S/C-13 Catamaran, CSK


Catamaran, CSK

65' x 30' x 22 Tons

24-Ft. Dia. Parachute Sea Anchor

Force 10+ Conditions


File S/C-13, obtained from Captain William H. Price, Valdez, Alaska - Vessel name Rose Marie, hailing port San Diego, catamaran, designed by Vince Bartalone, LOA 65' x Beam 30' x Draft 3' 3" x 22 Tons - Sea anchor: 24-ft. Diameter military reserve parachute on 600' x 1¼" nylon braid rode (no bridle, but reefed mizzen flown), with 5/8" galvanized swivel - Full trip line - Deployed in a low system in deep water about 1250 miles SW of Los Angeles, with winds of 55-60 knots and seas of 20 ft. - Vessel's bow yawed 20° - Drift was 11 n.m. during 20 hours at sea anchor.

This is the second file involving the catamaran Rose Marie. In the previous file (S/C-1) she hove to a 28 ft. diameter C-9 parachute off Point Conception, California, where a strong coastal current pulled her directly upwind against 35-40 knots of sustained wind.

In this file she ran into a winter storm on her way to Hawaii from San Diego. Captain William H. Price (200,000 miles experience) was delivering the boat to her new owner in Singapore at the time. No bridle was used on this occasion, just 600 feet of 1¼" nylon braid leading to the centrally located anchor roller ( CAUTION: multihulls should always use full width bridles anchored to the extreme outboard ends of the hulls). Transcript:

Rose Marie departed San Diego for Honolulu 25 January 1993. Pt. Loma light finally slipped below the horizon in the twilight hours. The next eight days saw variable winds NW to SE up to 20 kts. as a succession of frontal systems swept our course to Hawaii. Rose Marie had a personal computer and WFAX on board by means of which every readable weatherfax transmission was captured and stored for planning and review. The afternoon of February 2, noon position 22° 54' N and 137° 47' W, some 1256 miles out, the wind went light and we were forced to keep pace by motorsailing through the evening hours.

By the mid watch a breeze had hauled SE and piped up so that the main required a double reef put in. The yankee and mizzen were struck, and we carried on with deep reefed main and stays'l. February 3 at 0600 hrs. saw 35 knots SE across the deck and continuing to freshen. Nothing in the way of a front showed on the latest WFAX to warn of what was coming, though it was obvious what was happening. 1000 hrs. saw wind 40 kts rising to 50, and 20 ft. seas breaking sporadically down on the weather side. Rain came horizontally so hard as to sting the face. Motion aboard the cat was so irregular. Any movement but hanging on was a chore. Seas trying to cross our course got their tops trapped between the hulls and hammered the underside of the bridge deck mercilessly. The decision was made to lay to the parachute anchor until the wind blew itself out. The frontal squalls had been lasting only about 12 hrs. in previous encounters.

Upon attempting to round up and drop sail it was discovered that the steering did not respond to turns on the wheel. In fact the rudders were free to flop, lock to lock, with the rolling pressure of the seas. An axle pin had come adrift from one of the rudder cable turning blocks. The cable was completely slack and one rudder quadrant was already in the process of dashing itself to destruction against the stops! Without stops, the large flag rudders were free to swing around and bang the hull (foam core construction probably would not stand much of that action).

A 24 ft. dia. chute was deployed from the weather waist and bow, after careful flaking out of the rode, trip line and float to avoid any fouling. The float and [full] trip line over first and streaming out downwind very nicely. Next the swivel-parachute connection went in and sunk well down. The [lightweight] canopy itself was wetted before hand pretty well by rain, and went over last in a heap. The parachute blossomed and immediately there was strain applied to the rode. The entire 600 ft. of rode paid out under control from purchase turns around the windlass drum and snubbing horns. The last point of fairlead was the anchor roller mounted just to the port of the headstay tack.

Rose Marie came round to within a couple points of SE immediately. The mizzen was then reset with the reef in and bowsed taut on center between sheet and vang tackle. This brought her right up into the wind and made her lie within a point on the port bow.

By 1130 we were lying to, very steady in 50-60 kts of breeze over the deck. Damage control parties were sent into the steerage compartments of both hulls and the rudder stocks blocked into submission. The starboard quadrant was smashed beyond use and had to be replaced. The only other casualty, indeed fatality, was our faithful wind generator, "WINDY." He lost an arm at 60+ kts across the deck, throwing it down hard against the mizzen and into the deck right between my feet. Failure was due to the irregular pitching about of his perch up on the mizzen. While his arms were trying to make perfect circles [gyroscope effect], complex pitch and roll changed the direction forces on them and metal fatigue did the rest. The crew had to belay his remaining arm with a halyard to prevent his efforts continuing in the unbalanced state.

 Lying-to, we were able to walk normally about the ship. Except for the 20 ft. plus rise and fall with each wave there was little indication below of conditions outside. Parachute was 24 ft. diameter military surplus. It was the back-up to the original main 28 footer which had rotted and was discarded prior to departure. 5/8" Galvanized jaw & eye swivel and 5/8" galvanized shackle connecting rode to parachute. 600 Ft. x 1¼" dia. yacht braid nylon rode with a thimble spliced into the eye at the overboard end. Cylindrical inflatable fender (approx. 2 ft. long x 10" dia.) float, secured to canopy head by 50 ft. ½" yachtbraid line. Trip line - 3/8" dia. x 600 ft. yellow polypropylene line, secured to float line eye on the surface.

