Fred Roswold Comments on Drogues and Sea Anchors

I have not used and we do not carry either a drogue or sea anchor. This is not that we are opposed to these devices, it is just that when we started out cruising we didn't know what we wanted, we didn't have a budget for everything, and 'these were not high priority. Plus, there is a storage issue; we don't carry anything on deck or on the cabin sole and all the below deck lockers were full. For
Author:
Publish date:

I have not used and we do not carry either a drogue or sea anchor. This is not that we are opposed to these devices, it is just that when we started out cruising we didn't know what we wanted, we didn't have a budget for everything, and 'these were not high priority. Plus, there is a storage issue; we don't carry anything on deck or on the cabin sole and all the below deck lockers were full. For these three reasons we never bought one of either of these devices.

Why are these devices "Low Priority" for us? I have talked to so many people with such a wide variety of experiences and opinions that it is hard for me to come to any kind of conclusion, to understand what will really work and what will simply make the situation worse. Regarding sea anchors, intuition tells me that sitting on a sea anchor is not what I want to do. I'd rather have more ability to control my situation, more freedom of action. And more people have told us stories about bad experiences—chafing, uncomfortable movement, shock, not staying quietly head to wind but swinging widely, and getting waves on the side, and surging backwards, and parting tackle—than have reported good experiences. More than one person has told me that the best thing about the sea anchor was when the tackle parted and they were rid of it.

A drogue might be of more use. I talked to Keith Lowrance who sailed on La Pantera (a similar boat to ours) in the '’79 Fastnet storm. He said that they kept sailing and they got through unscathed. He added that he always prefers to keep going as quickly as he can to retain control, to be able to steer to avoid big waves, etc. With some boat speed and a powerful spade rudder, broaching might be avoided (this matches our experience in lesser storms). But he also said that this was in racing situations with full crews. He said that if he was shorthanded he might want to deploy a drogue to be able to take a rest from steering. This made sense to me, and, with other peoples 'similar views, I decided that I might like to have one. Still, I've no where to put it, and in 21 years on this boat we have never even come close to needing one. In the worst storms we've encountered we've been able to continue sailing on the wind vane or been able to heave to successfully. In the most severe conditions we ever encountered we have found that heaving to with just a small scrap of mainsail has worked very well, and if we needed a little more forward motion to keep the boat properly oriented into the waves we have run the motor in forward gear at a very slow speed. So we didn't ever buy a drogue, and we have even given up carrying the warps, old tires, and other ad-hoc devices that we might use in an emergency.

My plan to deal with "the big one":
1.Reduce sail and keep sailing using windvane or autopilot.
2.Heave to under triple reef main and storm jib or just main (both work well on Wings). Run engine if needed.
3.If I need to head downwind, we will go under bare poles and we will deploy a loop of anchor rode off the stern with some chain in the byte to slow the boat. We have never tried this.
Hope you find this useful

Fred Roswold
S/V Wings

Related

7261ab1f-6891-424f-a22f-14c946c08ba8

Gear: Fusion Panel-Stereo

Plug & Play StereoIt can be a real pain to install a marine stereo inside a boat, what with the tiresome business of running cables through cramped spaces and finding somewhere sensible to locate the speakers. The audiophiles at Fusion thought about this and came up with the ...read more

2019BestBoatsPromo-04

Best Boats 2019

Some years ago, the book Aak to Zumbra catalogued—and celebrated—the incredible diversity of watercraft that has evolved over the centuries, a diversity that remains evident to this day in the 11 winners comprising the “Class of 2019” in SAIL’s Best Boats contest. Indeed, it ...read more

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell.Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.comGuaranteed result What you see on the end of this halyard isn’t a beautiful Flemish Eye worked by a rigger, but it will make a big difference when you have to “mouse” a line through the mast. If the ...read more

dometicadler-700x

How to: Upgrading Your Icebox

The time has come when the prospect of cold drinks and long-term food storage has you thinking about upgrading your icebox to DC-powered refrigeration. Duncan Kent has been there and done that, and has some adviceFresh food must be kept at a refrigerated temperature of 40 degrees ...read more

Jet-in-Belize

Cruising: Evolution of a Dream

There’s a time to go cruising and a time to stop. As Chris DiCroce found, you don’t always get to choose those timesAlbert Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, ...read more

01a-rosemary-anchored-at-Qooqqut,-inland-from-Nuuk

Cruising: A Passage to Greenland

When a former winner of the Whitbread Round the World Race invites you to sail the Northwest Passage, there is only one sensible answer. No.More adventurous types might disagree, but they weren’t the ones facing frostbite of the lungs or the possibility of having the yacht’s hull ...read more