Anyone have experience / suggestions making canoe spray covers?
I did it!
I got material that was next-to-free, paying about a buck a yard for some great stuff. I had to pay full price for the lashing cord, and the mounting hardware was already on my used boats.
In the end, I have a great cover that is almost as good as a Northwater deck. However, The labour was so much more than I had expected, that if I had to do it all over again, I would go with a Northwater.
I can’t exactly say why, but it took several days of cutting and sewing, and broke one older machine in the process.
I’ve seen some with snaps - this just seems silly, as fabric and loads expand and contract. I’ve seen some with velcro - this seems weak, but might be OK for a lake-tripping only boat. I like the Northwater system a great deal, and the Blackfeather version with straps might be even more secure - but perhaps unnecessarily so, and looks more time consuming.
I heard of one guy who used thick bungee cord and hooks to attach it, which is like the Northwater, but a bit quicker. That looked slick.
jjcanoes.com sells cover material. Contact cement, and a heat gun to shrink it. Zaveral may sell it too.
couple of covers
Here a links to some photos of a couple of covers I made:
This first one is one that I use:
This cover was an experiment to see if a cover could be made for a Bell canoe without having to attach it to the hull. There are a lot of photos and it goes through a couple of versions that didn’t work very well, but I think it illustrates the part about measuring, cutting, and sewing up the fabric part reasonably well. It will at least give you an idea of what you would be doing:
I made a super cheap one (that works) out of a tarp, some rope, and a bungie cord. Half skirt. Basically you size the tarp over the cockpit, mark it with a Sharpie and cut about three inches outside what you thought it should be. Using the rope and bungie figure out how long you need the rope to get a nice snug fit around the outside of the cockpit. Tie some loops in the rope, put the bungie hooks in and duct tape them on. Put the tarp back over your cockpit, put the rope/bungie thing on it and then see if you can trip any excess tarp.
That will work for me until this Spring when I buy a real one.
My experience: don’t
I had a very fancy and very expensive custom cover made for a canoe 30 years ago.
The last time I ever used one was 29.5 years ago.
That’s what I think of them.
Some words that come to my mind about canoe covers: gearhead impetuousness, gimmick, waste of money, waste of time, waste of weight, dangerous, unnecessary, poor cost/benefit ratio, better alternatives, intrinsically incongruous with the essence of an open canoe.
Going to disagree
Sorry, I think me and many other canoeists are going to disagree with that.
If you paddle water with spray and wind (aka, conditions most tripper encounter), I think the first trip you make will have you convinced that a cover is a good investment in a tripping canoe.
Bag Lady or CCS.
I contacted her a year ago and she said that she only makes spray decks that are sold directly to manufacturers - not custom order decks like CCS and North Water. I’ve got my eye on a North Water - looks a lot more rugged than a CCS or anything I could build on my own.
My own and a CCS
I have a Wenonah voyager. A lot has been written about it's handling in wind (empty and uncovered it's a windsock).
I made my own cover last year as an experiment and it was so successful I ordered a Cooke cover over the hard season.
For my own cover I installed 'P' clips under the gunnel's on the inside of the canoe and threaded shock cord around the perimeter. My cover is sewn from 1.1 oz coated nylon and has tabs with Velcro along the edge. The tabs wrapped around the shock cord and made for easy and fast installation and removal of the cover.
I did many day paddles and some multi day trips in rainy weather, and the cover was a great success in keeping the wind from grabbing the canoe, and in keeping my gear much dryer in the rain.
It looked pretty tidy too. It's a nice little cover for occasional use.
I have since installed a Cooke cover, which is far better in most every way (I liked how the end thwarts were accessible with my cover which made it easier to carry the canoe or pull it ashore when loaded).
The CCS cover has drastically improved my paddling pleasure in cold weather. Most people who talk about covers don't mention that they can keep you warmer in cold weather, at least the ones with a cockpit cover, much less the skirt the CCS has.
I go out of my way to paddle on rainy days now with a light dry top and the cover, and also paddle more in cooler weather than I would otherwise.
In the last two weeks I did trips on the Lower Wisconsin and Mississippi rivers including hot and cool weather and an all day rain.
Last Saturday I was planning a medium length paddle, camp for the night and about a three hour paddle to the take out. It poured down rain all day and I paddled all the way to the take out. Partly because I didn't want to set up camp in pouring rain, but mostly because I was snug and comfortable with the cover and dry top and was _enjoying myself_ so much I wanted to keep paddling. It was probably one of the best days I had on the water this season.
My Advantage will be getting a cover next.
The ability to stay comfortable in rain is something I’ve thought was a kayak advantage – with a neo skirt, drytop, and a good hat, I can be warm and dry in weather that keeps most folks indoors. I hadn’t thought about setting up a canoe the same way. I’ve paddled mine in the rain, but having to regularly bail the rainwater took some of the fun out of it.