Fred Roswold Comments on Drogues and Sea Anchors - Sail Magazine

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

daviscards

Davis Instruments: Quick Reference Cards

CHECK THESEIf you’re sailing with new crew this summer or your kids have suddenly and inexplicably started to look up from their phones and take an interest in the finer points of cruising, these Quick Reference Cards from Davis are a great way to further their boating education. ...read more

01-rbir18-596

Another Epic Round Britain Race

There are basically two kinds of offshore sailboat races out there: those that take place annually, like the Fastnet and Chicago-to-Mackinac races; and those that take place every other year, like the Transpac and Newport-Bermuda race, in part so the competitors have sufficient ...read more

01b_WALKING-KEDGE-OUT-cmykpromo

Getting More Use From Kedge Anchors

If you are cruising, you need at least two anchors on board for the simple reason that you must have a backup. Imagine having to slip your anchor on a stormy night with other boats dragging down on yours, or having your rope rode severed by some unseen underwater obstacle, ...read more

SailAwayCharter

How-to: Navigating on a Bareboat Charter

So you graduated from navigation class where you practiced dead reckoning, doubling the angle on the bow and maybe even celestial nav, and you now feel well prepared for your first charter trip. Well, you won’t be doing any of that on vacation—not past the first day, anyway.Most ...read more

04-Turtle-rescue

Turtle Rescue in the Vic-Maui

Strange and often wonderful things can happen in the course of an offshore sailboat race, and one of the strangest and most wonderful things we’ve heard of recently took place during the 2,300-mile 2018 Vic-Maui race, from Victoria, British Columbia, to Lahaina, Hawaii.It ...read more

dorcap-open-blue

ATN Inc: Dorcap

COOL SLEEPYou’re fast asleep in a snug anchorage, forehatch open to catch the breeze, when you’re rudely awakened by a sneaky rain squall. Now you’re not only awake and wet, you’re sweltering with the hatch closed. Sucks, right? That’s why ATN came up with the Dorcap, an ...read more

HIGH-RES-29312-Tahiti-GSP

Ask Sail: Who has the right-of-way

WHO HAS RIGHT-OF-WAY?Q: I sail in Narragansett Bay, which is a relatively narrow body of water that has upwind boats generally going south and downwind boats generally going north. When sailboats are racing, the starboard tack boat has the right-of-way over the port tack boat, so ...read more