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Thread: Drogue or Sea Anchor? What and When?

  1. #81
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    Default Re: Drogue or Sea Anchor? What and When?

    I consider that a very honest and sincere post.

    The simple fact is that I do not have enough experience to totally refute your claims. I tend to go on the opinions of those who have used parachutes in earnest such as Maxing Out and the many other accounts I have read.

    Can I ask a question:-

    Had any of your friends who gave this advice ever used a parachute in anger? If they had not then they too have limited experience like most of us here.

    What you have done is highlight the crossing breaking wave issue and you have therefore made myself and possibly others more aware of that danger than we were before your contribution and for that I thank you.
    Safe Sailing
    Paul
    Blog: www.suliere.com

  2. #82
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    Default Re: Drogue or Sea Anchor? What and When?

    For me the answer to that is that once I had sailed in 40 kts + and had to dodge breaking waves, it becomes self-evident to me that the conditions are not conducive to deployment ...... and basically putting the boat and the lives of the crew at extreme risk ...... in more severe weather.

    I have been in conditions that might indicate that a drogue might be useful in more severe conditions, but I still had other means to slow the boat down ..... more reefs ..... and that would have been my chosen route.

    I have hoved-to in 35 kt winds seas and it's been pretty comfortable. However as the wave crests increase in size, it too becomes much less feasible ....

    ....and there is always the problem of changing the defensive strategy if the weather worsens.

    This is my experience ..... and my strategy for my vessel. I keep it under constant review and refinement.

    Sometimes severe conditions develop where they weren't foreseen. You just have to do the best you can with the experience you have. The worst thing you can do, in my experience, is hide inside and not look after the boat.

  3. #83
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    Default Re: Drogue or Sea Anchor? What and When?

    I agree that there is no way I would want to deploy a parachute in say 50 knots ....... the entire use is based on having already prepared the parachute.

    The worst thing you can do, in my experience, is hide inside and not look after the boat.
    I agree.
    Safe Sailing
    Paul
    Blog: www.suliere.com

  4. #84
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    Default Re: Drogue or Sea Anchor? What and When?

    [quote=tradewindsailor;62719]For me the answer to that is that once I had sailed in 40 kts + and had to dodge breaking waves, it becomes self-evident to me that the conditions are not conducive to deployment ...... and basically putting the boat and the lives of the crew at extreme risk ...... in more severe weather.

    In my experience the greatest danger that worried me was in a "black" worsening condition night where there was no ability to accurately see and judge building sea states with breaking wave crests and a possible "rogue wave".
    The ability to steer and dodge around wave sets in daylight/moonlight....vs a "black" sightless night are two very different scenarios but counter measures are certainly needed in both.

    Bob

  5. #85

    Default Re: Drogue or Sea Anchor? What and When?

    Quote Originally Posted by tradewindsailor View Post
    There was some support from my friends for drogues in extreme conditions. No support at all for parachutes in extreme conditions, although they could be of use in lesser conditions where dangerous wave crests were not expected.
    Is this because they had drogues but not parachutes?

    A dangerous wave crest can as you say come from any direction so I don't see drogues or parachutes being of any help or hinderance if you get hit you are relaying on the strength of the boat and the ability to move sideways.

  6. #86
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    Default Re: Drogue or Sea Anchor? What and When?

    I believe that parachute are a hindrance and drogues could be a hindrance.

    The parachute anchors fix the boat with comparatively little drift. This means that the waves and breaking wave crests are descending on the boat at close to the speed of the wave train.

    Lets assume for a minute that the waves are only coming from the direction of the wind and hence the boat is in the parachute's wake. We are told that the breaking crests will collapse on the parachute or on it's wake and hence protect the boat. However in this condition the boat is constantly surging back and forth due to the action of the waves and the elasticity of the rode. If the tension reduces too much on the rode the boat may go beam on to the next wave and may capsize just as if it wasn't tethered at all. It is also possible that the boat will surge back even faster and pitch-pole. Even if it doesn't result in capsize the loads on the tethers, mounts and steering gear are going to be significant.

    Now lets get back to the real world with crossing seas and breaking crests. You still have the surging back and forth of the boat on the end of its tether, but the breaking crests ... the so called rogue waves .... can come at the boat from other directions that aren't protected by the parachute anchor. If the multihull has no keels it may get pushed away. If it has keels it may get flipped. Either way any wave crest impacting with the boat could cause structural damage, especially if the boat is being puled through the crest by the elasticity of the rode.

