S/C-17 Catamaran, MacGregor


Catamaran, MacGregor

36' x 18' x 2.5 Tons

12-Ft. Dia. Sea Anchor

Force 9-10 Conditions


File S/C-17, obtained from H.L. Andersen, Copenhagen, Denmark, - Vessel name Silver Heels, hailing port Copenhagen, catamaran, designed by MacGregor, LOA 36' x Beam 18' x Draft 18" x 2.5 Tons - Sea anchor: 12-ft. Diameter Para-Tech on 400' x 5/8" nylon braid tether and bridle arms of 40' each, with 1/2" stainless steel swivel - Partial trip line - Deployed in a whole gale in deep water 120 miles NW of Cape Finisterre, Spain, with winds of 45-55 knots and seas of 20-30 ft. - Vessel's bow yawed 30° - Drift was estimated to be 12 n.m. during 23 hours at sea anchor.

Silver Heels is a MacGregor 36 catamaran, modified with hard deck and small cockpit. Her Danish owner H.L.Andersen has put close to 110,000 blue water miles on her, having crossed the Atlantic a number of times. In September 1995, en route to Ibiza, Spain, he ran into what BBC radio first announced as "severe gale, Force 9" shortly to be followed by those dread words, crackling as they do over the shortwave bands: "FORCE 10 IMMINENT." Transcript:

For my modified MacGregor 36 catamaran (see articles in Multihulls Magazine, Nov/Dec 1992 & July/August 1994) I use the 12' para-anchor. First time I deployed the sea anchor was in a Force 10 storm (BBC Radio 4) 120 miles NW of Cape Finisterre (Spain). This severe gale was the first major low pressure of the 1995 fall season to sweep across the North Atlantic, reaching from Portugal to the Irish Sea, a huge area, and I had nowhere to run to, ergo I put all my faith in the para-anchor.

I am convinced it saved the catamaran and me. The backing wind (to storm) made the seas real nasty. The temperature dropped to 7° C in the cabin. I'll never forget how peaceful it became as soon as the para-anchor took command. It was a blessing - rain and wind whipped the seas but we lay still.

My mistake was to attach the bridle to the 400' tether using a bowline instead of a proper splice & thimble, and that's where the line eventually chafed through. But it held for 23 hours. I did not use a full trip line - only a partial one & two floats, regrettably, but I was worried about the lines tangling since I had to deploy everything in the middle of the night. After I lost the para-anchor several freak waves went right over the hulls, so I used the spinnaker [as a jury-rigged sea anchor]. But it got ripped to pieces after 1½ hours and I had to hoist a storm jib and sail the cat through the worst of the seas for 6 hours, after which it moderated and I headed for La Covina, Spain [sea anchor replaced there].

I used the new para-anchor 50 miles off Beaufort Inlet, North Carolina, and twice in the Mediterranean, both Force 8 - sudden gales with little sea room. After 110,000 nautical miles I still have a lot to learn about the para-anchor. I now attach a length of chain between the bridle and tether, and use a full trip line. Deployed correctly, I am sure the para-anchor will protect my vessel and my hide in the future.