Sea Anchor Rode

When laying hove to in severe weather, we find our rate of drift can be a bit fast and we fore-reach a smidge. This led us to decide on the purchase of a sea anchor which will reduce our rate of drift and stop our fore-reaching.

A sea anchor is basically a parachute in the water. As the boat pulls on the parachute rode, the parachute opens up and holds onto the water. The larger the parachute, the more water it can hold and the more it grips the sea. Ours is a 12 foot parachute that will be connected to an all nylon rode.

As you can imagine, the sea anchor can only be used in deep water. The parachute can be damaged by contact with the sea bed, so it should only be used in deep water where the risk of bottom contact is non-existent.

The main difference between a regular anchor rode and the sea anchor rode is the thimble at the end. The sea anchor utilizes a much heavier stainless steel thimble with a bar welded near the throat to prevent the ends from flexing or twisting. This will protect the eye splice from additional chafe damage while under load. The swivel on the parachute helps reduce twist in the rode and keep everything in place while deployed and under load.

The throat was tied with a small piece of dyneema using a Double Larks Head Knot. I used a Double Larks Head because it was faster to tie than a Constrictor Knot, though the Double Larks Head doesn't hold as well in dyneema.

The three strand rode was passed over the thimble and tied at the throat, then the tail was unraveled and spliced back into the standing rode. To reduce the stresses on the splice, the end of the eye splice was tapered. 

Tapering a splice is very easy to do, so don't feel discouraged. The first five tucks are performed with no tapering because they are under the most load and strain. After these five tucks, the tapering begins.

Tapering is very simple and straight forward, four yarns are trimmed off every third tuck. This means that you will trim four yarns off and carry out three tucks. All you need to do is repeat this process until the yarns have been trimmed and tucked away.

If you want to take tapering to the next level, read on! Tapering can either be done on all three strands at the same stage or it will be staggered. Performing it on all three at the same time will result in a stepped taper. Alternatively, you can stagger the tapers which will result in a more even taper.

Stepped tapers are performed by trimming 4 yarns off all three strands, then carrying out three tucks. This will make the bulk of the splice reduce every third tuck.

Staggering the tapers is just as easy and results in a more uniform taper. To do this, only one of the three strands will be trimmed each tuck. This will result in all the tufts lining up on the splice as all the trimming will occur on the same part of the rope, but each line will be trimmed every third tuck.

Both result in an even taper that will reduce the stresses on the rode at the splice, resulting in a stronger splice overall. If you are doing a tapered splice, it will be stronger than a non-tapered splice. Deciding on stepped vs. staggered is simply choosing between minute details.