Boating NZ : FREE TO READ April 2014
subscribe online at www.mags4gifts.co.nz/boating-nz 75 A sea anchor is a requirement for New Zealand yachts undertaking short-handed ocean passages. Boating NZ columnist Jim Lott practices deploying a sea anchor before he needs it in a storm. T here have been stormy days at sea when I have felt like Lewis Carroll’s Tweedledum when he said: “I am very brave generally, only today I happen to have a headache.” In extreme sea conditions, lying to a parachute anchor can ease the headache. Any vessel can be rolled by a wave that is big enough or steep enough, including yachts which have been lying a-hull, ie bare-poled and beam-on to the seas. Others have broached and rolled after surfing down a wave at speed; others have pitch-poled, end over end. Yachts and even large ships have been lost without trace in stormy weather. Experienced ocean sailors debate at length the various methods of how to handle storms at sea. Perhaps the only consensus is that no method suits all vessels in all conditions. However, there is also wide consensus that being side-on to breaking seas is worse than being end-on. While racing yachts with plenty of crew have the ability to steer, gales at sea are tiring and it is a requirement for all New Zealand yachts on ocean trips to have a system for keeping the vessel end-on to the seas unless there are more than four crew-members on board. See YNZ Safety Regulation 17.31. Over the years many devices have evolved to keep a yacht end-on to the waves. Those which are streamed over the stern to slow the boat and assist with steering are generally referred to as drogues. Others set from the bow are commonly called sea-anchors. Both have their merits depending on the sea state and type of boat. There was no really effective sea- anchor until a thinking sailor in 1947 decided to see what would happen if a military cargo parachute was deployed over the bow in a gale. It worked well, keeping the yacht comfortably headed into the seas while drifting slowly astern. And so began the use of purpose-designed parachute sea-anchors for ships and yachts. When Karin and I planned our voyage from New Zealand to Chile in our 16-metre yacht Victoria, we decided to carry a parachute sea-anchor in case we encountered extreme sea conditions. After much research, we selected the 4.5-metre diameter Coppins Stormfighter then, in typical Kiwi fashion, ignored the instructions to practice setting it before we departed. After thousands of miles, thankfully, we haven’t needed it, but during a trip home to New Zealand, there came a welcome opportunity for Karin and me to join Auckland yachtie Andy McCarrison on his 15-metre yacht Gallant Cavalier. Our mission: to practice deploying and retrieving a Stormfighter. None of us had deployed a sea anchor before, which was good, because we had to see if we could figure it out for ourselves. The weather obliged with a 25 to 30-knot south-westerly, enough to carry out the test but not enough to cause too much trouble if we made mistakes. Sitting in the marina was the ideal place to sort out the component parts and make preparations. WHAT DID WE LEARN? Deploying a parachute sea-anchor is a bit like setting a spinnaker. Preparation and double- checking are vital and one line in the wrong place can create havoc just when you don’t want problems. It’s easy when you know how, but you will not get it right without practicing. In spite of having the manual in hand and last minute checks, we still left out a step. We forgot to inflate the parachute bag. This meant that the parachute had a tendency to sink and rise in the sea. It also made it much harder to retrieve. The parachute sea-anchor is stowed in or near the cockpit. The small back-pack with part of the rode is secured to the lifelines. 5 6 VICTORIA ’S WORLDVOYAGEJim&Ka rin Lott MARINE ENGINES & GENERATORS Lombardini Engines Contact: Scott McAlpine 027 294 1421 - 09 279 6236 firstname.lastname@example.org www.transdiesel.com 13hp to 87hp. Perkins Engines 86hp - 300hp VM Motori Engines 114hp - 345hp Kohler Marine Generator Sets 5kVA - 500kVA 0414-93 REGULAR_PB_sea anchors_April14.indd 75 19/03/2014 9:25:10 a.m.
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