Originally Posted by capta
In the end, the only solution was to cut the thing free and allow the boat to sail unrestricted under bare poles. It is a tremendous amount of work to steer in those conditions, at times surfing across the face of the waves at ridiculous speeds, then pointing the bow directly down wind to allow the white water to pass underneath as it overtakes you.
But if I can keep the boat under control, I feel I am much safer than hampering her with a drogue, so I no longer keep either aboard. Should I ever (Neptune forbid) get into a situation where I feel I should drag something to slow me down, I can see no reason why one or two of my 6 anchors with 30 or so feet of chain, on a long anchor rode, would not do the trick.
The problem with controlling the situation you describe is that you have to be able to see what you're doing. Mostly when the weather is such that you need a drogue, it is heavily clouded too and then the inevitable happens - the sun sets and it gets real dark.
We had this and in the dead of night we saw huge areas of white water overtaking us on both sides - we were sailing downwind under bare poles and doing 7 to 9 knots. When the boat surfed for the first time in pitch black conditions down what felt like a huge wave with a 10 ft wall of white water chasing us from behind, I knew that whatever else I do in my life, I never want to do that again. When it got light the next morning it was confirmed that the waves around us were 35 to 40 feet and randomly breaking. Nobody chooses to surf that in a 40ft cruising boat - unless you're stark raving mad.
And I don't get the fear of being pooped. So a flood of white water washes over the boat. As long as the boat doesn't accelerate down the rest of the wave and your wash boards are in place and strong, I don't have a huge problem with that. Having said that, I don't really ever want those big patio doors commonly found on ocean going cats these days.