Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Spray Skirt Maintenance

I’ve heard some refer to my expedition canoe as a canak. Like a kayak, it is decked with a cockpit, even though the cockpit is 90-inches long. It also uses a spray skirt for rain or rough water protection. The skirt fully encloses the cockpit, running around and under the high cockpit coaming. Aluminum arches elevate the skirt to cover gear and also to insure the water runs off rather than puddling in the skirt. A sleeve with a Velcro closure is all the way forward to receive a sail mast, and a long heavy zipper runs almost from the mast sleeve to the waist opening to facilitate getting in and out of the boat, or for access to binoculars, camera, or lunch lying in the boat.

When putting the skirt on, it is run around the cockpit and is held in place with self-adhesive Velcro pads under the lip of the coaming until the elastic cinch cord pulls the skirt tightly around the cockpit. These Velcro pads required a bit of maintenance after water, dirt, and sand gradually ruined the adhesive and lifted the edges. After cleaning around the pads and outlining them with masking tape to keep glue from getting smeared everywhere, I used Weldwood contact cement for the repair. The problem is the directions require that both surfaces being bonded are 65-deg. or more for 24-hrs. before the repair and 72-hrs. after. That obviously isn’t going to happen until next April, so I’ve tried to make up for the temperature deficit by allowing more time for drying. We’ll have to see how that works. Anyhow, this is what it looks like when in place.

Once the paddler is in the boat, the skirt pulls up under the arms and is tightened around the chest. The elastic cord and zipper both allow for quick escape in the event of a capsize. I can attest that the skirt works great. I had some pretty good waves coming across Escambia Bay in Florida. Several waves that otherwise would have gone into the boat rolled up the deck, up over the spray skirt, and hit me in the chest. It was a rather tough introduction to a new boat that I was just beginning to feel at one with, but it all worked and kept me and the boat dry.

No comments:

Post a Comment