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PARA-TECH® Engineering Co.
2117 Horseshoe Trail
Silt, CO 81652
(970) 876-0558 · FAX (970) 876-56-68
INSTRUCTIONS FOR USING YOUR
PARA-TECH SEA-ANCHOR ®
The OFFSHORE Anchors
INSTRUCTIONS FOR USING YOUR PARA-TECH® SEA-ANCHOR
Copyright · 2003 ParaTech Engingeering Company
All rights reserved
Printed in the United States of America
"Eternal Father, strong to save, whose arm has
bound the restless wave, O hear us when we
cry to thee, for those in peril on the sea!"
SYNOPSIS AND OVERVIEW:
Thank you for purchasing one of our Sea-Anchors. PARA-TECH Engineering Company is
in business to enhance offshore safety. Please do your part to promote, encourage and
reward good safety habits on your ship! Set a good example by wearing your own life
jacket on board. Practice man overboard drills. Review all safety matters with your crew.
Do they know how to find and use the fire extinguishers? Will they be able to use the VHF to
summon aid on their own?
NEVER TAKE ANYTHING FOR GRANTED AT SEA
Offshore safety is many things, but first and foremost it is that conservative attitude of mind
that never takes anything for granted at sea! In particular, never take your SEA ANCHOR
for granted. Remember also that drag devices are mere aids to seamanship and only as
safe as those who use them. Remember also that different types of boats will react
differently to different drag devices. The individual user should take care to determine prior
to use that this drag device is suitable, adequate or safe for the use intended. Since
individual applications are subject to great variation the manufacturer makes no specific
representation or warranty as to the suitability or fitness of the devices for any application.
Take note that sea anchors are capable of pulling loads measured in tons, so all lines must
be properly coiled beforehand! Stand clear of the coils as the rope is paying out!
PAY OUT LOTS OF RODE!
The parachute anchoring system relies heavily on the stretch of the long nylon rode for
yielding to the seas (and not standing up against them). Even in moderate conditions you
should pay out at least 300' of rode, 10-15x LOA in heavy weather situations.
PARTICIPATE IN THE DRAG DEVICE DATABASE PROGRAM
Our mutual association with offshore safety is an ongoing one. It doesn't end after the sale.
The founder of PARA-ANCHORS INTERNATIONAL has instituted a comprehensive
program to catalog, preserve and publish accurate information about instances where sea
anchors and drogues have been used. If you have occasion to use your drag device,
please fill out and return the DDDB form that was enclosed with it. An ever growing
data resource such as this will-in time-be productive of critical insights into heavy weather
tactics and go a long way toward enhancing offshore safety for all mariners. Your feedback,
your opinions and your observations, regardless of how insignificant they may seem, are of
vital importance to the concept of offshore safety as a whole. Working together we CAN
prevent tragedies such as Fastnet '79. We WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU!
FAIR WINDS & FOLLOWING SEAS!!
Don Whilldin, President
PARA-TECH® Engineering Company
a r yo
L et. e
a c k
J It's your friend
v Watch for this symbol . . .
it indicates some of the most important items to know.
TABLE OF CONTENTS Page
SURVIVAL: The Mind-Set 1
A. COMPONENT RECOMMENDATIONS 2
B. ASSEMBLY 4
C. CATENARY 5
D. CHAFE 6
COMMANDMENTS OF PARACHUTE SEA ANCHORING 11
WHEN TO SET THE CHUTE 12
SETUP Center of Book
A. A MATTER OF DRIFT 13
B. DEPLOYABLE STOW BAG(DSB) 16
C. DEPLOYMENT 17
1. STANDING SET 17
2. FLYING SET 18
CARE & MAINTENANCE 22
REDUCING SIDE-TO-SIDE YAW 23
ADDITIONAL IDEAS/SUGGESTIONS 25
A. PIGTAILS 25
B. BRIDLING 26
C. RIGGING 28
D. RIDING SAILS 29
E. TOWING 30
THE DRAG DEVICE DATA BASE Back Cover
THE MIND SET
In as much as drag devices are liable to be used in extreme conditions, perhaps we
should digress briefly to mention a thing or two about the all important mental aspects of
survival also (forewarned is forearmed!). Coast Guard, Navy and Air Force survival experts
agree that there is no underestimating the role that the mariner's state of mind plays in his
or her survival. "Attitude is the main thing," said Mike Munroe, who survived the 165 knot
winds of Hurricane Allen (1980) in a Givens life raft.
While rescuers have marveled at the tenacity demonstrated by some survivors, they
have also been perplexed and disturbed by those who seem to capitulate and give up with
little struggle, evidently the sheer will to survive having been the major determining factor
between life and death itself! "It's a very hard thing to define, the will to survive," said
retired Coast Guard search and rescue chief, John Waters (March 1988 issue of
Accordingly, we advise mariners who venture offshore to be always mentally disciplined
for survival at sea as the Green Beret is disciplined for survival in combat! To quote the last
paragraph of the inquiry on the Fastnet Tragedy of 1979, ("In the 1979 race, the sea
showed that it can be a deadly enemy and that those who go to sea for pleasure must
do so in the full knowledge that they may encounter dangers of the highest order").
If you are caught in a survival storm, it's "BATTLE STATIONS" for everyone. Take charge
of the situation and rule your ship with an iron will. Deploy your sea anchor, pay out lots of
stretchy rode so as to yield and not stand up against the seas. Employ heavy chafe
gear. Use a backing sail to keep the bow from swinging excessively from side to side.
Batten down the hatches (use hammer and nail if you have to). Jettison all potentially lethal
flying objects from the cabin - THROW THEM OVERBOARD! Set your house in order and
dig in for the battle to survive COME WHAT MAY. Establish a strict schedule for keeping
watch and getting rest. Appoint a similar discipline for eating. Avoid binging on food and
avoid beverages containing alcohol (the poison that weakens the will). KEEP BUSY.
Man the pumps. Repair damage as best as you can, stay sober, post watch, pray, and
never -NEVER- give up. Enforce a positive attitude, avoid despair like the plague, and
don't allow doubt and resignation to set into your crew. Not even for one second.
