Demystifying using a series drogue

Some sailors will argue that a series drogue increases the risk of the transom being damaged by a breaking wave, especially on boats with a flat transom. Or that one can get pooped badly enough to either have the cockpit area damaged or the companionway boards broken during a wave strike. The point of a series drogue is that it slows the boat down and the intention is not to try and stop the boat in its tracks. If the drogue is designed properly for the vessel concerned it will slow it down to about 5knots when travelling down the face of waves whereas without the series drogue speeds of well over 30 knots can be achieved. This means that the boat is still travelling with the waves and therefore its speed relative to that of the waves is not that great and a pooping wave won’t have nearly as much force as one that is met head-on. The companionway boards and any other aft hatches (and other doors if the vessel has a stern-accessed cabin) should of course be securely closed and provided the boat has adequately designed scuppers the water resulting from such a poop should drain away very quickly. It also shouldn’t be necessary to have any crew in the cockpit area when using a series drogue as the series drogue works unattended and all the crew can remain safely down below where they should restrain themselves from being knocked about in the rough seas with loose objects properly stowed to prevent them turning into unguided missiles. The stern of a vessel is also usually much more buoyant than the bow and will be lifted up more easily by a wave. Even if the wave has a breaking component to it the stern will unlikely be submerged as easily as the bow in similar conditions.

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