Canadian Canoe Routes

Spray Decks and options
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Author:  Canoeheadted [ March 27th, 2019, 11:50 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Spray Decks and options

I'm gonna say get a 3 piece from CCS.

-lightweight to fit your boat and style of tripping
-modular (all three pieces for nasty, two ends for nice weather, stern and middle for when wife doesn't want a skirt)
-snaps are speedy nor do all have to be done up all the time.

Author:  Mike McCrea [ March 28th, 2019, 10:02 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Spray Decks and options

We have spray covers on several different canoes, some partial covers and some full covers with tunnels, and have had DIY covers in the past. Northwater or Cooke Custom Sewing, full or partial, two piece or three is very much a matter of personal preference.

Two features I absolutely want on any cover:

Paddle pockets and straps. Plural on a tandem boat, although I have paddle pockets/straps both bow and stern on solo canoes. In part for a spare paddle, in part because when getting into a full skirt tunnel it’s nice to have some place to secure the paddle while otherwise occupied.

Some D-ring, clip or attachment point for a map case. With a full cover the only readable place to put the map is atop the spraydeck and I want some way to assure that it stays there in wind and wave.

Author:  Kalmia [ March 28th, 2019, 6:26 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Spray Decks and options

Rolling a canoe in whitewater requires a canoe outfitted with a pedestal seat, thigh straps, and foot braces. Learning to do the Eskimo roll really really requires all that. Best to learn in a decked whitewater canoe. Best for tandem paddlers to learn to roll solo boats first. And please note that the bench seats in tripping/ touring canoes become an entrapment hazard in a pin when the bottom of the boat collapses and catches a paddlers legs between floor and seat.

Author:  Dave_k [ March 28th, 2019, 9:40 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Spray Decks and options

OK, I looked up what CCS was offering in spray decks. So in choosing between North Water and Cooks Custom there appears to be a couple of different schools of thought. For starters CCS snaps, NW tie in loops.

From photos the CCS looks like a less stiff material, if you can judge such a thing from a photo. CCS seems to focus on 3 piece which if you're using snaps makes sense for easy around a portage. The three different styles CSS offers, Jacobson, Dan's and O'Hara revolve around what is done in the mid section. My wife and I have never packed for a trip such the we were loaded above the gunnels so we wouldn't need th O'Hara. Dan's style with pleated approach looks simple to use as it is self adjusting. My one question about that style is what happens in a roll situation? The Jacobson has straps to provide tension across the central load.

NW provide the option between 1, 2 or 3 piece construction. I'll have to go back and read about how others have modified the tie down approach on their NW decks.... unless someone wishes to comment on this thread. I assume the modification are done with the intention to make opening and closing faster.... when not having a Portage hatch. Since the NW default approach is a para cord tie down I'm assuming that is done for strength. I wonder if the modified tie down systems, the ones using shock cord, are as strong and again is there any trouble with the gear in a roll situation? With the default tie down system the Portage hatch seems like a logical option to add but as rab stated earlier in the thread they are still not as easy to load and unload as with no deck at all...... but obviously faster than if you're having to untie the thing on every portage.... depending how many of those there are on your trip.

One thing I haven't found out in the NW system is where do people choose to tie the para cord. A knot at the side would allow easy access... again if you didn't have a Portage hatch.

From photos (there goes that visual assessment again) the NW material looks heavier and stiffer though they do provide two weights of fabric admitting on their web page that lighter fabric won't last as long. Not what you want to hear when you laying down some coin but the honesty is good. With many people commenting that the weight is one of the reasons that dissuades them from using their decks I'm thinking lighter might have me using a "deck investment" more often. Is there anybody out there that has a NW in the lighter fabric construction that can comment on it's durability?

The CCS fabric looked lighter. Is it? how durable is it?

MIke I'm totally with you on the two paddle pocket in a tandem and the map pouch tie down points. A must in my books too!

