Drogues vs Sea Anchors

The Yachting NZ Cat 1 regulations say that you must have a drogue or sea anchor of some description on board.

I have been doing a bit of research and have asked on various Facebook forums what other people use and have come up with some ideas.

The Jordan Series Drogue is a long line of rope with a series of small sea anchors attached. It is designed to be towed astern to hold the yacht stern on to the waves. http://www.jordanseriesdrogue.com/

Apparently you can purchase them fully made or in a kit form from Ace Sailmakers in the USA http://www.acesails.com/ but they don’t have any prices on their website (I have also heard that the kit takes forever to put together!)

There is also a company in the UK called Ocean Brake http://www.oceanbrake.com/prices.html. We are looking at a yacht around 6700kg and a series drogue from them is GBP500 ish. and delivery to NZ is about another GBP140!
“We have heard great things about them from experienced people – We got it from the UK – it was £1056 roughly $1800 nz at the time – that included the stainless eyes, the bridle & the deployment bag. There is a lot of work in them – We asked a couple of local contractors to do it but they said it was too time consuming – and we don’t have the time or equipment – i know it’s very pricey but if it comes down to saving you & the boat price isn’t important. It is brilliantly made & he had it here so fast it was amazing.
Oh and there was no duty this end.”
www.oceanbrake.com

I have also heard about a Shark Drogue – http://www.para-anchor.com/pro.stormdrogue.html which is around USD$700 ish, so perhaps slightly cheaper than the series drogue. That same company also does para-anchors which are deployed from the bow instead to hold the bow in to the waves as opposed to the stern.

I have found another great blog which I am looking forward to following and they have written a post about their Jordan Series Drogue. I asked them if they thought it would be ok for use on a yacht with a flat transom, and they have got some good answers as to why they think a drogue is better than a sea anchor. Check out Gone Floatabout’s Blog

As Ellen says in her reply to me:

Unless things have changed since 2008, you will have to have a sea anchor aboard to clear New Zealand CAT-1 regulations, but I’m not a great fan of sea anchors. Yachts are designed to drive forward through the water, so lying to a sea anchor is not ideal. In really big seas, especially breaking seas, the moving water will cause the line to slacken, rendering the anchor essentially useless. The yacht will yaw from side to side, potentially even turning broadside to the breaking wave before the line grows taut again and pulls her bow back around. The force on the boat is also in all the wrong places. Stern drag devices keep the yacht going the direction she’s supposed to; the line won’t slacken like that; and the force is where it should be. Of course, I haven’t yet used my series drogue, but the idea behind it seems sound: the large number of drag elements ensures that it will always have cones well submerged and doing their job! 

She has a good point. I have emailed the company that they bought their sea anchor from to see if they have got any thoughts on flat transoms when using a sea anchor.

Here is a magazine article about how to use a sea anchor to steer if you lose your rudder.

Another expensive piece of kit that I hope we won’t have to use. But good to do some research now and start saving!

8 thoughts on “Drogues vs Sea Anchors

      • It worked very well on a 10 tonne, 33foot boat, not sure if they come in different sizes (or it would work on a bigger boat – I guess the specs would tell you??) It was VERY powerful. We were in a storm, not nice, it allowed us to get back control. We were on a canoe stern boat and had already added an extra piece of timber to the bumpkin and drilled two holes in this, so the ropes could flow out away from the stern and the Aries. It worked a treat – but as you can imagine it is very hard to deploy in these conditions – highly recommend a trial run in good conditions so you know what is going where etc. The forces involved are magnificent – really easy to cause damage to you/boat when deploying.

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    • Thanks George! I will do some googling tomorrow. Great to research what the best options are before you need to use it! I’ll be so busy already with the celestial navigation to be worrying about series drogue vs para anchors! 😉

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