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Heavy Weather Tactics Chapter 15 of 26

Retrieval of Dyneema (Spectra) Series Drogues Solved

Kindness of Angus Coleman, OceanBrake. Click to enlarge.

Last summer I interviewed Randal Reeves when he stopped in Halifax during his Figure 8 voyage.

In that interview Randal shared that he had found it very difficult to retrieve his series drogue made from Dyneema™—brand name for Ultra-High Molecular Weight Polyethylene (UHMwPE) and a close cousin to Spectra™.

Neither the method Phyllis and I have tested nor Trevor Robertson's battle-tested system worked, because it was simply impossible for him to get the nipper (retrieval line), that both systems use, attached to the Dyneema without it slipping.

Not A Simple Problem to Solve

Trevor took up the challenge, but was not able to come up with a solution, despite trying a bunch of splices and being a fine and deeply experienced marlin spike seaman. The problem is that all of the ways to splice a loop in single braid Dyneena rely (in Trevor's words):

...on both legs of the line being nearly equally loaded for the splice to lock tight. Only one leg of this splice is loaded, consequently much of its strength depends on the seizings/whippings...

We also discussed this at length in the comments here at AAC with many innovative suggestions being made, including the use of climbing ascenders. But,  in the end, the only option seemed to be using Dacron-sheathed Dyneema or Spectra. And that's where we have been for the last six months or so.

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Meet the Author

John

John was born and brought up in Bermuda and started sailing as a child, racing locally and offshore before turning to cruising. He has sailed over 100,000 miles, most of it on his McCurdy & Rhodes 56, Morgan's Cloud, including eight ocean races to Bermuda, culminating in winning his class twice in the Newport Bermuda Race. He has skippered a series of voyages in the North Atlantic, the majority of which have been to the high latitudes. John has been helping others go voyaging by sharing his experience for twenty years, first in yachting magazines and, for the last 12 years, as co-editor/publisher of AAC.

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