solo canoe splash deck

-- Last Updated: Oct-20-06 9:46 AM EST --

Question for those that paddle solo canoes in windy lakes/bays. I was looking to get a CCS solo cover for my Bell Merlin2. Really think the entire cover is overkill in the Everglades area I will be paddling in (similar to BWCA large bays and coastal) So thought just about making a cover from bow to first thwart and from stern to just behind seat. This would eliminate the central spray skirt. Thoughts, suggestions? I am not opposed to ordering the one from CCS. It's $300 but looks well made (better than what I can make) but I think I could make the simpler version I am describing above.

If you’re just looking to reduce windage, I use a simple cover of lightweight ripstop nylon fastened to the thwarts with velcro loops. Doesn’t do anything to stop splashes, but cuts wind and keeps the sun off your gear. Be glad to send a photo if you want/need it.

Pete in Atlanta

Was installing one at Raystown. He might be able to give you some pointers.


What some of the down river WW…
racers do with their Penobscots that works great for keeping the water out of the front.

Get a piece of stiff plastic similar to one of those large “for sale signs” that they sell at Lowes, and cut it into a triangle that fits your canoe bow. then duct tape it in place, and add a couple of spray rails (inexpensive foam) or purchased from J &J canoe in NY.

It works good.

Just don’t have the spray rails aimed to funnel the water back into the canoe like Bald paddler and Red Cross Randy did at the bogey and Bacall race a few years back.



That’s the idea just leaving the cockpit open as in that picture. Although that is a bit more sophisticated than I want but it’s real nice.

JackL I thought about something like that but really wanted it to be easy to take on/off as in long trips and to last a few years.

C2G is da man for showing ya how to make
the type splash cover you are asking about. He has made a bunch of wood and/or cloth partial covers. He can probably produce current and past fotos. And lots of advice.



spray cover thoughts

– Last Updated: Oct-20-06 6:31 PM EST –

mcwood4 is the person who original got me thinking about covers. The first time we paddled together he quoted me some facts on how much a partial cover reduced the wind effect on a boat, then on how much a full cover reduced that effect. I tinkered around with a few different ideas and found that, as he had told me, adding a cover made a noticeable difference in windy conditions.

For me the biggest benefit of a cover, even a partial one like you are talking about, is that it reduces the effect the wind has on the boat. Am I correct in assuming that is what you are after, or are you also getting a little water splashing into the boat?

Although JackL's idea is a tried and true one, my personal preference is a fabric cover because they can be put on or taken off of the boat pretty quickly, and they don't take up much space in the boat if you don't want to put them on but just want to have them along in case conditions deteriorate.

I think paddlinpete's idea is the simplest approach. It addresses the windage problem without cluttering the boat up. I think that's the type that Bell sells for the Yellowstone Solo. I could be mistaken, but I thought that CCS used to make those covers, and probably still does.

The CCS covers that you mentioned are extremely well made and are worth every penny of their price. They give you the option of leaving the center section completly open (only attaching the front cover as far back as the front thwart, then rolling the rest of the front piece under and securing it). With the CCS cover, you can also put the cover on all the way, but roll the tunnel down and tie it open. It gives you a pretty good sized open area to sit in. One thing that might be worth considering is e-mailing Cookes to see if Dan would be willing to do one up to your specifications.

I've made a couple of homemade covers. They are pretty simple to make and are fairly inexpensive.
This is probably a good point to stick in links to photos of a Cooke Cover and a couple of my homemade ones:

Here's a Cooke cover on a Wenonah Voyager:

My first homemade cover on a Swift Osprey:

And the one I'm currently working on, also on an Osprey:

The only reason that I didn't buy a CCS cover for my current boat is that I wasn't sure I had enough money, and I had materials left over from previous projects. I probably only spent about $20 on the whole thing.

I guess it might help if I explained my preferences. I sometimes paddle in some relatively rough weather, so I wanted something to help with the wind, but which would also shed water if I ever took water over the ends of the boat.

I attach the cover to fittings that are attached through the hull and have a plate or large washer on the backside to help distribute the load. I have two main criteria for the fittings. 1. They have to be very secure, and 2. They have to allow for quick installation or removal of the cover.

