March 2009 --
Making your own Jordan Series Drogue is a tedious,
mind numbing experience.
It would be a lot more fun if you have obsessive compulsive disorder.
I've put it off for years, but decided it would be something to do in the winter.
The thought of cutting out a 107 cones was a bit much, so I bought a kit from Sailrite. They provide a simple kit that only has pre-cut cones, leaving one to supply one's own rope and hardware.
My boat has a rated displacement of 16,000
pounds, although I think it is heavier. Nonetheless, I went with
the 107 cone kit.
Sewing 321 nylon straps was really boring. It took days of mindless work.
I left the TV on, watching movies and the news.
A few of the straps aren't very pretty. It doesn't matter.
When assembled, the straps are on the outside of the cones,
and there isn't a lot of stress on the stitches. So I just ran the threads
back and forth well enough to make sure it
won't ever slip sideways.
Sewing the cones took a few days.
Thank goodness they were already cut.
I left the TV on, and got into a mindless zen state.
My old work table is already covered with paint and epoxy, and will be
going to the junk yard soon, so I made some marks on it and
used the marks to put tick marks
on each cone where the nylon straps go.
Then I set up a little assembly line,
marking all the cones in a single step.
I have a Brion Toss splicing wand.
It was much easier and faster than either of the recommended
The nylon is slippery, so I didn't need to tighten the little loop up before pulling the nylon strap through the rope.
If I hadn't had one of these tools, I would have taken a knitting needle, cut the head off, and epoxied a loop of polyester whipping twine inside the open end.
The straps should go under the cover, and over the core, so there's quite a bit of wiggling required to fit the fid through.
After a while, it gets easy.
There are six "rows" of core stitching around the circumference. So the nylon strap goes in at a 45 degree angle, is worked under three rows of cover, and comes out on the opposite side.
Putting an overhand knot over the figure eight knot makes
a nice big plug that won't slip back through.
Under stress, the cover will
clamp down on the nylon strap.
I'm glad I started doing this at the tail end,
because it took a while to get the process down.
My best work is on the 100 cones closest to the boat, which I believe will also get the most stress.
In February 2009,
it's time to finish this.
I bought a 300 foot spool of nylon double braid,
and threaded all of the
cones over one end.
Here's the label from the side of the spool. Pelican
gave me a good deal on a spool,
and the published strength of the rope was higher than other ropes.
After all the cones were made, I stuffed them into a garbage bag and let them sit in the corner for a few months.
I was tired of the whole thing.
Besides, there were other pressing things to do, and I wanted
to avoid starting the next phase until I had a
free week or two.
Then, it was back to mind numbing,
The instructions say
it will take about
three days to attach 107cones, and that was
Thank goodness for movies and the news.
Finally, with all the cones on, I left a bit more than the recommended 75 feet of leader into the cones, and made a big eye splice.
There was enough rope left on the spool to make a bridle,
using two lengths that are about 20 fee long. The length will allow the
bridle to be adjusted in and out
to avoid chafe.
Again, making the eye splices in nylon double braid turned
out to be trickier than with polyester and other high strength fibers. The
nylon core really likes to slide around inside the cover.
It was much easier to "sink" the splice at the end, but difficult to prevent the core from the main length of rope from sliding up inside the eye. Since these splices have to handle all of the load from the entire drogue, I made them over a few times before I was satisfied with the strength of construction.
The cones were threaded onto the rope in advance, leaving
most of the rope on the spool. Having 300 feet of rope tangled up on the floor
would have been
tough to manage.
When deployed, the end of the rope is attached to an anchor, so you need a good eye splice with a thimble.
Nylon double braid is trickier to splice than polyester,
because it's more slippery and stretchy. Thus, the core moves around more
inside the cover, and it's tricky to sink the splice without having extra
cover over the eye. I had to make this one twice,
before feeling satisfied.
I made a bag out of light weight Sunbrella.
The drogue is flaked inside, with the anchor thimble threaded through the drawstring. Hopefully, it can be deployed out of the bag, and won't be all tangled up in knots.
I feel better about having this, although it was a heck of a lot of work
However, if I ever need it, I'll be glad it's there.
Besides being deployed in open water, it can also be used as an anchor rode, if the boat is at anchor in a bad blow, with a lee shore.
Total cost was
$200 for the drogue kit
$350 for the rope
Plus the thimble, thread and whipping twine, that I already had.
Total time was somewhere between 90 and 120 hours. I don't know, really, as there were many days when I just got up, started working, and kept going until I was tired and went to sleep.
Now I know why a pre-made drogue is so expensive.
Now, I'm looking at this big pile of stuff, and wondering where on the boat I can store it.
Given that I never expect to use it,
it's really going to be a waste
With all the stuff I'm putting on this boat these days,
I'm starting to think I need a bigger boat.