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In this section OSASA will be highlighting aspects of seamanship of relevance to ocean cruisers which are not readily found in traditional sources.

Jordan Series Drogue


The first of these features the Jordan Series Drogue (JSD). Boat management in heavy weather and storm conditions is probably the most serious issue of concern facing the ocean cruiser and there has been much debate about the use of various drogue devices. The JSD developed by the late Don Jordan has long been the favourite of serious ocean cruisers especially those sailing in the notorious Southern Ocean but it has from time to time come under scrutiny and for criticism. Generally, it’s failures have been the result of their owner’s failure to appreciate the extreme loads developed with it in use in storm conditions. Under-specification, chafe and methods of attachment have all contributed to these failures. The JSD came under some criticism in the 2018 Golden Globe Race especially after it’s failure resulted in the pitch-poling and subsequent loss of Susie Goodall’s boat. John Harries detailed analysis of this provides an insight to the probable reasons for that failure.

Now, highly experienced ocean and high-latitude sailor Steve Brown (Novara) has compiled a valuable review of the JSD encapsulating both his own experience with that of other incredibly experienced ocean sailors, including four recipients of the coveted Cruising Club of America Blue Water Medal; Tony Gooch (Taonui), Randal Reeves (Moli), Jeanne Socrates (Nereida), Susanne Huber-Curphy, Tim Good and others.

The “Best Practice” Series from the Ocean Cruising Club

Sailing Rope

The Ocean Cruising Club has a worldwide membership of over 3,000 ocean sailors with a qualification for membership of having completed an ocean passage in excess of 1,000 Nm. The OCC has tapped into the collective experience of its members to produce a series of “Best Practice” documents covering a range of aspects relevant to ocean cruising. These may be found within the Seamanship section of the OCC Forum. As some of these themes are still under development a selection of the completed ones is presented here by kind permission of the OCC.

Heavy Weather Sailing - by Tony Gooch, former Vice Commodore of the OCC and a CCA Blue Water medallist.

Tony is one of the world’s most experienced ocean sailors. The Editor’s note from this article says it all: “This paper was prepared by Tony Gooch based on lessons learned over 35 years and 160,000 miles of ocean sailing. Tony and his wife, Coryn, have spent much time in high latitudes ... Bering Sea, Labrador, Iceland, Svalbard, Chile, Antarctica and South Georgia. Tony has made two solo circumnavigations via the Southern Capes.”


Best Practices in Preparation for Ocean Voyaging by Jonathan Lloyd

This comprehensive coverage currently exists as a series of 10 chapters on the OCC Forum. OCC members Jonathan and his wife Anne completed a four year circumnavigation in 2018.


Best Practices OCC Lay-up Guide 

Guide to practices in Laying up a Vessel for an Extended Period, edited by OCC Member Phil Heaton, himself a circumnavigator, draws together a wealth of experience from a host of other OCC members.


Another valuable source of seamanship information for ocean cruisers is the publicly available website of the Cruising Club of America  - see also our Safety at Sea page.


One article available on that site deals with steering without a rudder. With a preponderance of lightweight boat construction and unprotected spade rudders combined with more and more abandoned fishing gear and whale attacks, damage to and loss of rudders is becoming more commonplace. This article covers trials carried out in 2013 on a 44 ft Swan by CCA Member Michael Keyworth: “The goal was to utilize the equipment normally taken on the vessel on offshore passages or races. The overriding premise was; utilization of an efficient and controllable object to create drag and transmit to directional stability which results in the desired directional stability”

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