In rainy weather or in rough water it is necessary to cover the well entirely, either by hatches or by an apron fitting closely around the body. The simplest form of apron, and one especially adapted to the pointed coaming, is a cover of cloth, cut to the shape of the coaming and turned down on the edges, to button over screw heads in the latter, near the deck. It also extends aft about 6 in. over the hatch or deck immediately behind the back. A hole is cut for the body of the canoeist, and around the edge a piece (a) 6 in. wide is stitched, so as to be drawn around the body. This piece is long enough to lap, as at (b), and button on one side. That portion of the apron abaft the body is held down by a cord (c) made fast to cleats or screweyes on deck, the apron not being buttoned to coaming abreast of the body.
A beam (d), to which the apron, just forward of the body, is nailed, keeps it arched so as to shed all water. If a forward hatch is used, the fore end of apron may be buttoned to it. In case of a capsize, the after part will pull from under the cord, and the canoeist is free, the apron remaining on the coaming. Instead of a buttonhole on the flap, a loop of light twine should be used, so as to break at once, if necessary.
Another device is the telescopic apron devised by Mr. Farnham, which consists of a wire framework covered with oiled cloth. This framework is composed of several brass or German silver tubes (e), one sliding in another, as in a telescope, and also of carlins (f) of 1/8 in. spring brass wire, soldered or brazed, as shown, to collars (g) on the tubes. The ends of these carlins are turned, as shown, to engage under the beading on the outer edge of the coaming, and are also bent into loops to avoid cutting the cloth. On the after end a piece of 3/16 wire (h, bent to a curve, is brazed, being also brazed to the after carlin. This wire should extend 2 in. aft of the sliding bulkhead to i. Forward of the well is a block screwed to the deck, and to it the first tube is pivoted by a universal joint, permitting a side motion to the framework, but holding it down forward, or it may be held by a strap, as shown. When the frame is drawn into position, the ends of the carlins, hooking under the beading, hold it down, and the curved ends of the piece (h) hook over blocks (i) on each side, keeping all in position.
The cover is of stout muslin, cut about 3 in. larger each way than the coaming, so as to turn down, an elastic cord being run in the hem to draw it tight. Before sewing the cover to the frame. the ends of the carlins and all sharp corners or edges are covered with leather, so as to avoid cutting the cover. Extra strips are sewn on the lower side, under the carlins, to hold down the cover. For rough water an extra apron is used, being a short skirt, fitting under the arms, the lower edge gathered in by an elastic cord. An extra wire (k) is attached to the framework, forming a coaming on the after end of the apron, and a wooden coaming also runs across the after hatch. The lower edge of the skirt is drawn over these coamings, and also over two knobs (l) at the sides, the elastic holding all in place.
The apron on a Rob Roy or small canoe is sometimes held down by a strip of wood (m) on either side of the coaming, to which the apron is tacked, each strip having a flat brass hook (n) to hold it to the coaming, the forward end of apron being held down by a rubber cord passing around the fore end of well.
The material for an apron should be stout muslin, and after being cut and sewed it should be stretched tightly, well dampened, and coated with a mixture of turpentine one part, boiled linseed oil three parts, and raw oil six parts, laid on very thin, a second coat being given when the first is perfectly dry. To complete the covering of the well, either with hatches or aprons, a waterproof coat is necessary, made in the form of a loose shirt, opening about 6 in. in front, the sleeves being gathered in at the wrists with elastic. The coat is just long enough to touch the floor when seated, and it should have a flounce outside, just under the arms, and long enough to fasten over the coamings, or hinged pieces of the side flaps, if the latter are used, the coat being full enough to allow them to be opened inside of it. To put on the coat it is rolled into a ring, slipped quickly over the head, the arms thrust into the sleeves. after which it may be adjusted at leisure. Care should be taken in putting it on, as an upset while entangled in it would be serious.
A seat of some kind is necessary in a canoe; it should be as low as possible, in order to keep the weight down, but still high enough to be comfortable when paddling. In a boat of 11 in. or more depth the crew must sit several
inches above the bottom to paddle comfortably, and in such a boat a high seat allows the body to lean further to windward; but in a shoal boat all that is necessary is a small cushion on the floor boards.
The tent, clothes bag or blankets may serve as a seat, though it is better that all bedding should be stowed below deck and out of the reach of any moisture. Some canoes are fitted with a seat of pressed wood, such as is used for chair-seats, and in some cases the seat is simply a box without top or bottom, about 10 in. square and 3 in. deep, the top being covered with canvas, or leather straps.
A feature that is peculiar to the canoe, and that adds greatly to the comfort of the canoeist, is the backboard, usually a framework with two vertical strips joined by two crosspieces, as shown at o, and hung from the shifting bulkhead by a strap. The vertical pieces are 2-1/2 in. wide and 3/8 thick, slightly rounded on the fore side, and are placed 2-1/4 inches apart, thus supporting the back on either side of the backbone, and the crosspieces are rivetted to them. Sometimes a flat board, about 8x12 in., is used, either with or without a cushion; but the frame is better. For paddling double, an extra beam is used across the cockpit, with a backboard hung on it for the forward man, or a seat is made of two pieces of board hinged together, one forming the back, being supported by a brace hinged to it (p). This back may be used at any point desired, being independent of the well and coaming, and the angle of the back may be changed at will, while it is easily folded and stowed away when not in use.
To increase the stowage room and to secure a better disposition of weights fore and aft, hatches are sometimes cut in the deck, but to be really valuable, two points are essential which have never yet been obtained; they must be quickly opened and closed, and airtight when closed. As good a method as any is to make a regular coaming to the opening in the deck 3/4 to 1 in. high, the hatch fitting on to this coaming with a beading projecting down, two thumb screws being used to secure it. Its watertight qualities may be improved by a square of rubber cloth laid over the opening before putting on the hatch. This hatch is heavy and clumsy in appearance compared with hatches flush with the deck, but the latter always leak, and are never to be relied on.
In some cases where it may be desirable to get at the inside of the compartments occasionally for repairs, a hatch may be cut in the deck and covered with a piece of 1/4 in. mahogany decking, 1 in. larger each way than the opening, and fastened by brass screws as the deck is, the laps being first painted. This piece will be airtight and yet can be removed and replaced in a few minutes when repairs are needed.
For transporting the canoe on shore a yoke is necessary, and may be made in several ways, the simplest form being that used for the guides' boats in the Adirondacks, a piece of wood (r) hollowed to fit over the shoulders and around the neck. the boat, bottom up of course, resting with one gunwale on each end of the yoke. Another form is a box (s) with no top or bottom, long enough to fit in the width of the well, and having two straps (t) across one side, which rest on the shoulders; the coaming of the boat resting on the ends of the box.
A plan lately devised by Mr. Farnham employs a frame of four pieces, which also serves in place or a sliding bulkhead. When used as a yoke, two straps are buckled across it and support it on the shoulders, the boat being inverted on it.