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Old 05-04-2007, 09:54   #1
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Lightbulb Heavy Weather Tactics and Equipment

Found this site while surfing bridles etc for mooring - it includes the US Coast Guard testing of heavy weather tactics from gale to hurricane and what is recommended and what system is best - it is interesting for discussions on stability that one design of monohull is not significantly better over another and boat size is a better determining factor to prevent capsize.

So for all you light and fast versus heavy and slow protagonists, the argument for the ultimate capsize or rollover challenge is basically moot.

Apparently all it takes for two boats of similar size is a slightly bigger wave to roll over the one with better stability numbers. Of course the ride leading up to that event could be more comfortable on a heavier design.

It's interesting reading and has prompted me to do a serious relook at my heavy weather equipment and tactics.

series drogue, ocean survival
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Old 05-04-2007, 13:14   #2
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I'm a firm believer in Jordan's series drogue. Fortunately, I've yet to put one to the test. He also taught me the advantage of anchoring by the stern. It's truly amassing how much better it works over the conventional bow anchoring, especially when it's blowing like stink.
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Old 05-04-2007, 16:38   #3
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That's funny. I met Don Jordan this past summer but had no idea he was the Jordan of Jordan Series Drogue until speaking with him today! Not having seen his website on this board I signed on specifically to refer readers to his site. The other site which is Don's first site is:
Jordan Series Drogue. A great read!!

He is truly a wonderful guy and deserves a lot of credit for his untiring work on this problem over the years.

Jim
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Old 05-04-2007, 18:09   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Benny
Found this site while surfing bridles etc for mooring - it includes the US Coast Guard testing of heavy weather tactics from gale to hurricane and what is recommended and what system is best . . .
No disrespect meant to Mr Jordan, but doesn't it seem to be a bit problematic to validate the Jordan drogues by using a report that was written Mr Jordan for the Coast Guard recommending drogues? Wouldn't it be better to seek independent testing? What the web site is saying is, "buy this drogue because the designer has recommended it."
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Old 05-04-2007, 20:39   #5
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There would be a conflict if the CG were recomending purchase of a Jordon drogue either by itself or favoured more than other drogues, however, he is a consulting engineer who is providing a system which upon after their testing, they find is best in extreme conditions. The CG wrote the test results - not Jordon - he supplied the system and consulted on it's use and application during testing. Until his competitors come with something better or different, the only system they can test is his and therefor draw unbiased results from their tests - not his. Obviously it is good news for him - he gets a qualified endorsement of his invention and good news for sailors because testing proves it is the best system currently available to save our butts in the event of severe storm. I am not adverse to anyone coming up with a good idea - going through alot of work and frustration and huge money outlays to develop and patent it and market it and only then get the credit for a good product that they hope will eventually make money on. It is this kind of initiative which drives about 99% of the positive advances in our civilization's past and present and the reason all of us enjoy the relatively great life we have. Yes it is his web site which as I stated includes the CG test results - Please correct me if I am mistaken, but is there a better system out there that can show CG test results or other independant testing that performs as good or better or is there other independant tests that refute his claims and tests?

Until then, it looks to me that he has provided an excellant system which we can use now to save boats and lives and has done so at a decent cost which includes a do it yourself option to lower that cost substantially. Seems to me - he's got our best interest at heart and wants to make a living too.
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Old 05-04-2007, 22:59   #6
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I have "combat" experience with a Delta-style drogue (had it made up here in Thailand). I found it did help quite with surfing and steering. I would definitely have a drogue of some sort aboard any future vessel I own, but would be open to trying other designs.
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Old 05-04-2007, 23:06   #7
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Yeah.

Scott learned his lesson from a typhoon off the coast of Vietnam back in 2005. So Scott learned about those Delta-style drogues!!

Check out these stories.

http://asap.ap.org/stories/510321.s

http://asap.ap.org/stories/512278.s

http://asap.ap.org/stories/514506.s

Stories provided courtesy of Scott Neuman himself.
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Old 06-04-2007, 06:19   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Benny
Please correct me if I am mistaken, but is there a better system out there that can show CG test results or other independant testing that performs as good or better or is there other independant tests that refute his claims and tests?
Please don't get me wrong here. I'm not taking issue with the value of a drogue or Mr Jordan's design. I have simply asked a question that is based on my personal "first response" to the marketing of the Jordan series drogue. What I saw is a Coast Guard evaluation that:
1) Does nothing to evaluate the full array of storm tactics available to today's sailor,
2) Does not even evaluate other drogue configurations, and,
3) Was the product of a paid consultancy with the designer of the only tested drogue.

