Originally Posted by Wotname
Kanani, I am not questioning your experiences with para-anchors but I am wondering if the difference between your usage and what the Pardeys espouse is one of differing purpose.
method (as I understand it) is to assist in holding the boat in the classic hove to position (ie stalled about 50 degrees off the weather). The para-anchor stopping the bow falling off and stopping the boat fore-reaching. This (and I am guessing here) imposes a different set of loads compared to using the para-anchor to keep the bow directly into the weather.
Again I have assumed this is what you are achieving by deploying directly off the bow - or have I mis-read your application?
Using a parachute sea anchor
in a storm is little different from using your ground tackle in a storm, close to land. Just ask yourself what the logic would be to using that harness set-up while anchored in a bay somewhere with 60kts of wind and a sea coming in the bay? In some ways, the Para-anchor at sea is better. It has the added advantage of breaking the sea before it reaches your vessel.
The reasoning behind the tactic of heaving-to, is to keep the vessel's bow as close to the wind as possible and from lying directly beam on to the wind and at the same time creating a "slick" in the water
that will discourage breaking seas from breaking on your boat. Most of us have (or should have) used that tactic at one time or other to get rest from heavy weather that is coming from the direction that we are trying to travel. Sometimes, it's better to just hove-to and wait for a wind shift than to tack against the wind and seas if you are tired. This is one tried and true heavy weather tactic. It should be well known and practiced tactic for every
When you deploy a para-anchor, you have the ability to put your vessel in the best
possible position for laying to heavy seas by actually putting down an anchor
that will put your bow directly
into the wind and seas thus reducing the stress on the vessel to it's minimum
possible attitude. The para-anchor also acts as a break-water for your vessel. Any breaking sea that is heading for your boat will
be discouraged by the slick caused by the parachute slowly dragging through the water and leaving disturbed water in it's wake. This is a far superior tactic to heaving-to in more extreme
I don't understand why someone would try to combine the two tactics to try to develop a different tactic that actually turns the safety
of the parachute into a possible liability. These are 2 very different tactics used for different, worsening scenarios. Any time that you introduce the beam of the boat to the wind and seas, you greatly intensify the effect of the wind and seas on the vessel and it's anchor gear
(whether it be ground tackle or para-anchor). The chances of something chafing and/or breaking are greatly intensified. That is why we deploy our ground tackle off of the bow and not from a beam cleat (storm or no storm).
By using this harness, you are also causing the boat to "sail" out
of it's cone of protection, directly down wind of the parachute. By putting a load on the side of the boat, you will drive the boat in the opposite direction of the load and thus away from the center of effort from the parachute. I can't see this as having any positive effect and it makes me wonder if it would even work. I have actually thought of their theory while sitting behind my para-anchor and the theory concerns me greatly.
If a para-anchor gets away, you have created your worst night-mare. The bow will fall off immediately and you will be lying beam on to the storm. The parachute will immediately lose it's effect on the seas and waves will begin breaking on your boat. I see absolutely no reason to put yourself in a position that could result in the possibility of that happening.
Here is a scenario: You are sailing along in heavy weather, knowing that conditions are deteriorating. You turn down-wind and run off only to find that all hell is breaking loose all around you. You dare not close your eyes for a moment or leave the cockpit
for fear of loosing control. The vessel is running too fast and your fear is that the bow will dig into the next wave. If you throw out a drogue
to slow you down, it gives you more control but at some point you tire to the point of exhaustion. If you cut the drogue
lose and try to deploy the parachute, you risk being catapulted over the crest of the next wave and into the trough. YUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUKK!
Sailing to weather in 30+kts of wind is a miserable experience for nearly any cruising boat (or container ship for that matter). All HELL is breaking loose, all around. At 40+kts a storm tri-sail or storm jib may enable you to keep way on but the stress on vessel and crew become tremendous and fatigue will overcome a 2 person crew in short order. My general rule
of thumb was 45-50kts of wind is our limit (on our 20 ton, 45' ketch). It's time to safely head up into the wind, stop the boat and drop the para-anchor over the side. It is almost like someone flipped a switch and calmed the storm. Almost immediately, the boat is lying head to wind and you can just sit there and take in the majesty of the sea, without it effecting you. It's like someone has just taken a thousand pounds of bricks off of your back. I have laid-to a para-anchor in 70kts+ of wind and huge (becoming confused) seas. The experience is almost spiritual. You can sit in the cockpit with your cup of coffee and comfortably take it all in. Something very ugly suddenly becomes something very majestic and beautiful to behold.
You are able to sleep comfortably with just the sound of the wind howling through the rigging
(I love that sound now). From time to time, a gust will push you back hard enough to stretch the rode
and create a catapulting effect when the gust backs off. Your boat will move forward and the next gust may lay you over quite a bit as the bow blows down. This doesn't happen a lot but the 1st few times will be concerning, then that concern turns to comfort, knowing that the para-anchor is doing it's job. The main thing is, if the bow blows down, a sea will not
be breaking over the boat (like laying ahull with no protection).
My feeling is that the Pardy's may have come up with their (harness) theory because they became overly concerned about falling back and the bow blowing off. From my experience, I would say that is far less troubling than the possibility of having something chafe or break due to exposing too much of the beam of the boat to weather. The other thing that must be remembered is that the Pardy's vessel was a very small, full-keeled boat.
In my mind, it would be like an Indy driver putting drag slicks on his car to get better traction because it works on a top fuel
dragster. It just makes no sense in my mind.