STAYING WITH THE BOAT
STAY WITH THE BOAT, until there is not one iota of a doubt in your mind that she is in
fact going to sink. Remember Fastnet '79?? In that tragic race, twenty four yachts were
prematurely abandoned by their crews, which climbed into rubber life rafts believing that
their vessels were about to sink. Astonishingly, however, ONLY FOUR OF THOSE YACHTS
WERE ACTUALLY SUNK BY THE FREAK STORM, and whilst many souls perished in those
rubber life rafts, (some of which split apart at the seams) NINETEEN of those empty,
abandoned boats were found to be intact and still floating, AFTER the storm had passed
on. . .
(See illustrations center of Booklet)
The following components are needed to properly rig a PARA-TECH Sea Anchor:
1. Anchor Rope 2. Swivel Shackle 3. Float (Primary)
4. Recovery Float 5. Trip Line 6. Anchor Chain
The proper type, size and length of rode will make the difference between a
comfortable, safe ride and a harsh, possibly damaging ride.
Type: NYLON is the only rope which should be used with PARA-TECH® Sea
Anchors. This is due to its natural elasticity (stretch).
Double braid rope should be 25% to 50% longer than twisted rope.
Size: Rope size should be at least suitable for ground anchoring. The following
are general guidelines;
Sea Anchor Size Boat Displacement Rope Size
6' 4,000# or less 3/8"
9' 8,000# or less 3/8" - ½"
12' 12,000# or less ½"
15' 12 to 25,000# 5/8"
18' 25 to 40,000# 5/8" - 3/4"
24' 35 to 50,000# 3/4"
24' 45 to 65,000# 3/4" - 7/8"
24' 65 to 95,000# 7/8" - 1"
32' 80 to 150,000# 1" - 1 1/8 "
32' 150 to 200,000# 1 1/8" - 1¼"
40' 200 to 300,000# 1¾" - 2"
Length: 10 to 15 times the LOA (a MINIMUM of 300') is recommended. Rope ends
should be spliced to heavy duty, deep cup thimbles and properly seized in place.
We recommend using Stainless Steel swivels with PARA-TECH® Sea Anchors:
Sea Anchor Swivel Sea Anchor Swivel Sea Anchor Swivel
6' & 9' 3/8" 12' 1/2" 15' 5/8"
18' 5/8" 24' 5/8" or 3/4" 32' 7/8"
Recommendations are for the Primary float, attached to the end of the Sea Anchor
Float Line. Buoyancy is to support the entire weight of the Sea Anchor, rope,
chain, etc. if the rope was released and allowed to sink. We suggest using fender
floats for the primary float as you already have them. The Trip Line float only
needs to float and be visible.
The Primary Float MUST always be used as it controls the maximum depth the
Sea Anchor can go.
Sea Anchor Float Buoyancy Sea Anchor Float Buoyancy
6' & 9' 18 Lbs. 12' & 15' 60 Lbs.
18' & 24' 125 Lbs. 32' & 40' 350 Lbs.
FENDERS / FLOATS
Cylindrical (Hole through Middle) Balls (Tear Drop shape)
Size Buoyancy Diameter Buoyancy
6" Dia. X 15" 15 Lbs. 11" 29 Lbs.
8" Dia. X 20" 37 Lbs. 15" 68 Lbs.
10" Dia. X 26" 77 Lbs. 18" 121 Lbs.
12" Dia. X 34" 145 Lbs. 21" 187 Lbs.
27" 396 Lbs
The trip line should be polypropylene due to its buoyancy. 1/4" to 3/8" diameter,
braided is recommended as it handles easier than twisted and is less prone to
kinking and tangling.
Length - The trip line may be from 20' to all the way back to the boat (full trip line). A
full trip line is not recommended in heavy weather due to the possibility of its
fouling and accidentally tripping the Sea Anchor. A good length to work with is 50
to 100'. In moderate conditions where an accidentally tripped Sea Anchor would
not put the boat at risk a full trip line may be used.
The trip line is placed between the Primary Float and the Trip Line Float and is
used to trip (collapse) and recover the Sea Anchor.
BBB/P.C. Galvanized chain is recommended and can be placed at any point
between the Sea Anchor and the boat. Stainless steel or Hi-Test chain of equal
strength may also be used.
If the boat uses chain for its ground tackle then the best method is to attach the
Sea Anchor rode to the end of the anchor chain (with the anchor REMOVED) and
let out from 10 to 150 feet of chain. Make sure the chain is snubbed to deck cleats
with snubbers to off load the windlass. The chain should be no more than 20% of
the overall scope of the rode. Using chain to lead off the boat eliminates the worry
NOTE: The anchor MUST be removed or a short length of chain used as a stand
off so the anchor flukes cannot come in contact with the rode. The anchor flukes
WILL cut the rode if they contact the rode.
Suggested MINIMUM chain:
Sea Anchor Chain size Sea Anchor Chain size Sea Anchor Chain size
6' & 9' 1/4" 12 ' 5/16" 15' &18' 3/8"
24' 7/16" 32' 1/2" 40' 3/4"
A. FLOAT LINE: The float line (included with your PARA-TECH Sea
Anchor) is threaded through a large grommet in the bottom of the
deployment bag. This keeps the bag captive to the system. On 12' and
larger Sea Anchors there is a small swivel attached to the end of the float
line. Attach your primary float to the free end of this swivel. The float line
is stowed in the 'roo pouch in the bottom of the bag.
B. TRIP LINE: The trip line is attached to the same side of the swivel as the
float line. On 6 & 9' Sea Anchors the trip line, float line and primary float
are all joined at the same point. Attach the recovery float to the other end
of the trip line.
The Stow/Deployment bag
is CAPTIVE to the system.
Throw the bag into the water
and the Sea Anchor is
extracted by gravity.
The use of catenary may aid ride comfort. Catenary is the inclusion of weight in the
rode somewhere between the Sea Anchor and boat intended to create some sag
in the rode where there is a slack cycle in the wind and/or wave motion. IN
THEORY as the motion (energy) from a passing wave passes by it will lift and
push the boat away from the Sea Anchor. As this occurs the sag in the rode is
pulled towards a straight line helping the boat yield to the sea.
The following illustrations show various ways that catenary may be built into the
Note: Use of an all chain rode is not recommended.
