Not a particularly inspiring title, but one to catch the eye of anyone thinking of doing what I have just done. While wondering how to provide a large woodland shelter I stumbled upon an article about using a surplus parachute. Then I Googled images and got a lot more… and then I bought a parachute… and then I put it up.
This is the result: I should have put something in the photo to show the scale. This thing is BIG! The bank on the right of the photo is at least 1m high, the chute itself is 7m (23ft) across, and the apex – at the suspension point – is between 3 and 4m above the ground. I set it up in the rain, hence the sag! It is not supposed to be waterproof but it kept me dry, it is ‘ripstop’ nylon and acts like a tent flysheet.
I have written this post because others who have erected these things seem to have had trouble. It can be done single-handed, like this:
For safety, don’t use a single branch right above the chute, sling the rope between trees, as high as you can get it.
Fix one or both ends of this suspension rope low down, so you can get at it, to tension it.
Slacken (lower) the rope. Decide where to fix the apex of the chute, then tie a loop knot in the rope and fix the apex to it. Haul the rope up again so the chute hangs down like a folded umbrella, and tie the rope in place.
(I bought a chute with long lengths of para cord still attached. If yours has none, you will have to fix cord to it, for guy lines).
Don’t randomly peg the lines out hoping to get it right, and don’t work your way around the perimeter. Instead, divide the number of para cords by four and fix these four first, like corners. This ensures everything is evenly spaced (for example, if there are 28 cords, peg out every seventh one at the ends of an imaginary cross + whose centre is under the apex – Simples!)
My concern is how the thing will cope with the high winds we get here. The guys are fixed to trees or to 2″x2″ wooden stakes driven in like tent pegs, but rather like with tents, I’m sure these will work loose. I suspect that in gales it will look like the Cutty Sark in full sail. Hopefully it will be relatively simple to lower the suspension rope to collapse it all. Fingers crossed… touch wood… etc.