Heavy Weather Tactics Using Sea Anchor &
by Earl R. Hinz
Reviewed by Steve Mulich
Mr .Earl Hinz is a seasoned ocean sailor with many years of
experience under his belt and is well versed in blue water cruising and racing
and has authored more than a half dozen books having to do with the sea.
The riveting preface introduced me to how little I knew about drag devices and built a strong case for keeping me totally engaged throughout the entire book. Constant reflection on the lack of drag devices and knowledge of their use is the mechanism used by the author to point out the many errors committed in such events as the 1979 Fastnet race, the Queens Birthday Storm of 1994 off New Zealand and the 1998 Sidney-Hobart race, by not using drag devices.
Mr. Hinz makes an early distinction between drogue devices and sea anchors not reflected an any sea references I am familiar with. He defines a drogue as a drag inducing device considerably smaller than a sea anchor, used to control speed and maintain direction or heading relative to the wind. Sea anchors are described as larger drag devices, having an area near that of the boat, used to stop the boat or to drastically reduce drifting and keeping it headed toward the wind..
He gives many good references to actual incidents of drag device use where they made a great difference in how well the boat survived the conditions His pointing out the development of critical conditions at the point wave height reaches the beam of your boat was totally new to me even though I have experienced near broach incidences where vessels up to 40 feet were engaged from broadside by breaking waves near in height to the size of the vessels beam..
He than describes the characterization of deep water waves which describes conditions well beyond my experience.
Conditions being identified he describes the design and use of sea anchors and drogues. These presentations are strewn with numerous equations and formula and make it a very good reference work. They make it necessary to read and reread the text to get a complete understanding of how such devices actually work. The text is filled with good theoretical suggestions such as "Always attach the drogue to a point forward of the rudder center of effort to ensure good maneuverability." A great concept, however, he does not address how to accomplish this on a sailing vessel with a back stay and no centerline attach location which would work safely while under drogue slowed running. Also he neglected to mention positioning a .recovery ladder and rescue line off the front of the boat while under sea anchor and off the back of the boat while under drogue. This should always be done as soon as a drag device is deployed.
The design portions of the book presents very good material for sizing drogues and sea anchors. The material and the renderings are well presented and in a form that is easily copied when you are ready to shop for such devices. His presentation even addresses the use of oil slicks to reduce sea state.
I found this book very engaging having great reference material and plenty of examples demonstrating both "how to" and "how not to" use drag devices. I recommend it for the serious blue water cruiser and racer and for any serious sailor that plans to move up to blue water crossings.
Steve Mulich is an avid, seasoned, home grown, Great Lakes sailor for over 60 years.