Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Sea Anchors, Drogues, Brakes for Sailboats

In really extreme weather and large following seas, when a yachtsman wants to slow his boat down, some kind of sea anchor can be beneficial in achieving this.

The concern is that in very large following seas a boat, even under bare poles can be travelling so fast down the face of a wave that it can dig its bow in at the bottom of the trough and pitchpole, or, broach and roll.

Either of these possibilities are to be avoided at all costs - the ensueing damage, or even possible tragic consequences are not worth contemplating. The other point is that these circumstances, if to happen at all, will most likely be far offshore, where the likelihood of assistance from anywhere would be very slim indeed. So having some method of slowing the boat down is good insurance.

There are many products on the market that are available to cruisers and you can, and no doubt will have endless discussions with other sailors the pros and cons of the various types - as you know, sailors can discuss the shape of a knot on the end of a rope for hours!

Here is one product which stands up well and is widely carried in yachts cruising the oceans of our planet:

'Seabrake is a variable drag drogue that was invented by Captain Abernathy after working for many years in the rough waters of Bass Straight that fronts on to the famous Southern Ocean. The Seabrake’s unique patented concept of more speed equals more drag has been used successfully used by sailors around the world to control broaching or surfing and is accepted by Yachting Australia for use as emergency steering.
Burke Marine is Australias' market leader for wet weather gear, performance footwear, boating accessories, safety equipment and Personal Floatation Devices.

A family owned business established over 37 years ago, Burke has dominated the Australian and New Zealand market for many years. The iconic brand has built its reputation on great value products that always perform to the highest standard and therefore welcome Seabrake as a permanent part of the Burke Marine brand portfolio.'

For further information, visit their website www.seabrake.com
Extract courtesy Voiles News.

Images courtesy Burke Marine
Google up 'sail-world.com sea brakes, drogues, sea anchors' for a further in depth article.

Personally, I never carried one on my voyage, working on the premise that I had enough rope and other junk, including an old storm sail, that I could tow behind the boat which would slow her down sufficiently(never tested).

Nonetheless, carrying a good drogue is good insurance and if you have sufficient stowage, the modest investment of $300-400 is best seamanship practice.

You can read more about extreme weather sailing in my ebook 'Voyage of the Little Ship 'Tere Moana' downloadable from my website http://www.sailboat2adventure.com

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