Boating NZ : FREE TO READ April 2014
76 Boating New Zealand April 2014 Chafe is a major problem and it is essential to have the chafing sock or hose in place before the load comes on the rode. Once the sea anchor was deployed, it would be very hard to position any protection, and if the rode rubs on any hard surface while under tension it will part quickly. It may be possible to fasten the rode to a short length of chain through the stem-head fitting to avoid the chafe problem. The Stormfighter is designed and made by Bill Coppins in Motueka where he has been making sea-anchors for yachts and ships for more than 30 years, although other brands are available. The Coppins system is well thought out and was easy to use once we became familiar with the details. If we had tried to deploy a parachute sea-anchor without a good system we may well have had the problems others have had, which include the parachute filling in the wind and sustaining damage from flogging. Pulling 140 metres of 16mm nylon rode to retrieve the parachute is surprisingly difficult, even with no weight on the line, which is slippery when it’s wet. The rode we used had the main line and a spring, or Pardey line, named after Larry Pardey who strongly advocates using a spring to keep the wind about 20° off the bow to create a slick on the water. Lying just to the head-rope we sailed back and forth excessively, about 100 metres in each direction. The spring stopped this, although we were unable to test whether the tendency to sail would cease in stronger winds. Bill Coppins recommends that a spring should not be used in winds exceeding about 50 knots and suggests the vessel is better lying directly head-to-wind. Ignoring the advice of someone like Coppins who has so much knowledge and experience should never be done lightly. However, it seems that having the spring spliced into the rode about 20 metres from the yacht is a good idea. It does not have to be used but it’s too late to attach a spring after the parachute has been deployed. It also provides a second rode in case of chafe or another problem. There have been cases of yachts lying directly head to wind to a parachute and sliding back down a wave so fast that the rudder or steering is badly damaged. Perhaps this occurs when the parachute is a size too small for the yacht, but whatever the reason, it is crucial to monitor the yacht and take any necessary action. After studying the manual we should have made ourselves a final checklist. There are several key steps and actions so it is easy to overlook something, especially if setting the parachute in stormy conditions or at night. We managed to make a mistake on a sunny day. Set and forget? Not really. Aside from monitoring the yacht’s progress, there can be other vessels to consider. A vessel lying With the straps holding the two halves of the parachute pack unclipped, we tossed the sea- anchor in its bag overboard The yacht drifts away to leeward, pulling on the rode and tugging the parachute from its bag The rode is shackled to the parachute and a split-pin secures the nut on the shackle. To stop the rode washing overboard, it is secured with tarred marlin twine to each stanchion base. It is best to use natural fibre line rather than synthetic line or plastic electrical ties, which will not rot away when they wash overboard as the parachute sets. At sea: with the yacht not under power and drifting well away from other traffic, we deployed the retrieval line to windward. 7 8 9 ABOVE: The rode from the back-pack runs out first. When the load comes on, the marlin twine ties break successively. BELOW: With most of the rode deployed, the splice where the spring (Pardey line) attaches to the rode is veered. With the rode now leading over the bow, the remaining rode in the bag is veered as the yacht drifts to leeward. 12 14 13 10 11 Lying quietly to the parachute sea-anchor with the wind about 20° off the bow. We had to use the spring to prevent sailing back and forth across the rode. We drifted astern at about 0.3 knots. INSET: The rode under tension would part quickly without effective chafing gear. 15 16 “We... ignored instructions to practice setting [the sea anchor] before we departed.” REGULAR_PB_sea anchors_April14.indd 76 19/03/2014 9:25:36 a.m.
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