t be retro-modded into a Witchcraft. The boat’s been redesigned from the ground up. Arrrrrr, the curse of progress… really, we're not trying to make boats "old", Sheri just keeps on inventing stuff.
REMOVABLE SPRAY DECK Status: Pre-Production.
The spraydeck has always been a “jack of all trades, master of none,” which has kind of bugged us all. Although the earliest spray decks were fully removable, field evidence eventually led Alpacka to determine those decks weren’t suitable for general use. Sheri has at last come up with a removable deck design she’s fully comfortable with, for 2010. The deck removes down to just a “collar” on the boat. This opens the way for modular spray decks, plus easier home & field repair. It also means that if you have a deck on your boat, you can order additional decks without having to send the boat in, provided the zippers are in good order.
Fjord Explorer OARFRAME UPGRADE. Status: Waiting for a couple parts.
Working on an improved oarframe that’s easier to assemble and takes less attachment points in the boat, while still sitting “down in” the boat, and potentially accommodating a floor plank for those who want to stand & scout.
SUIT: Need… time… *gasp* Arrrrrrrgh...
And now for something completely different: Pontoons! Through the strange and sometimes contrarian process that is Alpacka’s R&D (oft involving gin, tonic, and Pomeranian dogs), we believe we can also build single-tube pontoons. Why do we bring it up? Every so often we get a buzz along the lines of “I need to float some ATVs.” Can pontoons be done? Probably.
Alpaca, slimmed down: We’ve always been reluctant to shorten Alpacas, our smallest all-purpose boat, because of handling. That said, we think we can “scale down” a boat, provided we can also put a longer stern (like the Witchcraft) on it. If you’re under 5’5” or so, and looking for a standard boat (Alpaca, but small), get in touch with us directly. It’s experimental, and would be a custom build, but we think we can do it. We’ve got heart for the rad 4’11” women out there fighting for leverage over those big tubes. This design raises some tradeoffs, so you’ll want to talk to us directly.
Boat Lightening: As always, some wierd & gonzo experiments going on here. We'll see where this goes; probably not
"standard" lighter boats, but maybe a way to trim down boat weight for those wanting to go far, fast. We'll see what comes of it.