I purchased a Nova Craft Prospector 16 earlier this year and it's scheduled to be delivered in about two weeks. I plan to get a spray deck for this canoe and would be interested in any thoughts you may have about spray decks in general, Cooke Custom Sewing (CCS) or North Water models. I own some Cliff Jacobson books with instructions for self-made covers so I suppose I could manufacture my own but I'm not really interested in spending the time investment that would entail.
I will be doing the installation myself if that makes a difference to advice. For the sake of this conversation, cost is not an issue but might impact the final decision. This outfit is going to be used for lake and river paddling, including wilderness expeditions.
Also willing to consider no spray deck at all due to some trepidation about getting caught in the skirt in a capsize.
I have a spray deck for my Bell Alaskan, a CCS which I highly recommend. I only use it when expedition canoeing on rivers in the North, however. I haven't capsized with it on, but the opening for the skirt that you sit in is quite roomy, and a draw cord snugs it up. The cord is bungee cord. I don't think you run a very high risk of entrapment.
I find if you are portaging, like in the BW or other lake to lake situations it is cumbersome and rather heavy. If you are concerned about rain, just make sure you pack water tight in your portage packs and then you will have no worries.
This is my experience others may have other opinions.
I've used a homemade snap attached cover (based on Cliff Jacobson's designs), and a cord attached PakCanoe cover. The snaps provide better/quicker access, and the cord provides more adjustability. They're useful for expedition whitewater and big lakes. We did a lot of portaging while needing the spray covers--takes longer, but doable. Just left the covers on, tied back, for portaging. I wouldn't use them for lots of small lakes with portages, as in Quetico.
I don't own a spray deck from Dan, but I own tarps, packs, and sled bags. I am very impressed with the quality and detail of work. Dan also uses his gear on his own expeditions. I highly recommend CCS.
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