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Old 18-10-2015, 17:17   #16
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Re: Drogue or Parachute on a Catamaran in a Gale?

Originally Posted by colemj View Post
I see you are considering a Lagoon 57. Perhaps your worries about davits and seas breaking into the saloon are too strong.
I'm with Mark on this. The 570 seems like a very worthy vessel, although I have never sailed one. Even the L470 seems to be able to get out of the way. These are really nice looking boats vs the newer lagoons (in my view) so that alone may worth something.

A good discriminator is simply looking at the boat ads in publications. If you see a low cockpit deck at the stern with pretty girls lounging on it with their feet dangling in the water - fully exposed to being pooped in a sea way - that's not necessarily the vessel you want to avoid being pooped. Duh. It's terrific for enjoying time on a mooring ball in the BVIs with those pretty girls, so it's terrific and safe for many people, depending on your intended program. Disclaimer: my pretty Admiral (USCG Master license) would enjoy sitting there as well, but understands the value of all the compromises one makes when choosing a vessel for individual needs.


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Old 18-10-2015, 17:26   #17
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Re: Drogue or Parachute on a Catamaran in a Gale?

Originally Posted by Going Walkabout View Post
I would also hope that either a drogue or parachute would see me survive with boat intact a large storm as well. I am not convinced though that in a very very bad gail or storm running ahead is the best strategy even for a cat. But I am open to learn.
I think you're right regarding a storm. Remember, the wind forces increase at the square of the wind velocity. A gale is much more manageable than a storm but gales were the subject of your initial posting.

In storms or greater there are no guarantees for any boats no matter how equipped. I think it's an easy argument that an SSB with a knowledgeable user and good ground tackle is a much, much better defense against storms than a parachute anchor.


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Old 18-10-2015, 18:42   #18
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Re: Drogue or Parachute on a Catamaran in a Gale?

We carried a Parachute aboard our 50' cat across the pacific and throughout the caribbean. That being said we never deployed it. With a cat and modern forecasting no reason to be overrun by a storm. Sail on the fronts and with them. That was my technique at least. Keep the wind on the quarter and maintain 7-8 knots. It would be overcast in those conditions and cooler but fast and safe. Cats have this advantage or speed. Monohulls which average 4-6 knots will be overrun on a 1000 mile passage once hence the need. Don't sail on a schedule if you can, that's where one gets in trouble :-)
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Old 18-10-2015, 20:14   #19
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Re: Drogue or Parachute on a Catamaran in a Gale?

Consider the parachute like a life raft--you will probably not need it, but when you do, it may save your life. My experience in running with gales is that you are better off without a drogue. If you keep your boat speed up, you will not be pooped by the breaking waves, and you will not get far enough up on the waves to have the bows dig in and be pitchpoled. If things get too hairy to run or you get too tired to hand-steer, its time to launch the parachute and stop the boat.
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Old 18-10-2015, 20:51   #20
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Re: Drogue or Parachute on a Catamaran in a Gale?

Originally Posted by donradcliffe View Post
Consider the parachute like a life raft--you will probably not need it, but when you do, it may save your life. My experience in running with gales is that you are better off without a drogue. If you keep your boat speed up, you will not be pooped by the breaking waves, and you will not get far enough up on the waves to have the bows dig in and be pitchpoled. If things get too hairy to run or you get too tired to hand-steer, its time to launch the parachute and stop the boat.
Thanks Don. If in dire straights would you throw a drogue off the stern or a parachute off the bow of a cat? I suppose if your super fatigued a parachute would be best but I really want advise on this. I have face hairy situations on land in my life. From attempted kidnapping, actual kidnapping, running into a burning house to retrieve a person etc. In all situations using my brain and when needing to act, acting is what has saved me. I don't choose to put myself into danger on the water. Of course I will seek to avoid bad weather but given my track record of experiencing life threatening situations I choose to be as best prepared as I can possibly be before going on a long passage.

I am also a great believer in seeking counsel from those with experience and those who have researched the topic. Since this could be a matter of life or death it is worth my while to keep asking even if few know the answer.

