Tag Archives: Singlehanded

D/M 23 Bruce Roberts V388

D/M 23

Monohull, Bruce Roberts Voyage 388 cutter

39' (12m) x 23 Tonnes, Fin keel

Jordan Series Drogue

Force 9+ Conditions

File D/M-23, obtained from Rob Skelly, Canada -  Vessel name Pauline Claire, hailing port Vancouver, monohull steel hulled cutter designed by Bruce Roberts and built by Rob Skelly himself, LOA 39' (12m) x LWL 34' x Beam 13'  (4m) x Draft 6' 10"  (2.1m) x 23 tonnes - Fin keel - Drogue: Jordan Series Drogue  100'  leader followed by 130 cones  on 7/8" (22mm) nylon double braid rode plus 6.8kg lead weight with 24' (7m) bridles of 7/8" 3-strand nylon - Deployed in  deep water 120 miles south of Madegascar while singlehanded midway on passage  from Reunion to Durban in winds of 50+ knots  and breaking seas of 16 - 23 ft. (5 -7m) - Speed was reduced to about 2.5 knots during 36 hours of deployment. Total drift was about 70 nm. 

Having built his boat himself, Pauline Claire ended up being considerably heavier than the design specifications. Rob then set off  from British Columbia, Canada, on a circumnavigation with no previous sailing experience.  All was well until the Indian Ocean when he was notified by his shore-based sister of the oncoming gale that he could not avoid at his cruising speed.

Rob's Jordan Series Drogue was permanently set up with the bridles in place attached by spliced eyes to  the cleats welded to the aft quarters. Below the cleats on each side were vents that opened below into the engine room. These vents were quickly ripped off by the bridles once the drogue was deployed. After that there was nothing to chafe the bridles and, fortunately, there were no waves that pooped the stern that might have flooded the engine room through the now missing vents.

The drogue itself was stored in a locker on the deck above the transom from where it could be quickly thrown aft into the water.

Knowing the storm was coming, Rob was running downind under bare poles and auto pilot. The wind vane was pinned to lock the hydrovane runner amidships. The wind at this point was maybe 45 kts but the waves had not yet built to maximum.

The drogue was then deployed by throwing out the weight. The drogue rushed out, but two of the cones did snag (and tear) on the swim platform on the way out.

Once the drogue was out everything settled down. Autopilot was turned off, and Rob retired below from where he could watch the drogue through his Lexan companionway hatch. He was then able to sleep and send emails to his sisters by Iridium to reassure them that life was getting to be 'a bit of a drogue'.

The drogue would cycle between full load and slack as the waves passed by underneath. When under full load the bridle would be fully stretched out, once the load reduced the bridle would then retract and twist over itself. This did not seem to affect the performance of the drogue but might, over time, have caused some chafing issues though none was noted.

After two nights the wind had dropped and progressively eased to 15 kts while the seas continue to be large. Because the boat speed had dropped, there were times when the drogue was quite slack and, because of the movement of the boat in the waves actually got wrapped around the hydrovane rudder.  Once the load came on again the rudder was taking all the strain. Rob attempted to unwrap it but was unable to do some. Eventually, fortunately, during a slack period on a wave it did unhook itself.

The drogue was rigged with a strong recovery line attached to the V of the bridle. This long line was brought back to a which with which Rob was able to then haul in the drogue while the bridles remained attached to the cleats.

Once the bridle V was onboard, the bridle arms were disconnected from the cleats and the rest of the drogue was winched on board in sync with the slack from the waves, hand-tailing as the cones would not go through the self-tailer. Totaly recover time was maybe two hours.

