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Old 08-02-2013, 12:59   #1
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Storm Anchor Help

Understand the principle of the storm anchor! However would like to know when it's time to deploy the storm anchor? Would also like to know if your stuck in a bad storm can things become worst if you deploy the storm anchor rather than to ride it out?
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Old 08-02-2013, 13:40   #2
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Re: Storm Anchor Help

I think you might be using "storm anchor" when the usual term is "sea anchor"

A storm anchor is generally considered to be the largest anchor on board, ("anchor" meaning bottom anchor, rather than drogue) which may be of a design (as well as proportions) which would not be convenient for gereral use.

(PS: if you understand the principle of the sea anchor, you're ahead of the curve. I'm not sure it's well understood, in the sense of a single, non-controversial, consensus view)
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Old 08-02-2013, 14:02   #3
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Re: Storm Anchor Help

Quote:
Would also like to know if your stuck in a bad storm can things become worst if you deploy the storm anchor rather than to ride it out?
Things can always get worse! There are many different types of sea anchors and drogues. Technically, a sea anchor is deployed off the bow (like an anchor) and a drogue is deployed off the stern. Usually, a sea anchor allows minimal drift while a drogue allows more movement downwind and sea, though the Jordan drogue allows very little.

It is hard to say when to deploy one of these, but in many cases it is decided for you when something breaks, like the steering, or the cockpit becomes uninhabitable or possibly the autopilot can no longer handle the boat. Ideally, a sea anchor will allow the crew to go down below, strap themselves into their bunks, and the boat can be buttoned right up, so that no active management of the boat becomes necessary. In practice, things often go wrong, like lines breaking or chafing, or getting a huge tangle, or the weather deteriorating further requiring more scope on the anchor, etc.

Some very experienced sailors believe it is better to keep sailing and actively managing the boat as long as possible, and I agree to a point. The problem is that the average small cruising boat has a crew of two and there is only so long they can keep working the boat before exhaustion sets in. It is surprisingly hard work to keep sailing in very rough conditions. Also, I think there is a danger of not knowing when the point is reached when your best option is just to close the hatches and try to ride it out down below. The tragic thing is that some sailors discover their active management went on too long when the boat is suddently pitchpoled or rolled with them in the cockpit.
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Old 08-02-2013, 14:03   #4
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Re: Storm Anchor Help

Thanks Andrew your correct it's the sea anchor I'm referring too. Using a sea anchor in high seas and having waves crashing over your bow seams a bit scary while staying somewhat stationary.
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Old 08-02-2013, 14:16   #5
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Re: Storm Anchor Help

I found this an interesting read. Over 100 cases of people sending in their experiences with sea anchors and drogues on different boats.

It does have though a critique for each case by the person who compiled the information and sells a sea anchor as to why each worked or didn't.

Drag Device Data Base: Victor Shane: 9781878832030: Amazon.com: Books
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Old 08-02-2013, 14:55   #6
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Re: Storm Anchor Help-Drag Device Data Base:

The Drag Device Data Base: is an interesting read. I got a copy thru my local library from the inter-library loan system. Took a while but worth the wait.
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Old 08-02-2013, 15:22   #7
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Re: Storm Anchor Help

My family and I were sailing from Hawaii to Alaska when we were hit by a 986mb-low gale. Since the furling had broken on our staysail, I elected to deploy our 18' Paratech sea anchor. We had winds between 40-50 knots and seas to 20'. For us, in our boat, it turned out to be good decision. Retrieving the sea anchor, though, was very difficult. When we were talking with the US Coast Guard in Sitka about our ordeal, they said that many cruisers abandoned their sea anchors rather than retrieve them. I'm too cheap to do that.

However, I don't know that I would recommend that action to everyone. Boats differ widely in how they handle storm conditions as do crew. We had young children on board and even though they did fine, no one was comfortable. Our boat has a lot of freeboard but we were still rolling from gunwhale to gunwhale. I'm disappointed when I hear experienced cruisers tell others, "You should do this . . ." or "You should have done that . . ." In heavy weather situations, I think the skipper needs to carefully evaluate the conditions, the available gear, the abilities of the crew and take what is in his or her mind the best option to secure the safety of the boat and comfort of the crew. Learning what others have done is helpful information but what may have worked for a particular boat in a certain situation by no means should be construed as the optimal decision for every boat in every storm.

Fair winds and calm seas.
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Old 08-02-2013, 18:01   #8
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Re: Storm Anchor Help

I have an 18 foot parachute sea anchor but have never used it.

If you sail in the correct season you are highly unlikely to need one. But many brainless people do sail against the season and get caught.

