34' x 21' x 5 Tons
15-Ft. Dia. Sea Anchor
Force 7-8 Conditions
File S/T-12, obtained from Ted and Karen Cary, Weymouth MA. - Vessel name Sequester, hailing port Stuart FL, Searunner trimaran designed by Jim Brown & John Marples, LOA 34' x Beam 20' 11" x Draft 6' 5" (2' 6" board up) x 5 Tons - Sea anchor: 15-ft. Diameter Para-Tech on 400' x 5/8" nylon braid tether and bridle arms of 100' each, with 1/2" galvanized swivel - Partial trip line - Deployed in gale in deep water about 50 miles SW of Bermuda, with winds of 35-40 knots and seas of 8-12 ft. - Vessel's bow yawed 10° - Drift was estimated to be 10 n.m. during 10 hours at sea anchor (0.5 -1 kt. Gulf Stream).
By now the reader must have noticed the number of files that involve boats running into gales on their way to or from Bermuda. Transcript:
Before leaving Buzzards Bay for Bermuda I changed the boat to my secondary anchor and rode, and rigged my primary rode and bridle to the para-anchor. The 400' tether (two 200' sections) was then shackled to 30' of 5/16" chain, and that to the bridle's center thimble. Tether & bridle are all 5/8" double braid nylon.
The rode was chainlinked and flaked in one of my forward wet lockers, in the wing deck. The legs of the bridle I led around the bow pulpit stanchions and secured with masking tape and light line, tied with slip knots. To deploy all I had to do was unbag the chute, pull the slip knots, tie on my tripline and slam dunk.
As we approached Bermuda the wind headed us until it was nearly dead on the nose and building. I had the boat overloaded and in the steep, big waves (wind vs current) we were pounding the underwings mercilessly, making very little progress. Having the para-anchor we set it and had the option to stop, rest, and evaluate, and also run up an antenna wire for the Weatherfax to get some info. The developing LOW southeast of us was an unwelcome surprise and turned into Hurricane Grace two days later.... After 10 hours we made the decision to retrieve the chute and make a desperate motorsailing dash for Bermuda. Conditions were as bad or worse when we retrieved the chute as when we deployed it. One thing complicated the retrieval: we had a partial trip line [on two floats] and the retrieve float never did stay downwind of the chute, but appeared to lie almost 90° from the tether between the chute and the boat [probably due to the influence of the northwesterly current]. To retrieve it we couldn't just follow up the rode but had to motor off to starboard to pick up the float ball - not easy. Next time will use a FULL trip line. In any case, we made it to Bermuda (cheated and came over the reef - love these shoal draft boats) with about one gallon of gas left, and both of us totally whipped. Harbor radio sent the rescue boat around to lead us into Hamilton, where we sat out hurricane Grace. No offense, but I'd rather be in port than on the parachute for that event.