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.


S/P-6 Commercial F/V


Commercial F/V

65' x 33 Tons

24-Ft. Dia. Sea Anchor

Force 9-10 Conditions

File S/P-6, obtained from Captain Paul Clampitt, Everett, WA - Vessel name Majestic, hailing port Seattle, converted 1923 wood schooner, LOA 65' x LWL 58' x Beam 16' x Draft 13' x 33 Tons - Sea anchor: 24-ft. Diameter Para-Tech on 600' x 3/4" nylon braid rode, with 3/4" bronze ball-bearing swivel - Full trip line - Deployed in a southeasterly gale in 300 fathoms of water about 40 miles south of Yakutat Bay, Alaska, with winds of 40-50 knots and seas of 20-30 ft. - Vessel's bow yawed 20°

Washington fisherman Paul Clampitt is the owner of the 65-ft. schooner Majestic. While longlining, he routinely uses a 24-ft. diameter Para-Tech sea anchor for station keeping, allowing the crew to get a good night's sleep offshore. On the occasion of this file the same 24-ft. sea anchor was used in a southeasterly gale in the Gulf of Alaska. The para-anchor did a good job of holding the bow of the boat into the seas - bearing in mind that this is a converted 1923 wood schooner with a full keel and stern draft of 13 feet. Transcript:

The parachute sea anchor requires some skill to learn how to properly deploy. We deploy it using a "flying set," by setting the chute off the stern and allowing it to open, then turning the helm upwind with the engine in neutral. The main advantage in using the anchor is in getting a good night's sleep without having to man the helm through a gale. We have yet to use the chute in true storm conditions, because in life-threatening situations I don't want to experiment, and prefer to have a man on constant watch - so we might as well maintain steerage way by jogging up into the seas. But it is a comfort to know the chute is available for deployment in case of loss of power.

In our case the chute doesn't really help that much in stopping the boat from drifting, however, because most of our drift occurs from strong tides in our areas of operation and the vessel and chute drift at the same rate in these situations.

S/P-3 Commercial F/V


Commercial F/V

66' x 120 Tons

32-Ft. Dia. Sea Anchor

Force 9-10 Conditions

File S/P-3, obtained from Captain Michael Monteforte, Kenyon, RI. - Vessel name First Light, hailing port Point Judith, RI, commercial F/V, designed by Walter Bechman, LOA 66' x LWL 62' x Beam 21' x Draft 12' x 120 Tons - Sea anchor: 32-ft. Diameter Para-Tech on 150' x 1¼" nylon three strand rode, with 3/4" stainless steel swivel - Full trip line - Deployed in a whole gale in shallow water (60 fathoms) about 150 files from Boston with winds of 55 knots and seas of 20 ft. - Vessel's bow yawed 10°.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, commercial fishing ranks as one of the most hazardous occupations in the United States.

Those of us who sail offshore for pleasure can pick our season and our route, and change both if necessary. But the skipper of a commercial F/V is up against an economic imperative. "Breaking up a trip" can be an expensive proposition. He has spent hundreds of dollars in fuel, ice and provisions, and the crew has to get paid whether they catch fish or not. So what happens when the Weather Service issues an untimely bulletin? Given today's shaky economic picture, the skipper has to make a difficult decision as to whether to go ahead with the trip, or to abort and head back for port with the holds empty.

In the course of interviewing scores of offshore fishermen, Victor Shane discovered that, as a general rule, most will stay on the fishing grounds and ride out the average gale, especially if the trip is still young. The majority will steam back for port in the event that the forecast is upgraded from "gale" (34-40 knots sustained) to "storm" (48-55 knots sustained). Sometimes they get caught out there in between.

Now when a commercial F/V runs into an offshore gale it is standard procedure to "jog into it" - an expression used by commercial fishermen themselves. The engine is placed in slow forward and the F/V makes just enough way to enable the helmsman to keep the bow pointed as high into the teeth of the gale as possible. Fuel is spent in jogging into the seas; the hull may pound some; there is the wear and tear on everything and everyone. And if the vessel loses power, if she springs a bad leak, or if something major - like a pump - breaks down, she may end up needing the assistance of the Coast Guard.

This is why commercial fishermen were among the first to use parachutes at sea. With the parachute set they can shut down all engines and stay on top of the fishing grounds, anchored to the surface of the ocean in relative comfort. Transcript of Captain Monteforte's testimonial:

I used sea anchors for four years on my last boat, the Dyrsten. She was 60' long by 20' wide, made of yellow pine planks with oak ribs. Her gross weight was 38 tons. We used surplus parachutes then, but suffered with the problem of the chutes blowing out, so we always carried a spare. I thought about a chute for my new boat, First Light, but because she is at least three times heavier than Dyrsten, I didn't follow up on the idea, until last January, when I called Para-Tech, after seeing their ad in National Fisherman. I purchased a 32' diameter chute... a well-made, extremely rugged looking sea anchor.