    Drogues allow forward movement, but slow the boat down. So a scenario could be that the boat is heading with the waves but obliquely to avoid excessive deceleration. The drogue would be used to control the speed off the boat and prevent it from catching up the wave crest and falling into the trough in front with the possibility of a capsize or pitch-pole. Many experienced sailors suggest that a speed of 12 knots is comfortable, but this will be dependent on the boat. The downside with drogues is that the boat's maneuverability may be reduced, hence increasing the response time.

    So if you are travelling with the wave train, but slower than the wave you will have more time to react to breaking wave crests and have the maneuverability to react quickly to rogue waves coming at you. The boat should be already moving with the wave crest giving more time for its energy to dissipate harmlessly. Even if there is an impact it is likely to push the boat along.

    Watch how the crest in mixed seas form. They exist momentarily, often collapsing down the back of the wave as the wave continues on. If the wave is steep enough, the top will fall off. If the wave is big enough this breaking crest can do a lot of damage with its weight and height, but it only lasts for a short time.

    Problems of sailing in pitch black: I have sailed on really dark and dirty nights .... line squalls with lots of rain and cloud. The visibility is low for sure, but the wave crests can be seen, felt, and heard. I have the instruments on really low level light and any interior lights on red or off completely to aid night vision. I still want maneuverability so I don't want to be over-reefed .... but I am far more likely to reef early.

    Getting tired by sailing with the waves is a danger. It's all about management. Getting rest when the conditions are manageable by the auto-pilot, leaving your concentration for when it gets bad. Easier said than done for sure, but that is the aim. By keeping the boat moving you can sail through to better conditions.

    If you practice with a drogue or a parachute try to understand how your boat responds and then try to imagine that in worse conditions. Try to imagine what it would be like if the rode broke or the tension reduced. Look at how the waves are formed and try to determine the directions of the wave trains. Try recovering the devices.

    With a little thought mixed with experience one can learn. Hopefully that learning is not too steep and not painful. Above all else never be pressed into sailing in conditions that are too far removed from your experience level.

    Relax and enjoy the sailing. I hardly ever sail in gale force winds, even less in storms ..... and I have always managed to be either in harbor or another part of the ocean when cyclone / hurricanes are roaming.

  7. #87

    Default Re: Drogue or Sea Anchor? What and When?

    Quote Originally Posted by tradewindsailor View Post
    The worst thing you can do, in my experience, is hide inside and not look after the boat.
    And yet boats that had been abandoned by their crew in major storms have later been found intact and right side up.

  8. #88
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    Default Re: Drogue or Sea Anchor? What and When?

    The fact that some catamarans and some monohulls have survived after being abandoned is more a reflection on the crew and their perception of the best course of action than the severity of the weather that was encountered by the boat.

    IIRC Richard Woods abandoned in 45 knots ..... but I don't remember the sea conditions.

    There are lots of sailing areas where there are horrendous stories of yacht and ship losses .... the Bermuda Triangle, the Tehuantepec, the Tasman Sea, Fasnet, the North Sea ..... If you sail in these places and the weather deteriorates it becomes easy to believe that it's going to get worse, much worse. If you are inside and out of the weather ... but you hear and feel the action around you, but see nothing ..... the anxiety grows and sometimes turns into real fear. At this stage it is easy to press the EPIRB and get the hell out.

    I have never got to the abandon stage and I have a great belief in the capabilities of my boat. I would prefer to drive my boat out of the worst of the weather than sit around on the end of a nylon rode waiting for a rogue wave to take me out.

    The fact that boats have survived after being abandoned is down to not meeting with a big breaker. Lying a-hull generally means going beam on to the waves ..... it's not even comfortable or wise to do in a gale.

    There's another fact to : there are lots of boats each year that simply go missing ..... There might be enough information to blame the weather, but what tactics did they use?, why did they sink? ..... no body will ever know.

  9. #89

    Default Re: Drogue or Sea Anchor? What and When?

    The Queen's birthday storm was pretty severe weather.

    And it may not be practicable to drive your boat out of the worst of the weather. The worst may lie downwind from you. Running downwind might take you into even worse conditions. A common situation in revolving storms.