Notes: The anchor rode had to be pinned into the fairlead roller with a 3/8" bolt and chafe guarded with a 3 ft. length of heavy hose lashed solidly about the section stretching and contracting through the fairlead. In the end the fairlead was bent to weather about 15 degrees, and the retaining bolt bent up in a distinct vee-shape by the rode pitching up and trying to escape [when the bows were pointing sharply down]. 600 Ft. was adequate for those conditions. It served very well, though I could have wished for more in the locker, had the seas been higher, or more frequently breaking.

S/C-1 Catamaran, CSK


Catamaran, CSK

65' x 30' x 22 Tons

28-Ft. Dia. Parachute Sea Anchor

Force 8 Conditions


File S/C-1, obtained from Bruce Reid, Costa Mesa, CA. - Vessel name Rose Marie, hailing port Vancouver, BC, catamaran, designed by Vince Bartalone, LOA 65' x Beam 30' x Draft 3' 3" x 22 Tons - Sea anchor: 28-ft. Diameter C-9 military class parachute on 500' x 1" nylon three strand tether and bridle arms of 60' each, with 5/8" galvanized swivel - No trip line - Deployed in gale force winds in shallow water (40 fathoms) off Point Conception, California, with winds of 40 knots and seas of 15-20 ft. - Vessel's bow yawed 5° - Drift was upwind at 2 knots, induced by current.


Rose Marie was on her way to Vancouver from Newport when she ran into gale force winds off Point Conception - the "Cape Horn of the Pacific." The skipper put out the 28-ft. diameter C-9 parachute when progress against headwinds began to diminish. The strong coastal current that flows northward hereabouts caused the para-anchor to tow the big catamaran upwind! Because water is some 800 times heavier than air, large sea anchors should be used with caution where there are local currents, especially in close quarters. The sea anchor will pull the boat with the current, regardless of the intensity and direction of the wind. If the current is going your way, then fine and well. If not, be warned that the sea anchor may tow your boat over a ledge, across fishing nets, a shipping lane or into other hazardous areas. Transcript:

We were conducting sea trials of our newly launched C/S/K designed catamaran. We had departed Newport Beach on 9 June 1984 with the intention of making our way north to Vancouver B.C. On the evening of June 11 we anchored at Coho, an open roadstead just southwest of Point Conception, along with six or seven fishing boats and two other cruisers. The winds were northwesterly at 28 knots, gusting to 38 knots, and the seas were about 15 ft., which continued to build during the night. By early dawn the fishing vessels all departed in the direction of Santa Barbara, along with one of the cruisers. The other cruiser, a Westsail 32, raised sail and headed out to sea. At around 5:30 am we motored out to see what the conditions were... the 2 am weather report was 35 knots gusting 45, with seas of 15-21 ft. We continued on course for about an hour and a half when the wind shifted to the north by northwest and our progress began to diminish. The Westsail 32, under sail and engine, passed ahead of us on a port tack and seemed to be taking a lot of green water. Standing on our cabin top my eye level is about 18 ft. above the waterline and in several of the troughs I could not see over the approaching wave. The 6 am report described the sea as 18-26 ft. and I am sure they were all of 18 and occasionally 26 ft.

Within one mile or so of Point Arguello, the Westsail 32 turned and ran back toward Point Conception.... Though we were not in any trouble, we decided to deploy our 28' diameter parachute and take a rest. We had covered only nine miles in about three and a half hours. My windspeed indicator averages out most of the gusts, so the peak winds are not known, but while lying to the parachute the wind rarely fell below 40 knots, and on occasion we saw 50 knots.

Standing about a mile and a half offshore, lying abeam to the sea under minimum power, we slowly deployed the parachute off the port bow, letting it stream off to weather about 30 to 40 feet. We then snubbed off the rode and watched the chute fill and come to full shape. We then fed out the rode until it was a full 500 ft. out to windward, then secured it to the bridle, in turn secured to the port and starboard bow bollards. Everything became quite peaceful. We took reference sights on the shoreline and went below for breakfast.

About twenty minutes later, I checked on our shore marks but could not identify them. I had a feeling of confusion and together with a crew member established a new set of reference marks on shore. Fifteen minutes later I went on deck and saw that the marks had shifted unexpectedly. What had confused me on my first sights was that I had expected our drift to be to leeward. After careful calculation we estimated that we were making about 2 knots to windward! We were making about the same progress to weather as we had been making motor-sailing, however, with everything shut down life had become so peaceful we had to refer to the windspeed indicator to verify the winds had not decreased and in fact had increased slightly.

After about two hours we decided to practice picking up the parachute and attempted a hand over hand retrieval. A bit of foolishness. We then cast off the rode and began to motor up on the trip line float. Again another bit of foolishness. The float's relationship to the parachute was impossible to determine and in short order we had the parachute around a prop. After recovering all the rode and what we could of the parachute, we sailed off back around Point Conception. So far as we could determine, our cat has never shown any tendency to sail about while laying to a parachute (on 500 ft. scope). Whatever movement there may be is within a five degree arc. If the movement is in fact greater than that it is very difficult to identify it from the other motions, created by the sea state.

All my parachute retrievals since this event have been by a polypropylene trip line, however I find even with the help of various crew members recovering a chute on 500 feet of rode is always work, even when conditions are less hectic. So far as I am concerned, getting to port ahead of a storm is the best tactic. But if that is impractical, lying to a parachute on a bridle, head-to-wind, or even with the sea quartering, is by far the safest and least wearing storm tactic I have tried to date.