I'm recovering from surgery at a friends house and missing my boat terribly. So to occupy my time I am researching storm survival skills. I was thinking about drogues and parachutes.

I like the book by the Pardeys Storm Tactics, and what they say makes sense. But researching storm tactics, drogues are by far the preferred method by a majority of offshore sailors.

The drawbacks I see is

1) you are running with the storm and therefore will be in the storm longer than "parking " and letting it pass overhead.

2) Risk of fouling the rudder and prop due to it being deployed off the stern.

3) retrieval seems to be the biggest problem but the parachute has the same hazard

The worst conditions I have ever encountered was 80 plus knots in the Atlantic for about 15 hours. In that storm I was in a 37 foot Almond pilothouse cutter and we just ran the motor and headed into the wind till the storm subsided.
Now I have a Cape Dory 30, full keel with cutaway forefoot, keel hung rudder and weighs about 5 tons. Lighter, and more narrow than the Pardeys.

One thing I do like about he drogue is that you seem to be able to make course changes or am I wrong about that.

Anyone want to weigh in I’d appreciate it.


You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.
—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)

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Hope your recovery goes quickly Ocean Girl. And I love quote from Cpt Reynolds.... soooo true. I have no experience with drogues ~ but I hope those that do write.
The Pardy's always have some great advice. But, every boat and every storm is different. And assuming that you go to sea in a well prepared and well maintained bluewater boat, then surviving at sea is about 75% your sailing ability and 25% your boat. No matter what you read and what other's tell you, as you already know, when you hit a big storm, you're on your own.
I know that lots of people are in love with drogues (we carry a sturdy, no-name parachute drogue), but in the two Force 10 storms Paloma has been through, we did not deploy it. We had lots of sea room and choose in one storm, and had no choice in the other, to run before the storm. Have no sails up and still making 10mph per the GPS, a drogue would have slowed us down just enough to put us at risk of getting pooped, pitch poling or broaching.
It seems to be more art than science

The storms I've seen, I would not want to run with them, BUT I have never liked the idea of a big parachute-it just screams "how to make matters worse in 30 seconds".

I am destined to be in the waters that breed theses storms so I better buck up and get with the program, prepare for the worst hope for the best.
Thanks for the input
Maybe on a Huges 38, but in the two Force 10 storms Paloma, a Bristol 29.9, has been through (both with winds gusting above 60 and 30 foot seas)we ran before both - one for 36 hours, the other for 48 hours. I doubt that, had we deployed our chute, we would have made it through either storm.
Well, you've certainly seen more wind than most people. I'd be interested in knowing what the waves were like during your episode, and how the boat liked heading into them under power. Did the waves start breaking at all? The worst I've been in was 50 - 60 kts in a Cal 25. We ran with a storm jib for 7 hours until we could get into the lee of an island and into a bay that was protected from the wind. Now we have an Endurance, similar to your Allmand, in which we've hove to in a few strongish winds just for fun, and I have to say I quite like it. I'm pretty sure that is now my tactic of choice, probably with a chute as the Pardeys recommend.

Hey Doug,
We were in the Atlantic, the wind started up and within an hour it averaged 70 knots out of the east, then for a few hours we had 80. It was very freaky, not a cloud in the sky, a nice blue sky with a jet black sea-very wild! We never lost control of the boat, had the rpms at about 2200-2500 (I'm not totally sure about the rpms - it was a long time ago), it kept enough steering to not fall off the wind ( at least I don't remember it being an issue). But we lost about 75 miles in about 13 hours. I wedged myself in the well of the nav station and tried to keep a watch, the captain was sea sick and the other crew member was comatose(freaked out) in his bunk. Even though we were thrown around violently, and the seas were like rolling mountains on top of rolling mountains the seas were almost flat looking. The wind blew off the tops of the waves and the foam kind of filled in the trough-that is not quite right but its the best description I can come up with. You have been out in a blow so you know description fall so short to reality. I really don't remember breaking waves but the seas were all foam, the air was all foam and it surrounded the boat, We did have a lot of prop cavitations that ended up damaging the stuffing box, which caused a bad leak, which lead to the death of all three pumps aboard. If I knew enough back then I would of took the storm, the leak, the failure of pumps, the captain and crew out of it, as very ominous signs- but I was pretty much a clueless 19 year old on an adventure. :)

My parents sailed around the world and they hove to all the time. I don't think they ever had to get out the parachute or even warps. I do like the Pardey ideas about storm tactics but they don't always work and most cruisers seem to use drogues.

great talking with you,
We've also chosen to run with it when we were caught in big wind and huge seas.

Thinking back to those situations and pretending that we had decided to deploy a drogue. I hope deploying the drogue was the right thing to do because once done you're pretty much stuck with it until things change for the better. I can't imagine allowing the seas that we've run before to catch us and possibly break over us.

In our case I've decided to use a warp in a situation where I feel we need to slow the boat down. You can deploy it in stages, it can possibly be recovered while the shit is still hitting the fan and if you have to cut it free, so what.
Good point veranda,
One of my biggest fears with drogues is what do I do if it gets soo bad I need to head up into the wind? turning around in big seas is well...crazy talk.
Thanks for all the great input
after the stuff we went thru in the gulf, i would say, after much deep thought, that i would not have slowed to a stop in them...we wanted to get out of them as fast as safely possible--heaving to or drifting on a drogue or sail anchor was not an option as there were 3-12 more after the ones thru which we sailed--and motored.....seas crashing into the cockpit was not an option nor was sailing into curling waves~~~~~we did that from ft myers the first attempt to leave---we turned back and waited .....still got weather but were able to still maneuver the boat appropriately----the answer to this question would depend on the situation which presents itself to you at the time you are faced with it......cannot just say---gotta drag a chute when that would compromise the safety factor---many choose to throw out a slowing device way to soon---and can end up in trouble as a result-----my answer is--DEPENDS ON CIRCUMSTANCES....i was taught to heave to under conditions of line squalls---sometimes is a benefit sometimes is a all depends on the circumstances faced at the time of facing them~~~~~ i hope you are alll better now~~~~~~_/)~~~~~~~~

How are you now? Well I hope.

I have no personal experience with Drogue, and have been reading about storm tactics too.

From reading, the use of drogue need a little planning. When you decide to have a drogue, you would also install the strong points to mount them. Do not forget about this point, or the cleats will be ripped off the boat.

The other point I pick up is this, you would use a drogue when running before the storm yield such a speed that you are at risk of being pooped by the breaking waves. If it is just a swell, the risk is not there in the first place.

So in a breaking wave, the idea is this, when you deploy the drogue, you will slow down enough, to allow the swell to go under the boat, before it breaks. This is counting on you being very un-lucky to have a breaking wave where you are travelling at a very slow speed.

On which way to face, there are 2 school of thoughts. Some say facing the waves at about apporx. 30 degrees from the bow. Although the strong point at the bow only is not ideal for this application, you need another to make the 30 degree angle. Having to use the bow and amidship cleats, require preparation for the correct length of the drogue tether.

The other school of thought is to have it at the rear of the boat, to take advantage of the boat's width, to get 2 good strong points. Most likely at the middle (fore-aft) of the boat going through some guides at the back of the boat.

If things do not work out, most likely you need to cut it off and let it go. Since you can not retrieve it before the storm ends.

Going back to size of drogue, there are the Parashute style which will stop the boat, or let it drift at about 1 knots. As well as smaller diameter to just slow down the boatspeed to reasonable speed.

Recently Yachting Monthly (UK) reviewed various smaller size drogue and how much it slowed down the boat.

Hopefully this assist in your research.




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