Join Date: Mar 2008
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Experience of dragging a drogue
Sailing between Palma de Mallorca and Algiers in 1977 in a very small yacht (22ft), I was hit by a violent storm (60 knots constant recorded by Cross Med) with waves of 30ft breaking.
I was running too fast with a 1sqm stay sail. This imposes a very vigilant watch not to be rolled and for how long can you be vigilant? I put a drogue at the stern and dragged it. It was immediately easier to control the direction, BUT the waves started to cover the stern and fill the cockpit. I had to let go the drogue, losing it and carried on for 6 more hours to run, the wind getting calmer. It was exhausting and I am not sure I could have done it much longer as sometimes the bow was IN the water for a length of time that seemed not to end... I was very lucky I could run towards Morocco with 300 nm to go.
I am now in Australia on a 60ft sloop just back from 10 months in the Pacific.
I have ordered an 18ft para-anchor, smaller than recommended (24ft) in order to reduce the effort on the gear. In order to reduce the shocks a long (330ft) NYLON (very extensible) double braided rope seems essential.
I hope to be able to drift as slowly as possible towards a coast, when running is the only other option and is fatal. I also hope to be able to go down and rest instead of getting exhausted.
Of course, these are hopes as I have not tested it yet (hope never!), but I would not run again, even with a drogue aft, and the bow is made to meet the sea.
I respect all opinions and just hope this helps the debate...