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Canoe Spray Covers? Paddle Boat Cover

Question:
We are headed up to paddle the Nahanni River in Canada's Northwest Territories. The sources that I have found are consistent in recommending a spray cover for the canoes on the Nahanni.

The boat belongs to my partner, but she doesn't want to spend the money for a commercial spray cover, so I was going to make one.

Jacobsen in his book, Expedition Canoing, has plans for spray covers, including a couple of variations. I was going to follow his instructions, with some minor variations.

The issue at hand is how to fasten the spray cover to the canoe. As far as I can tell, most of the commercial spray covers use snaps. Jacobsen says snaps. However, a friend of my partner has told her that snaps are awful and should be avoided.

Anyone with experience with canoe spray covers? How was your cover attached to your boat? How did it work out? Anything else I should know?


Answer:
-First, check with soume of the outfitters and guides in that region first - see if you can hire a canoe for your trip. Might be cheaper than bringing one up, at least according to friends who got there regularly. Beyond that, snaps. And if she just can't handle snaps, velcro. The adhesive backed stuff is OK, contact cementing it on is better. Make sure the cover is in sections so that you can escape the cover if you flip. Full covers - even sectioned ones are *dangerous* if you go swimming. First rule - don't panic. When you exit the boat, make sure the cover is completely disengaged from you.

- Our Canadian neighbors seem to like spray covers a lot. The name may be unfortunate. The canoe cover has benefit in keeping you warm and reducing wind, but very little benefit in keeping you afloat, and perhaps an added hazard if you go swimming. I sewed a 3 piece cover from urethane-coated tent-bottom fabric for a 17 foot Blue Hole essentially by Jacobsen's instructions. I used automotive-type nickel plated snap fasteners, and they work. Sew the entire cover, then stretch it over the canoe and make the places the snaps go. Drill holes and put the male end on the hull. Use the anvil and set the female end in the cover. Check your fit every 2 or 3 snaps, and make sure it is tight. Still have the boat and the cover in the basement though I have done a dozen trips more recently without it. If I do a barren grounds trip, I'll have a cover, but not on a whitewater river trip. This advise is worth what you paid for it.

-If you're paddling from Moose Ponds, then get a cover. From Honeymoon Lake/ Island Lakes, it's not necessary. There are some fair sized rollers in the lower canyons, but they were easily avoided when we were there.

Building your own is fairly easy. Denver Fabric has a good selection of nylons. I actually built mine out of remnant Gore-Tex that was dirt cheap. Tandy Leather has the snaps. You can make sprayskirt coamings with PVC pipe. The materials cost was less than $50 for a two piece skirt on a Rendezvous. It took an afternoon to build and install.

If it's the trip Bonnie was talking about, you'll be putting in below the serious whitewater, and I wouldn't bother with a spray cover.


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