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Interesting Trips With Our Inflatable Products

Chips Adventures With a Pack Cat in Alaska

I packed the Cat up to Sitka on the ferry, with wetsuit, lifevest, rigging,throw rope, everything in one drybag except the paddle (45 lbs. total).The Island Institute artist quarters are right on the rocky shore of the Sound, so I blew up the boat immediately and struck out.

Water was about 44 degrees. The only problem was cold feet (in neoprene socks &sandals) so I got a second pair of neoprene socks with fuzz inside and doubled up: that did the trick. Wore basic poly/pile things on top. Carrieda rain coat & pants, for downpours. There are so many islands and inlets that it's easy to find sheltered water, though I also enjoyed the outercoast for its sizeable swells, but it'd be grueling on a long trip. A sea-yak would be the the ticket.

The tides present some problems: you have to figure out how to go through narrows with the tidal flow, or you get exhausted or even carried backward.Some narrows leading to larger inlets have reversing whitewater flows: you shoot in with high tide and then swoosh back out on the ebb. There aresome waterfall/reversal situations that are dangerous to the unwary, but the Pack Cat is so stable that I had no problems except the weirdness: imagine the Green River turning and flowing upstream. I also played gameswith swells breaking through rocks, though it wouldn't be hard to tear a tube. But I didn't.

Also had fun paddling up to the defunct pulp mill and slaloming under the big pier, with harbor seals trailing me. They'd come really close and give me searching looks, while opening and closing their nostrils- unnerving at first. The herring spawned mid-April and attracted every possible sort ofbeast: humpback whale, orcas, sea lions, harbor seals, bald eagles, gulls, bay ducks. It was grand to paddle with all the wildlife swirling about: sat in one bay and counted bald eagles- quit at 85. They'd swoop down and catch a herring, then perch to swallow it. Lots of swiping and screeching.Very cool!


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