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Old 26-03-2014, 04:47   #1
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Ex Military Parachute/Sea Anchor

Hi everyone


I'm interested in getting a sea-anchor for my full keeled, 9 ton, Westsail 33. If money was no object, I'd just buy a 9 fter from Fiorentino and be done with it.

But I hear ex military cargo parachutes are a great option. Question is, how do I get hold of one the correct size, that is in good condition???

Looking around where I live in Perth, if I want to see/touch one pre-purchase, this 17 fter is starting to look like my only option Parachute Approx. 17ft Dia. (Used - White) - MILITARIA - PARACHUTES - Military | Survival | Combat Clothing | Tactical Equipment | Police Gear Security | Backpacks | Navigation | Army Surplus | Boots | Knives | Australian | Wellington Surplus Stores+

If so, presumably it would need to be cut down in some way; perhaps a hole in the middle? If so I suspect the hole size might be quite critical. But I also suspect it might necessary to make it easier for retrieval if I don't use a trip-line, as Lin and Larry Pardey suggest.


Stupid idea?

Any info much appreciated!


Thanx
Andrew
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Old 26-03-2014, 05:01   #2
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Re: Ex Military Parachute/Sea Anchor

Disclaimer: I have never tried one of these myself, just reporting on the experiences reported by others.

Comments I have read from experienced sailors have been almost universally negative as far in using any sort of parachute as a sea anchor.

Several problems as I recall. First they are designed and built for a much lighter load. Water pressure is way more than air pressure. Perhaps the biggest problem, they are guaranteed to tangle when deployed and will not stay open.

It isn't that expensive to get a real marine grade drogue or sea anchor but if funds are that tight look for used or you can make your own.
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Old 26-03-2014, 06:49   #3
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Re: Ex Military Parachute/Sea Anchor

Compared to a used military surplus chute a paratech is expensive. I used and lost a 18' paratech (worked well) so I replaced it with another 18' paratech. It has been my plan since to get a surplus ordinance chute as a spare or back up due to the low cost. I know it's not the same but feel it could work in a pinch, and is better than nothing. Ordinance chutes come in several sizes, the big issue is many of cheap chutes online have the shrouds cut off do you can't do stupid stuff with them. I recall do much searching and calling before I found a surplus chute with shrouds for $70. It's not hard to find them priced in the hundreds, but then your approaching paratech costs. I think my paratech was $700 on sale from $920.
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Old 26-03-2014, 08:07   #4
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Re: Ex Military Parachute/Sea Anchor

Andrew,

A lot of people have used cargo chutes successfully, but I would be hesitant to buy one without being able to put hands on it first. The one in your link looks a little flimsy to me. If you get a cargo chute, no matter how large, I would definitely not put any holes in it.

That said, I would forego the cargo chute and spend a few hunded bucks more on a quality product you can rely on. As a cheap SOB myself, I understand the temptation to save some money on something you will probably never use, but if you do have to use it you will want something you can rely on. Picture yourself in 50 knots and 20' seas, 25 miles off a lee shore. Which chute do you want to put over the side in those conditions? Also consider that the cost of the chute is only part of what you will spend on a system that includes a swivel, at least 400' of large diameter nylon rode, retrieval buoy and line, bridle and possibly beefed up attachment points for the boat. There are a lot of good purpose built chutes available for not a whole lot more than a cargo chute.
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Old 26-03-2014, 08:10   #5
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Re: Ex Military Parachute/Sea Anchor

I think it is a fallacy to "make do" in a pinch. When you are in a pinch your life may depend on the integrity of your hardware. These are the times when you want the best!! You want the best because your survival and life is on the line and so it is the absolute worst time to suffer a failure.

Just to further drive this point, I can tolerate failures in good or moderate conditions because a hardware failure probably will not kill me. For example, my blender for making margaritas could stop working or my head could break.

I want everything in the critical path needed making way and keeping water out in extreme conditions to be as good as possible.

Simple, fool proof as possible, made for purpose over build hardware is where you want to be offshore.