I am simply saying that the inclusion of the Coast Guard test has the strong potential of being perceived as self-serving (as it did for me). I certainly appreciate the work that Mr Jordan has done to bring a product to market that can have a positive impact on sailing safety, but I wanted to express my first reaction to a marketing strategy that didn't settle well.
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Old 06-04-2007, 08:11   #9
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The Jordan Series Drogue is an extremely powerful drag device that can help you when you are running downwind in heavy seas. That being said, the design of your yacht and the intensity of the storm are equally important in deciding whether you want to deploy a series drogue or use some other type of storm managment technique.

If you are going to use a Jordan Drogue, you better be sure that your winches and cleats are strong enough to handle the pull generated by this powerful drogue. You also need to be sure that your companion way hatches and doors/boards are strong enough to handle large boarding seas that are coming up the stern if you get pooped.

If the storm gets really bad, you may find yourself in a situation where it would be better to be tethered to a parachute rather than dragging a drogue through the water behind the yacht. Unfortunately, you may find it extremely difficult to deploy a parachute sea anchor if you wait too long and the storm gets really bad.

I had three storms with winds to fifty knots in my circumnavigation and I never found it necessary to use my Jordan Drogue. It was there if I needed it, but I never used it. Once I used the parachute, once I towed warps, and once I sailed to a safe anchorage that provided protection from the wind and seas.

This is where weather information is so important. If you have rock solid weather reports, you can make decisions that will keep you from getting hurt. If you are 99% sure that the weather disturbance is limited in size, duration, and intensity, you can afford to drag warps or use the series drogue. But if you are not sure what's going to happen, and if there is a signficant chance that you could be in for a massive storm, it's time to put the parachute in the water when the winds are low enough to be able to easily deploy it. In winds up to 35 knots, you can put the parachute in the water without too much difficulty. But as the winds increase, getting the parachute, floats, lines, and associated gear in the water becomes progressively more difficult. When we deployed our parachute north of New Zealand, we had to initally back away from the chute and float because the winds blew the float back toward our catamaran. We didn't feel comfortable attempting to do a flying set of the parachute in the stormy conditions.

So my advice is this. Look at the weather reports. If it's not going to be too bad, then use your drogue of choice if you need it. But if things are going to get really bad, then deploy the chute before the situation gets out of control. I think you'll be glad you did.
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Old 06-04-2007, 09:47   #10
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Kevin - here is the excerpt from the test regarding the CG and it's affikiation with the drogue

"This document is disseminated under the sponsorship of the Department of Transportation in the Interest of Information exchange. The United States Government assumes no liability for its contents or use thereof.
The United States Government does not endorse products or manufacturers. Trade or manufacturers' names appear herein solely because they are considered essential to the object of this report. The contents of this report reflect the views of the Coast Guard Research and Development Center, which is responsible for the facts and accuracy of data presented. This report does not constitute a standard, specification, or regulation. SAMUEL F. POWEL, III Technical Director U.S. Coast Guard Research and Development Center Avery Point, Groton, Connecticut 06340-6096
There are other systems - parachutes, single drogues, heaving to. luing ahull etc. which can be used effectively for conditions from rough to storm however, the report concludes that in severe wave breaking conditions, these systems are not effective and only a series drogue has the ability to help the boat ride the waves properly and the crew should go below for shelter.

Here are some excerpts from the testing - you really need to read the whole report to get the message that a series drogue was designed for severe conditions but can be used in lesser conditions effectively as well.

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.