Voyagers passing through the Panama Canal must have handling lines in order to
pass through the locks. These lines can be made with thimbles in each end, and
may be used for the Sea Anchor rode thus giving the user many options in length
v A SPECIAL NOTE REGARDING CHAFE v
One of the most important points which MUST not be overlooked is the area where
the rode rubs against the boat, usually the bow eye which the rode will pass through.
The constant movement of the boat will cause the rode to rub (Chafe) against
anything in this area. Special care MUST be taken to transfer this wear to
something (leather pads, hose, for example) which will wear instead of the rode.
Once the Sea Anchor is deployed you MUST employ chafe gear where the rode
rubs against the boat. The more severe the conditions the more important the chafe
Failure to use proper chafe gear WILL EVENTUALLY LEAD TO THE FAILURE OF
THE RODE AND THE POSSIBLE LOSS OF YOUR VESSEL AND CREW.
While at Sea Anchor you should regularly monitor the condition of the rode where
chafe is possible. If chafe is occurring either employ more chafe gear or freshen the
nip (let out a bit of line to shift the wear point). ALWAYS MAINTAIN A WATCH!
A bridle to the OUTER HULLS must always be used on multihulls. Each leg
should be approximately 2½ times the beam of the boat. Thimbles should be
spliced in at least one end of each leg and attached SEPARATELY (use 2
shackles, one for each leg) to the main rode. The boat ends may be secured to
cleats (with backing plates) or run through snatch blocks to cockpit winches and
adjusted for the most comfortable ride.
WARNING v WARNING v WARNING v WARNING v WARNING
Some catamarans have a centrally located anchor roller situated midbeam on the
weakest part of the boat - the aluminum crossbar that supports the trampoline. On
these boats leading a line there MUST NOT BE DONE. It is not braced like a mast
and attaching to it can lead to failure of the crossbar, capsize and loss of life.
Attach the bridle legs ONLY to the hulls on catamarans.
CORRECT BRIDLE SET UP
DANGEROUS BRIDLE SET UP
Large diameter sea anchors are very powerful devices in so far as checking wind
drift is concerned. For this reason we advise mariners to be aware when sea
anchored in the vicinity of strong coastal currents. We do not offer this advice in a
dogmatic sense however, and are merely saying that FOREWARNED IS
FOREARMED! Because water is some 800 times heavier than air, if you deploy
your Sea Anchor in a strong current, it will pull the boat with the current, regardless
of wind direction and intensity. There is a recorded case of a 60 ft. catamaran being
pulled directly up wind by a 3 knot coastal current -- in Force 9 conditions! Maintain
a constant watch when hove to a Sea Anchor in areas of strong coastal currents.
Don't court disaster by deploying your Sea Anchor in the shipping lanes! Most ships
are on very tight and expensive schedules, and we sailors would do well to discard
our preconceived notions about the "benevolent" nature of ships at sea. Reflect on
this: A few years ago a tanker pulled into an Alaskan port, and there, dangling from
its starboard anchor was the remains of a sailboat mast and rigging...
REMEMBER: Our chances of collision increase by geometric progression when
we get into the narrow shipping lanes. Naval ships not withstanding, most of the
faster traffic will keep to the GREAT CIRCLE ROUTES to conserve fuel. Those
great circle routes are plainly marked on PILOT CHARTS. Transcribe them onto
your full sized charts and go to a state of alert when you enter any shipping lane.
Always have anchor lights on at night when set on your Sea Anchor.
Bowsprits have always been a nuisance of sorts at anchor, and more so at sea
anchor, where the bow is often pointing sharply down into a trough, whilst the rode
is leading up and out toward the sea anchor. In this connection, some sailors have
improvised various bridles, with various degrees of success. If your bob-stay
fitting (at the waterline) is hefty enough, for instance, you can lead the rode to it.
Or, if the bowsprit itself is hefty enough, you can lead the rode to its tip (more
leverage, and the boat will behave much better at sea anchor). Or as some sailors
have done, you can try a bridle, about 12 ft. or so in length, leading from both the
waterline and the bowsprit, to which the rode can be attached. Experiment with
different ideas until you reach a proper compromise for your particular boat.
ALL BOW ROLLERS MUST HAVE RETAINING PINS TO KEEP THE RODE
FROM SLIPPING OUT
Don't put out to sea without a good wind vane. In a very real sense, THIS is the
addition that makes crossing oceans in a small boat acceptable nowadays,
otherwise "adventure" may become an altogether insufferable ordeal! Servo-
pendulum gears such as ARIES, MONITOR, NAVIK and FLEMING come highly
recommended. On these, the vulnerable pendulum and vane can be quickly
removed at sea anchor, leaving nothing exposed to the whims of the sea, other
than a small bracket on the transom.
If your boat is equipped with a different type of a vane, (one with an auxiliary rudder
permanently in the water), you should take steps to secure the unit. Consider
installing pad-eyes, for instance, so that the vane's rudder can be secured
amidships at sea anchor. A wind vane is a very valuable tool at sea-and so is a sea
anchor! See to it that they compliment--and not contradict--one another!
NOTE: In extreme weather conditions you will be in "confused seas" where the
phase will be constantly changing. You cannot be constantly adjusting the rode
length for these changes which is the reason for the minimum 300' as well as 10
times the LOA of the boat.
In moderate conditions a shorter rode can be used provided you are "in phase".
v CAUTION v
HAZARDS OF WAVE PARTICLE ROTATION
(Trip-line and float not shown. Illustrations are not to true scale).
TROCHOIDAL WAVE THEORY, (from the Greek "TROCHOS" meaning "WHEEL"). The diameter of the "wheel" is
equal to the height of the wave. The period of the wave determines the time it takes for the wheel to make one
revolution. The approximate rate at which the water molecules rotate at their orbital (surface) velocity can be
determined by dividing the circumference of the wheel by the wave period.
INCORRECT RODE LENGTH (TOO SHORT): Molecular rotation upwind in the trough and the corresponding
rotation downwind on the crest cause the boat and the parachute to momentarily converge.
INCORRECT RODE LENGTH (TOO SHORT): Molecular rotation downwind on the crest and the corresponding
rotation upwind in the trough cause the boat and the parachute to momentarily diverge (move apart). Note also how
the inadequate rode length causes the sea anchor to interfere with buoyancy of the yacht as well, ALL IN ALL A
POTENTIALLY DISASTROUS SCENARIO.
