Our recent use of the drogue has attracted some interest amongst the sailing community so I will add some more photos together with brief description and as soon as we have finished editing the video footage of the set up, launch and retrieval I will upload this too.
My thanks once again to Bjorn for his camera work.
The 2 piece 24mm bridle was put in place before we left Stanley with each bridle leg being attached to our sturdy bollards and through the stern hawsers.
The bridle legs were then taken outboard of the rails and clipped into position using zip ties but not connected to the rest of the drogue until we knew we would be using it. Drogue roll and chain bag were kept fastened down on deck. Once we knew we would deploy the drogue we had the benefit of rolling out the launch bag onto our pilothouse roof, fastening it down on all corners and sides to ensue a smooth launch.
Once we knew we would be using the drogue we connected the bridles to the main line using a soft hitch
The line is snaked into the launch roll using elasticated hoops
Our drogue uses 3 thickness of line 24mm, 18mm and 14mm
We used a shackle to fix 10m of chain to the end of the drogue. This gave us the necessary weight to ensure the cones set well below the waves
We kept the chain in a soft bag and located close to the launch position to avoid the need for crew venturing too far forward in heavy weather. In this shot you can see that the bridle has been brought forward and clipped in place on the outside of the stanchions and once the chain was attached to the drogue it was a simple matter of letting the chain go over the side between the rails always ensuring that the person launching the drogue was positioned forward of bridle, drogue line and chain.
With winds and seas building and the forecast for 45 knot winds with gusts in excess of 60 knots with seas of 7m or more we decided to launch the drogue in with winds around 35 knots and 5m seas. This probably cost us 10 to 12 nm drift but we all agreed was preferable to launching once things had got worse.
The effects were immediate with the boat running downwind at around 1.5kts
As the wind and seas built we found that the boats drift increased to around 2 kts but even in the slight surges was never more than 3 kts.
We did find that the first cones would occasionally break free of the surface and when we retrieved the drogue we found that they had frayed. This will be corrected by the use of a 10m x 24mm extension to ensure that the cones do not break clear.
We had set up the retrieval line in advance, taking the line forward to a block on the fwd midship bollards and back through blocks to the large powered winches. After each length we used a rolling hitch to stop the bridle allowing us to reset the retrieval line.
Once things had settled down we found that one of the bridle legs had chafed as it passed through the stern hawser so will add better chafe protection before we pack it away. A new bridle leg is on order as are replacement cones for those damaged by breaking seas.
We ran before the drogue for 42 hours covering 80 nm, sadly in the wrong direction.
Having researched the options for heavy weather survival conditions and having a boat that is reluctant to heave-to, the JSD seemed like the best option and having now used it in anger would recommend it to anyone venturing offshore for extended passages.