All posts by Noel Swanson

D/M-20 SPARKMAN & STEPHENS 34 (Swarbrick)

S&S 34 monohullD/M 20

Monohull, Sparkman & Stephens

33' x 6 Tons, Fin Keel


Force 9+ Conditions

File D/M-19, obtained from Ben Tucker, Australia - Vessel name Gypsy2, hailing port Hobart, monohull sloop designed by Sparkman & Stephens and built by Swarbrick, LOA 33' x LWL 25' x Beam 10' x Draft 5' 10" x 6 Tons - Fin keel - Drogue: Seasquid on 150' (45m) x 7/16" (11mm) kermantle dynamic nylon double braid rode plus 6ft (2m) of 8mm chain - Deployed in  deep water midway on passage from Hobart, Australia to Bluff, New Zealand in winds of 45 knots gusting to 60kt and breaking seas of 20 - 30 ft. (6 - 10m) - Surfing down waves was inhibited, and speed was reduced to about 4 knots during 18 hours of deployment

Ben Tucker has over 70,000 miles of sailing experience, plus a million miles as an officer on a container ship. On this occasion he was sailing from Australia to New Zealand in early summer when he get caught in a strong gale:

On passage from Hobart to Bluff in early summer we got caught in a nasty low with strong westerly winds. Over the day the wind and seas built and quite suddenly it went from fun fast downwind sailing to dangerous just on dusk. We dropped the deep reefed main, and eventually ran with just a scrap of the roller reefing headsail set. As the seas built up we started surfing too fast for comfort down the front of the seas and deployed a sea squid on about 45 meters of 11mm kernmantle dynamic nylon rope that had previously been used for climbing.  About 2 meters of 8 mm chain was shackled between the drogue and the warp. 

The drogue immediately slowed us down and controlled the surfing. 

But a big problem with our setup was soon revealed, the stretch in the drogue warp, coupled with the short line and only a short length of lightweight chain caused the drogue to break free of the approaching wave and fly forward towards us through the air about 10 meters and then re-engage, this would allow the boat to accelerate quickly to 7 or 8 knots until the drogue reengaged and with a brutal jerk it then slowed us down again to around 4 knots, this would often rip the drogue back out of the water again, repeating the cycle.

It was clear that the wavelength was around 100 meters or so, as the drogue was visible behind us on the approaching crest when we were near the trough.

It was deployed off the port quarter with no bridle to keep it clear of the windvane. We added a length of 19mm polypropylene line approximately 100 meters long in parallel with the drogue. This slowed us down enough that the drogue remained in the water with a more steady pull. 

We rode out the night hand steering with a small scrap of jib sheeted tight amidships and the drogue and warp behind.  Many times the cockpit filled with water, and were buffeted badly by the bigger crests, bouncing down the wave face. But by early morning it had eased significantly. 

We found that the windvane had been damaged by the drogue line at some point, and the plastic sea squid drogue had a bad crack in it, probably due to the tumbling as it flew through the air, then tangled with the chain and reengaged. 

the biggest lesson was to avoid using a dynamic rope with a drogue, Have at least 100 meters of warp available and plenty of heavy chain on the end to keep it well under water.  

The next time I used a drogue sailing to Antarctica on my 33 foot yacht Snow Petrel I had no issues with a much longer line, approximately 120 meters of 18mm polypropylene and 10 meters of 10mm chain using a Seabrake HSD 300 and the pull was very steady and consistent.

Once again we have problems with drogues skipping out of the waves, in this case exacerbated by using a very stretchy climbing rope as a rode. Elasticity is crucial in the rode for a para-anchor so as to prevent shock loading, but in a drogue a non-stretchy rode, combined with some weight at the drogue end, helps to keep the rode submerged leading to a more constant rode tension.

Ben notes that the wave length was about 100m and the drogue rode about half that. One would expect that this might work well, placing the drogue on the back of the when one needs it most, ie surfing down the face of the same wave, but in this case the extreme stretching of the rode seems to have counteracted this, resulting in the drogue pulling out of the water with the concomitant rapid acceleration of the boat.

