To order Para Anchor
call +44 (0)208 830 8880
DEAR FUTURE OCEAN ROWER.
A few months ago I received a
phone call from Roz Savage in California. I had donated one of
our Para Anchors to her for her Pacific Ocean Row.
She told me that she had been
advised (quite wrongly) to use some sort of bungee connection
between the boat and the 10 millimetre line supplied with the
Para Anchor. This has alarmed me no end, by doing this it has
cost her row, I say this because she added a weak point between
the fix point on the boat and the Para Anchor.
The rope supplied from our
factory and installed to the Para Anchor is nylon and itself has
stretching capability enough to stop the jerking effect Roz was
trying to avoid in the first place. In 20 years of producing
Para Anchors I have never been told of a rope breaking. It
strikes me that there is an awful lot of misunderstanding and
just plain wrong information talked about the use of a drogue, a
sea anchor, and a Para Anchor - these are 3 different things.
Rob Hamill in 1997 was the
first oceanrower to use our Para Anchor on an ocean rowboat. His
was the only boat in the race that had a para anchor, recently
from New Zealand Rob sent an email as follows:
the time we were on Para Anchor we were actually making progress
on the fleet by drifting backwards less than the rest; in some
cases the opposition travelled backwards faster than us by a
factor of 10. In relation to safety I wouldn't go to sea
PARA ANCHOR (AUSTRALIA)
Ocean Rowers in
preparation Ė itís time to have an affair with your PA!
Para Anchor that isÖ
By Tiny Little
Para Anchor may one day be your best friend. It will give you a
comfortable ride whilst you wait for unfavourable conditions to
give way, and if you encounter really high seas and hurricane
force winds, it could save your life, so it is well worth
spending top dollar and investing some of your valuable time in
finding out how to use it.
system works like this:
anchor is simply a marine version of the aeronautical parachute.
It is deployed into the sea and will inflate with sea water when
a drag is applied on the windward end of the rode line (the rode
line is the rope which attaches the anchor to the boat). The
downwind end of the rode line is attached to the bow of your
rowing boat and the resultant force on the bow pulls your boat
head to wind.
sounds simple enough, but you need to select your equipment
carefully, arrange it on and attach it to your boat, and learn
how to deploy it to your best advantage.
anchor (canopy and shrouds)
Attachment points on your boat
Buckets and stowage bag
Bungees to keep it all tidy
There are a few makes
available, but the one most favoured by ocean rowers is the
original Australian Para Anchor. Some rowers have used smaller
versions, but to be effective it needs to be at least 12 feet in
diameter. When you buy your PA it should include pretty much all
of the basics, but you will have to specify how big you want the
canopy, how long you want the rode.
This needs to be long
enough to span the distance of one and a half or two and a half
typical ocean swells. The reason is that you need to get a
steady pull on your boat and if your rode is the same length as
the swell, you will experience lots of snatch on your boat. A 90
metre long rode did fine for me, if you take longer, it will be
more to stow and more weight to row. It must be a
sinking line, this is essential for the system to work. For
diameter, consult the PA supplier. (It depends on the diameter
of canopy you choose) Nylon has excellent stretching properties,
and the braided lines help to prevent tangles.
This is required to take
care of the turning motion which happens to the canopy. Your
rode line will happily absorb a few turns, but without a swivel
it will begin to ravel up and shorten, making recovery
Again, the size of this
line is best recommended by the supplier, but it must be
a floating line, and in difference to the yacht type
setups, it must be long enough to come all the way back to your
boat, with a handsome degree of slack.
This can be a fender or
small buoy, visible to yourself and any vessel likely to
approach you. You will need to know where your PA is, and if a
visiting ship comes by, it will be important for them to be able
to see the layout of your system.
None of the above is of
any use unless you have a fixing which will take all of the
possible loads put on it by the ocean. If you are confident that
your fixing point could be used to lift the boat right out of
the water, then it is probably strong enough. Consult a
reputable boat builder or naval architect to advise you on this;
a big hole in the front of your boat when you really need your
PA is undesirable.
The system needs to be
deployed at a moments notice. If you have it properly stowed so
that you can get your PA out and the boat stable in a few
minutes, then you have an advantage. A speedy recovery when
conditions moderate, with an easy stowage makes life much
Once your equipment
is all delivered, it is a good idea to lay it all out in a long
straight line so that you can see how it works. At this point
you can walk along the system and assemble the components. Do
take great care to ensure that everything is as tight as you can
get it; shackles especially have a tendency to work loose, so
itís best to mouse them (using seizing wire or cable ties).
When you are happy that everything is
assembled, stow it into its bag and buckets and take it to the
The free end of the rode
should be securely shackled to the forward strongpoint. Then
bring it inboard and stow it into a bucket in such a way as it
will easily pay out. Then attach the retrieval line to an
inboard strong point so that you can reach it anytime. This is
important because you may need to bring it in very quickly if,
for example you are about to be run down.
Remember the marker buoy will go over first, then the canopy
with the retrieval line attached to its apex, then the rode and
retrieval line together. To avoid a tangle, keep the lines in
separate buckets. Note- the canopy comes in its own stowage bag
which is deployed into the sea with it. Then secure the whole
apparatus to the boat with bungees.
If your PA is attached to
your boat, properly stowed and ready to be deployed when you
leave harbour for your first sea trial then you are a much safer
mariner; (just a tip, make sure you also have your other safety
equipment and a fully charged VHF when going out for trials, the
wind and sea keep an eye open for gaps in your preparation).
Once you have left harbour
and are well clear of land and other vessels, including fast
ferry routes, itís time to try it out. Turn the boat into the
wind and allow it to drift just off the wind so that your
deployment zone is upwind. First send over the marker buoy,
allow it to drift a little, then feed out the canopy and its
shrouds, then a little of the rode. Hold on to the rode for a
while and watch the canopy inflate. Start to feed out the rode
and simultaneously allow the canopy to tow the retrieval line
with it as it goes away from the boat. If you have set up the
lines correctly, when you finally allow the last bit of the rode
go, it will bring the boat head to wind and the retrieval line
will be floating all the way back to its attachment onboard.
Enjoy a rest and then
bring it all back to the boat. Pull the retrieval line steadily
back to the boat, stowing it into its bucket as it comes
onboard. You will feel a little resistance, then the canopy will
collapse and there will be very little resistance all the way
in. Stow the rode as it comes in. When the canopy arrives, heave
it all onboard, draining it as it comes and stow it into its
bag, along with the marker buoy. Avoid stepping on any of the
ropes, you could be taken overboard by the ankle. Now repeat
the exercise until you are totally happy with it. Do keep a good
lookout whilst you are doing all this and be ready to warn other
vessels. On returning to harbour, re-check the security of all
fastenings and double check any bends or hitches (knots) you
the basic system. There are refinements you can add such as a
bridle from the boat to about 3 metres down the rode. This would
allow you to heave the rode onboard if you wanted to tie it off
shorter or in an emergency, cut it free altogether.
could also attach a cleat to your fore cabin roof (suitably
reinforced by a boat builder) so that you can vary the length of
rode you deploy.
in the stress of preparation, it is easy to forget routines such
as this, so why not print out this guide, encapsulate it and
keep it in you onboard file to help you on the day.
rowing and have a safe crossing