CORRECT RODE LENGTH: The long rode leaves the boat free to rise/move/rotate with the seas, and by stretching
acts as a "buffer" to absorb much of the peak divergence loads; notice how the rode has been finely adjusted so that
the boat and the sea anchor are rotating in unison on their respective waves.
(Note: For the actual speed of molecular orbital motion as it relates to sea anchoring, see Shewmon paper entitled
"SEA ANCHOR-RODE FACTS")
THE COMMANDMENTS OF
PARACHUTE SEA ANCHORING
1. Heavy duty cleats (through bolted with backing plates) shall be used with
the parachute anchoring system.
2. All lines shall be spliced to heavy duty thimbles and all shackles shall be
3. Heavy duty bow rollers with securing pins shall be used on single hulled
4. Heavy duty chafe gear shall be employed where the rode meets the boat.
5. All lines shall be properly coiled prior to deployment - NEVER TAKE ANY
SEA ANCHOR FOR GRANTED!
6. The sea anchor rode shall be NYLON, with adequate stretch to negotiate
shock forces. Rode diameter should be at least the same as used for
7. ADEQUATE "SCOPE" MUST BE PAYED OUT TO PRESERVE VESSEL
BUOYANCY AND TO MINIMIZE SHOCK FORCES, the rule being as
follows: THE GREATER THE SCOPE, THE LESS THE STRAIN ON
EVERYTHING CONCERNED. For storm applications, this "scope" is
suggested to be about 10 times the LOA of the boat. In other words, a 30
ft. boat should pay out at east 300 ft of line.
8. A swivel of adequate size and type shall be used at the sea anchor
terminal to allow for line de-torque and parachute free-wheel.
9. A trip-line shall be incorporated into the system to avoid the hazards of
wave rotation during retrieval.
10. Mariners shall observe all the traditional rules of safety during and after
deployment, wearing a safety harness, posting watch etc.
11. DO NOT BE LULLED INTO A FALSE SENSE OF SECURITY . . . King
Neptune may be throwing everything at you . . . STAY ALERT AND BE
PREPARED FOR THE WORST!
WHEN TO SET THE CHUTE
Monitor WWV (shortwave band, 2.5,5,10,15 and 20 megahertz, 8 minutes after the
hour, and 48 minutes after the hour), and local weather frequencies. Look for your own
weather signs and watch the barometer. DON'T WAIT UNTIL THE LAST MINUTE!!! A
rapidly falling barometer means that you are being overtaken by an atmospheric vacuum of
sorts. Where there is a vacuum, air rushes in to stabilize the system, and rushing air means
high winds and mature seas! Pay attention to your barometer -- and don't put out to sea
TRANSITION FROM OFFENSE TO DEFENSE
The exact time of transition from OFFENSE to DEFENSE will vary from boat to boat and
crew to crew. Nevertheless some pointers are offered here: If, for instance, sea anchor
deployment is imminent, always have that the chute in the water and properly set
WELL BEFORE DARK!
By all means go WITH Mother Nature when practical, but remember that going with
Mother Nature and trying to KEEP UP with Mother Nature are two different things.
Remember again that the human mind is fragile and unless it can periodically regenerate
itself at sea (ease and relax the force of its tension) it will grow weak and ineffective.
Exhaustion, resignation, and the attendant wrong decisions have been preludes to
tragedies at sea. Before "Mother Nature" begins to overtake and overwhelm you, before
physical and mental fatigue sweeps over you like a black cloud, before you find yourself
railing uncontrollably at the wind and the sea, that's the time to think about deploying your
sea anchor and calling time out.
CRUISING PHILOSOPHY AND SAFETY
Here's some sensible advice from one of our customers, who deployed a 28' diameter
para-anchor during an Atlantic storm (monohull steel schooner, 75' x 36 tons, full keel,
Force 9-10 conditions, Latitude 39° 40' North, Longitude 49° 30' West): "People must
realize that ocean cruising can be safe if you go with the idea that you will go into a
defensive position before the seas build too high. The flat out philosophy of
professional racers must be disregarded by small crew cruising yachts." (Jeremiah
Nixon, yacht "Goodjump II")
DAMAGE CONTROL: THINK FIRST, ACT SECOND
Sooner or later all mariners will taste panic at sea, it's normal, and we advise mariners to
remember that the sea anchor is there to be used! In case of stove-in hull, dismasting, or
other potentially dangerous damage, don't panic, think about setting the chute instead!
With the sea anchor deployed off the stern (IT'S OK TO USE IT OFF THE STERN FOR
NON-STORM, DAMAGE CONTROL SITUATIONS), the boat stopped and its motions
stabilized, you will have occasion to collect your thoughts, come to terms with your
predicament and deal with it in a more efficient manner.
SEA ANCHOR DEPLOYMENT
"A MATTER OF DRIFT"
The sea anchor in the water generates far greater TURBULENCE than does the hull of
the boat, thus the boat drifts much faster than the chute, eventually coming up short against
the rode, which pulls the bow into the seas. More than anything else, it is precisely this
DRIFT FACTOR that enables the sea anchor to inflate and operate efficiently.
Deployment efficiency will vary from boat to boat, depending on how quickly the boat's
drift will pay out the rode. Remember, it is not that the sea anchor has to exert a pull on the
boat, but rather it is the boat that has to drift to exert an initial pull on the sea anchor,
thus fully inflating it underwater and enabling it to obtain its iron grip on the sea.
In this connection please note: When lying beam to the seas, vessels with deep
draft and large keels will - by virtue of their now TURBULENT underbodies - drift very
slowly... So: Deployment will be relatively rapid for vessels with shallow draft and high
windage. Deployment will take slightly longer for boats with moderate sized keels, and
longer still for sailboats with full keels.
BOARDS AND RETRACTABLE KEELS
v Centerboards & Swing Keels: v CAUTION v
Lowering board/s and keels, or lowering them all the
way, may give the yacht something to trip over. By and
large, and as an important rule of seamanship, boards and
keels should be raised in storms so that the yacht can
"slip-slide," and not have something to trip over.
If the sea anchor is large enough it does not appear that the strains placed on the
rudder/s will exceed normal limits. Most fears about "drifting down on the rudder" are
unfounded, as evident by extensive documentation contained in the Drag Device Data
Base. Notwithstanding, if the rudder can be safely raised or removed (as on some
multihulls) it would be a good idea to do so.