Just my opinion!!
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Old 26-03-2014, 08:30   #6
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Re: Ex Military Parachute/Sea Anchor

I have a 12' Paratech Seanchor in bag with shackles for $100.00 + shipping if your interested.
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Old 26-03-2014, 08:30   #7
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Re: Ex Military Parachute/Sea Anchor

Those chutes were originally used by sailors and fishermen alike because they were practically free and abundant. A "make-do-with-what-we-have" type of situation. Much like sailors before that used to drag lines or sails or pretty much anything they could find on board behind them.

Once people started to put some research into it and started designing stuff specifically for this purpose they became a little obsolete... Also, they still take up quite a bit of space and still cost quite a penny. It just seems silly to drag one along everywhere you go in the hope it won't foul when you most need it to save your life.

The original brand-name drogues are really expensive, but they're simple devices. Using their research and knowledge, you can quite easily and cheaply make your own that has a much higher chance of doing you any good rather then providing a fake sense of security.

For little more then your 125$ chute and a few buckets of sweat, you can make your own JDS.
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Old 26-03-2014, 08:34   #8
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Ex Military Parachute/Sea Anchor

Defender currently wants $824 so there is a huge difference between a $75 surplus cargo and a new paratech.

It's way more than a few hundred dollars difference, my whole point was for that price have both, the cargo as a spare for the real one, when your in a pinch.
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Old 26-03-2014, 08:41   #9
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Re: Ex Military Parachute/Sea Anchor

There's a 12' paratech for sale on this forum right now for $125, that's a deal. Get a cargo chute as well with the extra money you save.
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Old 26-03-2014, 10:19   #10
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Re: Ex Military Parachute/Sea Anchor

QUOTE Dulcesuenos;1502294]I have a 12' Paratech Seanchor in bag with shackle for $100.00 + shipping if your interested.[/QUOTE]

Yes I'm interested. Like, um, very interested!
I expect postage will be brutal, but I'll look into first thing in the morning (it's 1am here atm)
What kind of condition is it in?

I'll send you a private message when I have done my homework...


Thanks
Andrew
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Old 27-03-2014, 03:01   #11
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Re: Ex Military Parachute/Sea Anchor

Thanks everyone for your input...
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Old 27-03-2014, 05:27   #12
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Re: Ex Military Parachute/Sea Anchor

watch for an old brake para of military jets like starfighter. Few years ago bought one for little money for a friend.
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Old 27-03-2014, 07:38   #13
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Re: Ex Military Parachute/Sea Anchor

I read a book recently on storm tactics, and the author had a lot of compelling reasons to not use a sea anchor.

In a nutshell, if you're in weather bad enough to need it, you're going to have to go up to the bow and rig it, using chain near the boat for chaffing protection, you've got to deploy it from a bag that has to be packed so it will come out underwater but not in the air, it's got to be big enough to really stop the boat, otherwise you'll go sideways like when you drag your anchor and it won't be of much benefit.

The author recommended you run off and drag a drogue or lines to slow you down if you get going too fast and the boat gets squirrely.
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Old 27-03-2014, 08:19   #14
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Re: Ex Military Parachute/Sea Anchor

I have used a 18' sea anchor and I find that people who haven't used one tend to side with the books they say to keep going. It's a last ditch emergency thing, sick of steering, wanna sleep, dead tired, these are reasons to lay to a sea anchor. You don't set a sea anchor if you have the energy or means to keep going. Yes keep running before the storm, but when you no longer can, your better off than the guy without the option, who doesn't carry one cause a book said they don't work. Just another tool in your chest.
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Old 27-03-2014, 20:23   #15
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Re: Ex Military Parachute/Sea Anchor

The book I was referring to is called Handling Storms at Sea by Hal Roth. (I have no affiliation and the author has crossed the bar)

I'd like to suggest you really think about the conditions you will be using it in, and make sure your chaffing gear and rode are really beefy if you decide to go that route. You might get a deal on a $125 chute, but it might cost over 4x that to rig it properly, and if you're not going to rig it properly, I'd say the money is better spent elsewhere.

I'd love to hear HH's story about the conditions he used his in and how it worked for him.
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