When Heaving-To Is Dangerous


The key to heaving-to safely is keeping the boat directly downwind of the slick created to windward by her own drift to leeward. I can’t overemphasize how important this is. If a heaved-to boat forereaches fast enough to get out from behind the slick, heaving-to can actually become more dangerous than continuing to sail, because it is the slick that causes waves to break before they reach the boat. So getting ahead of the slick will result in waves breaking over the boat.

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John was born and brought up in Bermuda and started sailing as a child, racing locally and offshore before turning to cruising. He has sailed over 100,000 miles, most of it on his McCurdy & Rhodes 56, Morgan's Cloud, including eight ocean races to Bermuda, culminating in winning his class twice in the Newport Bermuda Race. He has skippered a series of voyages in the North Atlantic, the majority of which have been to the high latitudes. John has been helping others go voyaging by sharing his experience for twenty years, first in yachting magazines and, for the last 12 years, as co-editor/publisher of AAC.

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