IF THE RUDDER CANNOT BE SAFELY REMOVED, IT SHOULD BE LASHED
AMIDSHIPS, PREFERABLY WITH SEVERAL LAYERS OF THICK BUNGEE CORD TO
ALLOW SOME MOVEMENT.
BEHAVIOR AT SEA ANCHOR
Generally speaking, vessels with symmetrical underwater shapes and high drift
characteristics are given to behave well at sea anchor. This is especially true of multihulls,
which can also use their wide beams as the anchor points for a steadying bridle. On the
other end of the spectrum , vessels with deep draft should behave in a satisfactory way
also, providing the sea anchor's diameter is large enough. In some instances, a
steadying sail can be used at the stern to greatly improve behavior at sea anchor. Some
chain in the rode might also be advisable for vessels whose bows are given to sail too
much from side to side, though always used in association with plenty of stretchy
nylon line. The chain may sink during slack cycles, and help to keep tension in the system.
STERN DEPLOYED SEA ANCHORS?
Large diameter Sea Anchors are NOT to be confused with drogues, and ARE
NOT RECOMMENDED FOR USE OFF THE STERN OF THE AVERAGE SMALL
CRAFT IN HEAVY WEATHER SITUATIONS.
In moderate conditions and stable seas, however, there is nothing wrong with
using the big chute off the stern for rest & recuperation, for instance, or for
stopping the boat and steadying its movements so a crew member can go safely
up the mast.
BUT REMEMBER - Your Sea Anchor was designed for use off the bow and
your boat was likewise designed to take the seas on the bow.
THE PARA-TECH DEPLOYABLE STOW BAG (DSB)
The PARA-TECH DSB is a heavy duty stow bag for your Sea Anchor. It has a
convenient carrying handle that can also be used for securing it on deck or inside
the boat. It also has a retaining strap to keep the shackle from coming loose when
carrying the stowed Sea Anchor. The DSB is DEPLOYABLE, an integral part of
the PARA-TECH Sea Anchor.
It is not necessary to remove the Sea Anchor from the bag, the shackle is
released from the stow strap (analogous to pulling the ripcord), the bag is tossed
into the sea and the Sea Anchor then deploys from the bag. When retrieving, the
chute and float line are brought on board, the bag is already on the float line, ready
to slide onto and contain the Sea Anchor.
How does the Sea Anchor deploy from the bag? By the opposing forces of
GRAVITY and BUOYANCY. Although the DSB and Sea Anchor may sink the DSB
does provide a few pounds of positive buoyancy (there is always some air trapped
in the canopy and bag to provide this). The parachute, shackle first, is then fed out
by gravity. As the shackle falls from the inverted bag and sinks it extracts the lines
Rode, Shroud Lines,
To Boat Extracting From Bag
Rope Hardware and Terminal
DEPLOYING YOUR PARA-TECH® SEA ANCHOR
At sea all the system components must be intact, rode neatly coiled and arranged,
connected and ready to deploy. Never take any Sea Anchor for granted: These
are powerful devices that can wreak havoc on deck if carelessly deployed. KEEP
ARMS/ANKLES OUT OF THE RODE'S COILS, and in the event of a hang-up,
trip the chute, or that failing, BE PREPARED TO CUT THE RODE ITSELF!!
Deployment of your Sea Anchor is very simple:
Make sure all components are properly connected - floats & trip line attached to
the float line - rode, swivel and chain attached and the end of the rode properly
secured to the boat.
1.v Undo the shackle retainer strap to release the Sea Anchor shackle from
the bag. This is equivalent to "pulling the ripcord". NOT DOING THIS
WILL MAKE IT IMPOSSIBLE FOR THE SEA ANCHOR TO DEPLOY
FROM THE BAG.
2. Toss the trip line float into the water and clear of the boat, followed by the
float line float and float line.
3. Toss the Sea Anchor, bag and all into the water, making sure it is tossed
into clear water and NOT ON TOP OF EITHER THE FLOAT LINE OR
4. As the boat drifts away from the Sea Anchor you can pay out about 50
ft. of rode and snub the line to help the Sea Anchor open then snub the
line often to keep tension in the system. DO NOT FULLY CLEAT THE
LINE WITH A SHORT RODE OUT BUT GIVE IT JUST A HALF TURN
ON THE CLEAT.
4a. When using a PARA-TECH Rode Stow/Deployment Bag for your rode
the bag is tossed in after the Sea Anchor and the rode will deploy out
of the bag.
5. With adequate rode payed out, cleat/secure the rode, employ chafe
gear and take a break.
The safest method to deploy a Sea Anchor in heavy weather situations is to allow
the boat's drift to pay out the rode. The step-by-step scenario is as follows:
1. Head up into the wind , allow the sails to luff and the boat to stall.
2. Deploy the Sea Anchor ON THE WINDWARD SIDE (NEVER on the lee
side where the boat may drift over and foul with it).
3. Undo the shackle retainer strap, toss trip line float, trip line and float line
into the water, followed by the Sea Anchor (MAKE SURE THE SEA
ANCHOR IS TOSSED INTO CLEAR WATER), followed by the rode.
REVIEW THE PRIOR PASSAGE
Snub the line early to help the chute open
Drift back and pay out the correct amount of "scope"
NOTE: By using the "Standing Set" method you can deploy the Sea Anchor from
the safety of the cockpit by running the rode OUTSIDE the rails and cleating it off to
the full length and letting the rode out without snubbing as it pays out. The Sea
Anchor will stay in the bag until the rode is fully deployed and then come out of its
bag and open.
In non-heavy weather situations, an alternative method, often used by
commercial fishermen, is known as the "FLYING SET".
(NON HEAVY WEATHER, POWER ONLY, NO SAILS)
1. Position the Sea Anchor, rode, etc. in the stern cockpit.
2. Secure the bitter end of the rode to the bow, outside all rails, stays, etc.
3. Put engine in slow forward and steer a course with the wind at 7 o'clock.
4. Deploy the trip line, float line, Sea Anchor, and rode off the stern.
5. Move the transmission in and out of gear to allow the rode to safely pay out
behind the boat.
