As we have shared in earlier chapters in this Online Book, we now believe that for extreme weather, where large breaking waves may be present, a Series Drogue, as designed by Don Jordan, is the best survival strategy.
That said, on Morgan’s Cloud, heaving-to was for years our first and favourite strategy when the weather got nasty. And it has the particular benefit of being surprisingly comfortable. In fact, we have even enjoyed a sit-down dinner at the salon table when heaved–to in a full gale.
Also, heaving-to is not just for gales. The effort and expense we put in to making our boats heave-to well will be repaid in many other ways, including being able to take a pleasant rest from arduous conditions and being able to comfortably wait for daylight or better conditions before attempting a tricky landfall. It can also be an invaluable technique in the event that we must make a repair at sea.
Given all that, we have left our chapters on heaving-to in this Online Book.
Myself and my partner used the tactic of heaving to in the North Atlantic and North Sea.
The boat was a deep fin keel spade rudder 42 ft Beneteau . It was a pig to
get it to stay in the heaved to position. It would go through the tack and go racing off under fully reefed, fully battoned main sail. If we cranked in the headsail and carefully handled the helm (wheel) it would eventually go -and stay- hoved to. We never used storm tri-sails or any other active tactic. The relief from broaching and surfing was immense. This was in 1995 on our way back from Svalbard via Jan Mayen, Iceland, Faroes and the Shetland Isles. I’m now 66 yrs old and have no intention of “nipping about the foredeck rigging tri-sales. The tactic worked in 10m sometimes 11m waves, So long as we stayed starboard or port bow quarter on we were ok.
I’m off on the same trip in 2016 or 2017 by that time I’ll be heading towards 70 !! If Ben Shipton can hack it…. so can I . So it goes.
Apologies, I meant Ben Shepton.
The comment above has just registered with me – “we retire below and maintain a watch………from the warm and dry chart table….”
Do I see a contradiction here?
On the proposed A40 this wouldn’t be an option. I must again ask if your views on the design aren’t too coloured by life on board Morgans Cloud. If even on your large and very well found yacht, the chart table is seen as a place where the on watch crew are able to do their job in bad weather, how much more important on a smaller boat?
Although I suspect that the lack of a chart table on the A40 would not have a significant impact on initial sales, I suspec that it might well be the factor which prevents long term success for the design.
There are several perfectly comfortable corners to rest in at sea on the A40 while keeping an eye on the instruments on the forward bulkhead (for those that wish to fit them).
If you can come up with a viable layout for the boat that does not sacrifice something important like the shower, U shaped galley, or push the salon too far forward or the cockpit too far aft, that includes a chart table of a useful size, I’m all ears.
Bottom line, you can’t have it all in an 18000 pound boat.
Perhaps we could give this argument a rest since we have been around the block on it at least three times. Time to agree to disagree I would suggest.
OK I give in!
I promise not to raise the topic again, unless I can come up with the magic answer you suggest.
Liklihood? Probably zero.
What to look for to determine that a yacht will heave to well.
If it is the preferred storm solution for the likes of Skip Novak, the Pardeys, Sir Peter Blake & Harries/Nickel then I reckon it is the preferred solution. Thanks for the very helpful advise on setting up a boat to heave-to. But what should we look for before purchasing or designing a boat to ensure it will respond and settle comfortably once correctly set up. I was very surprised to read “Like most modern yachts, Pèlerin doesn’t heave-to well”* I thought I might have seen a discussion on this in the Adventure 40 Hull & Keel section – perhaps it’s there and I missed it.
Generally moderate and heavy displacement longer keel hull forms heave-to better than lighter fin keel boats. That said, as I say in the post above, my thinking is that most any boat can be made to heave-to with the right gear. Read this chapter for a technique that helps with boats that tend to fore-reach out of their slick: https://www.morganscloud.com/2013/06/01/stopping-wave-strikes-while-heaved-to/
I would also add that despite my faith in heaving-to I would always want to carry a Jordan Series Drogue for serious offshore work and that goes double for lighter fin keeled boats and lifting keel boats.
I’m fully convinced Heaving-to is the best gale strategy in a monohull; but what about Catamarans? All the Heave-to material i have read assume mono boats! Cats are getting more popular and have limited underbodies to stabilize itself in the correct position.
Can you speculate on ways (sail plans + Gale riders) to make a Cat heave-to correctly?