As part of this report it is important to consider the question of why drogues have not been developed and accepted as a standard item of emergency equipment up to the present time. The following reasons seem to be of the greatest significance.
  1. Breaking waves capsize is relatively rare, and many sailors survive storms by lying ahull or by running off. They do not perceive the need for more gear.
  2. There is no firm specification for a drogue. When a makeshift arrangement has been tried it often has not worked and in some instances has made the situation worse.
  3. Prudent sailors are aware that a drogue can impose high loads on the boat. Since they do not know the magnitude of the loads they are reluctant to take the risk.
  4. In a survival storm the crew is of ten tired and disorganized. If the drogue is difficult or dangerous to deploy they are unable to handle the job.
The research program described in this report is intended to address these concerns and to provide the information needed to make a rational decision on emergency equipment for the prevention of breaking wave capsize.

After observing the various drogues in the water channel, it was apparent that a cone or a small parachute drogue will collapse when the towline goes slack, as will occur each time the boat passes through the trough of a large storm wave. This behaviour results from the fact that the mass of water in the wake behind the drogue continues to move forward after the towline force has dropped to zero. This wake can collapse and even tumble the drogue.
There is a long history of drogue failures under storm conditions. It is probable that the alternative filling and collapsing is a major cause of these failures. In a single storm, a drogue can be subjected to as many as 10,000 cycles. The very large parachute drogue and series drogue do not behave in this manner; however, the small conical elements of the series drogue are subjected to some cyclic motions. A section of the full-scale series drogue was subjected to a fatigue test which will be discussed in a later section.


Historically, the durability of drogues and sea anchors, when deployed under severe storm conditions, has been very poor. The equipment either breaks loose or tears apart after a relatively short exposure to heavy seas. Recent tests of model drogues in the circulating water channel at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, Section 3.3 of this report, investigated the dynamic behaviour of several drogue designs and provided an insight into the probable reason for the early failure of these devices in service. It was found that conventional cone and parachute type drogues alternately fill and collapse, sometimes reversing direction or tumbling. It is this violent motion which can cause structural failure.
A new type of drogue, called a series drogue, was developed as part of this program. A typical series drogue consists of ninety 5-inch diameter sailcloth cones spliced into a 150-foot nylon towline as shown on Figure 16. The end of the line is weighted with an anchor. Model tests, as previously discussed, showed that the series drogue would not foul or turn inside out under simulated storm conditions but the individual sailcloth cones would fill and collapse with the passage of each simulated wave.
The objective of the tests described in this report was to subject the series drogue to the same cyclic loads and motion that would be encountered in a major storm and to investigate the performance and durability.

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 f ill 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.

Everyone has to make their own heavy weather plans - mine will include one of these series drogues, Randy
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Old 06-04-2007, 15:23   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by maxingout
......
If you are going to use a Jordan Drogue, you better be sure that your winches and cleats are strong enough to handle the pull generated by this powerful drogue. You also need to be sure that your companion way hatches and doors/boards are strong enough to handle large boarding seas that are coming up the stern if you get pooped.
.....
I had three storms with winds to fifty knots in my circumnavigation and I never found it necessary to use my Jordan Drogue. It was there if I needed it, but I never used it. Once I used the parachute, once I towed warps, and once I sailed to a safe anchorage that provided protection from the wind and seas.
....
Sometimes it seems folks think of the Jordan drogue as the be-all end-all of drag devices. The CG write-ups, etc talk about the extreme survival storm cases. Drag devices are going to be used long before this, as your examples show. If you were to have used a Jordan drogue, then you are basically going into a passive mode, with limited or no steering, and with the full force of the boarding seas taken by the boat. If you use other drogue designs, like Galerider, then you slow the boat to a managble speed, keep steerage on, and take some of the punch out of boarding seas.

Paul L
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Old 06-04-2007, 20:33   #12
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I have read many criticisms of using parachutes as a storm management technique. There is no question that disasters have happened when boats are lying to parachutes, but that doesn't negate the fact that parachutes are good at doing what they are advertised to do.

There are many reasons why parachutes "fail to perform" up to expectations.

1. Catamarans have been lost when the parachute is attached to the crossbeam of the cat. Parachutes have actually pulled out the crossbeam, and the catamaran underwent a backward pitchpole.