Kalmia Our Starlight has bench style seats and Mike Yee outfitting. I've witnessed Andy Convery role my boat. It was the end of the day at the Palmer rapids and I was too pooped to help so I floated out leaving him to do it by himself. So cool to see. Yah, good advice on learning to do it yourself first because I wasn't sure on how to help him anyways. Interesting point about a getting trapped in a hull crush situation. I've never used a saddle. I have seen photos of someone's Starlight outfitted with two saddles. My concern is my knees and ankles can barely straighten after having been kneeling for a while so I can't imagine having to be in that position for an entire trip using a saddle. That reminds me, I better come up with some stretching/strengthening program to address that before I get to the Ash this summer... that would be a good topic for another thread. :D

Author:  Dave_k [ March 28th, 2019, 9:45 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Spray Decks and options

OK, not to be advertising but I figured posting links to the two sites would be helpful so anyone else reading the thread can look at the photos and see what folks are talking about.... for however long the links continue to work.... which is until the webpages are redesigned.

Author:  Dan Cooke [ March 29th, 2019, 8:35 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Spray Decks and options

Dave K to clear up some stuff. The only differences between the Jacabson -Dan Style center section is the sewn pleated ends that match the width of the bow and stern sections on the dans style verses the user gathering the 59" of cloth of the center section to match the 36-42" wide (hull dependent) end sections. Both have 1/8|" shock cord to adjust for the load height.
CCS used a 420 Denier nylon Fabric, per the Northwater site their typical deck is a 1000D PVC Coated Polyester Construction with an optional Light Weight 420D Nylon. CCS Tandem Covers weigh less than 4 lbs typically, Solo covers under 3lbs The Northwater typically run in the 10-11 lbs from what I see posted. 420 Denier nylon Fabric is strong, in it's uncoated condition it has been used as the bag in car airbags.
CCS uses snaps to attach to the hull, and never has more than 1 paddler per section of cloth. I believe snaps/ one person in a smaller piece of cover is safer. Less for strainers to grab, less opportunity to get caught in the cover/ attachments itself.
CCS covers are for tripping not whitewater playboating. Most of the time the cover can be unsnapped around the paddling stations and there is easy in/ out access. But the cover can be snapped into position while in the canoe if conditions change, such as a rainstorm, rising wave conditions or rapids ahead. For white water playboating the Northwater is something I would choose over a CCS cover. For Multi day tripping through Class 2+ to 3- I believe CCS cover offer more versatility; the zip in/out cockpit reduces the doughnut water pooling at the paddler(s).
Covers are not for everyone. Folks canoe for many different reasons and on many types of water / conditions. What you want out of the cover will dictate what options you are looking for.

Author:  Dave_k [ March 29th, 2019, 9:11 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Spray Decks and options


Thanks for setting me straight on the intended use of your spray decks and the detailed information about the construction. That helps fill in the blanks in my knowledge. I appreciate the education.


Author:  recped [ March 29th, 2019, 2:32 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Spray Decks and options

Dan Cooke wrote:
the zip in/out cockpit reduces the doughnut water pooling at the paddler(s).

"doughnut water"?

If that an official term?

I always used a variety of expletives to describe that unfortunate side-effect of decks. It was particularly bad on my Outdoor Solutions decks, the only real deficiency in their design.

Author:  Paddle Power [ March 29th, 2019, 5:53 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Spray Decks and options

I tie Northwater spray deck midships because it’s faster and easier to open the mid section.

My CCS spray deck is lighter than my Northwater spray deck.

I’m thinking the two biggest longevity issues for my CCS spray decks are UV degradation and maybe long term rubbing along the gunwales.

Doughnut water must refer to water pooling on the spray deck cockpit area. I’ve used the expression, I’ve got a lap full of water.

Author:  jefffski [ March 31st, 2019, 6:34 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Spray Decks and options

We have a Northwater one piece heavy duty skirt with a large zippered hatch area and a paddle pocket into which we slide two spare paddles. Our canoe is a clipper tripper (kevlar). The skirt weighs about 7 lbs. As we don't portage, weight is not an issue.

