Retrieving The Drogue
Unless you do it right, retrieving the drogue can be a real chore. I am aware of three cases where the skipper actually gave up and cut the drogue loose. One skipper in the Southern Ocean waited for two days for the wind and sea to quiet down before giving up.
It is not very practical to put the drogue directly on a winch or to pull it in hand over hand. However, if done conoectly, a petite woman should be able to easily and safely do the job without leaving the cockpit. .
With a single cone or chute, as the drogue nears the boat, high loads can develop when the boat pitches, a dangerous condition.
With the multiple cone design, the load diminishes as the drogue comes in. Finally the skipper just lifts the chain aboard. This is an unanticipated benefit.
I asked my friend Noel Dilly how he handles retrieval on his 26 ft. sloop. Noel, who sails from the U.K, is a very experienced ocean sailor and was a pioneer in using the series drogue about 20 years ago.. He has done much to gain acceptance for the drogue in the U.K. and in Europe.
He stresses that each skipper must choose the system for his boat. We discussed several methods which differed in detail but not in principle.
The attached sketch shows the basics of the system he uses. The drogue is always under control and cannot impose high loads on the operator.
A line is attached to the drogue with a rolling hitch - or Noel uses a loop. He passes the loop around the drogue and leads it through itself twice. This is easy to tie and remove. The drogue is then winched in 8 ft. or so.
A helper line is then attached and fastened to a cleat.
The winch line is then removed and reattached to the drogue at the transom.
The process is then repeated. Depending on sea conditions, this can take about 20 to 30 minutes.
I am always hoping to get feedback from skippers who have used the drogue, but very little has shown up so far..
Noel points our that the drogue is seldom used, and when it is, it may have saved your life. Retrieval is really a minor item and can be a good time to meditate about your good fortune.