Lessons Learned

  1.  The number of cones used were correct for the design weight of the boat. However, the boat ended up being much heavier than intended and so the number of cones was insufficient. This resulted in a speed of 2.5kts  instead of 1.5kts when on the drogue.  Since he was headed in the right direction anyway this was not of any concern. Rob has since had another 25 cones added.
  2. Rob also changed the 3-strand bridles into double braid (25mm) to prevent the twisting.
  3. He has also added another 8 lbs (3.6kg) of lead to the end of the drogue, separated from the other one by about 6' (2m). These are shackled to an eye splice at the end of the rode.
  4. The vents have been replaced with flat deck plates so there is nothing to snag.
  5. Rob has not yet figured out how to solve the problem of the cleats on the swim deck snagging the cones on deployment.
  6. There is a small wooden platform on the hydrovane on which one can step while pinning the vane in place. This had a sharp corner which also snagged a cone on deployment. That has now been rounded off.
  7. Rob recommends retrieving the drogue as soon as possible when conditions improve. so as to prevent the risk of it wrapping around a rudder.

Having discovered that the retieval was not as hard as expected, especially with the retrieval line going to the V of the bridle, Rob has no hesitation in using the drogue.

D/M-21 Seastream 43

D/M 21

Monohull, Ian Anderson SeaStream 43 MKIII Cutter

43' (13m) x 18 Tons, Fin Keel 

Jordan Series Drogue

Force 9+ Conditions

File D/M-21, obtained from Tim Good, UK- Vessel name Shadowfax, hailing port Falmouth, monohull cutter designed by Ian Anderson and built by Seastream, LOA 43' x LWL 36' x Beam 13' 9" x Draft 6' 6" x 18 Tons - Fin keel - Drogue: Jordan Series Drogue on 360' (110m) x 7/8" (22mm)  nylon double braid rode plus 14kg chain - Deployed in  deep water just south of Madeira while singlehanded midway on passage upwind from Canary Islands to Azores in winds of 45+ knots  and breaking seas of 16 - 23 ft. (5 -7m) - Speed was reduced to about 1.5 knots during 36 hours of deployment. Total drift was about 42 nm. Yacht was pooped by a large breaking wave once.

Tim Good has over 20,000 miles of experience, mostly in the East Atlantic and North Sea, but this was his first singlehanded passage. After his mainsail was split by the wind, and then his engine died owing to a fuel pump fault, Tim was unable to heave-to, and so chose to deploy the drogue to minimise his downwind drift:

I was sailing singlehanded upwind to the Azores from Gran Canaria. I knew that a strong blow was forecast to arrive as I passed Madeira. I decided to continue on rather than stop in the shelter of Madeira. The blow was stronger than forecast and around dusk I decided to reduce sail and heave-to when the wind had picked up to 45 kts sustained.

While reducing sail, my mailsail split down the middle, making it impossible to heave to. I tried to make headway with staysail and engine at around 45 degrees to the sea. Breaking waves were knocking the bow off but the engine kept correcting. Around 1am the engine stopped due to a leaking lift pump and I had no option but to turn and run with the sea and wind. I decided then to deploy the JSD which was in a 100L drybag in the cockpit and the bridles already rigged. 

I had around 14kg of chain on the end and I threw this over the stern. The JSD then deployed out of the bag smoothly with no chaffe or handling. The boat slowed to around 1.5-2kts. 

The waves were strangely large and frequently breaking for the windspeed. They'd had a long fetch to gather size from NW Spain. Presumably as a result from the acceleration around Madeira it increased their size. Difficult to say the size. Perhaps 5-7m?

About 45 mins after being on the drogue a big wave pooped over the stern filling the very large cockpit. I got pooped a few times but nothing as large as that.

I had no issues with chaffe since I have large overhanging chainplates which prevent any chaffe and strong crosby shackles, rated with a breaking strength in excess of half the displacement of the boat.

After approx 36 hours I retrieved it single-handed in around 1.5hours. It was easier than I had anticipated as the leader would go around my main winch and with each wave, the leader would slacken sufficiently to winch in a meter or so.

I continued on to the Azores and had the mainsail repaired.

I made a video of the account here which includes info about the deployment, chainplates and bridle setup. 

My chainplate design can be seen here:

Tim's video is highly informative and demonstrates how well he had prepared his boat in advance of any extreme conditions. Like all of us he had hoped never to need to use the equipment he installed but, as we can see here, his preparations resulted in easy and stress-free management of the conditions. In fact, this is probably the best prepared boat of all our drogue reports, and the result of that is clear to see. His solution for preventing chafe is excellent. Yes, it was probably quite expensive to build and install, but completely eliminates the problem.