I don't have a particular preference on the fabric, other than it has to be waterproof and hopefully relatively durable.

I add the coamings just in case I get water over the bow coming back towards the seating area. It has never been an issue, but it's just one of those things that I do. The coaming does give me a place to attach a compass and whatever other crap I decide to stick on.

I attach the cover to the hull fittings with either cord or bungee cord. Once I have hooked it over the fittings, I snug it up and secure it to jam cleats that are attached to the backside of the coaming. A simpler solution is snaps like CCS uses and, if you aren't using a coaming, velcro around the thwarts like paddlinpete suggested. The only concern I have about the snaps is that I think they might tend to corrode if the boat is used in salt water and the salt water isn't cleaned off after the end of each trip.

One general misconception is that covers take too much time to put on and take off. I doubt I spend more than a couple of minutes putting the covers on, and that's if I'm slow. Taking them off is even faster - a minute tops.

Regardless of the approach you take I think you'll find the covers to be a beneficial addition for the conditions that you describe.

Sorry this is so long, but I thought I'd try to get as much as possible in one post instead of scattering it across half a dozen.

opinions on partial and full covers
are what I need to ponder. I have paddled the Merlin in winds about 20 knots and gusting in the coastal area of the Everglades with no water in boat or problems of windage but as of yet nothing over that with a full load.

I am assuming that in higher winds running across the bays the wind could become a problem when the boat is carrying more weight. Have you ever felt the full cover was necessary? I paddle mostly flatwater and the winds do get mostly 25 and gusting to 30. I don’t go out over that. It rains at times but not really alot in our winter paddling season down here.

The full cover I saw at CCS is really beautifully made but the thought of all those snaps messing up the look of the boat makes me ponder some more of the real benefit of the cover for my purposes. Where a simple partial deck that is easily removed would be perfect.

Partial covers
I have a set of partial covers for my older Bell Wildfire RX (currently the Yellowstone Solo, next week who knows???). Anyway I purchase the set from Bell, but they were actually made by CCS for Bell. As I recall I paid in the neighborhood of $150 for the set about 4 years ago. These covers are held in place with strips of 3-M Duo-Loc attached to the hull just below the gunnels. The attachment strips are somewhat similar to Velcro only MUCH more heavy duty and completely waterproof (Velcro is of course neither HD or waterproof). This attachment system ain’t “none too purty” compared to nice brass or stainless steel snaps, but alignment is a breeze – they go on in a jiffy and off just as quickly. If I had nicely crafted wood rails and a composite hull I wouldn’t even consider this system (I’d go with snaps), but with the rough and tumble nylon rails on an ABS boat they’re appropriate I think.

IMHO the partial covers work pretty well for reducing the effects of wind – not as well as full covers, but I can tell when I have them on in terms of better handling in windy situations.

FWIW, I sew lots of my own stuff bags and canoe tripping what-nots these days. It’s great fun and always an interesting challenge. If I do say so myself I’m getting fairly handy with a sewing machine & you should see me load a bobbin in a jiff! ;^) If you enjoy “rollin’ your own” then by all means go for it. On the other hand if you want a set of covers and don’t want to mess around with the learning curve then just call Dan at Cooke Custom Sewing. I’ve always felt his prices were very reasonable & he does nice work – ask anybody. He’d probably make you a partial set for well under the “full set” price. He does do custom work – hence the name of his biz.

Hope that helped! - Randall

just a thought
It sounds like you are pretty confident that you know what you need. Something like paddlinpete’s or Arkay’s would probably do the trick. Even if you start out with partial covers and later decide that you want the center section, it would be pretty easy to add one.

And to answer your question about the full cover, it’s been long enough since I had that boat that I don’t remember if I needed it or not. I was out a couple of times when I had it closed up all the way, but those trips were more the exception than the rule. Dan Cooke would probably be a better person to ask - he’s been doing covers for quite a while and would probably be able to do a good job of explaining the tradeoffs of full vs. partial covers.

