canoe spray deck?

-- Last Updated: Aug-10-15 1:22 PM EST --

Under what circumstances would you use a spray deck? Obviously, if going through whitewater one would be useful. What about other situations? I've seen manufacturers reference their use in "wilderness trips". Is this with the assumption that whitewater will be encountered? I'm guessing that they'd also be useful in big water with waves: light ocean use, the great lakes, major rivers (Mississippi, Columbia, etc.). Or would they be? They add to the mass of a canoe, and this mass is high up, not down in the bilge. Would this cause its own problems, or is the mass insignificant? Any thoughts? Thanks.

I can think of…
…a couple added benefits:

-reducing the effect of heavy winds, a cover makes the canoe more aerodynamic, especially in cross winds.

-keeping heavy rain out of the canoe.

Fabric spray decks have never been
popular for whitewater. They are sometimes used by wilderness trippers who have to run long rapids, but they get in the way of loading and unloading at portages.

They are used more often to cross wavy lakes, but have not been popular there either.

Essentially you have something that is a bit of a nuisance to attach, detach, and which therefore interferes with loading and unloading of the boat and/or the gear. And every once in a while, in bad conditions, the boat gets filled anyway, and is it ever a PITA to beach and empty!

My use
I got one for the front half of my Penobscot. I solo frequently.

As mentioned above it does help in cross winds, The wind can’t grab in the inside gunwale in the front of the canoe since it is covered. I double blade sometimes and the cover sheds a good amount of water that would otherwise be in the canoe. I trim my canoe slightly bow high. Anything up front tends to stay out of the bilge water and on a rainy day the front compartment contents are fairly dry at day’s end.

I don’t have one for the rear section as I leave that open for accessing things I might want during the day of paddling.

They come in might handy…
if you are in the middle of a large lake and the wind whips up big whitecaps.

Many flat water marathon racers have them on their pro boats.

Another option which can help are spray rails on each side of the bow.

We have them on our Jensen and our comp cruiser, and there have been lots of times where they prevented a wave from coming over the bow

jack L

spray cover uses
I use mine to extend the big water capabilities of some of my canoes. And yes the mass is insignificamt. 20 gallons of water sloshing around on the other hand is a problem. Lower sided canoes are much less wind-blown and a little lighter weight.

where does the water go?
given the shape of the canoe and cover, wouldn’t a partial canoe cover channel the water into the open part of the canoe?

High Spots
In all the pictures I’ve seen of people tripping with spray covers, packs extended higher than the gunwales in enough places that the cover wasn’t just a collection trough for water. It would run off the sides, if not everywhere, then at enough places to do more good than harm, as far as keeping water out. In one of Bill Mason’s videos, he has a partial spray cover on the front one-third of the boat that “ramps up” at the rear end, so water on the cover couldn’t be channeled into the boat. It would be simple to arrange something like that, and it would be especially simple at the location of a thwart.

The water sheds to the side
The spray cover’s ending at the cockpit is slightly curved, closest to me at the rails, further away in the center. There is a ~~~ 1.5 inch nylon covered foam vertical piece that terminates the cover.

Water hitting the “dam” slides around the curve to rails and over the side.

echoing everyone else
-They add a little bit of a safety factor in waves.

-They make a noticeable difference in the wind.

-They help keep rain out of the boat.

-The weight is insignificant.

-A properly designed set of solo canoe covers can be put on in under two minutes and removed even more quickly.

-I put a bit of a coaming on the ones I make for myself to kick the water off to the side should it ever make it far enough. It never has. A slight arch, like on a kayak deck, would probably do a good enough job as well.