I intend to go to sea with a both a drogue and a parachute. I intend to have reinforced attachments in the cats two bows for the parachute and two preferably electric winches on the stern for the drogue. Being female I am worried about the physical strength required to pull in the drogue. I also intend to have the bridles in place and ready for either device to be deployed upon departure for a long passage. Call me paranoid but I do want to live a long life to get my moneys worth out of my boat. :big grin:

So again, thanks for the advise.
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Old 18-10-2015, 23:22   #21
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Re: Drogue or Parachute on a Catamaran in a Gale?

no drogue or parachute will help in confused seas. Only hull strength will count.

Cat with large areas must be NO-NO avoid at any cost these type of conditions.

no real experience beyond 5-6 m square seas but thats the one to worry.
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Old 19-10-2015, 08:11   #22
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Re: Drogue or Parachute on a Catamaran in a Gale?

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Old 19-10-2015, 08:19   #23
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Re: Drogue or Parachute on a Catamaran in a Gale?

Everyone is talking about what the boat can handle..... There is another important element here.. What can the crew handle.. any storm situation is even tough on crew... hmmm auto pilot... would not depend on it... some dont react fast enouph to correct the boat... and hand steering for hours.... i did it once.. the skin litteraly was falling off my hand from the working the wheel for 12 plus hours.. But would i do it again yep

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Old 19-10-2015, 08:33   #24
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Re: Drogue or Parachute on a Catamaran in a Gale?

Didn't have time to search all the posts in this thread but from what i've read the jordan series drogue might be best but not sure for a multihull.. all the best/
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Old 19-10-2015, 09:10   #25
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Re: Drogue or Parachute on a Catamaran in a Gale?

This subject became an absolute obsession for me. I have spent copious time reading, researching and emailing people around the globe and have since totally satisfied myself that I have resolved the debate that once ensued in my head. If you have an interest in this subject and you want clear , definitive answers, then please have a good look at all the following attachments. The third attachment contains a reference to extensive, costly and detailed research undertaken by the US Coastguard. Their conclusion is definitive. Use a multi series drouge and not a sea anchor. Given the very costly modelling that they undertook in support of their research and findings, its difficult to refute their findings. Regards

Series Drogue, ocean survival
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Old 19-10-2015, 09:13   #26
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Re: Drogue or Parachute on a Catamaran in a Gale?

If I'm not mistaken, Bulawayo had a series drogue made up for him. Perhaps he can also shed some light on the subject, as can many others, I'm sure.

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Old 19-10-2015, 09:46   #27
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Re: Drogue or Parachute on a Catamaran in a Gale?

Finally saw some mentions of the series drogue. Have done a lot of looking/research on this subject and the series drogue (for a cat) seems to come out way ahead. Think there is a lot of info on drogues on cats on the Noonsite pages (Steve Dashew).

A big potential problem with cats going downhill is that they get going too fast down the face of a wave and can punch into the back of the wave in front. Instant braking with lots of inertia, and possible head over heals flip (no fun). Going upwind, if you don't have enough power to get over a crest, they can slide backwards and dig in the sterns with bad results. As I recall that happened to a Catana 47 in the Bay of Biscay maybe 8-10 years ago.

Also need to remember we're talking cruising cats, not racers. Much more stability, but also slower, although lots can easily do 200 mile days when the wind is blowing.

Someone mentioned that a gale is not that big of a deal. I agree and don't consider those survival conditions. I hope to always avoid those conditions, but if the proverbial s___ hits the fan, I would go with a series drogue.
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Old 19-10-2015, 09:58   #28
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Re: Drogue or Parachute on a Catamaran in a Gale?

With a parachute anchor deployed from the bow it is inevitable that a boat (mono or multihull) will be thrown backwards by a large or breaking wave. As they are designed for forward movement, this brings a high risk of catastrophic rudder damage. See the fate of 'Be Good Too', a brand new Alpha 42 catamaran which was abandoned in early January 2014 due to loss of rudders. Parachute anchors are notoriously difficult and dangerous to deploy and recover. The Series Drogue is the only drag device that can be relied upon, controlling forward movement in extreme conditions. There are many multihull owners who carry them as a vital part of their storm preparations.
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Old 19-10-2015, 10:07   #29
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Re: Drogue or Parachute on a Catamaran in a Gale?