Had he not been so well prepared his experience would have been way more challenging. Once again the need for propert preparation is made.

D/T-8 Trimaran, Piver


Trimaran, Piver

35' x 20' x 3.5 Tons

4-Ft. Dia. Conical Drogue

Force 12 Conditions


File D/T-8, obtained from Warren L. Thomas, Charleston, SC. - Vessel name Lady Blue Falcon, hailing port Charleston, Lodestar trimaran designed by Arthur Piver, LOA 35' x Beam 20' x Draft 2' x 3.5 Tons - Drogue: 4-ft. Diameter cone, custom-made from heavy mesh (porous) material on 250' x 5/8" nylon three strand tether, with bridle arms of 60' each and bronze swivel - Deployed in an unnamed hurricane about 300 miles north of Bermuda with sustained winds of 80 knots and breaking seas of 30 ft. and greater - Vessel's stern yawed 30° and more with the owner steering.

To quote the immortal words of K. Adlard Coles in Heavy Weather Sailing, "When the wind rises to Force 10 or more and the gray beards ride over the ocean, we arrive at totally different conditions, and for yachts it is battle for survival, as indeed it sometimes may be for big ships." In July 1990, Lady Blue Falcon, one of Arthur Piver's original "Lodestar" designs, was off the northern coast of Maine sailing to Charleston, South Carolina, when she became entwined in a cyclonic system with sustained hurricane-force winds - an unnamed, minor hurricane. What followed was five days of sheer terror for the singlehanded sailor on board, Warren Thomas. The boat was driven without mercy round all points of the compass, eventually finding herself back in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

The only drag device on board was a 4-ft. diameter cone, custom made from some sort of tightly knit, porous, nylon mesh material. Thomas deployed it off the stern on 250' of tether and a bridle with 60-ft. arms attached to the outboard sterns of the floats. The bridle would not allow the boat to be steered freely, a major disadvantage in Thomas' opinion. In the chaos that followed, Warren Thomas tried quartering the seas by bringing both bridle arms to one float. This turned out to be a bad idea - made things much worse. To compound matters, the cone would completely pull out of the water at times, allowing the boat to lurch ahead at incredible speeds. The whole experience was traumatic and Thomas' recollection of the details are hazy - "due to complete blank of mind & loss of charts & notes" (to quote Thomas). Transcript:

I used the drogue off the stern of my Piver Lodestar in a mild hurricane 300 miles north of Bermuda, approx. 360 miles east of Cape Cod. Got blown 570 miles in 5 days, running completely out of control. Drogue's bridle would NOT let me steer at high speeds of 22 knots on 2-3 minute continuous runs. (Once rode a gale in Albermorle Sound with 45-55 knots for thirteen hours. It was a walk in the park compared to this.)

Seas in excess of 25 ft. but running faster than HELL! Wave patterns rather organized but about every hour a series of oddballs would come. I could hand-steer them, except at night when I could not see them coming. All this under bare poles. I was alone, scared and just hanging on. It was the biggest horror of my life. The sea won the war! Cannot erase the fury from my mind. First time that I have ever cried like a baby, I believe just from nerves.... Eating raw Taster's Choice right out of the coffee jar.... Wind blew all around compass. Was hovering around 80, gusts exceeding 100. I knew I was going to die. Just did not know when. Mr. tough-guy did die out there. Now only a cautious, humble sailor remains. Took two years to shed the fear and exchange it for a healthy respect for the sea. Am sure I am alive today because of luck only. If I had had a para-anchor I would still have needed luck, but I would have been rested enough to appreciate it!


