The Offshore Voyaging Reference Site


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.

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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.

Bill Attwood

Hi John.
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.
Yours aye,

Bill Attwood

Hi John.
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.
Yours aye,


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.



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?


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.


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.

Tom and Deb Jarecki

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??
Thanks all!

Alain Côté

Hi John,

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.


Andrew Craig-Bennett

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.