Para anchor vs series drogue

Series drogue, para anchor, heaving to, lying ahull or running off are options for survival in storm conditions, which is best? Only you can evaluate your boats handling peculiarities and use this knowledge to choose the right storm tactics suited to your yacht.
Heaving to, Lying ahull, or Running off
It is important to note that most storms, even severe storms, do not create dangerous breaking waves. Sailors who survive such storms may conclude that the tactics they employ, such as heaving to, lying ahull or running off, are adequate to prevent capsize. This is a serious mistake. There is very compelling evidence to show that while a well found boat will survive a storm in non-breaking waves, none of the above tactics will prevent capsize in a breaking wave strike.
U.S. Coast Guard Report CG-D-20-87 sec1-1
Columbia River Bar, Coast Guard testing site for Series Drogue
Sea anchors and Para anchors
The sellers of para anchors promote these items as bullet proof protection in storm survival situations, we question the veracity of this description.
Para anchor positives
A vessel disabled, in danger of closing with land or other hazards can hold station, until the problem is fixed or help arrives.

In moderate weather, before seas begin to break dangerously, parachute anchors are effective at helping boats hold station. Many of the users whom we have interviewed speak well of their experiences in moderate gale conditions
Steve Dashew
Fishing boats with hulls designed to sit parallel to anchor lines, sit well to a para anchor, they are widely used by squid fishers, to hold station while fishing.
Para anchors - what the experts say
Many yachts yaw and sail at anchor, and even more on para anchors, this phenomenon is called shearing. If a wave hits the bow in this shear cycle the boat can be forced backwards, resulting in :-

____i)Damage to rudder.
____ii)Breaking rode.
____iii)Rolling over.
____iv)Forcing water thru exhaust system under extreme pressure and into the engine.
____v) All of the above

In the trough of a wave/swell the para anchor rode goes slack, the yacht will commence to yaw wanting to lie ahull, leaving it partially or totally beam to sea with the possibility of being knocked flat or rolled.
Even with a large sea anchor the bow of a modern yacht will tend to yaw away from the wind when the towline goes slack as it will when the boat passes through the trough of the wave. For these reasons the use of a sea anchor deployed from the bow is not recommended
U.S. Coast Guard Report No CG-D-20-87 sec 6-6

Anecdotal evidence - para-anchors in storms
Para anchor users interviewed all find their parachute anchors extremely difficult to retrieve in other than moderate wind and sea.
A major factor regarding both personal comfort and ones use of parachute anchors in breaking seas is the boats tendency to sail at anchor. As stated earlier, if your boat sails on the hook, the odds are it will sail around even more fiercely while lying to a parachute in the middle of the ocean. This oscillation creates extreme loads, presents the bow at a wide and dangerous angle to the sea, and is extremely uncomfortable.
There are two ways around this. One is some form of riding sail or backstaysail as weve discussed. The other is to bridle the parachute off the bow, as advocated by the Pardeys. The bridle is used with a reefed trysail or deeply reefed main to increase resistance to rolling. A key feature of this approach for the Pardeys is the creation of a slick off their keel, which - theoretically, at least - calms the seas. This is a major safety issue, because without the slick, the boat is now lying at an angle of 50 deg or 60 deg to breaking crests, quite vulnerable to a knockdown or worse. I have no doubt that the Pardeys Seraffyn did in fact create a slick to windward in its day, but I have never seen this myself, and I have interviewed only one other sailor who claims to have been able to crate this type of beneficial slick and have it work as advertised.
In furiously breaking seas, the situation worsens dramatically. An excellent example of problems encountered comes from the experience of the Burman family aboard Freya, a Stan Huntington-designed, heavy displacement, full-keel 46-footer. Last spring, Freya was caught in a major storm off the coast of New Zealand. Rather than close with a lee shore in difficult conditions, Bruce Burman decided to deploy his 18-foot Para-Tech sea anchor. This was attached to a 450 foot piece of New England Ropes three-strand nylon. The rode was new, right off the spol, had never before been used, and was the size recommended for this vessel.
Dry breaking strength on the rode was 16,700 pounds (wet, about 20 percent less). The Para-Tech anchor was good for roughly 10,000 pounds of load, and then would start to blow panels, which in turn would relieve the load on the rode. The rode was attached to a heavy bronze cleat, fastened with four 5/16 stainless steel bolts, recently replaced and beefed up with a backing-plate under the deck. The four bolts and cleat would probably bear 12,000 pounds or more of load. Bruce Burman eased the rode out a couple of feet every two hours. The rode went through a bronze chock, and no sign of chafe was observed.
During the first evening of the storm, Freya was knocked down and rolled while lying to the parachute anchor. Because the wind had developed from a compression zone between vigorous high and low-pressure systems, the wind direction was relatively steady. Data from the helicopter pilot who eventually picked up the Burman family confirmed that there were no crossing seas from wind shifts or other conflicting storm systems.
Either during the knockdown or just before it, the rode parted about 10 feet off the bow in what appeared to be a tension failure. While the failure was unfortunate for the Burman family, it provides a valuable data window for the rest of us - an opportunity to get a handle on the loads involved.
Steve Dashew