Really impressed

– Last Updated: Oct-20-06 7:19 PM EST –

with your assortment of boats and your creative approach to solving and installing a partial deck on your canoes. The picture of the one you are working on has attachments similar to what Northwater uses? As to snaps, I think brass snaps won't corrode as much as stainless could be wrong but you make a good point. I do freshwater rinse all my equipment and boats after use in saltwater but it has away at eating at everything. PaddlingPetes solution was very easy too and could be tweaked for my purposes but I need to solve the attachment to hull problem and figure which attachment to use. He already has a good idea of the velcro to thwarts to secure the mid sections.

Thanks c2g for your response to my post, I think that partial covers that I can try for a paddling season and then decide if full covers are needed is the way to go. Just have to plan in advance for that to happen. And I will call CCS on monday see what they recommend.

Timberline Floor as spray cover
I made a nice wind/spray cover from the floor of an old Ureka Timberline 4 man tent.

Now how many of us have old timberlines laying around that we are willing to cut up? Not too many I bet. But a phone call to Ureka will tell ya if they sell the floors separate. The corner of the floor is sewed just right where it hooks over the front gunnels and the snaps came from Lowes

The current cover uses cable clips from the electrical department at Lowes or Home Depot. The older cover used really small drawer knobs that I got from Lee Valley. I wouldn’t mind something that looks a little more elegant, but both provide a fast and secure method of attaching the cover. Definitely not what one would want for an experimental cover, though.

Good luck!

fiberglass extension

If you do not go with a cloth cover consider a fiberglass bow cap extension and foam strips glued along the gunnels. Old town sells the foam strips.

The bow cap extension is formed in fiberglass and snaps in place. On another solo foam pipe insulation was cut in half lengthwise and glued to the fiberglass extension in a V shape with the inside concave surface facing forward.

Quickly, the cap was formed by wrapping the gunnels with plastic wrap and using a notebook plastic divider to mold the fiberglass deck. A stick was placed underneath the deck to form a raised centerline. When the ‘glas’ was hard but not completely ‘cured’, the extension was removed and a rubber band wrapped around the extension to give the centerline a slight more bow and reduce the width which allows the extension to snap into place held only by tension. Spraying the extension black on the underside only makes it look the glass is solid black and protects the paint.

Spoke to Dan Cooke
and discussed pro’s and con’s of the partial deck vs. full deck. He can make the 3 piece cover as well but his point is that it is prone to getting misplaced. Having it as part of the bow cover is a simple solution that if the weather get’s bad you simply roll it out instead of looking for it in your gear.

Since I am planning on taking the canoe through coastal gulf of mexico waters he did advise on a full deck. So, I am going to order one since my sewing skills and time to learn them is quite limited. But thanks to all the great suggestions and very creative ideas.

excellent choice
I think you’ll be really pleased with your choice. Like I said before, I’ve done a couple of my own, but they look like stone age stuff compared to Dan’s work. Excellent quality and excellent performance. I hope you enjoy it!

I think it was c2g who kindly…
…helped me design a wind cover, which my wife & daughter-in-law executed. Riprstop nylon from fabric store, dowels in sleeves to keep edges rigid before & after paddler, attached to canoe w/ 6 velcro patches on each quarter. Works great in the wind, not waterproof. Only problem: didn’t find the right adhesive and some of the velcros came off-it worked anyway.

His covers DON’T look stone age! I wish I had the skills to make them look half as good. If I did, I certainly would make the cover myself. I don’t even own a sewing maching so have to consider that in total expenditure. Or pay someone to make it. For the cost of all materials including snaps it’s under 150. according to my calculations.

BTW: Dan won’t make them with velcro he said they were a hazard because they would not hold to the canoe in a capsize and you would have 15’ of fabric wrapped around you in the dink. This is probably a good thought if using a full spray deck. The partial decks wouldn’t be an issue using velcro I don’t think.

However c2g, one of my canoeing partners is making the partial covers for her Vagabond using the cable clips instead of snaps.

It doesn’t took much sewing skill
to make a cover. I had zero sewing skills so practiced a little before making a cover. All you need to know how to make a straight stitch. I made two so far, one for my tripping canoe and another for my solo canoe. I recently dumped my fully loaded tripping canoe in a rapid and thanks to the cover, only lost a couple of minor items that were loose in the canoe. It’s an easy do-it-yoursef project and you can save a lot of money.