Members' Online Book: Heavy Weather Tactics, Chapter 13 of 20

Storm Tactics, Transitioning From Heaved-to to Running Off

Member Fernando asked the following question in the comments to one of the chapters in our Storm Tactics Online Book:

When you decide that heaving-to is dangerous, how would you move singlehandedly from a hove-to situation to deploy the Jordan series drogue? You are with the main up and need to move to running downwind. If you lower the main first, the wind gets the control of the boat during a dangerous time, but if you turn first you can reach dangerous speed downwind with the sail up, and have difficulties to lower it afterward.

That’s a very good question and one that brings up a lot of issues about storm survival.

First off, my general thinking is that the survival technique that you go into a storm with (whatever it may be) is the one you are stuck with, since it’s just way too difficult and dangerous to change once it’s really blowing and the sea is up.

And, added to that, as the noise and motion of the storm wears on the crew, they will become less and less able to make a change safely (particularly if short-handed), due to exhaustion and often seasickness too.

Or, to put it another way, we need to get this stuff right the first time.

That said, I think the scenario you postulate might, if the boat is set up properly, be an exception to this rule. And, while I have never had to make this transition, primarily because our boat heaves-to so well, I have given it quite a bit of thought.

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Meet the Author

John

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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