As my sea kayaking advanced I realized that rolling was going to become a necessary skill.
I started to venture into the surf zone and inevitably I was getting tipped over.
"Cowboy" self recoveries in the bumpy seas didn't work for me and assisted rescues became tiring.
I had to learn to roll.
For my first rolling lessons I used a snorkeling mask that allowed me to see what I was doing underwater. I didn't like the feel of the mask but I guess it was necessary, as a novice, to be able to orient myself underwater.
Once I got the basic roll down I realized that to become proficient I had to practice my rolling regularly, not just twice a year or so. I wanted to roll every time I would be on the water but I didn't always pack my mask with me. If I did, it was a pain the get it out of the dayhatch and put it on my face.
I tried rolling without a mask but water seems to get into my nostrils and sinuses when hanging upside down. It was OK for a fast few "combat" rolls but I could not do it for an extended rolling session.
I noticed that good experienced rollers were using nose clips and the diving mask was more kind of a "beginner" tool, I thought. Unfortunately the common nose clips sold at sports stores (used for swimming) did not do the trick: they were too small and didn't stay on when rolling repeatedly.
I purchased specialized white water nose clips that honestly are way overpriced.
Those noseclips finally sealed my nostrils but the bridge is made of rather too soft metal that seems too loosen up and bend open again. I had to squeeze that clip again and again to reposition it too frequently. I knew I could make better nose clips than the commercially available ones. The key was sourcing the right materials.
For my nose clip's spring I found that bicycle spokes would offer just the right amount of resistance, could be bent into shape and above all, they are made of stainless steel so the clip would not rust.
I use pliers to shape the spoke into a gentle even curve making sure it's wide enough to go over the nose.
I add a couple of loops at the end of the clip to create a platform for the pad material.
I use diagonal cutters to trim the excess spoke off to close the loop neatly.
These noseclips would be rather spartan and probably would hurt if they didn't have some cushioning pads that spread the load over a wider area and create a better squeeze on the nose.
Steavatron found this incredibly nifty material: Sugru.
It feels like putty but cures to a rubbery silicon.
I shape the material with my fingers over the end loop on the nose clip and smooth it out to a pleasant surface.
I let the finished noseclips air cure for 24 hours and the putty becomes solid but not hard. Sugru is indeed a great material that could be used in so many DIY projects.
I attach a clip with a thin string to each of my PFDs and tuck it away in a pocket to have it ready to use at any time I plan to bust out a couple of rolls.
The clip is compact and very effective. I no longer have a stream of water run out of my nose at the least opportune moment hours after I have finished rolling (like ruining my lunch :-) )
And the snorkel mask?
These days I feel that is best used for finding out hidden treasures under the seas.