I ran off two times when the winds were 45 to 50 knots. After we went through the Bab Al Mandeb at the entrance of the Red Sea, we sailed into a wind
acceleration zone and a sandstorm with wind
coming directly up our stern. The seas didn't have much fetch and time to build to a large size. It was sort of an instant forty to fifty knot wind that suddenly appeared over a couple of hours. You can see it in our VIDEO CALLED "GATE OF SORROWS" on maxingout.com on the home page. You can see how the catamaran
handled the wind in those type of seas.
In this particular instance, we ran off without using a drogue or towing warps. We had minimal breaking of the waves as you can see in the video. We were sailing along at seven to ten knots with about 20 percent of our headsail out and no main at all. I hand steered the yacht because it was daylight, and I didn't want to risk stressing out the autopilot
sailing at those speeds, and if the autopilot
should fail, things could get rapidly out of control. We ran downwind most of the day without any drogue or warps behind the yacht. The reason I didn't put anything out was because the seas weren't dangerous yet, and we were heading for shelter in southern Eritrea so that we could anchor
behind a large headland at Ras Terma.
I considered sailing on through the night trailing warps or a drogue, but decided not to because we were sailing with two other monohulls, and we wanted to stay together, and we felt that the shelter behind the headland would be good. If we had continued on and sailed into the night, I would have put out some type of drogue and slowed the boat down and turned the helm
over to the autopilot.
behaves very nicely when surfing downwind in following seas. The large seas pass between the hulls under the bridgedeck without any problem. The two times I have run off in winds to fifty knots, I have never had a boarding sea come aboard. Instead the seas slide by under the bridgedeck.
The second time I ran off was in a storm sailing from Gibraltar
to the Canary Islands. In this incident, we also had winds between forty and fifty knots, but since we were running downwind, it was not problem for our catamaran. This storm was different because the wind had a long fetch and the seas got much bigger, but they were still not a problem as long as we controlled our speed. In this particular disturbance, we trailed warps behind the yacht and slowed the speed down to four and a half knots. You can see a video of this on our maxingout.com home page in a VIDEO entitled "WARP SPEED" at the bottom of our home page.
In that storm, we trailed a drogue for three days to control our speed and to prevent broaching which would be a major disaster in a catamaran. The drogue that I used in this instance was a homemade drogue that I call the "Abbott" drogue, because I made it up on the spot using readily available components on my boat.
This drogue consisted of an 180 foot long warp of one inch three strand nylon that I looped behind the catamaran. But the loop is more than simply a loop of rope
. On this loop I install carriers that I slid down the rope
to increase the pull of the warp and thereby create the drogue effect. What are these carriers? I use four foot sections of plastic water hose as the carriers, and on these carriers I wrap anchor chain, dingy chain, dingy anchors, or whatever, and I tie these heavy weights securely to the hose carriers. I then slip the plastic water hose carriers onto the loop of rope, and then slide the carrier down the rope and into the water. The carrier with attached weight immediately slides aft to the middle of the rope loop that I am trailing in the water.
If I want more drogue effect, I put more carriers and more weight on my warp and then let them slide down the rope loop and slow the boat down even more. The "Abbott" drogue is an infinitely adjustable loop of rope in which you can send as many carriers and as much weight down the warp as you need to use in order to control your speed when running downwind.
I like the "Abbott" drogue because it does a couple of things.
1. You can adjust the power of the drogue. If you need more drogue power, you simply send another carrier with attached weights down the rope loop to increase the drag in the water.
2. You can adjust the distance of the drogue from the boat by simply letting out more warp or taking in more of the warp loop using winches. The drogue should be consistently on the back side of any charging
seas so that you are pulling the drogue through the wave rather than out of the front of the wave and losing drogue effect.
3. You can easily retrieve the drogue when you don't need it any more by winching it in with your cockpit
winches. And when you winch
it in, the carriers and the attached weight stay centered in the warp loop as you haul it in. That means you don't lose drogue effect and at the same time it's easy to retrieve once it's right behind the yacht.
4. You can construct an "Abbott" drogue using materials that are already on the yacht, and it's not expensive. You need at least 200 feet of line, and three or four pieces of flexible plastic water hose to use as carriers, and anchor chain and dingy anchors to attach to the carriers with shackles and ties.
If you want to see how it really works, go to my web site and view Surviving The Savage Seas on the home page or captains log archive 27. SURVIVING THE SAVAGE SEAS
. There you will see a picture of two warps behind the catamaran in 40 knots of wind and eighteen foot seas out in the Atlantic. The "WARP SPEED VIDEO" shows how the catamaran behaves with the drogue in position and doing it's thing. For the three days that we were using the drogue, the autopilot did all the steering
and we survived without any problem.
You will notice in the pictures that we actually had two warps behind the boat. One warp was eighty feet long with about 35 pounds of anchor chain shackled in a ball in the middle of the warp. The second warp is 180 feet long, and it had dingy anchor and chain attached to a water hose carrier. I liked having both short and long warps behind the yacht because I felt that if one drogue pulled out of a wave or failed for some reason, the other would be there to take over. Together, they held my boat speed to a consistent four and a half knots downwind. The two monohull
yachts that we were sailing with arrived twelve hours sooner in the Canaries
than we did, but we took less of a beating because we were sailing at a slower speed. One of the monohulls accompanying us filled their cockpit
with water and had two inches of water in the galley
- at least that is what they told us over the radio
after it happened.
On my website, there is a podcast called "The Perfect Storm" that tells about using the drogues and parachute during our circumnavigation
I hope this answers your question.