The quest continues for a spray deck that really keeps the water out, reducing or eliminating the need to stop and dump. As we push into more serious and committing rivers, this is a serious problem that needs a “Manhattan Project” approach.
I’ve tried all the various deck designs produced so far and none of them really fits the bill. I am convinced that the driest design is on Roman Dial’s boat and involves an “air dam” cuff at the waist. This 4" air dam effectively blocks water from pouring into your lap, one of the major points of entry.
I recently tried the newest design (we’ll call it “Spraydeck 5.0”), which involves a series of plastic teeth (made from cutting board material) that slot into pockets along the side of the boat and replace the velcro seam. I did like the snugness of this design, once it was closed, but it is difficult to close one-handed, an essential trait when you are in a micro-eddy that wants to spit you back into the current above the next drop. While this latest model eliminated other major points of water entry (eg; the velcro seam down the middle of the boat, or the velcro seam across the front of the boat), water still pours into your lap. It is one of the driest designs yet, but still needs some tweaking. I think that using a stiffer material for the plastic teeth might enhance the ability to slot the teeth one-handed. Currently it is easy to bend the plastic, which requires more fiddling while you’re struggling to get your deck closed before you get sucked toward Killer Fang Falls.
My first spray deck was the “vulva” design (Spraydeck 2.0), with an air dam surrounding the cockpit and a flap of deck fabric that closed over the top. This was a fairly dry design, except for the fact that the fabric did not close snuggly across the front of the body. Sheri replaced this deck for me with Spraydeck 3.0, the model with the central velcro seam. This is the worst yet, as it is very hard to close one-handed and waves breaking on the deck split the seam with ease.
Spraydeck 4.0 was an improvement, with the center velcro seam replaced by a side velcro seam. In a modification of this design, Spraydeck 4.1, the front cross-seam is completely sealed. On Spraydeck 5.0, the front cross-seam has a waterproof zipper.
After paddling numerous times with Roman and watching with envy as he bobbed along dry as a bone while I struggled to stop, dump and re-enter, I am convinced that the air dam is an essential component. In big water where waves break on your deck, any rocking motion sends the water straight towards your lap. That water is going to breach the velcro waist seal and start filling your boat.
I think the ideal solution involves an air dam and a taller waist that closes higher on your torso.
What do you think?