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Old 12-08-2019, 02:39   #1
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Sea anchor, have you used one? Why did you have to?

I am reading the excellent and amusing book tinkerbelle while I am away from my boat. The author has a 13ft boat and attempting to cross the Atlantic Eastbound in the early 60s. He regularly deploys a sea anchor and it got me thinking maybe I need one?. I was in a 50kts blow once going 6kts under bare poles and I couldn’t even leave the helm to set up the sails to hove to. I wonder if I could have benefited from a sea anchor?

I am wondering what the community thinks of sea anchors and under what conditions are they useful.
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Old 22-08-2019, 19:01   #2
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Re: Sea anchor, have you used one? Why did you have to?

I haven’t, but I’m very interested as well after reading Storm Tactics by the Pardeys.
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Old 22-08-2019, 21:18   #3
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Re: Sea anchor, have you used one? Why did you have to?

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Originally Posted by hd002e View Post
I am reading the excellent and amusing book tinkerbelle while I am away from my boat. The author has a 13ft boat and attempting to cross the Atlantic Eastbound in the early 60s. He regularly deploys a sea anchor and it got me thinking maybe I need one?. I was in a 50kts blow once going 6kts under bare poles and I couldn’t even leave the helm to set up the sails to hove to. I wonder if I could have benefited from a sea anchor?

I am wondering what the community thinks of sea anchors and under what conditions are they useful.

===


I know people who have sailed transatlantic several times in a relatively small catamaran. They did a lot of research prior to their crossings and decided that the best storm management device for them is something called a Jordan Series Drogue. It is well described at this site: https://www.jordanseriesdrogue.com/


They built their own but I believe you can purchase them commercially.

My friends deployed it several times from the stern in gale conditions on the open ocean. It performed very well at slowing the boat, and preventing wild broaches on the face of breaking waves.
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Old 23-08-2019, 03:51   #4
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Re: Sea anchor, have you used one? Why did you have to?

A sea anchor implies that the boat is held more or less stationary. Having had the dubious advantage of being in a serious storm, the one thing I would never want to do again is be stationary when large seas are breaking around me. Been there, done that.

My preferred storm tactic is a single drogue that is large enough to slow the boat but small enough to not do any damage and is relatively easy to recover when it’s all over. In the hopefully unlikely event I get caught again, I want my boat to be able to make progress off the wind under storm sails (or bare poles if really severe) with no possibility of surfing. I have gratefully not yet been in a position to test my theory.

The series drogue is a way to do this but (and I say this from an uninformed base), stowing 150metres of line is hard enough, a series drogue would use a whole lot more space that I don’t have. The Jordan series drogue has a strong following.
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Old 23-08-2019, 07:24   #5
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Re: Sea anchor, have you used one? Why did you have to?

My clients used the parachute style in TS Andrew. It went to pieces in a couple of hours. Possibly wrong size.


Probably just like any other equipment - quality, sizing and deployment make all the difference btw a comfortable ride and a catastrophe.



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Old 20-09-2019, 12:51   #6
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Re: Sea anchor, have you used one? Why did you have to?

A sea anchor keeps your bow into the swells, preventing a beam wave from capsizing your boat. You will drift a bit, but much less than without. As I am doing the Loop singlehanded, I have a sea anchor prerigged and ready to deploy during blue water passage, if, God forbid, I should lose my engine. Previous posters mention “drogues” which are different. Drouges are deployed aft, to either control steering (I.e. rudder damage) or slow down/stabilize craft in heavy seas and avoid beam waves. A useful sea anchor is much bigger than a drouge
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Old 20-09-2019, 13:39   #7
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Re: Sea anchor, have you used one? Why did you have to?

Check Victor Shane’s drag device database:
dragdevicedb.com
Might be helpful

Read the “expert advice” and “actual case reports”
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Old 20-09-2019, 16:55   #8
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Re: Sea anchor, have you used one? Why did you have to?

In 1997, as my family and I were on the passage from Waikiki to Sitka, Alaska, we got hit by a 986mb-low that kicked up 40-50 knots of wind and 16-18 foot seas. The furler on our staysail had failed and even heaving to using the mizzen left the main mast ‘pumping’. I decided to deploy our 18’ diameter sea anchor. At the time, I felt it was a good decision. Much of the anxiety of being in a storm was eased and our very young children had a great time trying to play a form of basketball with our boat rolling from gunwhale to gunwhale. It was not comfortable but we couldn’t expect it to be. Retrieval turned out to be dangerous and a lot of work - my 14-year old son and I were on the foredeck while my wife was at the helm. Even though the seas were down to 10-12 feet, there were times when we were under water. The loads on our windlass were tremendous.

If you’re interested in more details, there’s an article about our experience in Steve Dashew’s book, Surviving the Storm. The chapter is called ‘Rutea’. https://setsail.com/surviving-the-storm/

Fair winds and calm seas.
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Old 20-09-2019, 16:55   #9
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Re: Sea anchor, have you used one? Why did you have to?

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A sea anchor keeps your bow into the swells, preventing a beam wave from capsizing your boat. You will drift a bit, but much less than without. As I am doing the Loop singlehanded, I have a sea anchor prerigged and ready to deploy during blue water passage, if, God forbid, I should lose my engine. Previous posters mention “drogues” which are different. Drouges are deployed aft, to either control steering (I.e. rudder damage) or slow down/stabilize craft in heavy seas and avoid beam waves. A useful sea anchor is much bigger than a drouge


I don’t know of any blue water crossing? Your talking about Dog Island to Clearwater? If so that’s an overnight and it’s pretty easy to ensure weather, and I believe you may even always be in contact with Seatow / Boat US. USCG seems to have repeaters that reach much further than I expected.
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Old 20-09-2019, 17:24   #10
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Re: Sea anchor, have you used one? Why did you have to?

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Originally Posted by Don C L View Post
Check Victor Shane’s drag device database:
dragdevicedb.com
Might be helpful

Read the “expert advice” and “actual case reports”
Victor Shane is the owner/manager of Para Anchors. He sells these products. So, no matter how well done his data base is, I don't have confidence that it is an unbiased source.
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