As the Furgusons on St. Leger (D/M 17) found, one needs to either have a long rode with more weight to cover a wider range of conditions (as did Ben Tucker on his next adventure), or else be able to adjust it from the cockpit to specifically tune it to the conditions at the time.

S/R-2 Carbon / Kevlar Morrison


Carbon / Kevlar Morrison 24ft classic ocean row boat

24' x 1 Tonne

12-Ft. Dia. Sea Anchor

Force 9 Conditions

File S/R-2, obtained from Chris Martin - Vessel name Bojangles, Carbon / Kevlar 24ft classic ocean row boat designed by Phil Morrison, LWL 24' x Beam 6' x Draft 18" x 1 tonne - Sea anchor: 12-ft. diameter Para-Tech on 80m (260')  x 1/2" polypropylene three strand rode with 3" stainless steel swivel - Full trip line - Deployed during ocean passage in deep water from Choshi, Japan to San Francisco, USA in early September 2009 with winds of 40 knots+ and cycloidal steep breaking waves of 30' - 50' - Drift  during 36 hours at sea anchor is not known.

Chris Martin and Mick Dawson were the first pair of rowers to successfully cross the Pacific Ocean, doing so in 189 Days, 10 Hours and 55 Minutes after an adventure that included storm force winds, running out of food, an onboard fire and, of course, the shear grind of rowing day and night for over 6 months.

Bojangles  is Carbon Kevlar foam sandwich classic hull row boat. Built by Woodvale. Originally intended as a solo the bulkheads were cut into three and the central section angled more vertically to provide the deck space required for two rowers. Because rowing boats are often double ended, with a pointed stern, there is no concern about anchoring from the stern instead of the bow.


Parachute anchor was deployed off the stern (not off the bow). There is a specific mounting position above the rudder for the attachment of the deployment line. This means that all the waves hitting the boat strike the aft cabin but do mean that it is possible to exit the aft cabin without risking a wave breaking over the boat and slamming into the main hatch. It also reduces the wiggle on the boat during the time the boat is deployed as the boat naturally windvanes to point with the wind and waves minimizing lateral motion of the boat.

The deployment line we used was stored on deck between two large cleats about 18" apart allowing easy deployment and storage on recovery.  The deployment line was 1/2" three strand and the recovery line was 1/4". In hindsight a buoyant recovery line with a float fitted would have been better.

DDDB – All Four Ebook Formats Bundled Together

Not sure which ebook format you want? Or perhaps you have multiple devices on which you want to read it? If so, then this bundle is what you want.

You will download a Zip file containing the PDF, Epub, AZW3 and MOBI versions, which you can then transfer to your chosen ebook readers. Combined file size: 132Mb

DDDB – Kindle Version (MOBI & AZW3)

This is a zip file that contains both the  AZW3 and MOBI versions which will work on your Kindle. Download it to your PC or Tablet, open, and then transfer your preferred version to your Kindle by USB cable.

In general, the AZW3 should produce better formatting, but if that doesn't display properly, then please try the MOBI. Please note that some of the formatting is not perfect, but this does not in any way affect the readability. File size 50Mb (AZW3 40mb. Mobi 10mb)

DDDB – Epub Version for Most Tablets and eReaders

The epub version is compatible with almost all ebook readers, including  Apple iPad, Barnes and Noble Nook, Sony Reader, BeBook, Adobe Digital Editions, Lexcycle Stanza, BookGlutton, AZARDI, Aldiko, WordPlayer on Android, the Mozilla Firefox add-on OpenBerg Lector, Cool Reader  (for Windows, Linux, Android) and more, but not the Kindles.

If you don't have a Kindle, and you don't plan to print out sections, this is probably the most easily readable version. If you don't have a reader installed on your tablet, just download the free Cool Reader.

You can download it instantly and then transfer it to your ebook reader. For the full list of compatible devices see this table. File size 36Mb

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DDDB – PDF Ebook, Instant Download

Download instantly and read the entire DDDB offline at leisure on any computer device. That means you can still read it when you are sea, far from any internet connection.

