The Drag Device Data Base that you are reading now is the result of the work of two sailors:
Way back in 1976 Victor Shane started to experiment with para-anchors in the Santa Barbara channel. But it was in 1979, when he sailed a tiny 24ft trimaran to Hawaii and back through several gales that he really got to know these devices well.
A full account of those experiences can be read on our Sea Anchors page
Remember, that was in the days before GPS, and before GRIB weather files were available in the middle of an ocean by satelite phone.
It was as a result of those experiences that Victor first set up a business to manufacture parachute anchors. But he had a quest for truth, and wanted to know how well para-anchors and drogues really worked in real-life storm conditions, not just in theory or in moderate testing situations.
So, through various sailing magazines, he put out a call for people to submit their stories. He compiled the responses into the first edition of the Drag Device Data base.
As more reports came in, and as word of the DDDB got around, he subsequently published three more editions, to widespread critical aclaim, and did some independent testing of various devices. Along the way, anxious to preserve the non-partisan unbiased status of the data base he also sold his para-anchor business.
However, time passes and people move on. Victor is no longer sailing his little Piver Nugget and has moved on to other projects. As a result, the Drag Device Data Base went out of print in the early 2000's.
At the same time as Victor was battling storms mid-Pacific in a tiny trimaran, Noel was racing single-handed dinghies in the UK, and was captain of the Southampton University sailing club. Since then he has rarely been without a dinghy or windsurfer in his garage.
It wasn't until 2010 that he finally made the transition to 'big boats' with the purchase of his Leopard 42 catamaran 'Life Part 2' to begin full-time live-aboard cruising.
While he is happy to sail a Laser dinghy in 35kts in the Solent, he is not so keen on the idea of getting caught in a real storm on the ocean. So, prior to crossing the Atlantic in 2011 he tried to do some research on drogues and sea-anchors but found good information hard to find. He heard about the DDDB, but was unable to get a copy of it. Ultimately Noel bought himself a Jordan Series Drogue, and later added a parachute anchor. However, apart from test deployments, neither of these have been used 'in anger'. And he hopes that remains to be the case!
Then in 2014 Noel came across an old copy of the DDDB, 3rd edition (1990), lying in the cruiser's lounge at Finike Marina, Turkey. This was the first time he had actually seen the publication about which he had heard so much. He was captivated by the accounts and was anxious to find an updated version - and discovered it to be out of print.
But Noel is not one to be put off. Recognizing the immense value of the publication, and the tragedy of it being out of print, he contacted Victor and offered to take over the project, making it freely available to all mariners in the interest of safety at sea.
This site is the result. All the credit goes to Victor for initiating this project which, hopefully, will be his legacy to us mere mortal sailors for many decades to come. Our hope is that you too will find it of value, and will give you food for thought as you prepare for your own voyages to sea.
2 thoughts on “About Us”
Excellent article. I bought a copy of the DDDB in 1991. After studying it, I recommended that some friends get a parachute sea anchor before they left for a globe circling cruise. We experimented with deploying the chute, and were impressed with how well it worked. A few months later I got a message from them saying that the sea anchor had saved their boat and lives during a severe storm in the Pacific.
I had not deeply considered the problems of steering after rudder loss. This article is a gem of clear thought, and the range of situations covered is impressing. It is an excellent addition to the DDDB. Thanks.
Any chance that your friends would remember enough of their experience to submit a report about it?