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:
Updated:
Original:

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

Screen-Shot-2021-03-03-at-9.48.03-AM

World Sailing Trust Launches Global Participation Study

Two years after its global survey on women in sailing, the World Sailing Trust is surveying the entire sport in order to assess equity, diversity and inclusion. The survey will be conducted bi-annually to monitor trends and progress. "By researching the sport, the aim is to ...read more

01A-LEAD-Finished-table

DIY: A Better Saloon Table

The original saloon table in my Down East 45 schooner was a single heavy sheet of 3/4in laminated plywood, 27in wide by 57in long. It was supported on two substantial aluminum pedestals locking into a set of large round collars screwed to the sole. There were two annoying ...read more

02b-screen-shot

Salty Dawgs Recognized by CCA

The Salty Dawg Sailing Association (SDSA) has long been the go-to organization for high value, affordable rallies, but when Covid forced the sudden closure of borders in the Caribbean, it pivoted to organizing the Homeward Bound Flotilla. Its experience organizing rallies came ...read more

FB-BHM-1024

SAIL Black History Month Series: James Forten

James Forten was born on September 2, 1766 in Philadelphia to free Black parents Thomas and Margaret Forten. Forten attended a Quaker school as a young child, then went to work with his father who was a sailmaker. His father died when he was still young, and Forten worked ...read more

sailme-app_ SAIL

5 Ways Sail.me Helps You Monetize Your Boat

Ready to earn some extra funds by renting out your boat or yacht? Sail.me is an interactive service that allows you to monetize your boat in a secure, safe, and easy way. A user-friendly app and website will help you manage reservations, add-ons, and set customized routes to ...read more

VendeePromo

2020-21 Vendée Timeline

As a spectator event, France’s Vendée Globe never disappoints, and the 2020-21 edition of the quadrennial round-the-world race was no exception. From equipment failures to climactic rescues, heartbreaking abandonments and a breathtakingly close finish, this edition, which ...read more

valleytrunk3

BVI Chartering in the Pandemic

The week before I flew out to the British Virgin Islands for a bareboat charter, I was having a few second thoughts. The islands had broken out of their Covid-enforced tourism hiatus in December, but the conditions of entry seemed a little stringent: a negative Covid test within ...read more

01-LEAD-windfarm

Sailing Amid Offshore Wind Farms

Here in Europe, the general feeling about green energy from offshore wind turbines has moved on after an initial surge of general skepticism. Concerns raised over cost, threats to seabirds, wind interference and the rest have to some extent been answered, and it’s hard to argue ...read more