Excerpted from ”Heaving-to - Heavy Weather
Sailing” by George Day
Lying To A Sea Anchor:
The technology of sea anchors goes back to the last century when fishermen developed sturdy canvas
cones, with iron hoops at the mouth, for use when lying offshore
in a storm. The sea anchors on the market today, most notably those designed and built by Dan Shewmon, are evolutions of the early canvass style. Relying on the conical shape to trap sea water
grips the water
just under the surface and provides the drag needed to hold the bow of the boat to windward.
A traditional sea anchor
needs to be quite large to hold the weight and windage of a larger, ocean sailing boat. It should be attached to the boat with a long length of anchor rode
and, like the Gale Rider, should be fitted with at least one swivel to prevent the rode
from kinking. The rode should be well protected from chafe.
An alternative to the traditional sea anchor is the para-anchor, which is a huge, lightweight sea anchor designed along the lines of a parachute. Para-anchors are sewn of heavy nylon fabric
and reinforced with nylon webbing. The anchor is usually set from the bow, and like a sea anchor, should be fitted with swivels and plenty of chafing gear
Deploying a sea anchor or para-anchor can be difficult, for it will be caught and tossed about by the wind
and will take some time to open and fill once in the water. The rode should be played out long enough to place the anchor two wave crests to windward of you and should be adjusted to account for changes in the wave patterns.
in lying to a sea anchor or para-anchor is sliding backwards as a breaking sea rolls under the bow of the boat. The hull
slips back on the wave and the entire weight of the hull
will fall onto the rudder
. If the rudder
turns as the boat goes astern, the pressure can easily bend the rudder post or shear off even the most robust pintels and gudgeons.
Experience will tell you quite quickly if the drift of the sea anchor and the size of the waves make lying to the anchor an unsafe proposition. In most seas and on most boats a sea anchor will be a useful storm tool. But it should be used with caution and a ready willingness to try another approach should backing on the rudder become a problem.
by George Day
“Venturesome Voyages of Captain
" Heavy Weather
Tactics - Using Sea Anchors and Drogues" ~ by Earl Hinz
"Drag Device Data Book" ~ by Victor Shane
"The Sea Anchor and Drogue
Handbook" ~ by Dan Shewmon.