DIY canoe cover

Joined
Jun 12, 2012
Messages
3,667
Location
Appleton, Maine
I had an old tent fly from a 4 man Timberline Tent laying around so I tried to make a canoe cover for a 15' Chestnut Chum. I did some measuring and found that if I cut the fly in two sections, I would have just enough to cover the front and back of the canoe.
The Chum is a tandem canoe with 2 seats, but I had put new inwales in this canoe and at that point I made it a solo with one seat about 15" back from the center. So I cut up the fly and made it fit the canoe, even with an old stain on the bow and a misplaced seam right in the front.


I was going to have a seam sewed just under the gunnels and use rope to secure the cover. You can see the lines for the seam in the picture above.

I thought buy pulling both ends tight towards the middle of the canoe, I could snug the cover tight to the bottom of the gunnels and have a nice easy on/easy off cover. This was before I had a sewing machine of my own and my wife prefers to opt out of my DIY projects for alot of good reasons :rolleyes: so I paid a local lady $60 to sew that seam. I could do that now with my own machine in 10 minutes and the machine only cost me $25. Sewing is pretty easy if you don't need perfection.


Well, after getting the cover sewed and threading some cord through I tested my idea. It was not a very good idea. First, and most importantly, that cord and cover is a dangerous thing.
My reason for having a cover was not for white water paddling or even moving water, but to keep me and my gear dry in the rain or in a wind tossed lake. While handling the cover and rope in my garage shop at the time, I came to realize how easy it would be to get tangled up in this rope should the canoe roll in a wave. Besides, the rope just didn't secure the cover very well and it probably wouldn't stay in place on a windy lake.
So I bit the bullet and installed snaps to the underside of my gunnels, and it worked very well. I install my own gunnels and as luck would have it, these new gunnels where a little wider than normal and that helped with the snaps.
I didn't get any pictures of the canoe and snaps up close, but here is the canoe in the middle of the Ontario Aluminum Navy;) on a portage heading downstream on the Montreal River, Ontario. The pack is exposed there probably cause I had to dig my camera out, but otherwise it would be snug under the cover and dry, along with the wood and canvas.


Here's a self portrait with a better view of the cover. I had left some extra material loose so I could fold it up to get into the canoe and then cover my lap while paddling.
This cover worked very well, the snaps where not the best, but the held and I carried extras for repairs. It took a few minutes to install, but to be warm, dry and out of the rain/wind really made for a more pleasant trip.

This picture is what happens when you balance a camera on a rock and try for a self portrait.

Or, you could say I was on Gibchacookie Lake (Cree for "Lake that tilts up")
 
Joined
Jul 25, 2012
Messages
838
Very interesting project, do you find that it's any easier to paddle in a wind? Somewhere I read that with a cover on your canoe the wind somehow couldn't get a grip on the canoe as well.
It sure looks like the project turned out well, having your own sewing machine allows a person to try out various ideas and adapt things for your own use just the way you want them. The other side of the coin is that (for me at least) some of the ideas will turn out to be stinkers, but then, nobody needs to know about them!
I like the idea of a cover but by and large I try to stay off the water in windy conditions. I'm just not that able to cope with it with any feeling of security.

How in the world did you set the self timer, scramble back into the canoe, paddle to where the camera was pointing, all in time to be there before it went "click"?

Best Wishes, Rob
 
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Nice job Robin! I love DIY equipment. You have the ability to taylor things to your needs and the satisfaction of having created something with your own hands.


Well, after getting the cover sewed and threading some cord through I tested my idea. It was not a very good idea...
I got a good laugh when I read that. Not laughing at you but with you thinking of all the times I have said the very same thing. I'm with you on the rope and loose cover. I consider myself a strong swimmer but that makes me nervous. I'm glad the snaps worked so well for you. My cover is also lightweight and only good for rain and wind protection. I find that when crossing lakes it does make it easier to control the canoe in windy conditions. I found that over time my cover became less and less water resistant. If you run into that problem you can coat it with a DIY silicone mixture that is very durable. I was in a downpour once where I had a choice of controlling my canoe down a rain swollen river or preventing a swamping by bailing. My cover allows me to continue on in conditions that would otherwise force me to beach and wait out the weather. Good luck with yours! And just how did you manage to take that picture?
 
Joined
Jun 12, 2012
Messages
3,667
Location
Appleton, Maine
I feel more secure in wind and waves, not sure if that's a good thing or not. I had an Argosy with a Cooke Cover that was very nice. I took that across a wind blown bay to a campsite in early spring LaVerendrye, YC was there. I am a big fan of covers just for the rain protection, not sure if I will ever use one in a big wind again.

"How in the world did you set the self timer, scramble back into the canoe, paddle to where the camera was pointing, all in time to be there before it went "click"?"

Lots of retakes, I just balance the camera on a flat rock, hit the self timer and shove off. When I used film back when, it was harder, with digital, pretty easy.
 
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Your right about the feeling of security being a mixed blessing. Wisdom is knowledge tempered by experience. There is no substitute for it especially on a solo trip. Sometimes we can be temped by impatience or a tight schedule to push the envelope of safety too far by trying to continue on instead of seeking shelter. We have to always keep in mind the limits of our bodies, skills, and equipment vs. the unlimited power and unpredictability of nature. A cover is certainly not armor to protect us from the elements; just another tool in our kit to be used within its; and our; limitations.
 
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