How to Make a Series Drogue

In yesterday’s post, Series Drogue: The Sailor’s Airbag, we shared the history of the series drogue and how it works to keep your boat steady and upright in breaking storm waves. Today we’re going to share simplified instructions on making a series drogue and answer some common customer questions.

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How to Make a Series Drogue

Sailrite offers complete series drogue kits that contain everything you need to make your own series drogue. All kits include complete, extended instructions for assembly and use.

1. Cut Out Cones: Cut out your desired number of cones from a ripstop nylon fabric. We use approximately 5” diameter cones, based on recommendations in the “Complete USCG Series Drogue Findings & Recommendations.”

2. Attach Straps to Cone: Position the straps along each cone piece and baste in place. Then sew a row of zigzag stitches down each side of the strap to secure.

3. Assemble the Cones: Sew each cone assembly together so it forms a tube. Sew with the straps facing in, and then turn the cone right side out.

4. Determine Line Needed: Based on your boat’s displacement, determine the length and diameter of line needed. Our Series Drogue Selection PDF will help you determine your boats requirements. The series drogue is designed for larger boats, so smaller boats may require a bit of testing to find the correct line amount. A few 10 cone kits are a great place to start.

5. Install Thimble: Install a thimble on one end of the smallest line. Create eye splices at all of the other line ends.

6. Mark Cone Position: Using a felt tip pen, make a mark on the line 2 feet from the thimble end. Place marks at 16 inch and 4 inch intervals on the rest of the line, avoiding the eye splices. The cones will be placed between the 16-inch marks.

7. Position the Cones: Slide all the cones onto the line. All cones should face the same direction with the small end of each one closest to the trailing end of the each line.

8. Attach the Cones: Use a latch hook to attach the cone straps to the line starting at the small end of the cone. Insert the latch hook so it’s facing the cone into the first 4-6 strands of the line’s outer braid, turn the hook 45 degrees and push it out through the braid. Insert the strap into the hook and pull through the braid. Tie a figure 8 knot at the end of the strap. Repeat for all straps, but at the large end of the cone, secure with an Overhand Knot.

9. Joining the Line Sections: After all the cones are attached join the line sections. Pass the forward end of the first line (that will be attached to the bridle) through the forward eye end of the second line and then through the trailing eye end of the first line. Attach the two bridle legs the same way. Bridle legs will typically connect to the stern of the boat. Remember that the cones should face the same direction, with the large end forward.

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Common Series Drogue Questions

We get asked a lot of questions from customers who are considering making their own series drogue about the process, materials and use. Here are some of the questions we get asked the most.

Q: Should I reinforce the cone openings of my series drogue?

A: This is really a matter of personal preference. A typical series drogue will only last through one strong storm so reinforcing the cone openings could give you a second use from your drogue. However, making a drogue is time-consuming, and since you may never have to actually use your drogue, many sailors don’t find it worth the extra effort to reinforce the cones.

If you want to reinforce the cone openings, we recommend using the same grosgrain tape that is used for the straps. Sew the tape to both sides of the cones prior to sewing the cone sides together. A binder attachment for your sewing machine will make this process easy.

Q: Does the material matter for the drogue cones?

A: There is no specific material that you must use for your drogue cones, but you do want something that is fairly strong, dimensionally stable (no fraying edges), and lightweight for packing and retrieval. We use a ripstop nylon called Maxlite 250 in our kits, but any ripstop nylon is a great choice.

Q: Do I have to use a double braid line? Can I use a 3-strand line instead?

A: While many sailors would rather use a 3-strand line, it simply won’t be effective for a series drogue. A 3-strand line will not splice properly and doesn’t have the same composition for locking the cone straps in place. When put in the water, the cones would shift on a 3-strand line and bunch together. The braid of the double braid line keeps the cones securely in their place.

Q: Can I use the series drogue in shallow water?

A:  The series drogue was designed for deep water cruising and its long lead line makes it ineffective in shallow water. Other sea anchor designs would be better suited for shallow water use.

Do you have any questions about series drogues? Any tips to share about making a drogue? Share then with us in the comments!

3 comments
  1. Adam Kerner said:

    Do you recommend heat sealing (w/ hot knife or soldering iron) the ends of the tapes after cutting them to length? In the video it appears that they are not sealed and are fraying.

    • Nikki said:

      Hi Adam,
      The tape that comes with our Drogue kits is a Nylon Tape, which has a finish on the top that usually keeps it from unraveling so you can cut it with scissors. However, you absolutely can cut nylon with a hot knife and it will give you a guaranteed sealed edge. So, short answer, cutting it with a hot knife can’t hurt it can only help!

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