Heaving to on a Westsail

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  • April 26, 2013 12:12 PM
    Message # 1279568
    Deleted user
    Am wanting to formulate a rough idea of the strategy to use for storm tactics and was interested in hearing the advice of those with real world experience. This is my plan for sustained winds forecast for several hours.
    1. White caps appearing, put one reef in the main.
    2. At 20 knots switch from genoa to yankee, or partially furl the genoa.
    3. At 25 knots put another reef in the main and, gybe if running.
    4. At 30 knots, ditch the genoa or yankee and sail just with a (reefed) staysail.
    5. At 35 knots, tuck in another reef in the main or ditch it and switch to a trysail.
    6. At 40 knots, heave to.
    7. At 45 knots, ditch the staysail.
    8. At 50 knots, mitigate forereaching with a para anchor
    9. At 55 knots start praying!
    I would like to hear how you would change this list either by changing the order or the wind speed or anything. Please tear the list apart......Knock yourself out! I know that this is such a complicated issue but I really want a game plan. Just wanting to learn. Too bad mother nature is such a bad teacher!
  • April 26, 2013 7:29 PM
    Reply # 1279765 on 1279568
    From an old post by Dave King:

    1. 0-8 kn. Full sail. Drifter or Genoa or spinnaker or whatever.
    2. 8-15 kn. Full working sail. Usually nothing bigger than a Yankee.
    3. Above 15 kn.
    1st. reef in Main.
    2nd. douse or reduce jib.
    3rd. 2nd reef in Main
    4th. douse any remaining jib.
    5th. douse the main.
    6th. staysail alone
    7th. storm sails as necessary.
    Storm jib goes on the inner stay.
    Notice that the staysail is the better choice to leave up forward until the end. Saraband's staysail is reefable so I also have that option as desired. We have sailed in 50 knots under just the reefed staysail although the better choice at that time would be storm jib and/or trysail.

    Last modified: April 26, 2013 7:29 PM | Anonymous member
  • April 26, 2013 8:39 PM
    Reply # 1279785 on 1279568
    Deleted user
    I'll let others with more skill and experience talk about the technical issues of reefing. 

    One thing that seems like a no-brain er is to practice heaving to if you get new sails.  We didn't and it cost us several miserable nights.  What worked with the old sails wouldn't with new ones, something we learned the hard way.

    Last modified: April 26, 2013 8:44 PM | Deleted user
  • April 27, 2013 9:43 AM
    Reply # 1280057 on 1279568
    Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Jim:  Can you relate what worked with your old sails and what worked with your new sails?  Jay
  • April 28, 2013 9:35 AM
    Reply # 1280582 on 1279568
    Deleted user
    Thank you very much Norm, Gary, Jim, Dave and Jay. If I can sum up, there does not seem to be a lot of difference in opinion from y'all under gale warning conditions. Divergence seems to come, above gale force winds, the recommendation seeming to indicate a preference to sail on just under a staysail. I believe that was how Satori was sailing when the coast guard picked up the crew. I really would like more information about the option of heaving to on a Westsail as opposed to sailing on with just the staysail. It is actually quite telling that there seems to be no information out on the internet about the topic. Makes one wonder! Can anyone shed more light on the topic? For instance, does the boat forereach very much? Jim, like Jay I am very interested in you expanding on your experience. What combination of your new sails did not work?
    Again, thanks for spending the time.....
  • April 29, 2013 7:54 PM
    Reply # 1281628 on 1279568
    Deleted user
    Jay/Peter, the old main was a hollow leach original.  The boat would heave to with a single reef in the main and the stay sail backed.  The new main was a full batten kern and much more powerful.  With a single reef it overpowered the stay sail, a double reef will probably work although we haven't tried it yet.  We were to tired to try it and elected to set the wind vane and sail off shore.

  • April 30, 2013 6:04 PM
    Reply # 1282537 on 1279568
    Deleted user

    Lots of information on when and what to reef, but still waiting for commentary on heaving to.


  • April 30, 2013 7:09 PM
    Reply # 1282588 on 1279568


                Heaving to- meaning to slow the boat down can be used for a number of reasons. It is usually done by backing a headsail, with or without any kind of mainsail up and lashing the tiller to leeward. This slows and steadies the boat. As she tries to respond to the rudder by heading up, the headsail pushes her back down. While this is going on she will make 1 to 2 knots to leeward.

          Some reasons to do it:    STORM CONDITIONS- When it is too rough to carry on and you need a rest. Heaving to under these conditions creates a slick to windward helping to settle the waves to windward. Once the seas become too large and dangerous it is time to run downwind.

                                                      ARRIVAL AT DESTINATION- Arriving at an unfamiliar destination when dark, heaving to is used to wait for daylight. 


                                                      ARRIVAL AT ANCHORAGE- Approaching an anchorage heaving to gives you time to prepare your ground tackle.


                                                      MAKING REPAIRS AT SEA- Heaving to steadies the boat while you fix what needs fixing.


                                                       WHEN COOKING A MEAL- Heaving to keeps you from wearing your scrambled eggs on your feet.


     As with normal sailing the wind conditions determine what sails to use. It is truly amazing how exhausting it can get out there. Heave to, get some rest then carry on. Of course if you are racing you just have to carry on.


       I should add for those that do not know under storm conditions in the northern hemisphere heave to on the starboard tack. In the southern hemisphere heave to on the port tack.

    Last modified: April 30, 2013 8:50 PM | Anonymous member
  • May 01, 2013 3:43 AM
    Reply # 1282748 on 1279568
    Deleted user

    My impression from the thread is that there may be something(s) particular to the Westsail 32 that might make heaving to easier.  I know what heaving to is, I know when it should be used, but are there any tricks with the Westsail?


  • May 01, 2013 10:08 AM
    Reply # 1283035 on 1279568

          No special tricks. Even two W32s will (as noted in previous posts) heave to differently according to the sails used. Larry Pardey who sails his engineless wooden cutter worldwide tears off paper towels to drop overboard when heaving to. They tell him how much drift or forereaching and he adjusts his sails for this. The sails you have up for the current conditions will be correct for heaving to. (see previous posts for wind strengths). Again this is only my opinion on the topic and since an "expert" is only a drip under pressure, I don't claim to be one.

    All comments are welcome,   Lee

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