The Offshore Voyaging Reference Site

Summary And Conclusions For Heavy Weather Book

The best things about writing this book for me have been the amount I have learned, by discussing strategy and gear with other sailors and reading other authors, and the way the process of writing it has clarified my own thinking. Here is a summary of my conclusions and how they relate to our strategy on Morgan’s Cloud:

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Bruce Savage

John, thanks for an excellent source of great advice! I will be following this advice closely when my wife and I set off on our cruising adventures in a couple of months time. We have an Allures 44 with a new carbon mast so I am really enjoying the info on this site.

One question. The book does not say what you should do with sails and helm when the Jordan drogue is set. Maybe this is considered common knowledge? Would you lash wheel in a central position or to the side a bit or use auto helm? Sails all down or maybe a very small triangle of jib unfurled?

Patrick Genovese

It would be of great interest to discuss storm tactics in relation to boats with differing characteristics, for example how would the strategies discussed be adapted to a centerboarer like a Boreal or an Ovni.



Hi Patrick,

Interesting question. First off, I think that the Jordan Series Drogue is applicable to just about any boat.

On heaving-to, Colin tells me that it is pretty much impossible to get his Ovni 435 to heave-to, although I don’t think he has tried the small drogue off the bow technique that we detail, which I would think would help.

My guess would be that the Boreal might be easier to heave-to due to the keel box.

Of course the benefit of these lifting keel boats is that with the keel up they are very seaworthy in heavy weather because they tend to slide sideways when hit by a wave instead of tripping over the keel.

Colin, any thoughts?

Bruce Savage

I read about Robin Knox Johnston using a long loop of rope as a drogue. What about a long loop of rope with Jordan cones, attached at each end to the transom corners? Half the rope would have cones facing one way and at the midpoint they would change direction. So when the loop is deployed you have all cones dragging. When it comes time to retrieve you can detach one side from the boat and you now have only half the cones dragging to pull in. Possibly a retrieval line from middle of transom to center of the loop and then detach both transom corners?

I wonder whether Jordan experimented with the loop idea? Conceptually it seems similar to using a bridal because the load would be evenly distributed on the transom corners. Has anyone heard of any loop drogue solutions?


Hi John,
Good to see you are under sail aboard Morgan’s Cloud again. All that talk about motor boats was starting to worry me> LOL

Just came across this extensive documentation of experiences with all varieties of drogue and sea anchor devices which should be of interest for this section of your publication.


Hi Richard,
just found your post and the database you’re linking to – thanks for that great and valuable information!
And to John – just readiung this one report ( confirms everything you’ve written against parachutes. Quite a scary story – having a JSD might have saved them their boat.

Michael Kornfeld

Hi John. As a new comer to your very informative website, I would like to thank you. My wife and I have lived full time on boats for at least a dozen years and are constantly learning. Our present boat thanks to a local bank, is a Lagoon 52 catamaran ( a good sailing cruising “condomaran”) and are based in Australia. THE REASON FOR THIS POST: you have mentioned that you do not have much experience on cats, but I notice that you often access the wisdom from others so that we can all learn more – why not access some wisdom from some experienced and articulate world cruising catamaran sailors so that we can expand on areas that also apply perhaps in some different ways to cats. Your book such as heavy weather tactics, and reefing down wind in sail handling, would be great areas to look at from a cat point of view. Eg cats with self tacking jibs, swept back spreaders and shrouds, large sails, questionable ability to hove to… All present different issues to consider. FROM A BUSINESS PERSPECTIIVE – the number of ocean and coastal cruising catamarans are skyrocketing in numbers by comparison to monohulls – (perhaps we are getting soft) SO TAKING THIS TACT SERIOUSLY MAY EASILY DOUBLE YOUR MEMBERSHIP AND BE A GREAT SERVICE. What do you think? Cheers. Michael

Michael Kornfeld

Appreciate that reply John and fulheartedly agree. I may know a couple potential contributors who could fit that criteria and will make enquiries. Quality, ability and extensive experience, unlike most forums, is what you are saying you may consider. Cheers. Michael


Hi John,

I’d like to see a section on the “rogue wave” problem. “Rogue wave” is not necessarily bad weather though but it is the fact its always the wave that can cause damage to a well found boat. It took so many years for the scientific community accept the fact that rogue waves exist, not sure that all the readers are also aware of this. And when it hit, this is the time where you want the boat to be up to the challenge. I’m not talking of that 20 + meter rogue wave but the more probable 4-6 meter wave out of the normal pattern that can hit you at any moment in a defined wave pattern when different weather systems exist around. The reading of this article is very informative in that way:

Altough for many personal and probabilistic reasons i would NEVER sail a wooden boat offshore, it this case it is clear that the boat was not strong enough for the impact. I’ll have a wooden coffin no problem but in the meanwhile a metal boat.


Hi John
I agree with your intent of not promoting the notion of “rogue wave”, now that it is granted that wave conditions are not linear anymore but chaotic and probabilistic, as you said someone should expect twice (and more) the mean size and also more important not from the same direction. Your online book about heavy weather tactics is a must read for anyone contemplating going farther than 50 nm from the coast.

I have also seen the post about the never ending debate, i have an engineer background and i can appreciate the numbers, constant and formulas. In the case of the boat described the 1×19 SS shroud simply resisted to the load caused by the (!) mast entering the water, and applied the whole force vector to the chainplate connected to the wood hull. Steel against wood… not matter how someone build a wooden boat, it will always end the same. On my steel boat the chainplates are 3/8 of inch thick x 2 inch wide in SS 304 and :
1) are backed by a transversal frame
2) are welded to the hull and to the top of the frame,
3) are descending down to the mid chine and continuously welded to the frame at that point.

You could lift the whole 18 tons boat through a single chainplate … but the 1×19 SS shroud would yield first. This is how you want it to be.

Ralph Rogers

Hi John. A somewhat embarrassing confession, I do not really understand the rigging of a storm jib, or how to really use it. Given a sloop with hanked on headsail, you hank it on, attach sheets, haul it up, then what? Where do the sheets go, straight back inside the shrouds to a car all the way back? To a car on a track? What if your track is all the way outside? If you sheet it so it’s in tight and the sheets bisect the luff, if they are supposed to, that puts them down to the cabin roof, do you put some kind of attachment there. If you use the storm jib to run, where is the car? When you use it on different points of sail, do you trim it like a regular jib?
Obviously I have never had to use one. I have one, and could probably find away to use it if I had to but, I want to know the right way. I cannot find anything on this subject. Can you help, or point me to the answers? I really am list on this.