“Agreed: no silver bullets”
By Cary Deringer
appearing in the May/June 2002 issue of Good Old Boat.
We agree with Lin and Larry 100 percent. I noted in the article that
silver bullets are hard to come by for a number of reasons. Parachute
sea anchors and drogues are just two more tools in the toolbox when it
comes to making a decision in heavy weather. Using either of these
devices will be easier, safer, and more effective if prior setup and
deployment/retrieval drills in varying wind conditions have been
executed. The intent of my article was to give information to those
people who have made, or are thinking about making, the decision to have
one or both of these devices available as a storm tactic option.
We also feel that heaving to is an important method to employ in heavy
weather situations and is usually the first tactic we use. In one
heavy-weather situation we encountered, heaving to enabled us to take a
break, assess our situation, and make a decision about what to do next.
We decided to continue on, but by the third day the weather had not
moderated. Winds were in excess of 45-knots and seas had built to more
than 20 feet. We made the decision to tack and sail the 80 miles to
landfall. We deployed our parachute sea anchor for the night for two
reasons: first, it allowed us to get some much needed rest (while still
maintaining an anchor watch) by reducing the motion of the boat, and
second, it allowed us to make landfall during daylight hours.
Heaving to would have resulted in the same outcome. Using our parachute
sea anchor in these conditions gave us a better understanding of how our
boat responds to a parachute sea anchor in these conditions and more
experience with this device. With any storm tactic, heaving to included,
practice is key to a successful outcome along with having the gear
maintained and ready for use.
A majority of parachute sea anchors and drogues that are purchased get
stowed away, never to see the light of day. Owning a parachute sea
anchor or drogue will not guarantee survival in heavy weather. Nor will
heaving to if you’ve never hove to before and decide the best time to
try it is in heavy weather. The best storm tactics are knowledge,
experience, and common sense. These are impossible to purchase with any
to learn more about
Old Boat Magazine.