Lacing the skirt takes two of us about 5 minutes. It's a pain in the ass but is way easier than snaps. It also easily accomodates our canoe barrel, which sticks out just above the gunwales. We had a used CS before and we hated it because it was sooo hard to put on. We broke some snaps and tore the skirt getting it off.

Getting in the canoe with the skirt on (cockpits rolled up) is a bit more difficult, but not much. Even when the cockpits are unrolled, it ain't that hard. We have not tried a wet exit with the cockpits closed.

On longer trips, we leave the NW skirt on. Otherwise, we store it behind the stern seat and put it on in wind or rain. Having it on does make a difference in the wind.

We tie the two paracord ends together at the bow. In good weather, we unlace the skirt from the bow to the bow thwart, roll the skirt to behind the bow seat and then retie the ends in front of the bow. That way, the bow paddler does not have any skirt. The stern area hatch is quite large so we leave the skirt in place.

Loading and unloading gear takes a minute longer with the skirt on. The biggest difficulty with the skirt on is accessing gear behind the stern seat and just behind the bow seat.

The skirt does not waterproof the boat. The skirt also did not stop water from entering the canoe when waves crashed over the bow. To fix that problem, NW sewed a piece of fabric on to cover the bow deck. Either way, we feel a lot more confident about paddling in wavy conditions and we worry less about our angle to the waves. Rain will also drain into the canoe.

Overall, we're very happy with our purchase, though it was expensive ($800 Cdn. on sale), but feel confident that it will last a long time.

Author:  Dave_k [ April 2nd, 2019, 4:34 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Spray Decks and options

Thanks jefffski. I appreciate the details. It sound like you got it for a great price.

So I finally called NorthWater and had a chat with a guy who has the same name as the car, the horse and the rum.... and no his name isn't Mustang, a commonly know rum.

So he shared his thought.
He's been working on the NorthWater Spray Deck for 18 years. They have continually evolved over that period of time based on customer feedback so issues that folks may have with their older spray decks may no longer be applicable. That sounds like a good sales pitch you may say. It did cross my mind too but it is also logical that a product evolve.

He prefers a single piece, though his boss prefers the three piece. He says the need to take certain sections of the deck on or off has been reduced by the larger cockpit area that can roll up out of the way so there is more air flow around the paddler. The Portage hatch are no longer one size fits all put rather optimized for the size of canoe. Just put the deck on and leave it for the duration of the trip. He also says that by adding the cockpit covers you can reduces the drag while car topping your canoe and increase fuel efficiency by 10%. No I didn't ask him to list the study he pulled that number from but there is logic to what he says in this regard, no different than cargo box on a pickup truck.

Regarding which fabric to use, he was a big fan of the heavier vinyl cover versus the light Nylon. The Nylon may be half the weight of the vinyl but you only save 2 or 3 pound since the fabric only makes up a percentage of the overall weight. They don't have lighter zipper or wear strips. He figures the vinyl deck could last you for the life of the canoe. The Nylon material will weather and waterproofing under coating will start to peel after a number of year... how many year, that all depends on how much UV and how it's stored etc. 15?

If you play in WW then get a single shoulder strap for the tunnel so you can keep one hand on your paddle if you need to make a wet exit.... still want to work on that tandem role ;-)

Options, the reversible bow tunnel/deflector will fit on a canoe with a portage hatch and you'll be able to kneel against the seat but you won't be able to kneel up at the yoke.... which is fine with me if I'm solo tripping. I'd add the extra paddle pocket and the map pouch connection points and straps to deck mount throw bags. Portage hatch, absolutely. I'd go one piece deck with the cockpit covers for car topping.

So do I want one, yes. Do I want to spend the money right now, no. Will I buy for this summer, not sure yet. I will still be looking to take a canoe with a deck on it for a test spin. and I'll let you all know..... but one of these day, I buy one.

