The above illustration comes from E.Y. Arima’s Inuit Kayaks in Canada: A Review of Historical Records and Construction, Based Mainly on the Canadian Museum of Civilization’s Collection. It shows a group of kayaks rafted together, under sail, dragging behind them an inflated seal skin, which supported geese carcasses being used as a kayak sea anchor (in this case, a drogue as it’s dragging behind). The kayak sea anchor was used to allow the kayak party to sleep a night at sea as they crossed from thew mainland to the Belcher Islands. Modern kayak sea anchors or kayak drogues are a bit less sophisticated that a seal skin and geese; they’re essentially a parachute that you deploy in the water.
In the past, kayak sea anchors cost hundreds of dollars, so it was popular to build your own sea anchor. But, with the popularity of using them for kayak fishing the price dropped to around $30, such as Seattle Sports’ Kayak Drift Anchor. At $30, it almost the same price as building your own. While not popular in sea kayaking, kayak drogues and sea anchors are now pretty popular in kayak fishing to help slow the drift down, so you don’t drift off your fishing hole.
You use a sea anchor or kayak drogue for:
- When deployed off the bow, the sea anchor keeps the kayak pointed into the wind and waves.
- When deployed off the stern as a drogue, slows the kayak down when running with the waves.
- Slow you down, so you can sit over a fishing hole.
- Slow you down from being blown somewhere you don’t want to be blown, such as a cliff with pointy rocks.
- Slow you down, so you can rest.
- Help prevent a kayak you’re towing from racing forward on the waves or weaving from side to side.
- Keep a kayak from blowing away too quickly after a wet exit.
To use a one, all you need to do is fix the anchor’s line to your bow or stern (it’s a good idea to rig a quick release that you can reach). Stow it on your deck. When you want to use it, unroll the anchor, put it in the water, get it to open and fill with water, and then let go. To retrieve the kayak sea anchor, simply paddle to it and pull it out of the water.