    You may not find it a constructive comment, but I find suggestions that sea anchors INCREASE the danger to be dogmatic and unrealistic. Enough boats have survived enough severe storms lying to sea anchors for them to have proven their value.

  10. #90
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    Default Re: Drogue or Sea Anchor? What and When?

    If the worst of the weather is lying downwind of you, the centre of the low pressure must surely be passing or has passed. If this is the case, why would you select a sea anchor when there is going to be crossing seas and dying wind?

    I am pretty sure that I could select the right broad reach to take me further away from the centre.

    I haven't read the Drag Device Database for a few years and I don't have it on board.

    I do have the Dashew's Surviving the Storm that discusses the case of the Ramth a 38' Roger Simpson catamaran that was abandoned in the Queen's Birthday storm. Their steering had failed, they were in confused seas. The Dashew's description of the situation and the post analysis should be read in full. They do say that 'it is doubtful that a standard parachute system would have worked under the loads encountered in this sort of sea state.' The catamaran was later recovered undamaged. They discuss it at length. It is well worth the read.

    How many multihulls have been lost in severe weather recently?

  11. #91

    Default Re: Drogue or Sea Anchor? What and When?

    Quote Originally Posted by tradewindsailor View Post
    If the worst of the weather is lying downwind of you, the centre of the low pressure must surely be passing or has passed.
    Sorry, but this is utter rubbish. Complete and utter rubbish.

    Take a look at any tropical cyclone, look at what is referred to as "the dangerous quadrant". Moving downwind will take you towards the path of the eye.

    http://setsail.com/wp-content/upload...l_cyclones.pdf

  12. #92
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    Default Re: Drogue or Sea Anchor? What and When?

    Yes, agreed ..... brain fart! What was I thinking? Oh, yes .... but that's another story.

    Of course in a cyclone the worst weather is always both upwind and downwind of you. It's just a question of how far!

    But lets get back to what I was actually trying to say .... and using that cyclone diagram that you so kindly provided:

    In all but the dangerous forward quarter I would be able to broad reach out of trouble. Putting distance between the boat and the centre significantly reduces the wind strength.

    If I'm in the front 2/3rds of dangerous front quarter I would need my head seeing to. However, I believe my best defense is to go on a broad reach and sail towards the navigable side. This is against logic of not crossing the path of the storm. If I used a parachute in the same area things would get worse before they got better. Either way it wouldn't be fun ....

    Last November we were in Fiji. Passage Weather forecast that a cyclone would hit the east side of Fiji is six days. I cleared out and headed for Opua, NZ. We were safe in Opua by the time it hit Fiji and went down the West side ... the SW corner got lambasted with 100+ knots. A week later it came to Opua with 40-50 knots if I remember rightly.

    Todays weather forecasting is pretty good ... for 4 or 5 days anyway. Provided I'm not sailing in the area where the cyclones/hurricanes/typhoons are generated I think I have a fair chance of getting out of their way. 150-200 miles a day makes quite a difference to the expected wind.

  13. #93

    Default Re: Drogue or Sea Anchor? What and When?

    Quote Originally Posted by tradewindsailor View Post
    Yes, agreed ..... brain fart! What was I thinking? Oh, yes .... but that's another story.


    In all but the dangerous forward quarter I would be able to broad reach out of trouble. Putting distance between the boat and the centre significantly reduces the wind strength.
    Maybe. Cyclones have been known to stop for a while, (or move very slowly) in which case downwind from anywhere near it could take you deeper into trouble.

  14. #94
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    Default Re: Drogue or Sea Anchor? What and When?

    I'd agree with 'directly downwind' as the winds generally tend toward the centre by 15 degrees. However I am saving that the best course of action for me is to broad reach away from the centre ..... and there will always be a favoured tack. And by broad reach I mean anything aft of the beam.

    Hopefully we will never have to try our favoured tactics out in any severe weather ...... but I'm heading to Oz soon so watch this space .....

  15. #95
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    Default Re: Drogue or Sea Anchor? What and When?

    Quote Originally Posted by tradewindsailor View Post
    .. but I'm heading to Oz soon so watch this space .....
    Don't forget that cyclone circulation is the other way around in the southern hemisphere

    Insanity is continuing to do the same thing and expecting different results

  16. #96

    Default Re: Drogue or Sea Anchor? What and When?