6. With all but the last rode payed out, take the engine out of gear and WAIT FOR
THE WIND TO ROTATE THE BOW SLOWLY INTO THE WIND.
7. Cleat, chafe, break!
CAUTION: Because of the dynamic/shock loads involved in attempting to stop a
heavy boat that is moving down wind as some speed, this second method,
"FLYING SET", is NOT RECOMMENDED IN HEAVY WEATHER SITUATIONS.
WIND BLOWING FROM
APPROX. 7 O'CLOCK
(NON HEAVY WEATHER,
POWER ONLY, NO SAILS)
To retrieve the Sea Anchor all you need to do is fetch up on the Trip Line Float and pull the
Sea Anchor in by the float line and trip line. You can reach the float by either winching or
motoring the boat to the float. Once you have the float you should slack off on the rode as
you pull the Sea Anchor in. This procedure empties the water out of the chute, causing it to
collapse into a limp sack collapsed on itself that can be hauled aboard easily.
Pull in trip line float, trip line, primary float, float line, canopy, lines, riser and anchor rode.
Keep all of the components separated but in the same sequence. This will reduce the
possibility of entangling the Sea Anchor lines with any other gear. DO NOT detach the
anchor rode until the parachute is stretched out for repacking, and even then ONLY IF IT IS
REALLY NECESSARY. Keeping the rode attached will help keep you from tangling the
Though many choose to omit the trip-line, we consider one both necessary and
wise. Remember, when retrieving the sea anchor, one cannot pull the anchor to
the boat, rather the boat has to be pulled up to the sea anchor, even if that
boat weighs 10 tons!! In retrieving the sea anchor the hard way (without a trip-
line), some of our customers proceed as follows: They wait until conditions have
moderated considerably. Then, they use a winch to haul the boat slowly upwind to
the chute. When the sea anchor is within reach, the skipper or a crew member
pulls on ONE of the parachute lines, spills the water out of the canopy and
brings the "limp sack" on deck.
This way of retrieval is fine, unless there are big swells still running, and that's
when we get into the problems associated with wave particle rotation. Remember,
as you begin hauling the boat up to the sea anchor, you will eventually arrive at that
delicate and precarious zone of conflict where the heavy boat is being cycled
downwind on the crest, while the unyielding sea anchor being cycled
upwind in the trough. As the two immovable objects diverge forces are brought
to bear that are capable of damaging hardware on the boat, the rode or the sea
anchor itself (to say nothing of producing horrendous jerks!) You can avoid this by
the use of a trip-line.
Drive the boat up to the float and use a boat
hook to bring it on deck.
REPACKING THE PARA-TECH® SEA ANCHOR
Prior to deploying your PARA-TECH® Sea Anchor you should unpack and repack
the system to familiarize yourself with the process.
NOTE: To minimize the chances of tangling the lines DO NOT disconnect the
rode unless the Sea Anchor is packed and the shackle is stowed in its strap.
1. Slide the Deployment Bag to the top of the canopy.
2. Secure the apex (at the top center of the canopy) to a cleat (or something
solid). Do this by tying off the float line about two feet from the apex.
3. Stretch the canopy and lines to the shackle and pull snug at the shackle.
4. Make sure the radial webs are on the OUTSIDE of the canopy. If not, the
canopy is inside out. Turn the canopy right side out and straighten the lines.
5. Verify the lines are straight by separating the riser into two groups and, while
keeping them separate, trace them to the bottom of the canopy. The two
groups should remain separate with no lines from one group wrapping around
the other group. If not, the lines are tangled and must be untangled before you
proceed. NOTE: If the lines are partially tangled the Sea Anchor will still
function but the tangles will cause line wear and eventually lead to line
6. Once the canopy and lines are straight slide the bag over the canopy with the
float line pulled to the outside of the bag and fold the Sea Anchor into the bag
(it is not necessary to neatly fold the canopy, just stuff it in the bag). The
important part is that the lines have equal tension (or slack) between the
canopy hem and riser (there are no lines which are looser than the others).
7. Make three or four loose coils with the lines on top of the canopy. Lay one of
the tongue flaps (sewn to the inside the bag) over the lines and make 2 to 4
more coils of line. Fold another tongue flap over these lines and continue in
the same manner. NOTE: the 6' and 9' Sea Anchors do not have these flaps
so just coil the lines on top of the canopy.
8. The last flap should go over the line/ riser junction.
9. With about one foot of riser outside the bag, thread the elastic loop through the
other three grommets, fold the riser and tuck it through the loop. This keeps
the bag closed. Secure the shackle to its stow strap then detach the rode.
10. Stow the float line in the 'roo pouch in the bottom of the bag by S-folding it in
your hand and stuffing it in the pouch.
The shackle is the
business end of the sea
anchor. During handling,
etc., keep the shackle
separate/clear to avoid
tangles in the parachute
CARE & MAINTENANCE
Your system is constructed from modern materials and should last many seasons with
Sea Anchor lines are easy to tangle if handled carelessly (Murphy's Law No. 392.6).
Handle your Sea Anchor carefully & deliberately, especially when it first arrives. Take note
of how it is packed and how the lines and shackle are stowed, ready to have the anchor rode
and swivel attached. By attaching the rode before doing anything else you will greatly
reduce the chances of tangling the lines. The lines MUST be kept straight so the Sea
Anchor will open properly and there will be no chafe from the lines against one another.
FACTORS AFFECTING WEAR
Harmful Salt Crystals
It is OK to store your chute wet after being in sea water but abrasive salt crystals will
form if it is allowed to dry without rinsing in fresh water. When in port., rinse the system with
fresh water and allow it to dry slowly in the shade (NEVER in direct sunlight). Once it is wet
with sea water, keep it wet until you can properly rinse and dry it.
Harmful Ultraviolet Rays
Direct exposure to the sun's harmful rays will weaken the materials your Sea Anchor is
made from. When not stored below it MUST be packed in its deployment bag. The bag will
help shield the Sea Anchor from sunlight induced degradation. When in port we strongly
recommend stowing it below or in a locker.
Your Sea Anchor is a very important piece of survival equipment and as such MUST be
kept in good condition. Inspect the system for damage or excess wear after each
deployment, especially after using in heavy weather.