This is the pdf version. It will work on just about any ebook reader or computer, but is perhaps not the easiest format to read. It is, however, the best format if you want to print out sections of it as a hard copy.

If you have an ebook reader one of the other formats is probably preferable. Or you can download a free program such as Cool Reader, which will allow you to read the epub version on your Windows, Android, or Linux tablet or computer.

Download to Read Offline!

You can read the entire DDDB online for free. But what if you are out at sea without an internet connection? Wouldn't it be good to read it then? Or to have it available on your Kindle, iPad, Sony Reader or other device?

Now, for a very nominal cost, you can instantly download the eBook version of the DDDB and read it on your preferred device. Just select which version you want below, and click the green button:

S/P-9 Commercial F/V


Commercial F/V

79' x 87 Tons

24-Ft. Dia. Sea Anchor

Force 10 Conditions

File S/P-9, obtained from Captain G.T. Bodiford, Jr., Panama City, FL. - Vessel name Arizona, hailing port Galveston, TX, Tuna longliner designed by Master Marine, LOA 79' x LWL 70' x Beam 24' x Draft 8' 9" x 87 Tons - Sea anchor: 24-ft. Diameter Para-Tech on 300' x 7/8" nylon three strand rode, with 5/8" galvanized swivel - Full trip line - Deployed in storm in deep water about 400 miles SSE of New Orleans with winds of 50 knots and seas of 20 ft. - Vessel's bow yawed 10° - Drift was estimated to be 18 n.m. during 40 hours at sea anchor.

Two generations of Bodifords have been fishing the Gulf of Mexico for tuna, using parachutes for station keeping and sea layovers. On the occasion of this file the F/V Arizona was approximately 400 nautical miles south-south-east of New Orleans when she was overtaken by a Tropical Depression. She was too far offshore to duck back into port so Captain Bodiford decided ride it out on the 24-ft. diameter Para-Tech sea anchor.

At the height of the storm the wind was sustained at 55 knots out of the NE, occasionally gusting to 80. Seas were about 17-20 feet. Arizona is a large, heavy boat, weighing in at almost 90 tons. She was hove to the para-anchor for a total of 40 hours without any problems. She drifted about 18 miles in that time.

S/P-8 Commercial F/V


Commercial F/V

65' x 49 Tons

24-Ft. Dia. Sea Anchor

Force 12 Conditions

File S/P-8, obtained from Captain Clark B. Fay, Pelican, Alaska - Vessel name Arch Angel, hailing port Alaska, commercial fishing schooner, LOA 65' x LWL 56' x Beam 16' x Draft 11' x 49 Tons - Sea anchor: 24-ft. Diameter Para-Tech on 600' x 1" nylon three strand rode, with 3/4" bronze ball bearing swivel - Full trip line - Deployed in a storm in deep water in the Gulf of Alaska with winds of 75 knots and seas of 30 ft. - Vessel's bow yawed 10° - Drift was uncertain due to 3-4 knot westerly current.

Captain Clark B. Fay is also a veteran of the Alaskan fisheries. He has been through many a gale and not too few storms. Arch Angel weighs in at 49 tons, has a draft of 11 feet and, according to Fay, has been tethered to her 24-ft. diameter Para-Tech sea anchor hundreds of times.

On the occasion of this file, winds were hurricane strength with occasional gusts to 90 knots. Seas were as great as 30 ft. Shock absorption was provided by a full spool - 600'- of one inch nylon three strand. Transcript:

I use the sea anchor almost daily during the spring when I am offshore, and occasionally during bad weather in the summer and fall. Only an idiot fishes up here in the winter. A good swivel is an absolute must. I use a commercial fishing swivel that salmon purse seign vessels use on their purse lines, rated at 32,000 lbs. It has three races of stainless steel ball bearings, and the body is made from bronze. Cost is about $200.00, available from Redden Net Co., Bellingham, Washington.

With enough line payed out I've never found a catenary (chain) system at all necessary and I wouldn't want to have to haul back the extra weight. I use a Poly-Pro trip line and run it all the way back to the boat, using a power winch to haul the rig back.