D/T-4 Trimaran, Newick


Trimaran, Newick

31' x 26' x 1.5 Tons

4-Ft. Dia. Conical Drogue

Force 9-10 Conditions


File D/T-4, obtained from B.J. Watkins, Arnold, MD. - Vessel name Heart, hailing port Richmond VA, Val ocean racing trimaran designed by Richard Newick, LOA 31' x Beam 26' x Draft 5' (2' 5" board up) x 1.5 Tons - Drogue: 4-Ft. Diameter cone (unknown make) on 200' x 1/2" nylon braid tether, with bridle arms of 75' each and 1/2" galvanized swivel - Deployed in a whole gale in deep water about 300 miles NE of Bermuda with winds of 40-50 knots and seas of 20 ft. - Vessel's stern yawed excessively - Damage and risk of capsize lead to the abandonment of the boat.

In order for a medium-pull drogue to take greater control bridle should be attached to the extreme outboard ends of the floats. (Review also Figs. 22, 23 in Section 4 for options relating to the attachment points of low-pull drogues that may require hand steering).
In order for a medium-pull drogue to take greater control bridle should be attached to the extreme outboard ends of the floats. (Review also Figs. 22, 23 in Section 4 for options relating to the attachment points of low-pull drogues that may require hand steering).

B.J. Watkins was singlehandedly sailing Heart from Annapolis to England to participate in the 1988 C-STAR (Carlsberg Singlehanded Trans Atlantic Race). Her intent was to become the first American woman ever to finish that race. "That is not what happened, unfortunately," writes B.J. in an article entitled The Agony of a Premature Defeat (March/April '88 issue of Multihulls Magazine).

B.J. departed Annapolis on 9 April 1988. On the third or fourth day out the boat hit something, damaging the rudder. A week later, 380 miles NE of Bermuda, Heart ran into a whole gale. B.J. set a 4-ft. diameter, conical drogue - unknown make - off the stern.

While the cone was too small to pull the bows into the seas (B.J. had tried that once and the boat just laid beam-to), by all tokens it should have done a good job of pulling the stern into the seas. But it did not. Why not? Likely because of the incorrect attachments points of the bridle. Heart was practically identical to Galliard (file D/T-2), both trimarans being Newick Val 31s. The difference was that Tom Follett deployed a 5-ft. diameter Shewmon with a bridle leading to the extreme outboard ends of the floats, whereas B.J. deployed a 4-ft. cone with a bridle secured to chain plates located on the cross-arms, inboard and forward.

The cone may have been on the wrong part of the wave train as well. In order to keep the stern aligned into the full blown gale B.J. found that she had actively to steer the Val trimaran. The pull of the drogue was not constant. Now and then the yacht would surf down the face of the steeper waves. To steer risked further damage to the rudder. To not steer risked a broach and possible capsize. The barometer kept falling. Components began failing. The seas built up and finally started to break over the small trimaran.

The situation became untenable and B.J. had no alternative but to turn on the EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon). She was taken off the crippled trimaran by the Dutch container ship Charlotte Lykes.

B.J. Watkins had spend about $50,000 in preparing her boat, which was uninsured once it was 200 miles from the U.S. coast - a bitter loss. A transcript of the DDDB feedback submitted by B.J. Watkins follows. It includes portions of related correspondence with Donald Jordan (by permission):

I have enclosed a copy of the correspondence I had with Donald Jordan. I hope this is helpful. Mr. Jordan and I have reached the conclusion that the reason the sea anchor did not pull the stern to the seas was because of the location of the attachment points. We feel that they were too far forward on the boat and too far inboard....

[From the Jordan correspondence]: I cannot tell you exactly what size drogue I had. It was a cone shape, approximately 4 feet in diameter at the widest point. It was original equipment which came with Heart, so I do not know the exact measurements. I had attached snatch blocks to half-inch "D" shackles whose pins formed the pins for the turnbuckles on the mast rig. The bridle lines ran through the snatch blocks to the primary winches. I am at a loss to explain why the boat did not ride stern to the wind. My experience with Heart prior to rigging with the wing mast was interesting. I had on a previous occasion deployed the sea anchor from the bow of the main hull, no bridle. This was done in Long Island Sound, 50-knot winds, 5-8 foot seas, no bridle. Heart laid beam to the seas at that time. We had the board up but the rudder was in place. Dick Newick suggested that possibly if we had raised the rudder we might have then set bow-to. The action of the sea anchor at that time prompted me to investigate further. We added the bridle and decided to try stern-to.... I agree that the best arrangement is to attach the bridle to special reinforced fitting provided at the aft ends of the amas.