Most Sea Anchor damage is a result of snagging on the boat during deployment or
recovery. The Deployable Stow Bag (DSB) greatly reduces this potential. Proper
deployment and keeping the lines straight will reduce the possibility of damage to almost
zero. PARA-TECH's Sea Anchors are designed to be damage tolerant... they will still
function even with a damaged panel or some broken lines.
DAMAGED CANOPY WEBBING
This webbing runs from the lower hem to the apex of the canopy and around the
upper and lower hems. If ANY of this webbing is damaged it MUST be repaired or
reinforced before using the Sea Anchor again.
DAMAGED APEX LINES
These lines cross the apex (the hole in the center) of the canopy . . . they are a
MAJOR structural part of the Sea Anchor and if damaged or broken they MUST be
replaced or reinforced before using the Sea Anchor again. Spliced or replaced
apex lines must be the EXACT length of the others.
As stated before, the Sea Anchor will still work even with a broken line but at
reduced drag. Damaged lines may be spliced with the same or equivalent nylon
line. The lengths must be the same as the others. Temporary repairs should be
replaced as soon as possible to ensure the overall integrity of the system.
REPAIRS TO THE CANOPY
Small holes or tears should be repaired as soon as possible. Tears less than a foot
long can be temporarily repaired by using adhesive backed sail repair tape. The
tape must be placed on both the inside and outside of the canopy and extend at
least one inch beyond the tear then sewn around the perimeter of the tape. Once
back in port you should have it repaired by a competent sailmaker, parachute
rigger or return it to PARA-TECH for repair.
SPECIAL NOTE: If you are in a situation where you need your Sea Anchor and it
is damaged, use it anyway. 60 to 80% Drag is better than no drag and not using it
may lead to disaster. The PARA-TECH Sea Anchor is designed to function even
REDUCING SIDE-TO-SIDE YAW ON MONOHULL SAILBOATS
All monohulls have a tendency to "sail" or "hunt" at anchor. This tendency can be
exaggerated by various factors like the boat's underwater profile, mast location,
amount of windage fore and aft, ratio of waterline length to length on deck, type of
rudder, etc. Purely from the anchoring point of view some boats have built-in vices
that make them ill behave on a hook or Sea Anchor. There are other variables at
work here. Fortunately they can be manipulated to reduce side-to side yaw and
improve behavior at anchor or Sea Anchor. Some of these variables are listed
below in order of importance:
A small, flat (no belly, no roach) vane type mizzen sail, tightly sheeted and properly
trimmed with leach and foot lines will work wonders on a ketch. A heavily built
staysail raised on its own separate track on the mast will almost certainly reduce
yaw on a modern sloop. So will a storm jib, hanked onto the backstay, raised by
the topping lift and properly trimmed by leach and foot lines. Any sort of windage
aft is bound to improve the picture. Some sailboats have a stainless steel radar
arch/platform over the cockpit, with owners reporting a significant reduction in
yaw. Improvise. Be creative. Use anything and everything available. A dinghy
lashed to the stern rails may work wonders. (With survival at stake Joe Byers of
Doubloon fame lashed a mattress to the mizzen mast with good results - - see
Heavy Weather Sailing, Chapter 18).
Nowadays a great many boats have large amounts of forward windage in the form
of a roller furling jib. A 50 Ft. long by 4" Dia. tube has an area of about 17 square
feet. This a significant amount of windage if the wind is blowing 50 knots, making
the bow fall off in high winds. A huge difference may be noted if the roller jib is
dropped before a storm hits.
BOW ATTACHMENT POINT
On some boats the rode can be led off the bow side chock or hawse hole (instead
of the anchor roller mounted on the centerline of the boat). The yacht will then lie a
few degrees off the wind. This may be preferable to the yaw and yaw-induced roll
when the rode is led off the centerline of the boat. WATCH FOR CHAFE!!!
THE USE OF POWER
If side-to-side yaw is still a problem, start the engine and place it in SLOW
REVERSE. This will slowly move the yacht away from the Sea Anchor and have a
significant effect in terms of reducing yaw. Do not apply too much throttle as this
will reduce the stretch in the rode. The rode's elasticity must be maintained so it
can buffer forces associated with wave loading.
Much has been learned over the years since PARA-TECH® began producing Sea
Anchors. Many users, for example, have stated that in heavy weather the Sea
Anchor is best deployed from the safety of the cockpit. We suggest you devise a
method of launching everything from the safety of your own cockpit. To do so it
would be helpful to have a "pigtail" in place.
A "Pigtail" (not to be confused with a snubber) is a short line, preferably one size
larger than the main rode. It should be long enough to attach to the bow (either
cleat or anchor chain) and reach the safety of the cockpit. It should have thimbles
spliced in one or both ends. This pigtail should be positioned and secured before
leaving port and secured OUTSIDE the rails. It can be lashed in place with break
cord or fine nylon thread (some sailors use dental floss). Make sure it is led
OUTSIDE stays, rails, stanchions, etc.
With the pigtail in place you should not have to crawl out onto the slippery bow to
deploy the Sea Anchor. When deployment is imminent . . . position the Sea
Anchor, rode, etc. in the cockpit and attach the rode to the Sea Anchor and pigtail.
Make sure EVERYTHING is routed OUTSIDE the rails. Head up into the weather
to "stall" the boat and deploy the Sea Anchor on the windward side of the boat.
CHAIN: If attaching to your anchor chain you will need to let out the chain
BEFORE the Sea Anchor sets. If this involves a trip to the bow, MAKE SURE YOU
ARE WEARING A SAFETY HARNESS CLIPPED ON TO AN ADEQUATE
JACKLINE. Prior to deployment, decide the amount of chain you will be letting
out. NOTE: you can paint your chain at various lengths to make it easy to
determine how much has been let out. In moderate conditions, for example, you
may want to let out 25 to 50' of chain. In heavy weather, you may need to let out
100- 200' or more of chain. By marking the chain at intervals you can let out the
desired length and secure it with snubbers, etc.
NOTE: The Drag Device Data Base, by Victor Shane lists these and other ideas
in book form. The case histories it contains catalog much of what we have learned
- and unlearned - in past years. Be sure to obtain a copy and study it before putting
out to sea.