2. Chafe in the bridle can result in loss of the bridle and failure in the whole parachute anchor system.

3. Salt crystalization in the 500 foot sea anchor tether causes the double braid to degrade in strength. The small salt crystals abrade the nylon fibers of the rode and decrease its strength. Removing all the salt from 500 feet of line is a big job. After using our parachute sea anchor north of New Zealand, we soaked our 500 feet of line in fresh water to remove salt crystals, and then we pulled the line up the mast for the line to dry. Then we "tasted" the line to see if it was still salty because we wanted to get all the salt out of the line. The line still had a salty taste and so we rinsed it once again in fresh water and hauled it up the mast again. Then we tasted it again, and rinsed it again, and tasted it again, and rinsed it again. It took many rinses to get the salt out of the double braid. The point of this long description is that getting the salt out of the double braid takes a lot of work, and if you don't persevere, you will weaken the strength of the rode. So if you weaken your sea anchor rode by improper care of the rode, when the double braid breaks, whose fault is it? If the rode breaks, does that mean the parachute sea anchor system is no good, or does it mean that you are not doing everything you should to keep your emergency system in peak condition.

4. After you use a parachute sea anchor, you should rinse it completely to get all the damaging salt crystals out of it as well.

5. Parachutes can fail because the parachute risers are twisted from improper stowage of the chute and chafe of the risers happen.

6. Monohulls and multihulls behave differently when attached to a parachute sea anchor, and adjustments must be made according to the type of vessel.

7. The windage of the yacht will make a big difference as to how the boat behaves when lying to a parachute.

8. The shape of the keel (or lack thereof) makes a huge difference as to how the boat behaves when lying to a parachute.

There are obviously many reasons why parachutes can fail, but one of the biggest reasons is pilot error. A parachute sea anchor is a system, and the system is only as strong as it's weakest link. The deck cleats, bridle, rode, sea anchor condition, and many other factors determine what the outcome will be when you deploy a sea anchor.

One other important factor is that the size of the sea anchor and all the components in the system must be properly matched to the size of the yacht. If you have a large yacht and undersized sea anchor, it won't work as advertized. And if you don't deal with chafe and deal with salt crystals in the bridle and 500 foot rode, and compound that with an undersized rode, don't blame the parachute sea anchor system when something breaks.

I am a big believer in pilot error. People who say that things don't work as advertised often have a weak link somewhere in their system, and when problems happen, they say the system is no good.

I have known three other yachts who used parachute sea anchors and had excellent results in difficult circumstances. I have used my sea anchor, and it worked for me. A parachute sea anchor doesn't guarantee survival, but it pushes the odds massively in my favor when things get out of control offshore.
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Old 06-04-2007, 22:31   #13
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One final thought on Jordan Series Drogues and Parachute Sea Anchors.

I would rather have a Jordan Drogue back up my parachute sea anchor than have a parachute sea anchor back up my Jordan Drogue.

What do I mean by that?

No matter what method you use to protect your boat against a massive wave strike, it's possible that your protection may fail. The deck fittings may pull out. Bridles and rodes may break. Chafe may result in failure. A parachute panel may blow out. Chafe can take out a series drogue just like it can take out a parachute sea anchor system.

If one method of protecting your yacht should fail, then you can deploy another method to regain control of the situation. If you lost your series drogue in severe storm conditions, it would take an almost superhuman effort to assemble and deploy a parachute sea anchor. A sea anchor has many different components that must be properly linked together and then deployed off the bow. Assembling all the parachute sea anchor components and then moving them to the bow in a storm when you are exhausted and scared is a big deal. So if your series drogue fails and you must go to a parachute, you are in for a real struggle.

On the other hand, if you are lying to a parachute sea anchor, and there is some problem that causes the sea anchor to fail, you can easily deploy the series drogue off the stern in just a few minutes and with minimal effort.

In the real world of short-handed offshore sailing, the crew is often the weakest link in dealing with storms at sea. Deploying a parachute sea anchor when you are rested is well within the capabilities of most people making ocean passages. If for some reason the parachute anchor system is destroyed, it is well with the capabilities of an exhausted crew to deploy the series drogue over the stern.

In my circumnavigation I carried both a parachute and a Jordan series drogue. I think that both of them could do the job for me in most situations. But when that big storm comes my way, I'll put out my parachute sea anchor first and hold the series drogue in reserve. I will back up my parachute with the series drogue because I believe that I will be able to easily deploy the drogue if the parachute should fail.

