While thumbing through a VERY old copy of the Oxford Companion to Ships and the Sea, I came across a little gem of knowledge about the landing of a boat through heavy surf that I now recall
having seen during my childhood but had long forgotten. I thought others might find it useful.
Essentially, the technique involves the use of a small conical drogue
bridled off the stern quarters of a boat or dinghy
to keep the boat's stern to the waves, to prevent being rounded down sideways and rolled, and; to prevent the boat "surfing" down the face of a wave, "pearling" the bow in the run-out from the preceding wave, and being pitch-polled, tail over tea kettle (See below !
While it would take some experimentation to come up with a proper sized conical drogue
(preferably with an open end) and the best length of line, it offers a very good solution to an old problem and would be better than what we've done thus far--i.e. deploying a small folding grapnel anchor
beyond the surf line and feeding out a small rode
as we ride in. While the grapnel has the advantage of giving us a means of manually pulling our bow through the waves for a departure, that is only so if the depth
of the surf line is less than the 150' of 3/8" rode
we carry and does present the possibility of the rode becoming fouled in our outboard
if it is not retrieved quickly enough--a real problem if one is alone. The drogue, with a floating bridle
, would not present such a hazard although it might be somewhat less effective during the initial departure stages.