As the previous post says they can be difficult to recover untill the wind has dropped totally. As he says, I would just keep at it... knowing the cost of the damn things in the first place!
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Old 08-02-2013, 23:17   #9
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Re: Storm Anchor Help

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Originally Posted by nhschneider View Post
... Learning what others have done is helpful information but what may have worked for a particular boat in a certain situation by no means should be construed as the optimal decision for every boat in every storm.
....
I think this whole post was great counsel, and the closing quote above is golden.
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Old 08-02-2013, 23:45   #10
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Re: Storm Anchor Help

I have sometimes (bottom) anchored in open roadsteads, in situations which would not normally be considered suitable, in settled weather but with substantial swell.

Sometimes it's to check out a bar crossing (say by swimming with a sounding pole to get some transits for the channel), other times it's because there's not enough wind to carry on sailing and it's a way of taking a break while the wind gathers its breath.

You get pretty good at stowing the contents of drawers and cupboards so they don't roll about and drive you crazy or even smash the doors from inside. And securing ALL halyards and lifts...

Once the boat's snug and your stomach gets used to it, heavy rolling at anchor is not the worst thing to be endured, provided you can stay in your bunk. You may even find you can actually become relatively accustomed to it ...

The reason I mention it is that it's possibly quite a good way of getting a foretaste of what is in store when lying to a sea anchor.

And also there are occasions (such as engine or rig failure) when knowing how to get an anchor down safely in such a situation will be invaluable, even if only to buy you sufficient time for rescue or towing resources to reach the scene.

And it has always seemed to me a shame that more people do not anchor yachts they're abandoning: even if it's too deep, putting out an anchor may well save the unattended vessel when it gets into soundings.

When bottom-anchoring offshore, you need masses of scope, and ideally a few floats alternating with a few weights along the chain, to soften the snubbing.

I like to use a CQR, not too big: if a rogue wave comes along, I'd be more than happy if it ploughs a furrough, and breaking it out is a dream. Even a fisherman is quite suitable, given a decently heavy chain, provided there's enough breeze to keep you lying quietly.

You certainly don't have the worry of land close under your lee, so dragging (for once) is scarcely an issue.
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Old 09-02-2013, 09:11   #11
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Re: Storm Anchor Help

I have no direct experience but I can provide a Cliffs Notes version of “Storm Tactics Handbook, 3rd Ed” by Lin and Larry Pardey. Running with the wind is recommended as long as it’s along the heading you want. But when the waves start to break or your crew gets too tired, it’s time to heave to. If you’re beating, waves will break across the bow and progress falls. As Kettlewell said, if you’re sailing shorthanded, a big risk is exhaustion, which can affect judgment and your ability to do work. You should practice getting your sloop to heave to, but the practice of reefing the main, backing the jib, and tying the helm (with shock cord) to leeward likely won’t work above gale force. Then, for a sloop, you’ll want to rely on a storm trysail (positives: smaller area, sail area is lower and more aft helping retard lee helm, stronger construction) or a deeply reefed main (negative: sail area moves forward and maybe upward for furled mains; inspect sail for damage later). As Kettlewell said, a sea anchor minimizes drift even for a boat hove to, more or less halving it. A boat hove to with its bow about 50 degrees off the wind sets up a turbulent zone to windward that dissipates waves that would otherwise strike the boat. A sea anchor can help maintain this favorable orientation with very high winds. Larry P’s contribution to the art was adding a pennant line or bridle to the sea anchor rode so the boat’s hove to bow orientation can be adjusted and maintained. Without this, a hove to boat may periodically tack, which is uncomfortable for those below. Rode length is variable over time, changing with conditions, but should be adjusted so the sea anchor is about 2 wavelengths away from the boat (sea anchor and boat should be in phase). So, even though you’re not actively sailing, a periodic watch is needed to adjust the rode length and, as Kettlewell said, actively minimize chafing of the rode off the bow. nhschneider and MarkJ noted retrieval is difficult and is done a few feet at a time as the wave motion allows. A larger sea anchor is not necessarily better.
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Old 10-02-2013, 06:21   #12
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Re: Storm Anchor Help

I appreciate everyone's comments and learn the value of a sea anchor. I'm hoping I'll never have to use it but I know it's importance if and when the time calls. I will go out and practice using the sea anchor on a calm day and hopefully keep it stow after that! This forum is great. thanks guys!
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Old 10-02-2013, 07:46   #13
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Re: Storm Anchor Help

I've read alot about them, never used one. I read that a bridal made to your winches works well for a drouge, keeps it adjustable so you can set it from side to side. But I also read that chaffing is number one for failure and that all means should be taken to stop it, which can be very difficult once deployed. Some also rig up nylon snubbers to lessen the blows, and off the bow super strong cleats are required, or a good sampson post, all need to be backed of course. I was thinking about being pro-active and designing a backed up connection spot in the same place as for connecting a trailer strap for a small boat, only beefier. Get a nice set-up that has a length of nylon with some swivels( which I heard work well in a sea anchor situation.) The company that makes your sea anchor will have all the cantenary specs you need to design a good system that you could just whip out quickly.
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