OK, read through a lot here just to get my head
right before another passage
...you know, making sure I am properly cynical and paranoid before shaking out.
Here are my assumptions:
Heaving to does not mean just backing the jib
and lashing the helm. It means getting your bow to wind
to ride a storm. You are hove-to if you have minimized motion and maximized sea keeping by bringing your bow as directly into the seas as you can and not charging
up into them. Shackelton's mizzen and sea anchor was a way of heaving to; putting out a sea anchor and using the mizzen as a steadying sail and a weathercock. My boat plays the sloop
rig version with a backed headsail. His way was also appropriate for a square-rig with a spanker, and commonly documented in old logs
. I find that reading ship logs
from 300 years of archived material gives me a better compliment to my own experience than contemporaries with a few years of sport sailing and a relatively small number passages provide.
If I deploy a sea-anchor of appropriate size, I am done with any other options that do not involve a pocket knife and a quick scuttle back to the helm in the slop.
A sea anchor is just that; an anchor. A sea anchor will tend to heave you up onto a wave, and then allow you to slide backwards, often not directly in line with your rudder
. If you have anything but a super-strong rudder
lacking any hint of corrosion
or degradation with helm secured amidships, you stand a chance of losing your rudder. In some situations such as near shoals, in a strong ocean current
etc... you may will find yourself riding at odds with the wind
, leading to line fouling hazard.
A sea anchor restricts leeward motion. A hove to boat (sparsail and backed staysail) has forward/lateral motion. I feel it is not a good general advisement to put that much gear
in the water in front of a boat that IS moving. I could see some washing
machine action on some fin-keeled thing turning a hove-to rig on the "speed up" portion of it's oscillation combining with some windward tug on the bow from the sea anchor causing a tack. I find this as much believable when the boat is backing after a breaking sea. A hove to boat, even with a preventer tends to become a close-hauled boat after a tack....then you could ride up on that sea anchor.
Drogues become sea-anchors if you have enough of them, but usually they are bad ones. Individual element size matters a lot. Drogging, ("dragging" to those of us that only stick to nautical obfuscation when it expands concise technical vocabulary) slows you down when running so you don't jam your nose (or stick!) into the next wave over the hill. It can also reduce the amount of rudder required as the wave picks up your stern and gives it a swirlie before you need to nose down the wave to prevent a broach, and it may prevent that broach in the first place. It doesn't keep you from getting pooped though. It may be better to have one or not based on your aft reserve buoyancy. My opinion is that making choices like having a half a dozen oversized anchors and two furlongs of chain all crammed in the forepeak affect this a lot more than your choice of hull
Gang drogues are a method of dampening shock loads by using a series of very small elements more than a method of adding more slowing power. They may be part of a nice modular system that can be scaled to the boat size though.
I feel that heaving to with sails
designed for and based on weather experience in the boat is the (*ahem*) "safest" way to try to rest once the give-up point is reached...or way before. I have corked into seas in a tiny boat in a gale using a pocket jib, unable to let go of the stick long enough to plot a fix and figure out what the hell was going on for a 36 hour stint, then reached a point off the Cedar Keys shallow enough to anchor. Woke up in calm with a *buried* and bent fluke anchor, and found that riding at anchor cost me my rudder. I motored in with an outboard
and steered 24 miles with the rudder cheeks bent out in a wedge shape.
In the same piece of trailer junk (Chrysler 22) I used a drogue for the first and only time. I had a towel and old companionway
boards lashed to a piece of polypropylene line that the rudder had fouled on. I added the line to my resources while dealing with a shredded furler
that could not be got down...a result of the fouling and some wicked wind.
I have never tried lying ahull in any kind of seas, but having been on a DIW ship in slop many times, I would not care to try. I'll leave that to the life-boaters.
Anywho, thanks for the nifty (old) thread. Gets the paranoia pumped real good. I am going to go pretty up some gaskets for lashing my boom and gaff to the deck
, and get that head
cut off that goofy old marconi main for a trysail. My second set of reef points will make good gaskets. They are a joke. I have never, ever been able to go from reef 2 to reef 3. Reef 1 to reef 3, yes. After number 2, sail handling options seem to get restrained!