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June 2007

Series Drogues: Can They Work Like a Para-anchor?

We have had several folks ask if a Series Drogue could be used in place of a para-anchor. They also ask our opinion of this gear for storm usage.  Though many people talk about series drogues we do not recall meeting anyone who has actually used them in storm situations. The series drogue appears to present a problem when it comes time to recover it. A few months ago we interviewed David Armstrong a New Zealand sailor who lay to a para-anchor for three days during a passage from New Zealand to Tahiti on his 40 foot race boat. Part of that report makes interesting reading before you consider adding a series drogue to your list of cruising gear.
            David not only cruises on his own boat but voyages with Henk Haazan on his 50 foot steel Artic island exploration vessel Tiama. As the para-anchor recommended for a boat of this size is not only expensive but large and potentially difficult to handle, David generously offered to make up a series drogue which he felt could be used either over the stern or over the bow.  The drogue consisted of more than 40 cones on 250 feet of 1-3/8” diameter line.  Once at sea David and Henk decided to test this while running in winds of 20 knots.  The series drogue did slow the boat down to about two knots and held her almost directly before the wind. But, as we have read before with the series drogues, retrieval was extremely difficult.  “Six strong crew took almost 3 hours to retrieve it and we were totally exhausted even though there was only 20 knots of wind.  I doubt a series drogue could be retrieved in 30 knots of wind.” 

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