We started using it on the very next trip. We would fish all day, and lay to the chute during the night. What we experienced at sea anchor was a very peaceful motion, as the bow of the boat tracked its way into the oncoming swells. The ride was different than if you were to jog into it. I suppose there was just less pitch, allowing for a good night's sleep. On one particular trip in March '88 we were fishing at least 150 miles offshore when, on the second or third day of the trip, the barometer started to fall rapidly. Now, ordinarily, we are left with two choices if the weather deteriorates: steam home, or lay to. Unless the forecast is really bad, we invariably lay to. At any rate, we set the chute before dark and when I got up at dawn the wind had already shifted to the northeast and was blowing 30 knots. Having noticed that the barometer was still low, I decided to remain at sea anchor a while longer. As it turned out we remained at sea anchor for another day and night. The wind increased to fifty five, sixty knots, with higher gusts.

The whole time that we were hove to the sea anchor we were comfortable and relaxed. When it was over, we were rested, in good shape, and anxious to get back to work. In my opinion, a sea anchor, used with good judgment, is an invaluable tool.

S/P-2 Commercial F/V


Commercial F/V

65' x 43 Tons

28-Ft. Dia. Parachute Sea Anchor

Force 9-10 Conditions

File S/P-2, obtained from Captain Marc Palombo, Sandwich, MA. - Vessel name Holly & Michael, hailing port Sandwich, commercial F/V, designed by Washburn and Doughty, LOA 65' x LWL 60' x Beam 16' x Draft 6' x 43 Tons - Sea anchor: 28-ft. Diameter C-9 military class parachute on 450' x 3/4" nylon three strand rode, with 5/8" galvanized swivel - Full trip line - Deployed in a whole gale in shallow water (45 fathoms) about 75 miles SE of Nantucket with winds of 45-55 knots and seas of 18 ft. - Vessel's bow yawed 10° - Drift was estimated to be 15 n.m. during 24 hours at sea anchor.


Captain Marc Palombo is president of Calico Lobster, Inc.. He has a number of commercial F/V's that work out of Sandwich, Massachusetts. These lobster boats, designed by naval architect Bruce Washburn, have proven to be extremely stable platforms at sea. Because of their hard chines they don't roll very much. Their low profile allows them to fish in high winds, and their wide open after decks can accommodate hundreds of lobster traps. Palombo called Victor Shane's company a number of years ago about C-9 parachutes for the boats. It seems that a member of his crew, Arthur Davey by name (see previous file), kept insisting that they should have one on board.

Shane explained to Captain Palombo that he had a few C-9's in stock, but that in his opinion they were not suitable for a big, 40-ton commercial F/V. He reminded Palombo that they were parachutes, designed for one man jumping out of an airplane. Captain Palombo insisted that he wanted three of them. He said Arthur Davey had told him they should be adequate.

Shane said "O.K", but went to great lengths to explain the importance of the long rode, "Remember, the long rode acts as a load buffer. THE LONGER THE RODE, THE LESS THE STRAIN ON EVERYTHING!"

Those C-9 parachutes were subsequently used by the Calico fleet in heavy weather, in conjunction with 400-500 feet of nylon rode. They didn't tear, and some were still in use years later. In 1986, for instance, the Holly & Michael used one in a November gale on the Georges Bank - 45 fathoms. Transcript:

I am writing to compliment you on the usefulness of the PARA-28 [28-ft. C-9]. As an offshore Lobster Fisherman I have deployed the parachute many times. I am completely satisfied with its operation. In one instance, we deployed the chute in a November 1986 gale, 75 miles south-east of Nantucket. The weather conditions deteriorated rapidly and we found ourselves sitting in 45 knot winds with about twelve foot seas....

Holly tethered to a 28-ft. diameter C-9 parachute in 18-ft. seas during a November gale about 75 miles SE of Nantucket. Note the breaking crest to the left, and the rode leading to the sea anchor. "Through the toughest twenty hours of the storm we lay to the parachute.... The PARA-28 kept our bow into the seas as we drifted. We did not pound into the seas, nor did we lie beam-to. It was a soft, comfortable manner to ride out the storm." (Photo courtesy of Captain Marc Palombo, Calico Lobster, Inc.)
Holly tethered to a 28-ft. diameter C-9 parachute in 18-ft. seas during a November gale about 75 miles SE of Nantucket. Note the breaking crest to the left, and the rode leading to the sea anchor. "Through the toughest twenty hours of the storm we lay to the parachute.... The PARA-28 kept our bow into the seas as we drifted. We did not pound into the seas, nor did we lie beam-to. It was a soft, comfortable manner to ride out the storm." (Photo courtesy of Captain Marc Palombo, Calico Lobster, Inc.)

For about twelve hours the National Weather Service out of Boston had storm warnings up. Through the toughest twenty hours of the storm we lay to the parachute. We were as comfortable as could be expected under these conditions. The PARA-28 kept our bow into the seas as we drifted. We did not pound into the seas, nor did we lie beam-to. It was a soft, comfortable manner to ride out the storm. The parachute enabled us to stay and ride out the storm. Some of the other vessels went into port with broken trips. We stayed and were able to complete our trip. In this respect the anchor paid for itself tenfold. I must stress that there is no substitute for good common sense in some of the decisions to either go home or stay out. But if I were to decide to stay and ride out a storm, I would definitely want a parachute sea anchor out.