Thanks again to everyone for contributing to this thread. It's a great community.

Author:  Stajanleafs [ April 5th, 2019, 10:02 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Spray Decks and options

Added a Northwater deck to our P16 last year. Had it on all season.
Northwater now does a zipper and Velcro combo seal for the hatch, which is much better than the older system.

We flipped on a CIII last spring, and I must admit, I was under the canoe a little longer than if we had flipped running it open (just a couple extra seconds to squeeze out). My partner, on the other hand, was immediately free and clear. All the gear was contained within the boat, so that's a pro and con depending upon the situation, i.e you pin a loaded boat in an un-retrievable area.

Deflects rain
More aerodynamic in the wind for better tracking
Keeps the gear tidy
Keeps the legs warm on cold days
Good for big water lakes/oceans with waves that can lash over the decking.
Good for long rapids - less bailing (it's not waterproof).
Increased fuel savings when topped on the vehicle (better 1-3L/100km on my truck)
Handy features like paddle pockets and map tie downs keep required gear within reach

Increased portage weight
Decreased portage visibility (even with hatches open and tied down).
May have to rig up a different rack option if transporting (we used pool noodles and an extra strap to stop flapping and rubbing - no issue)
Sometimes it's harder to secure the cockpits, especially if you do it in a hurry.
Gear access requires an extra step

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Author:  Phased1 [ July 21st, 2019, 3:14 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Spray Decks and options

Just my 2 cents and experience....
I bought a NW deck last summer for a 3 week northern trip, it was my first deck.
I forget the guys name I dealt with (over the phone several times) but the service was excellent and so is the quality of the deck.
I got one with 3 hatches as I was paddling solo but also wanted to be able to use it tandem.
Yes it added weight but I feel it also added a level of confidence/ insurance in larger remote water.
It ties on (threaded cord thru glued on patches with cord loops) which was easy to do quickly after the second day and gave some flexibility as my barrels (or gear) could extend a little above the gunnels without a problem verses the snaps method.
Yes paddle pockets are a must. Also I had throw bags linked together in the event of a swim, (which didn't happen) and secured them to the bow/ stern with the Velcro straps that come with the deck.
One nice feature was in cold rain the water doesn't collect in the bottom of your boat and it gives a significant level of warmth/ protection from the weather. This alone made it worth while.
I did get a small amount of water collecting around the skirt/ cockpit but it didn't leak in.
In the beginning I used just one of the suspenders (thinking they were a potential entrapment hazard) on the shoulder opposite of my paddling side but in the end didn't use either which is probably why a little water collected but it was easily brushed away or I'd just lean the canoe and it would run off. I would go back to using one suspender before wave trains.
One thing that was nice is my dog would happy hang out on top of the deck (and no damage to the deck) but on days when the temp' dropped and it rained a lot he found his own way under the deck (between my knees) to keep warm, which was great. Hope this helps some.

Not sure if these will work but here are some photos:

Author:  yarnellboat [ July 22nd, 2019, 9:46 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Spray Decks and options

I've never used a deck. Not sure that qualifies me to give an anti-deck opinion though...

The pro and cons have been well stated here and are fairly intuitive. I wouldn't say I'm anti-deck, I'd just say I've never been on a trip where it made sense to me.

The wilderness trips I've been on have been a big mix of stuff - rapids, lakes, swamps, upstream, downstream, big rivers, small creeks, whatever. Always with significant portaging. So, for the bits when a skirt would be a nice-to-have, I just never found it worth hauling a skirt through the rest of the days.

I suppose I'd consider it on the right trip. But then again, given I've never "needed" one so far, I might not bother forking out the cash for one. I could see doing a home made splash deck on the bow as a trial, but doubt I'd go full skirt.

I think depends A LOT on the type of travel.

In fact, this discussion reminds me of another reason why I don't have a deck - too much thinking and debate. If I don't consider getting a skirt, I don't have to worry about answering all these questions!


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