Cheers,
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Old 07-04-2007, 01:52   #14
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Dave:
In your circumnavigation:
1. Did you ever deploy either the parachute or Jordan series drogue?
2. Did you ever wish you had?
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Old 07-04-2007, 08:01   #15
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We deployed the parachute sea anchor 300 miles north of New Zealand in the middle of winter. We got a late start out of New Zealand in mid July which was not good. We waited for two and a half weeks for a weather window to open, and we only got three hundred miles north of New Zealand before being caught in a squash zone with winds up to fifty knots. The boat got hit by a sea that knocked it sideways about six to eight feet, and I ended up falling down from the salon into one of the hulls. At that point I decided to deploy the parachute sea anchor because I was afraid that someone might get hurt or we might start a demolition derby on the catamaran.

We carried the sea anchor preassembled inside the boat on this trip because we thought it might be needed, and so all we had to do to deploy it was carry it forward, shackle the bridle to the sea anchor chainplates on the bows, and throw it in the water.

Deploying it required that we back away from the sea anchor because the float wanted to blow back against the hull when we deployed it on the windward side of the boat. It took about half an hour to get everything in position with the sea anchor fully deployed and working as expected - we were not rushing because we wanted to get things done in a safe manner. If someone had gone overboard in those conditions, it would have been a real problem.

In that particular storm, a container ship came by and asked us what we were doing out there. They said everyone was seasick on the container ship and they had been reduced down to miniumun cruising speed on the ship to just maintain steerage because conditions were so rough. In the same storm, there were multiple containers lost off ships into the sea.

Our seas weren't particularly large - estimated to be about 18 to 20 feet, but the seas were confused from multiple directions. Once we had the sea anchor out, the boat went quiet and felt like we were at anchor. We could have cooked a three course meal on board without any problem.

We were located in the shipping lanes and so we maintained a watch to make sure we didn't get run down by a ship. A yacht with a 500 foot sea anchor rode makes a pretty big target for a ship. If a ship bears down on you while you are tethered to a sea anchor, you will have to release the sea anchor into the sea to not get run down. During our circumnavigation, we had multiple times where ships came extremely close while we were offshore. That's why we used a large red float on our sea anchor system. If we had to release the whole system into the sea to avoid being run down, the float was large enough to support the weight of the whole assembled parachute sea anchor system.

That was also the reason we had a Jordan Series Drogue on board. If we ever had to release the sea anchor because it failed or if we were going to be run down by a ship, we could easily deploy the series drogue.

On our cirucmnagivation, we never needed to deploy the series drogue because it was our back up in case we had a problem with the parachute.

There are some places in the world where a parachute is not appropriate. When we had fifty knots of wind sailing through the Bab al Mandeb at the entrance of the Red Sea, you couldn't use a parachute there because there were hundreds of ships sailing by each day in the 17 mile wide strait that separates Yemen from Africa.

I have a podcast called "The Perfect Storm" on maxingout.com that tells about using our parachute in the storm north of New Zealand as well as storms in the Bab Al Mandeb and out in the Atlantic on the way to the Canary Islands.

When I am sailing offshore - across an ocean - I always get out my parachute sea anchor and my series drogue with associated lines and bridles, and I place them on the floor of my salon. Then I put pillows and cushions over them. That makes a nice king size bed in the salon area, and it allows my emergency gear to be in an accessible location where I can easily get to it if I need it. No diving into deep lockers on deck to get the emergency gear during a storm at sea. You can see me sleeping on top of my drogue and parachute sea anchor bed near the end of the Red Sea DVD Preview in Episode 2 on my web site.

My plan for offshore storms is simple. Have the parachute sea anchor and series drogue in an easily accessible location ready to go. If there is a serious storm, I deploy the parachute, and if something happens to the chute, I can deploy the series drogue as a back up. That approach works for me, and although I am not a brave person, I feel that having a clearly defined plan as to how I am going to deal with storms makes it easier to take storms at sea in stride. If you have a plan and a back up plan, you push the odds in your favor, and if problems happen, you know exactly what you are going to do.

Cheers,
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