U.S. Coast Guard conclusions - series drogue vs para anchor.
This paper documents the investigation of the use of drogues/sea anchors to prevent small sailing yacht capsize in breaking seas. The following conclusions were reached:
i) _____In many and possibly most cases, a properly engineered drogue can prevent breaking wave capsizing.
ii)___._ For fin keel sailing yachts the drogue/sea anchor should be deployed from the stern, not the bow.
iii) ____A series type drogue provides significant advantages over a cone or parachute type drogue/sea anchor.
iv) ____A full-scale series drogue demonstrated satisfactory handling and durability characteristics under simulated storm conditions and in actual breaking wave conditions.
v) ___._A recommended design specification including design loads is presented for cone, parachute and series type drogues.

U.S. Coast Guard Report CG-D-2087 sec 7-0

Columbia River bar
Why the U.S. Coast Guard thinks the series drogue is better than a para-anchor in storms.

The two conventional drogue configurations are the cone drogue and the parachute drogue/sea anchor. Both types have been used successfully in a variety of applications. A third type of drogue called a series drogue has been developed as part of this investigation. The series drogue is intended to provide near optimum performance under storm conditions and to avoid some of the problems encountered with cone and parachute drogue/sea anchor.

The series drogue offers the following desirable features:
If pre-rigged and coiled down into lazeret, the drogue is simple and safe to deploy under difficult storm conditions. The boat, under bare poles, will be either running off lying ahull. The anchor can be slipped over the stern and the line payed out. The drogue will build up load gradually as it feeds out.
It is almost impossible to foul it or entangle it enough to make the drogue ineffective.
The drogue ride-s beneath the waves and is not affected by the following sea even if a wave should break in the vicinity. There are cases on record where a cone drogue has been pulled out of the face of a following wave, and even instances where the drogue has been catapulted ahead of the boat. It is difficult to weight a cone or parachute drogue so that it will ride at a sufficient depth to avoid the wave motion. As discussed previously in this report, a weight causes the drogue to collapse when the towline goes slack.
When the boat is in the trough of a large wave, the towline tends to go slack thus permitting the boat to yaw. With the series drogue, the anchor sinks pulling the drogue backwards and taking some of the unwanted slack out of the towline.

When a breaking wave strikes, the drogue must catch the boat quickly to prevent a broach. The series drogue, since some of the cones are near the boat where towline stretch is low, will build up load faster than a conventional cone or chute at the end of the towline/bowline. A computer study shows that two seconds after wave strike, the series drogue will develop 40% more load than an equivalent cone or chute. Similarly, if the breaking wave strikes at an angle to the towline rather than directly astern, the series drogue will build up load much faster than the conventional types.

The series drogue is durable as demonstrated by the testing described in this report. The load on each individual element is low. No single failure can make the drogue ineffective.
The series drogue can double in function as a spare anchor line and can use the boat's regular anchor as a weight. All 90 cones weigh only four pounds.
U.S. Coast Guard Report CG-D-20-87 sec 6-5
More Para-anchor thoughts.
To reiterate our feeling on the subject of parachute anchors in particular and storm tactics in general - there is no magic bullet. There is no single piece of gear or any specific tactic which works for all boats in all conditions. If you are caught in dangerous weather, the tactics employed - regardless of whether they are passive or active, must be modified to suit the sea state, wind, and navigational issues as they change. Obviously crew and vessel capabilities have a lot to do with what approach has the lowest risk factor.
We have nothing against parachute anchors per se, and in moderate conditions, where seas are not breaking dangerously, properly deployed, they can do a good job of holding you in position. But then, so can heaving to.
The difficulty arises in breaking seas. When we were doing our research for Surviving the storm, we did not find a single positive experience in these conditions using para anchors. And the unmistakable conclusion for us from this is that in dangerously breaking seas, tactics other than a parachute anchor have a higher chance of success - for most situations.
Steve Dashew