    Quote Originally Posted by Talbot View Post
    Don't forget that cyclone circulation is the other way around in the southern hemisphere

    And also that the "relatively safe" quadrants are only better because the cyclone is MOVING. If it stops, which they sometimes do, then all quadrants are equal.

  17. #97
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    Thumbs up Re: Drogue or Sea Anchor? What and When?

    Sorry that I have come to this thread a bit late, however, better late than never.

    There is no simple answer to the sea-anchor / drogue question, as so much depends on the type of boat and the sea and wind conditions. Which is why it is best to learn from as many real-life experiences as possible, and then, based on those, to try to work out what would be best for your own boat and conditions.

    For this reason I am excited to announce that Victor Shane's Drag Device Database, previously out of print for the past 10+ years, is now available online for FREE!

    You can view it here: http://dragdevicedb.com

    Basically, having realised that this valuable resource was no longer available I contacted Victor and negotiated with him to take over the project. The site is very new, so please tell me if you see errors. I hope to add the ability to buy a hardcopy in due course.

    So, if you want to know when and how to use a sea anchor or drogue, read the reports.

    If you ever have a storm experience, with or without a drag device, please submit a report to us to that we can all learn for it.

    If you know anyone else who has been through a storm, or anyone who is planning to sail offshore, point them to the site. Link to it from your blog. Tell as many people as you can.

    The more reports we have, the more informed we are, and the better decisions we can make.

    To safety at sea!

    Noel
    Noel Swanson
    Life's too short to live in ugly places
    http://LifePart2.info

  18. #98
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    Default Re: Drogue or Sea Anchor? What and When?

    Well done Noel and thanks for your effort! Had a quick look and it seems very informative.
    Roger

    ------------------
    I look to the future, because that's where I am going to spend the rest of my life - George Burns

  19. #99
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    Default Re: Drogue or Sea Anchor? What and When?

    Thanks Roger!

    As you can see on this thread, everyone loves to jump in with an opinion without any of them having any actual experience. The DDDB counteracts that problem.

    In fact, I would go so far as to say that anyone who wants to post an opinion here about the use of sea anchors or drogues should first read the real, first-hand accounts of people who used them in anger. That should prevent them from saying something totally foolish!

    See, for example, the tragic account of catamaran Bayette in report S/C-19: four lives lost as a result of a capsize, despite a sea anchor. What happened? What can we learn from that? Do we reject all sea anchors because of that capsize?

    And, as I said already, if there are people here who DO have real-world experience, please submit your report so that we can all learn from it.

    Noel
    Noel Swanson
    Life's too short to live in ugly places
    http://LifePart2.info

  20. #100

    Default Re: Drogue or Sea Anchor? What and When?

    Quote Originally Posted by LifePart2 View Post
    Thanks Roger!

    As you can see on this thread, everyone loves to jump in with an opinion without any of them having any actual experience. The DDDB counteracts that problem.

    In fact, I would go so far as to say that anyone who wants to post an opinion here about the use of sea anchors or drogues should first read the real, first-hand accounts of people who used them in anger. That should prevent them from saying something totally foolish!

    See, for example, the tragic account of catamaran Bayette in report S/C-19: four lives lost as a result of a capsize, despite a sea anchor. What happened? What can we learn from that? Do we reject all sea anchors because of that capsize?

    And, as I said already, if there are people here who DO have real-world experience, please submit your report so that we can all learn from it.

    Noel
    Don't get me wrong I think this database is excellent, but it is worrying that you refer to a specific case to promote it that in itself contains "opinions" and conjecture that confuse the facts.

    There is a full account by the only survivor of this tragedy at Timesonline and it is inconsistent with the report SC-19.

    Two of those that died were in fact wearing immersion style survival suits so the statement that the outcome may have been different if survival suits or wet suits were worn is clearly misleading.

    The fact that you do not wear a life jacket with an immersion suit of the type described suggests that the writer does not understand this and the implication that the only survivor, survived because he was the only one wearing a life jacket is sensationalism at the very least.

    It is also known that the para-anchor was definitely not deployed correctly and was tied to the cross beam.

    Even the displacement of 6.2t differs from the official displacement of 7.6t. Was it because the weight of the boat far exceeded the capabilities of the parachute? (see how easy it is to misrepresent the facts).

    What I am saying is that the data MUST be accurate and limited to the known facts, without embellishment or opinion, if it is to be given any credibility and taken seriously, which it most definitely should be.

    So keep up the good work but stick to the facts.

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