The detail below was provided to us by the late Don Jordan, who supported and encouraged our efforts to build series drogues.

LAUNCHING

Launching the Drogue

One of the design objectives of the drogue is that it may be launched with one hand under storm conditions without leaving the cockpit and that it will not foul even if the boat is rolling or yawing. This capability has convincingly been confirmed as described in Performance at Sea.

To prepare for instant launching, the drogue is flaked down with the bridle end at the bottom of the bag and the bridle legs led up the sides and fastened to the attachments at the corners of the transom. The weight (chain) is at the top of the bag.

To launch the drogue, the chain is dropped overboard and the drogue permitted to feed out. Within a few minutes, the drogue will gently take hold with no abrupt deceleration.

Through many launchings the drogue has never fouled. In fact, this launching capability has probably saved the lives of a number of sailors.

Chafe. Once your drogue is deployed and the bridle is under load, it is too late to add chafe gear easily. In your planning it is important to identify areas of likely chafe and make provision with webbing, tubing, leather and other sacrificial materials. If the bridle will run over an edge such as a fairlead or chock, the addition of some wood laid on the deck to raise the level of the rope sufficiently to lessen the rubbing on the edge will help. This can be kept in place by some light ties/cable ties onto the rope.

RECOVERY……….. the facts !

When scanning the web you may have discovered commentators that claim a series drogue is impossible, or at best extremely difficult to recover. This is just not so. It appears to be a point of view that is possibly fuelled by some in the parachute anchor “brigade”. Perhaps they may feel threatened by the simple, effective, safe and economical series drogue. Some other devices are complicated, do not prevent capsize, run a high risk of rudder damage and are potentially dangerous. The spreading of misleading information adds nothing constructive to the debate..

Retrieval of ALL drag devices can require effort. That is a fact. If you can wait until the weather abates, the effort required will decrease considerably. The tail will droop and maybe only 30 or 40% of the cones will be left creating resistance. Recovery of any device must be straightforward and a totally safe procedure. If you need to ‘press on’, you need a plan that suits your situation and the boat. We have some strategies that are noted below. These are suggested courses of action, which may need to be adapted to suit you.

Also, within this website are 3 accounts of recovering a series drogue. One took 20 minutes, another 30 minutes and the longest was a single-hander who took 90 minutes. ,

Trip lines (a light line running alongside the drogue to collapes the cones and aid recovery) are not recommended. They will foul the cones reducing effectiveness and therefore should not be used.

Don Jordan’s thoughts on Retrieving the Drogue

The detail below was provided to us by the late Don Jordan, who supported and encouraged our efforts to build series drogues.

Unless you do it right, retrieving the drogue can be a real chore. I am aware of three cases where the skipper actually gave up and cut the drogue loose. One skipper in the Southern Ocean waited for two days for the wind and sea to quiet down before giving up.

It is not very practical to put the drogue directly on a winch or to pull it in hand over hand. However, if done correctly, a petite woman should be able to easily and safely do the job without leaving the cockpit. .

With a single cone or chute, as the drogue nears the boat, high loads can develop when the boat pitches, a dangerous condition.

With the multiple cone design, the load diminishes as the drogue comes in. Finally the skipper just lifts the chain aboard. This is an unanticipated benefit.

I asked my friend Noel Dilly how he handles retrieval on his 26 ft. sloop. Noel, who sails from the U.K, is a very experienced ocean sailor and was a pioneer in using the series drogue about 20 years ago. He has done much to gain acceptance for the drogue in the U.K. and in Europe.

He stresses that each skipper must choose the system for his boat. We discussed several methods which differed in detail but not in principle.

The attached sketch shows the basics of the system he uses. The drogue is always under control and cannot impose high loads on the operator.

A line is attached to the drogue with a rolling hitch – or Noel uses a loop. He passes the loop around the drogue and leads it through itself twice. This is easy to tie and remove. The drogue is then winched in 8 ft. or so.

A helper line is then attached and fastened to a cleat.

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The winch line is then removed and reattached to the drogue at the transom.

The process is then repeated. Depending on sea conditions, this can take about 20 to 30 minutes.

I am always hoping to get feedback from skippers who have used the drogue, but very little has shown up so far.

Noel points out that the drogue is seldom used, and when it is, it may have saved your life. Retrieval is really a minor item and can be a good time to meditate about your good fortune.

Chafe

In all of the many drogue deployments there has been only one report of a failure due to chafe. I believe that this lack of chafe is due, at least in part, to the relatively low loads and the absence of yaw when the drogue is deployed in a moderate storm. The only time that high loads might be experienced is in the event of a dangerous breaking wave strike.

In this one instance, the skipper reports that the steering gear was surrounded with a heavy steel structure to act as a guard. The bridle legs were deployed above this guard. Investigation showed that as the boat went over the very steep crests the bridle legs could be deflected downward by as much as 35 degrees and would bear heavily on the guard. Fortunately the bridle held up until the worst of the storm was over.

An alternative light weather recovery method suggested by the late Hal Roth.

Many, including ourselves, consider Hal to have been one of the greatest modern day sailors. We have adapted his idea very slightly. The description below is a general concept, so you need to refine it to suit your boat. This is an option worthy of consideration.

1. When setting up the drogue and attaching the bridle legs with cow hitches (see photo), add an extra line to the eye at the beginning iof the Leader section. This line should be 1/2″ (13mm) or slightly larger and the length of your boat plus an extra 30 feet (9.2m). This is your “recovery line”.

2. The recovery line is left with some slack as a “lazy line” and made-off until needed.

3. When the decision is made to recover the drogue, take the recovery line forward outside the pushpit, lifelines, pulpit, etc and feed through your stemhead fitting/bow roller and back to the windlass. Take several turns around the capstan and make off.

4. If your bridle is connected to plates, you will need to create sufficient slack to undo the shackles. This can be achieved using a short line with a rolling hitch onto the bridle leg. Place this short line on a primary winch in the cockpit and bring in sufficient to undo the shackle. Start first with the bridle leg on the other side to the recovery line. Undo the shackle and release the bridle leg overboard, to hang on the drogue. This procedure can be carried out with bridle legs made-up onto deck fittings rather than onto plates.

5. Next carry out the same actions with the remaining bridle leg to release it.

6. With both bridles released, the drogue will be held by the recovery line and the boat will swing around 180 degrees with the bow facing the drogue. Watching carefully the lead of the lines at the bow, slowly winch in the drogue on the windlass. If sufficient crew on board, the engine could be used in “ahead” to ease the load.

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