Series Drogues and boat design

With a series drogue deployed, a well-designed and properly constructed fibreglass boat should be capable of riding through a Fastnet type storm with no structural damage. Model tests indicate that the loads on the hull and rigging in a breaking wave strike should not be excessive.
Many sailors are reluctant to deploy a drogue from the stern because they fear that the boat may suffer structural damage if the breaking wave strikes the flat transom, the cockpit and the companionway doors. The model tests do not show this to be a serious problem. The boat is accelerated up to wave speed and the velocity of the breaking crest is not high relative to the boat. The stern is actually more buoyant than the bow, and will rise with the wave. However, the boat may be swept from the stern. The cockpit may fill and moving water may strike the companionway doors. The structural strength of the transom, the cockpit floor and seat, and the companionway doors should be checked at a loading corresponding to a water jet velocity of approximately 15 ft./sec.
When a boat is riding to a series drogue no action is required of the crew. The cockpit may not be habitable and the crew should remain in the cabin with the companionway closed. In a severe wave strike the linear and angular acceleration of the boat may be high. Safety straps designed for a load of at least 4g should be provided for crew restraint. All heavy objects in the cabin should be firmly secured for negative accelerations and drawers and lockers should be provided with latches or ties which will not open even with significant distortion of the hull structure.

U.S. Coast Guard Report CG-D-20-87 sec 6-4

Broaching yacht 1

Broaching yacht 2

Broaching yacht 3

Broaching yacht 4

Broaching yacht 5

Broaching yacht 6

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Old 19-10-2015, 10:35   #30
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Re: Drogue or Parachute on a Catamaran in a Gale?

Some intersting comments. We used to use a parachute anchor but never felt totally comfortable with it. Eventually we bought a Jordan drogue which was second hand. A couple of years ago we bought a new one direct from Ace Sails (Dave).
All I can say is wow. They are chalk and cheese. I wont dwell on a parachute but I see no plausible reason to go back to one. Our cats (used on two, in South Atlantic storms) never felt right with a parachute and the loads would snatch severely at times - we never lost a line due to chafe but the amount of work, and of crawling forward to check and then having to ease lines via winches as they started to thanks. Yes, we all know about using the 2nd / 3rd wave but try seeing the waves and then try telling the waves to be more orderly. Several times I thought a cleat would tear out due to the snatching. Finally, we got a second hand Jordan and then tried it in the Southern Ocean. It was just incredible and so after a few years, where we used the drogue maybe once every 18 months, we ordered and bought a brand new Jordan. There is so much written on-line about using these under really adverse conditions and for cats a drogue always comes out ahead unless the review is not by someone that is independent. The Jordan drogue does particularly well as its a series drogue and not reliant on a single anchor point. The downside is that it is a swine to get back on board.
We had two 'chain plates' made up (I have the drawings if anyone wants) and these are attached aft on the outside of the hulls with a big reinforcing spreader plate inside the hulls above waterline. When we are at sea, the drogue, in its canvas bag, sits aft inside the dinghy but with its lead snapped onto the chain plates. If the weather should reach deployment state then we just have to chuck the leader overboard (a few meters of chain) and the drogue just self deploys, smoothly and without any snatch loads. Should a portion pull out of a wave it really does not notice significantly as the rest is still enmbedded in another wave - hence there is no snatching. What does seem incredible is the smoothing effect on the water that is racing up on you - it apears to go smooth, slow down and split to overtake you. We pooh poohed this but it certainly does seem to happen this way. Our new drogue has been deployed a couple of times in horrible weather and it certainly transforms life aboard to the extent that the family usually start to surface from their cabins as they believe the weather is easing when its really that the drogue has just been deployed.
To clarify, I have zero connection with Jordan series drogues besides having bought one. They are expensive but I am very happy to have one. We blow along at around 3 knots, courtesy of our windage, and under control of our autopilot. Most importantly we are comfortable and so is the boat.

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