Holly & Michael of Sandwich, Massachusetts. This commercial F/V uses parachute sea anchors to stay on top of the fishing grounds offshore.  (Photo courtesy of Captain Marc Palombo, Calico Lobster, Inc.)
Holly & Michael of Sandwich, Massachusetts. This commercial F/V uses parachute sea anchors to stay on top of the fishing grounds offshore. (Photo courtesy of Captain Marc Palombo, Calico Lobster, Inc.)

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.

D/M-16 Monohull, Cutter


Monohull, Cutter

65' x 18 Tons, Fin Keel

Series Drogue - 144 x 5" Dia. Cones

Force 9-10 Conditions


File D/M-16, obtained from John A. Traylor, Alta, Wyoming - Vessel name Beyond, hailing port Portland, Oregon, monohull cutter, designed by John Traylor, LOA 65' x LWL 56' x Beam 12' 8" x Draft 8' x 18 Tons - Fin keel - Drogue: Jordan series, 144 x 5" Diameter cones on 330' x 1"- 3/4"-5/8" nylon braid rode, with 24' of 3/8" chain at the end of the array - Deployed in a whole gale in deep water about 90 miles west of Point Conception, California, with winds of 40-60 knots and seas of 18-24 ft. - Vessel's stern yawed 10° - Drift was about 68 nm in 33 hours of deployment.

Before setting off on a major ocean passage John A. Traylor equipped Beyond with a number of drag devices, including a Para-Tech sea anchor and a Jordan series drogue. The series drogue was used in a gale off Point Conception. Transcript:

 The drogue took me personally about 24 man hours to construct, from a kit sold by Dave Pelissier (Ace Sailmakers). Once I had tied a few cones on the rode, construction was easy, but of course boring! The tow-rope specified for our 18-ton cutter is: first third 1" nylon braid, second third 3/4" nylon, and the last third 5/8" nylon. Total number of cones: 144. We did fabricate a bridle, each leg being about 25 feet long, leading to large port and starboard bronze cleats on the stern. The end weight was four fathoms of 3/8" chain.

It took me about thirty minutes to bring the gear up from below and lash the bag into deployment position, and rig the bridle. The most difficult task was to remove the Aries vane (one of Nick Franklin's last models, which can be quickly dismounted). This was a bit dangerous - I had to go down into our stern "sugar scoop" and unhinge the vane, all the while watching for the next wave which might sweep the scoop. Once the Aries was secured, deployment was very easy. Just drop the chain off the stern and stand clear.

There was no noticeable shock [when the drogue took hold], but I could clearly see the heavy nylon rode stretching and squeezing the water out as it absorbed the load. We had been running under bare poles. Over a period of perhaps 40 seconds our speed dropped from 8 knots to about 1 3/4" (one and three-quarters) knots. The rudder was lashed amidships with a nylon bungee. There were no signs of rudder stresses. Chafe was not a problem throughout the duration of the 44 hour gale, but would have been if we had not removed the Aries vane gear.

Our vessel is 65 feet long and has a center cockpit. We had no water shipped in the cockpit, so I cannot comment on the performance of the cockpit drains, companionway, etc. The rather large "sugar scoop" stern was frequently swept by the cresting seas, and the noise was occasionally quite loud. On several occasions large waves broke astern and completely filled the "scoop." But the series drogue kept the hull very well aligned into the seas, with at most 10 degrees of occasional yaw. Once the long narrow hull was held stern to the seas, the wild ride was much smoother. Either my wife or myself stood watch in the deckhouse, where we could look astern and watch the seascape.

The gale abated rather quickly in the early hours of 27 October. The seas were quite lumpy and with no wind to steady the ship, the strain on the rigging was a concern. We decided to attempt to retrieve the drogue immediately, rather than wait for the light of dawn. With a rolling hitch on the bridle, and line led to our largest coaming winches, we found we could retrieve the drogue, albeit slowly, without damaging the cones. We were about 15 minutes into this process (and had retrieved about ¼ of the total) when my wife noticed a tanker to the northwest, already well over the horizon and with leading lights lined up directly on us. After two attempts to raise him on VHF with no response, we could now see the foam under his bow from the bright moon overhead. I had my wife standby with a knife, ready to cut away the drogue if necessary. But much to our relief we were able to "rouse the watch" on the ship by playing our 600,000 candlepower spotlight on our mast and finally, I must admit, on the bridge of the ship, perhaps a mile away! We soon heard a voice (Greek?) in unmistakably angry tones on the VHF. After a short explanation, he bore away and wished us "Bon Voyage!"

All in all, we were most pleased with the performance of the drogue. My main concern with our particular installation is the necessity to remove the Aries vane gear. This exposes the crew to some definite risk of injury. If the gear is left in place, it will eventually be destroyed and the series drogue will probably be lost as well. One would hope to foresee the onset of serious weather and make preparations in advance, but as our experience with the rapid (and poorly forecast) onset of this gale shows, this is not always possible.