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The part that I found so surprising was that he said he would "hove too" or "lie a hull". I always had heard that doing the latter in big weather was a formula for death.
Sailing a battleship like PELAGIC, it doesn't surprise me that Skip has never felt the need to do anything beyond heaving-to... And I doubt he has ever chosen simply lying ahull in truly extreme conditions. Some boats do quite well, my own for instance. I've done so in about 40 knots halfway to Bermuda, the boat produced a nice slick to weather with a perfect sideways drift...

I have as much regard for Skip Novak as any sailor on the planet, but I think some might be misled by this video, as I think it misses a couple of important points.

First, Skip gained his fame on Whitbread Race boats, and his high latitude sailing/mountaineering expeditions. All of which are done with large crews. One of the reasons he may never have felt the need to resort to the use of a drogue, might be that he always had someone reasonably well rested at the helm, and could keep actively sailing. But one of the greatest values of a drogue, in my view, is as a very effective tool in combating the sort of exhaustion that can overcome solo or shorthanded crews in heavy weather...

Second, I think he may be understating the difficulty of getting many of the modern boats people are sailing today properly hove-to. When conditions deteriorate beyond a certain point, many boats folks are sailing today may need to resort to a Plan B... Also, sometimes it might simply make more sense from a tactical standpoint, to run off to a drogue instead of heaving-to. Stay planted in the Gulf Stream or the Aghulas Current by heaving-to, or attempting to exit the worst conditions by running off, albeit slowly? Sometimes, the latter might be the better plan...

Lastly, I was surprised by his mention of the danger of deploying a drogue when running off. Certainly, there is a MAJOR risk in doing so. Paying out a few hundred feet of cones of a Series drogue while surfing down large seas at 8-10 knots is crazy... That's why I feel the only sensible way to deploy a drogue is by stopping the boat by heaving-to FIRST, then deploying the drogue, and then falling off... Much is also made of the difficulty of recovering a drogue, but it's not so bad if you stop the boat again by heaving-to... I'm always surprised how such an obvious solution seems to get overlooked when discussing the use of drogues, and the deployment and recovery of a drogue need not necessarily be as difficult or risky as Skip seemed to imply...
 

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I don't get how this works Jon. You're running off under bare poles (*maybe* a scrap of headsail) and surfing waves (no need for a drogue if you still have main sail up, right?). So, how do you head up in those conditions, let alone heave-to? I don't see any option to setting the drogue while running off but maybe I am missing it.
Interesting question I hadn't considered, as I'm generally of the mindset that the decision to run off under bare poles would come simultaneously with that to deploy a drogue… My boat happens to run off quite happily under a deeply reefed main or trysail, one advantage of an extremely high aspect main. So, if it became time to run under bare poles for me, chances are it would also be time to start streaming a drogue…

As I also mentioned, my boat happens to lie ahull quite nicely, at least in conditions that have not become too extreme… So, even lying ahull for the brief period of time might be sufficient to get the drogue in the water. Once everything is hooked up, it shouldn't take more than about 30 seconds, after all…

It you're still flying a bit of headsail, you should be able to round up sufficiently to achieve at least some sort of fore-reaching attitude, that will at least reduce your speed. Again, my boat will do this under staysail alone, and could be feathered close to the wind with a bit of careful attention to the helm… Not sure what sort of boat you're sailing, but such a tactic could definitely be a challenge on many boats out there today, especially if your scrap of headsail is being flown all the way forward from the headstay...

But, you may simply have to make the effort to properly heave-to momentarily, by rounding up and hoisting the main or trysail…

But finally - and perhaps most importantly - don't forget that you (presumably) have an engine. The use of an engine in heavy weather can often be a very effective tactic. Again, since you really shouldn't need much time to get the drogue over the side, the simplest solution might often be to fire up the engine, pick your spot, and bring the boat up around into a sort of hove-to or fore-reaching attitude…

Resorting to the use of an engine in heavy weather requires great care, naturally… But there's no 'shame' in doing so, it might make all the difference in some situations… For instance, on larger boats when the breeze is up, I'll usually resort to a 'chicken jibe', instead of exposing the rig to the potential forces of a normal jibe… But, many boats - especially if I'm sailing under the main alone - might not be able to round up and tack thru the wind on their own…. With a bit of help from the iron genoa, however, they usually will… :)

Finally, when it comes to retrieving a drogue - with the boat being 'anchored' from the stern, as it were - there's a strong probability that you'll need some assist from the engine to bring the boat around to an attitude from which you can properly heave-to...
 

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"As I also mentioned, my boat happens to lie ahull quite nicely, at least in conditions that have not become too extreme… So, even lying ahull for the brief period of time might be sufficient to get the drogue in the water. Once everything is hooked up, it shouldn't take more than about 30 seconds, after all…"
When does anything on a boat take anywhere near the estimated time to actually accomplish the task; 30 seconds is going to be at least 5 minutes.:)
Quite often when I take way off our boat (like tacking in extremely light air) and have a fish line in the water, it becomes imperative that we attend to that line, lest it become tangled in the wheel or rudder. I can see exactly the same thing happening if one is trying to stream a drogue in heavy weather without sufficient headway.
I take it you've never deployed a Series Drogue?

As per Don Jordan's recommendations, the bitter end of mine is weighted with a 10 KG Bruce anchor, and a bit of chain... With the boat making minimal way on either lying ahull or hove to, feeding the drogue over the rail out of its cylindrical mesh storage bag is little different than dropping an equivalent length of anchor line over the side...

So, OK, a snag here, a grab or two of the rail to maintain my balance there, perhaps it's a 45-60 second chore, instead...

:)

"It you're still flying a bit of headsail, you should be able to round up sufficiently to achieve at least some sort of fore-reaching attitude, that will at least reduce your speed."

Would you consider doing this in 30 to 40 foot breaking seas?
Certainly not... Hopefully I would have had the sense to deploy the drogue FAR in advance of the conditions becoming anything REMOTELY close to such an extreme...

Hell, by the time things got that bad for my boat, the drogue - and quite possibly portions of my transom and companionway - would probably be long gone, and I'd be busy at work on about Plan W...

:)
 
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