Parasailor Review

Questions from S/Y Aegle

Answers from SY Artemis of Lleyn

– Suitability for a couple (we are of reasonable fitness and experienced offshore cruisers and racers sailors (less so on the ocean / blue water side)

We also sail as a couple. Single handed sailors and couples need to have “standard operating procedures” and plan each set of actions before they start. You need to think every sequence through before you do it and ensure that you have all the required equipment available where it should be. This is as applicable for setting or striking the Parasailor as any other “process”. You will be in the middle of an ocean so clipped in at all times. This limits speed and moveability so be sure you only do everything once.

We are nearer 60 than 50 and not athletes. We learned most of sailing on the journey from Scotland. Despite this, we can comfortably manage the Parasailor in sensible winds.

– Suitability of trade winds sailing vs day / coastal sailing

We have never used the Parasailor in trade winds. They are at least 15 knots and regular as clockwork. At that wind speed we use the white sails.

For passage, the Parasailor is perfect. When you are moving downwind in light winds, it is the piece of equipment that keeps the miles ticking away. Without it we would have spent thousands of Euros on diesel or spent days becalmed.

Often on coastal sails, it is only two hours in one direction before you need to pass round something or change tack. The Parasailor would work but all cruisers get lazy. You have unlimited time so you think “why bother”. The genoa gets you there eventually so you set that and relax. We could use the Parasailor much more often.

– The true wind range and angles in which you use it

30° off true downwind to 90° (across the wind). 

At 30° we take the parasailor down at 7 knots. On our 36 foot Rustler, you can sail it in more but you need to be very concentrated to ensure you do not broach.

Obviously at 90° you need a maximum of a few knots before the sail pulls the boat over. We had no measurable wind and used the Parasailor all the way from Barbuda to Antigua (25 miles) across the wind. It kept us moving and changed what could have been a boring motor into a great sail.

– Ease of rigging (easy enough to not be a chore?!); 

As described above, we have the lines already rigged. We have combination sheets and guys that Stuart made up for us. They can be set to the correct length before being attached. (These can also be used when poling out.)

The Parasailor needs to be manhandled from the cabin to the foredeck which is team building. Once there, you clip it into the three lines (making sure nothing is twisted – the red and green colour coding of everything helps) and hoist the halyard before the second person returns to the cockpit. Then person one lifts the sock and person one tensions the sheet. Normally the person on the foredeck then shouts “we are Parasailors!”

Deciding to parasail, planning, getting set up, getting the white sails away and setting the parasailor takes us half an hour when we are clipped in on ocean swell. But we tend to be slow and methodical and we always prepare everything with the previous sails still working and only strike them when we are ready.

– ease of handling (will it create any undue stress?!) 

A Parasailor is easy to handle but you are more alert when “Parasailing”. You constantly scan the horizon and surrounding waters for the next squall or pocket of high wind. You are more a sailor and less a cruiser (repairing something below or enjoying a long card game in the saloon).

– and in particular getting down (how is that snuffer when bouncing around on the foredeck when stronger winders have surprised you?!)!

We can go from Parasailing to “gone”  in a few minutes. Been there. Done that! 
Person one: harness on, clip in, reach the foredeck,
Person two: release sheet,
Person one; pull snuffer down and stow sail. You can drop it straight through the front hatch if you don’t have a dinghy on the foredeck. Otherwise, we stow it quickly between dinghy and mast and get a line over it until the squall passes.

Stuart sold us a soft roller that clips around the snuffer line so that instead of pulling down you pull up. The harder you pull, the more you stick to the deck. We don’t use it. If person two lets the sheet fully go then the snuffer slides easily down 

– Thoughts on taking the standard recommended spec / size vs value in taking a 3/4 size (for example) to make more manageable / increase the wind range in which we use it?!

We never thought about that. We accepted Stuart’s recommendation. It would be easier with a ¾ but you would no longer have the full “Parasail effect” of cruising at four knots with “no” wind.

– how often you really use the sail – will it be a shiny toy that after preliminary usage does not really see the light of day?!

It took us eighteen days to cross the Atlantic (2162 miles) and we used the Parasailor for 16% of those miles. It has to be noted that we spent 54% of the journey with two foresails poled out as the trades were directly behind us.

It took fifty four days from Ecuador to the Marquesas and we used the Parasailor for 954 of 3909 miles (24%)

– ease of storage, sturdiness of the sail etc

Our Parasailor is stuffed in the quarter berth with two foldable mountain bikes. It has to be manhandled out and back in. It can be compressed nicely with the draw straps on the bag but Stuart recommended against storing it too tightly compressed. 

The sail has one tiny hole that we need to patch – probably from catching it while pushing it through into the forward cabin. The snuffer has suffered from rubbing on surrounding rigging but is still fine.

– any other thoughts that you as owners have that we are not thinking of!

In this screenshot, you can see the speed dropping over six hours. Then we deployed the Parasailor and doubled our speed while also stopping the horrible flogging of sails and rocking of the boat in the swell. Should have done it earlier.

Definitely take the training that Stuart offers. We learned so much. It was a very hard day but a fantastic day. In the Caribbean we met two sailors who had bought a Parasailor but were “much too experienced” to take the free training but admitted that they “never got the Parasail to work.” Of course, they blamed the sail.

Nowadays we don’t pull the halyard as high as we used to. This lets the Parasailor fly with more “belly”. It seems to fly better that way. We are sure that Stuart originally showed us this as can be seen in the following photo but maybe we forgot.

Two really good friends are on their way around the world with their Catamaran “Sybo” and they are also happy Parasailors. The larger boat makes the foredeck work much easier. But we wouldn’t buy a catamaran because of that.

We promised to NEVER use the Parasailor after dark because we could not see approaching squalls. In use we NEVER took it down just because it was dusk. It is too great for that. It just keeps you moving.

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