BRIDLING THE ILL-BEHAVED MONOHULL
Depending on a number of variables (rigging, keel, rudder configuration, etc.),
some monohulls point comfortably into the wind and seas. Others don't, yawing
uncomfortably from side to side. Those that don't may benefit from bridling to
hold them steady at some angle to the weather. (The use of a properly rigged
storm trisail may increase comfort as well.)
Archimedes once said "give me a lever long enough and I will move the Earth."
The key element is LEVERAGE. Multihulls obtain that leverage by attaching
their bridles to hulls that are widely spaced apart. Monohulls can obtain a
similar mechanical advantage by attaching a bridle to TWO different parts of a
single hull, one well forward and the other further aft.
The bow attachment is usually the bow-cleat or Samson post. The rear
attachment point will differ from yacht to yacht and will have to be determined
by the crew - some may opt to lead the aft bridle leg to a cockpit winch though
a rail mounted snatch-block, for example.
Everything else being equal, the farther the distance between attachment
points the greater the leverage. Measure that distance and multiply by 2.5 to
obtain a rough idea of the length of the PIGTAIL (see illustrations below). If that
distance is 10 feet, for example, then the PIGTAIL should be about 25 feet and
BRIDLE LEG long enough (pigtail plus boat's LOA) to reach the attachment
point wherever it may be.
1.Heave to with Pigtail on windward side of boat.
2.Deploy Sea Anchor and rode from cockpit and wait until it sets.
3.Sequence: Trip Line, Primary Float, SA, Rode & Bridle or in reverse order.
4.Once SA is set the boat may tend to yaw from side-to-side.
5.When boat yaws to windward side, take up the slack in bridle leg and
cleat it off then adjust for the most comfortable ride.
OR CHAIN MAIN SEA
to main rode
NOTE: If you are using chain off the bow you must remove the anchor - if
this cannot be done then you must use a length of chain as a stand-off to
keep the anchor flukes from contacting the rode or bridle leg as the flukes
can cut the rode.
RIGGING FOR MAXIMUM CHAFE PROTECTION
Chain should be secured to deck cleats or Samson post with snubbers in order to
not load the windlass. Chain should also be secured to the bow roller, to prevent
"jumping out" of the chain.
Secure to bow cleats
WIND Trip Line Primary Float
Trip Line Float (Use Fender)
Shackles Rode Stow/
Deployment Bag Sea Anchor
The amount of chain let out depends on the conditions. In moderate conditions just a few feet for
chafe protection and up to 20% of the overall scope of the rode in heavy weather.
RIDING SAIL OPTIONS
The use of some sort of riding sail will add greatly to the stability and comfort of the
yacht while at anchor, whether it be Sea Anchor, mooring buoy or ground anchor.
The following are two ideas which you can try. Consult your sailmaker for sizing
Lash to Boom
Attach Lines to Corner
Grommet & Cleat Off
Corners & Edges Attach Sail on Top
or Bottom of Boom
Tie Off Down
Delta Riding Sail
Aft Stay Heavy
Flat Riding Sail
BEING TAKEN UNDER TOW
If your boat is disabled and you are riding on your Sea Anchor the safest and
easiest way to be taken under tow is as follows:
Have the skipper of the towing boat pick up the trip line, pull the Sea Anchor in
and temporarily bag it then cleat the rode and start the tow.
This method avoids the boats getting into close proximity in order to heave
lines and risking collision. The towing boat comes UPWIND of the disabled
boat placing the disabled boat in its wind shadow and can maneuver at will to
pick up the Trip Line with virtually no risk of collision.
EASY TOW LINE TRANSFER
More and more small boats are putting out to sea nowadays, seeking
independence of a higher sort, as well as a measure of relief from a world in
turmoil. Of these, the majority are disillusioned in short order, their preconceived
notions about calm seas, balmy breezes and swaying palm trees rudely displaced
by the harsh realities of ocean crossing.
Happily, however, there are also those, who rise to the occasion, meet the
challenge head-on, survive it all and return. These are a rare breed, whose lives
have been intensified by the encounter with the sea, and whose very souls have
been made to conform to higher codes of self-discipline and liberty. Ask any one of
these whether the whole thing was worth it, and the majority will tell you, YES, it
was all worth it, and that the rewards of such epic endeavors are ample and
enduring in every respect.
Harbor no illusions about the unpredictable sea. To quote the words of Webb
Chiles, "The fallacy is in expecting anything at sea to be as it 'should be'." Indeed
there are no guarantees out there, and we cannot offer you one, implied or
otherwise. What we do offer is the experiences other mariners who have
benefitted from our sea anchors, and a long term program (the "DRAG DEVICE
DATA BASE") that catalogs and disseminates accurate information about
drogues and sea anchors.
It only stands to reason that as more and more heavy weather files are added to
the database, the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle will slowly fall into place,
systematically increasing our knowledge on the subject of offshore safety, and this
in itself is a good and worthwhile cause to contribute to, as we go sailing across the
oft hostile interfaces between sea and sky with all of the uncertainties -- and
challenges -- that they still hold for the contemporary mariner.
A SPECIAL NOTE ON YOU DECISION ON WHETHER OR NOT TO SET
YOU SEA ANCHOR . . .
What is the one thing that if you ever need and don't have you will NEVER
need again? A PARACHUTE! This is especially true in the aviator's world but
still applies in the mariners world.
WHEN IN DOUBT . . . SET IT OUT!
We strongly urge you to completely unpack the Sea Anchor from the bag,
paying careful attention to how it is packed and repack the chute to familiarize
yourself with the packing. Refer to packing instructions.
An O By
R S HANE
The DRAG DEVICE DATA BASE was originated by Victor Shane, founder of
PARA-ANCHORS INTERNATIONAL. This revolutionary idea brings together
sailors, editors, experts on safety and draws from their knowledge and
bluewater experience to enhance offshore safety for all mariners, while its
companion publication collects and catalogs accurate files on instances where
drogues and sea anchors have been used in heavy weather (copies can be
purchased through PARA-ANCHORS INTERNATIONAL).
If you have occasion to use you drag device, please fill out and return the
DDDB that was enclosed with it. THANK YOU!
Manufactured By: PARA-TECH® Engineering Co.
2117 Horseshoe Trail
Silt, CO 81652
(970) 876-0558 · FAX (970) 876-56-68