UPDATE: Two years later B.J. Watkins and her teammate Boots Parker were participants in the 1990 Two Handed Transatlantic Race on the 45-ft. Peter Spronk catamaran Skyjack. On their way to England they lost both rudders (the shafts had been fabricated out of aluminum instead of stainless steel). And, while attempting to limp to the Azores on one spare rudder they ran into two Force 8 gales!

However, this time B.J. had an 18-ft. diameter Para-Tech sea anchor on board. In the second gale she deployed it. The orange parachute pulled the bows of Skyjack into the teeth of the gale, parking the boat and minimizing damage.

In a subsequent telephone conversation with Victor Shane, B.J. said that the parachute sea anchor performed in a most satisfactory way - it was a morale booster and it allowed them to "call time out" in a difficult situation.

D/M-11 Monohull, Islander


Monohull, Islander

29' x 4 Tons, Full Keel & Cutaway Forefoot

36" Dia. Galerider Drogue

Force 8 Conditions


File D/M-7, obtained from William A. Forest, San Luis Obispo, CA. - Vessel name Seraphim, hailing port Morro Bay, CA, monohull, Islander Wayfarer, LOA 29' x LWL 24' x Beam 9.5' x Draft 4' x 4 Tons - Full keel & cutaway forefoot - Drogue: 36" Diameter Galerider on 200' x 1/2" nylon braid rode, with 1/2" stainless steel swivel - Deployed in a gale in deep water about 500 miles west of San Francisco, with winds of 35-45 knots and seas of 15-20 ft. - Vessel's stern yawed 20° - Speed averaged out to about 4 knots during 40 hours of deployment.


William A. Forest sailed Seraphim to Hawaii and back singlehanded in July 1989. On the way back he ran into a gale about 500 miles west of San Francisco. The wind was blowing out of the northwest, so he used a Galerider to slow Seraphim down and stabilize her attitude while continuing on in the right direction. Transcript:

I made the trip just to see if I could, and having done it I don't have to prove to myself that I can any more. The trip was made in 1989, when I was 66. The problem wasn't the boat, equipment or weather, but the chance that, as a single hander, I might get injured or break something. I did take a fall on the return trip, and cracked two lower ribs. I had not followed my own rule of wearing sneakers when on deck, and my bare feet went out from under me. Lucky it wasn't worse.

Until the time I deployed the Galerider on the way back, I had forgotten I had it on board. When the seas built up, the Monitor [wind vane] was unable to keep course as I sailed down into the troughs. The boat was surfing at that time, and the natural tendency was to try and round up, making it a dangerous broaching situation. This involved several hours of hand steering. Very tiring, at best. I took down the reefed main, hoisted the storm jib, and deployed the Galerider at 0200 hrs. on July 20th. I let out the Galerider rode to 150' initially, but later adjusted it between 125-200' to get best response, control and ride. The rode came in through the port after chock, taking half a turn on a corner cleat, then to my jib winch and onto another cleat. This way the strain was distributed between the first cleat and the winch, and I could take in or let out as the situation changed. As soon as the Galerider was deployed and the rode adjusted I had instant control. It was amazing. A note here that chafing gear must be used at the chock or the rode will easily wear through and the drogue be lost. It should also be noted that I had a 90 sq. ft. storm jib up. In order for the drogue to work properly it is necessary to have forward motion.

I adjusted the rode so that the Galerider was on the same side of the wave as the boat. In my case it was two waves back [on the same part of the wave as the boat]. I found that the strain was less on the line, and there were no jerks or rapid slowing as the boat moved forward. After deployment it was never necessary to hand-steer again. Once the Monitor wind vane was engaged I was able to unlash the tiller and my course became more exact. Sometime during early daylight hours a rogue wave from the port side carried away the wind vane sail and the dodger, filling the cockpit.

