Day 92 On the drogue 2/12/13

Dec 2, 2013Position: 37.43 S, 117.40 E

After contemplating the prospects of 35 + knot winds with 5 meter seas forecast for tonight, and a touch of sciatica, I decided to deploy the “Gale Rider” sea anchor so West Wind would be ok and I would not have to go on deck in the middle of the night to shorten sail. It’s the first time I’ve used this particular sea anchor. As with most sea anchors, the deployment can be very tricky. Once you start to put it out, there is absolutely  no way to stop it other than fasten it on a cleat as the incredible amount of strain from the boat going forward is all transferred to the drogue. I chose to deploy it while the wind was still blowing 20 knots because to deploy it when it in 35 knots is a lot more difficult. I snugged all the sheets for the jib and staysail and wrapped the mainsail with five ties just to make sure. The halyards were also checked and made secure. I tied the tiller down to two eye bolts especially installed for that purpose. The big drawback is that we are now going east at about 1.5 knots. It is difficult to give up those hard fought miles but the alternative of struggling in the middle of the night on a leg that is not 100% didn’t make sense. We will see how the night goes and also the retrieval tomorrow morning.

Tuesday morning. I’ve been up since 3:45 am, had some oatmeal and donned my combat uniform. I climbed up into the cockpit just as the sun was illuminating the eastern horizon, a good time to retrieve the drogue and get moving west again. I managed to manhandle the bridle on to a stern cleat when the stress of waves pulling on the drogue eased. Then I attached a line to the main drogue line and led it to my primary cock pit winch and slowly but surely pulled in the 150 feet of line and drogue into the cock pit along with the chain. I only had one mishap while I was taking the shackle pin out of the shackle that held the drogue line to the bridle. I dropped the shackle!  That was my last big shackle, so when I need to use the drogue again, I’ll have to make up a strop of some one inch braid I have in the rope locker. 

All in all, a good outcome for the first time deploying that particular drogue. More importantly, we are on our way again with very few miles lost! The motion of the boat while towing the drogue was less than comfortable as we wallowed about a fair bit. The cacophony from all the moving objects also made it difficult to sleep. I don’t think the wind actually reached the forecasted 35 knots but there was a generous sea running which would have been difficult to sail through. Always better to be prepared.

Course 330 T Speed 5 knots Wind SW 25 knots Waves 5 metres Cloud 50% Temp 14C Baro 1017 Miles in last 24hrs: 67 nm Volts 14.30


  1. guy screech says

    How did you deploy the ‘Gale Rider’ to avoid a substantial jerk on you or the cleat?

  2. Pat and Fred Lark says

    Hi Glenn,

    Held my breath as I read this post. Good on yah. ” Be Prepared” wise words to live by and you obviously walk the talk. Cheering you on.

    Pat and Fred

  3. steve sonneveld says

    congratulations on your success with the drogue. I once änd I mean once deployed a parachute anchor in somewhat similar conditions – 40 knots 5 metres . I got tangled in the ropes and pushed onto the sidelines- had to release my harness to get out – pretty frightening. successfully deployed anchor. Calmed motion and drifted very slowly until a shackle came undone and lost the lot! Back to hove to for the night. Moral of the story is “Always mouse a shackle with electrical tie or wire”.

  4. marianne scott says

    Hi Glenn,

    Your last message reminded of good sailor advice: reef early. It’s not wimping out. We’ve done it a number of times and been saved from a lot of discomfort.

    I’m very impressed with your stalwartness and your ability to keep up your spirits. Here’s hoping those roaring forties treat you well.


Speak Your Mind