PaddleWise Discussion on Sea Anchors

Date: Thu, 20 May 1999 00:24:32 -0400
From: Andy Knapp 
Subject: [Paddlewise] Sea Anchors

This is just to echo the thoughts that Arthur, Ralph, and others have made.
I have used a Boulter Driftstopper off and on for seven  years, both as a
potential safety backup on several long crossing projects, and as a means
of staying put on breezy days for rest and photo breaks. 

I have found that it works pretty slick most of the time, but like any
other equipment-related procedure, it does require some practice to become
familiar with what it will and won't do. For example, a bit of timing is
needed while retrieving the anchor in short steep chop to prevent it from
tangling in the bow toggle if the bow is pitching up and down in the waves.
In very breezy conditions, it is good to have your procedures for fastening
the coiled line and the float down pat, because once the anchor itself is
back on board, your kayak will want to broach quickly, so be ready to power
ahead with your paddle.

I can see where the Driftstopper might facilitate a paddle float or roll
and reentry in windy conditions, but haven't tried it. It certainly could
be an aid during a self or assisted rescue to prevent drifting into a
shoal, surf zone, or other danger area.

- -Andy Knapp
Where the Mississippi is cresting again.

Date: Thu, 20 May 1999 10:29:18 -0500 From: Subject: Re: [Paddlewise] Sea Anchors I would like to second some of Andys comments. I think that having a sea anchor for long crossings or offshore paddling is a useful tool. However it does take time and effort to deploy and it can be a bit tricky. When I was part of a Lake Michigan crossing we experimented with using the driftstopper model to hold our group of four while rafting up for our rest breaks. We found that during all the time it took to deploy and retrieve the beast that we drifted farther than we would have drifted if we instead just kept our kayaks sideways to the direction of the drift. After a few tries we found that just staying beam to the wind was the most practical way to limit our drift during our five minute rest breaks. For a solo rescue getting back in your boat quickly is important, and I would encourage people to only deploy the sea anchor if they thought they would be unable to get back in their boat without the sea anchor holding the bow into the wind and waves. I suspect that if conditions were difficult enough to knock you down and make you miss your roll while minding your own business that trying to retrieve all that rope and nylon after the rescue would be just asking for another capsize. I am a strong believer in keeping the gear for rescue techniques simple and instead concentrating on technique and practice, practice, practice. Besides you give someone like me enough rope and I am going to hang myself with it. If I tried to use a sea anchor for a rescue in rough conditions they would find this big ball of string attached to my kayak with with me inside it drifting far from shore.
Date: Sun, 23 May 1999 10:24:54 -0500 From: "Larry Koenig" Subject: [Paddlewise] Sea anchors redux Arthur, I'm glad to see you've joined the list. My understanding is that during your Yucatan to Louisiana crossing of the Gulf of Mexico you used the sea anchor nightly for most of the twenty days you were out there in order to get a little sleep. You must have become well versed in the idiosyncrasies of its use during that time. Anything more to tell? Larry Koenig
Date: Sun, 23 May 1999 23:14:43 -0500 From: "Arthur Hebert" Subject: Re: [Paddlewise] Sea anchors redux/bio Larry I;m glad I joined the list. I have thus far been truly impressed by the combined knowledge within paddlewise. Good way to further our knowledge bout this paddling thing. What de heck took me so long to join? Guess I should introduce myself and give the fellow subscribers a little back ground? For those who don't know my last name Hebert is pronounced "abear" not Heeebert. I have been sea kayaking since 1992 this is when I first met Larry Koenig, he allowed me to paddle one of his sea kayaks. It wasn't long after that that I purchased my first kayak (can't say how many vessels I have now my wife might read this, some things is safer left unknown). You see Larry had heard about someone that had circumnavigated Lake Ponchartrain (New Orleans) 108 miles in fifty hours in a Mad River Tempest Canoe. He hunted me down and I am glad he did. Since that time Larry and I have paddled numerous trips together. We paddled the entire Louisiana coast together (482 miles). Raised on the Louisiana coast. Shrimping and crabbing the Gulf and surrounding waters was my family's livelihood. Had three pirogue's for as long as I can remember, so paddling has always been part of my life. The open sea (if the winds ablowing I'm agoing) and night time paddling is on top of my list for paddling, the serenity of the swamps and bayou's is surly next on the list. My wife Debbie and I bought our first canoe 22 years ago. We're down to just one canoe (Tempest), one racing pirogue and a Olympic sprint. My oldest daughter Nichole isn't into paddling much, But my youngest Brooke (11 years old) loves to paddle, actually she retired her Zephyr and paddled her brand new Merlin XT yesterday in the swamp. She is a tall girl for her age foot pegs ok, but I will have to retrofit the seat for her, daddy will have that done before we go out next weekend. She didn't appreciate not being fitted to the boat, I apologized and understand (give me a break we just got the boat Friday). Last year on this day Was at 23* 27' N 88* 30' W approx. 115 nau miles from the Mexican coast paddling home to Louisiana on a solo unescorted crossing of the Gulf of Mexico. Check the web site on the expedition at Which leads to the idiosyncrasies of the Drift stopper (sea chute). Paddlewise covered the do's and don'ts well but I guess I can add and put emphasis on a couple of things: 1) Practice, practice practice 2) I reinforced the underside of my deck where all attachments (fittings) were located. Under average or maybe a little above conditions (three to eight foot waves) there really is not that much stress on the fittings. But I was preparing for any conditions, hurricane??? I really don't think it would not be a bad idea to beef up the underside just to be on the safe side. 3) I shorten the float line (retrieval / deployment line) so when I tucked the float under the bungies fore of the cockpit the line was taunt heading toward the bow (sea anchor stow bag). I was still able to reach the float when retrieving it. 4)On the tether line when sea anchor was not in use I had a loop on the tether line, this loop was just a couple inches away from the balance of the line that was coiled up. A carabiner attached to the loop and the bungies fore of the cockpit helped to keep the line taunt going to the sea chute. Additionally this also stopped the tether line that was not coiled up (the line leaving the coil going to the sea chute)from pulling on the 28' of coil tether line that is strapped down by a 1" wide nylon strap with Velcro. Without the carabiner the coil of line would tighten, which made it harder to slide off the nylon strap. Hope that made sense. 5) On the 1" wide nylon strap with Velcro that held the 28' coil of tether line I used a rubber O ring to hold the Velcro connection secure. My concern was a wave separating the Velcro, I never had that problem prior to the idea of the O ring but I felt better to be safe than sorry. Arthur Hebert