The Galerider worked well. There was plenty of searoom and the wind was blowing in the direction I wanted to go. However, in a situation of a dangerously close lee shore, and the loss of a rudder or sails, there is no doubt in my mind that a sea anchor would have been required. There is no law about not having both on board. In the unlikely event that I should go cruising again I would have both.

In subsequent telephone conversations Victor Shane asked William Forest why he didn't position the drogue on the back side of its wave when the yacht was surfing down the face of its wave (see Fig. 52). His answer was that he tried that, but given the particular situation - 35-knot winds - the yacht had a tendency to stall and wallow in the troughs. He added that in 50-knot winds he likely would have positioned the drogue on the "meatier" part of the wave.

In answer to the question as to whether he would prefer to take the seas squarely on the transom or on the quarter, Forest indicated that he would prefer to take them on the quarter with the drogue in tow, although it would depend on the particular circumstance. He stressed that every gale is different, every boat is different, and decisions such as where to position the drogue, or whether to use a bridle or not, or whether it is better to run directly downwind or to take the seas on the quarter are fluid decisions that need to be tailored to existing circumstances and conditions

Galerider drogue produced by Hathaway, Reiser and Raymond
Galerider drogue produced by Hathaway, Reiser and Raymond

D/M-6B Monohull, Ericson


Monohull, Ericson

25' x 3 Tons, Swing Keel

Jordan Series Drogue

Force 8 Conditions


File D/M-6B, obtained from Gary Danielson, St. Clair Shores, MI. - Vessel name Moon Bootshailing port Detroit, monohull, designed by Bruce King, LOA 24' 8" x LWL 20' 10" x Beam 8' x Draft 4' (27" keel up) x 3 Tons. Drogue: Galerider deployed in Force 8, mid-Atlantic - vessel required constant steering.  Jordan series drogue (88 x 5" cones on 300' x 1/2" nylon braid rode) - Deployed in a gale in deep water about 500 miles east of the Bahamas with winds of 35-45 knots and seas of 9-14 ft. - Vessel's stern yawed 10° - Drift was about 10 miles during 36 hours of deployment.


This file updates the previous one. Gary Danielson's Lake Huron evaluations took place in 1988. In 1991 he sailed Moon Boots across the Atlantic and back. He had occasion to use the Galerider and the series drogue in a number of Force 8 gales. In the first mid-Atlantic gale he used the Galerider and found that it greatly enhanced steering control in 15-ft. seas, but left to itself (while he was resting down below) it would allow the stern of the boat to yaw too much - 40° off to each side at times. In the second Force 8 gale (600 miles from the British Isles and 15-ft. seas again) he used the series drogue and it kept the stern of the boat snubbed into the seas and, in taking total control of the situation, allowed him to remain down below and get much needed rest. Danielson sailed Moon Boots back across the Atlantic singlehanded in March 1991, re-tracing Columbus' route from the Canaries to San Salvador in the Bahamas. En route he ran into another Force 8 gale. Transcript:

The only heavy weather of the trip occurred about 500 miles east of San Salvador, Bahamas. As my course was due West at that point, it meant the wind was right on the nose. At 25-30 knots Moon Boots can't sail upwind effectively any longer. Once the wind got to the low 30's I knew I'd have to put out a drogue. I decided to use the Jordan style series drogue rather than the Galerider because I didn't want to lose any of the ground I'd already gained and the Jordan is a much better "anchor" than the Galerider. In fact, that was pretty much how I decided which one to use on the prior trip also. In any event it did an outstanding job of keeping the stern into the waves and of limiting drift to almost nothing (10 miles in 36 hours, less any westerly drift from possible currents). I had changed the 15 lb. mushroom at the end to a 5 lb. weight and that helped the Jordan to ride a bit more horizontal (but still below the surface). The only problem was that the boat had been broken into in the Canaries and the inside lock for the main hatch had been damaged (the hatch fully closed, just couldn't be secured shut). As you probably know, the Jordan drogue exhibits a tremendous pull at all times. The transom of Moon Boots had been beefed up specially because of this, as had the hatch and the hatch boards. And a good thing too, because every so often a wave would completely go over Moon Boots (I could see solid water as I looked out the side ports).