I’m sorry, I just don’t know. I have sailed cats, but years ago, and not offshore. I’m guessing that it might be quite difficult, or even impossible, to get a cat to settle down and not move out of her slick, a requirement for safe heaving-to.
Given the lack of solid information on heaving-to in multihulls, I think that if placed in that situation, I would default to running off with a Jordan Series Drogue.
If a Cat can’t be made to heave-to, then that is a solid reason for a person who desires to go long distance blue water cruising to choose a mono vs Cat! Their lives could depend on it. When people discuss the benefits of a Cat vs Mono, I don’t see this point brought up much.
I don’t think that I would say that the situation for cats was that bad. While I agree that heaving-to is a great option to have, the JSD is a proven survival technique, and I can’t see any reason that a cat could not use it.
I think, if it were me making the decision between cat and mono I would think more about the operator error tolerance of each type. Here I think there is a case in that even experienced cat crews can get caught with too much sail up and the result can be an inversion, whereas with a mono hull it would be “just” a knock down. Not saying that this disqualifies cats from offshore cruising, but rather it’s something to be realistic and think about.
While I personally prefer monohulls over cats I believe a JSD could even be of more benefit for a cat than for a monohull as the lever that keeps the boat stern-to the waves is a lot bigger with a cat than with a mono.
That’s a good point. That said, having read a lot about JSD usage and also all of Jordan’s theory papers several times, while it’s nice if the boat stays oriented directly down wind, I don’t think that it’s actually that important for roll over prevention. The key is that the load varies from almost nothing to huge on the JSD, so the boat will veer either side of directly down wind, but on the front face of a dangerous wave the JSD loads up quickly and pulls the boat straight.
The reason people don’t talk about heaving to with catamarans is that it just isn’t necessary. Cruising catamarans sail relatively flat and while they jerk back and forth and can have very hard wave strikes under the bridge deck it is nothing like the deep heel and large scale violent movements of a monohull. There is no need to heave to to be able to cook for example. And if the seas/wind are so strong that we need to radically slow down for comfort, at that point it is time to go to the JSD anyway.
Hi John, revisiting the JSD on a Cat idea. I assume you are using the JSD for running-off not heaving-to? Am i correct? I don’t like running off in a gale as my first strategy as i have to be 100% perfect for long periods with small crew + i remain inside the gale longer. Ugh.
Question: is there a chance one could use the Galerider off the bow to remain hove to better in a Cat? Having a reliable heave to strategy in a Cat is important.
Are there any on this board that have used a hove-to Strategy on a Cat that could lend us their wisdom??
Yes, running off only on the JSD. For heaving to I use a Galerider as detailed in a later chapter. As to whether that would work on a cat of not, I simply don’t know. This kind of thing can only be properly investigated by trying it in real offshore conditions.
I’m curious if you had a chance to see how the typically rigged Boréal would heave to, with its “spider web” mainsheet with no traveller and it’s self- tacking staysail. So far, we have found her to heave to quite well with the genoa back-winded, but I believe I would have to rig additional lines to back-wind the staysail, i.e. prevent it from tacking through.
I have only sailed a Boreal for a couple of hours in light air and smooth water, so I would defer to you on that one.
That said, if she heaves-to well with the genoa, I would think that it would be even better with the staysail since the centre of effort will be further aft helping to overcome any issues from not having a traveler.
And, when I was thinking of buying a Boreal, I did have a very quick look at the self tacking set up and concluded that it would be reasonable easy to rig a line to keep the staysail sheet traveler to windward, but I don’t remember the details of what I was thinking. How does that task look to you?
The other thought is, have you tried heaving-to with just the main and no headsail at all, with just the windage from the furled headsails keeping the bow from tacking through? Our boat does this fine once the wind gets over 30 and I’m thinking that, given the position of the keel box, maybe the Boreal would do the same with the board up. Might also be interesting to try just a little area down on one of the aft lea boards?
I have been a believer in heaving to in gales since, as a young man, I crewed for Bill Tilman. The technique will vary from boat to boat. Tilman’s pilot cutters hove to with a deep reefed mainsail and staysail, but I found that my 1930s gaff cutter was happy with the mainsail stowed and the boom in the rigid gallows, the roller jib rolled and the close reefed staysail set. I think that, as you point out, the windage of the furled sails came into it.
I now have a Nicholson 55 with a longish fin and Skegness rudder. To my surprise and delight these boats also heave to well with close reefed mainsail and reefed staysail.
In all the above cases – helm lashed about half down.