Dragging a drogue
has three big advantages, it slows the boat down so, in most instances, won't bury the bow and pitchpole at the bottom of a wave. The second is that it keeps the stern to the seas so you aren't caught broadside and rolled. Third, the crew is below decks, relatively safe and not subject to extreme winds, spray and chill. Probably the best option for a short handed cruising boat crew with limited experience on the helm
. You may get pooped occasionally but the boat will survive. Biggest issue is going to be chafe on the drogue
line. Many reports of the drogue being lost
to chafe when it was most needed.
Racers do stupid and crazy things to win and have plenty of crazy bodies on board to do it. They can cycle through helmsman to limit fatigue and stay on top of steering
the boat so it doesn't accidentally get rolled or pitchpole. Not an option for the shorthanded/solo sailers.
Moitessier was running before a monstrous southern hemisphere low pressure that lasted for several days. The boat was riding as well as could be expected but was constantly being overtaken by the waves and getting pooped. Moitessier who had lost
two boats, sailed most of the way around the world, and conducted a sailing school
in the Med. for a couple of years was way more experienced than most and relatively young. 'Joshua' was literally built like a pressure boiler and probably would have survived anything the sea threw at it as long as the hatches stayed on. He'd set the boat up with an inside steering
station so he wasn't sitting outside at the mercy of hurricane
force winds, wind
driven spray, solid water
chill. He decided to surf through the storm but that required him to be on the helm
for more than 30 hours through at least one night. I think he got lucky because the concentration required to maintain his heading relative to the waves, especially with limited visibility at night, says more about the directional stability of the boat than the Herculean effort needed to steer the boat minute by minute in mountainous seas over more than a day to meet the challenge of the waves.
In the case of the boat in this post, a drogue may have allowed the boat to go through the wave without being thrown on it's side, injuring the owner, and flooding the boat. Then again, nothing short of a miracle might have prevented the damage. We are talking about a 28,000# boat designed and built to survive these conditions. A rogue wave
that could be as much as twice the height of the prevailing storm waves is something that luck has as much to do with coming out relatively unscathed as any technique the skipper
took to run through the storm.