The problem was that at times these waves would slide the main hatch 2-3' forward. Note that the hatch top itself was custom made of wood, weighted almost 75 lbs., and slid very hard on its track as it did not sit on rollers or cars of any type (just slid on metal tracks). It always took an effort with both hands to slide it open or shut. But these waves would slam it open and at the same time 30-50 gallons of water would pour in, (this happened 9 times in 36 hours). Therefore anyone using this style drogue had better have prepared the stern of his boat properly.

It has occurred to me that since the Jordan style drogue has a constant and continuous pull, it could make a superior sea anchor (off the bow) if sized properly for a given boat. It wouldn't work on Moon Boots as a sea anchor, but any boat that behaves OK with a sea anchor would probably be even safer with a Jordan style. I now believe, more than ever, that my solo Atlantic passages on Moon Boots could not have been accomplished safely without the drogues.


S/T-4 Trimaran, Condor


Trimaran, Condor

40' x 28' x 3 Tons

18-Ft. Dia. Sea Anchor

Force 7-8 Conditions

File S/T-4, obtained from Jack Hunt, Apollo Beach, FL. - Vessel name Crystal Catfish IV, hailing port Apollo Beach - Trimaran, designed by Condor Ltd., LOA 40' x Beam 28' x Draft 8' (20" board up) x 3 Tons - Sea anchor: 18-ft. Diameter Para-Tech on 400' x 1/2" nylon three strand tether and bridle arms of 80' each, with 5/8" galvanized swivel - No trip line - Deployed during passage of low system in deep water in the Gulf of Mexico about 125 miles WNW of Tampa with winds of 30-40 knots and seas of 15 ft. - Vessel's bow yawed 10° - Drift was estimated to be about 2 n.m. during 12 hours at sea anchor.


Jack Hunt is a veteran of the 1980 and 1984 OSTARs (Observer Singlehanded Trans-Atlantic Race) in which he sailed a 31-ft. monohull named Crystal Catfish III. After making the switch to a lightweight, fast multihull, Jack ended up using a Para-Tech sea anchor during the 500-mile single-handed qualifying run, in preparation for the 1988 OSTAR. In a related article which appeared in the January/February issue of Multihulls, Jack describes conditions in the Gulf of Mexico in the winter as "a battleground of warm and cold fronts, locked in fifteen-round bare-knuckled battles for supremacy, much like the English Channel in June, except the waves in the Channel have the decency to come from the same direction as the wind." Here is a transcript of the DDDB feedback your author obtained from Jack:


Two things caught me by surprise in the twelve hour winter ride [at sea anchor] in the Gulf. First, how much stretch there is in nylon rode. Chafe protection is a must. Second, the "G-forces" which result from the boat being lifted up on a wave top (increased G-force) and then let down into a trough (reduced G-force), much as one would feel on a roller coaster. These forces are a characteristic, I suspect, of the lightweight multihull configuration, having nothing to do with the para-anchor and not at all a problem, just surprise. Because I am alone I do not use a trip line; not enough hands. Instead, I winch the rode in until the para-anchor is within reach with a boat hook and then pick up a shroud line. All of which nets me quite a mess hurriedly stuffed into a bag on a trampoline, so I can get back to tending the suddenly underway boat. Re-folding the chute for its next use presents me with the "one-legged sailor at an ass-kicking contest" scenario. Consequently I have acquired a parachute for use in between the time I haul out the para-anchor and can get it re-folded, if something should develop. The [aerial] parachute is not nearly as rugged as the para-anchor, however, so I remain motivated to work out a more reliable re-folding routine.

The only question remaining for me is, "why didn't I use a para-anchor all those years I had a monohull?" Probably had to do with the false heroism of getting the hell kicked out of me and my boat while hove-to. I should have had this para-anchor years ago.