Heaving to on a Westsail

  • May 04, 2013 9:45 AM
    Reply # 1285492 on 1279568
    Deleted user
    If the original poster sails with a club-footed jib, someone with same might want to comment on how they get the jib trimmed to windward to backwind it. I know it's not as simple as tacking over and not releasing the sheet, my preferred method without the club.

    Like Lee says, heaving-to is good when you need a rest, less motion or to "sail-in-place" waiting for better conditions.

    I've never had to heave-to for stormy weather, but have for the above reasons.

    Adlard Coles book, "Heavy Weather Sailing" is worth reading, as it relates tactics used on similar heavy displacement boats. According to him, there's a point in a building storm  where large cresting/breaking waves will threaten to capsize a hove-to boat. This is when he would start sailing off wind, reducing the impact of oncoming waves, under storm jib, quartering the waves. Basically survival mode and likely actively steering the boat. This is what you rested up for while hove-to.

    Eric Hiscock said he sailed around the world for 30 years before ever getting caught in a "big" storm, but was always prepared and planned passages carefully to avoid them.
    Last modified: May 04, 2013 10:21 AM | Deleted user
  • June 10, 2013 6:56 AM
    Reply # 1313535 on 1279568
    My 2 centavos worth: we have had Daemon hove-to in 40-50 knots of wind a few times, once for 3 days, and we just use a backed triple-reefed main alone.  Our main is a loose-footed, battle less one (we would rather have ease of use and cheapness rather than speed for cruising) and we just crank it in to the centre and put the helm down. Works a treat.
  • June 12, 2013 7:54 PM
    Reply # 1316080 on 1279568
    My boat was gaff-rigged, so, different dynamics than most.  I couldn't seem to get a good enough balance to heave-to, so, I either just dropped all sail, or, more often, sailed along under the staysail alone.  The boat loves to sail under the staysail alone in higher winds... perfectly balanced.  I had reef points in the staysail, but never needed to use them.

    My philosophy is that, unless you are in a hurry, reduce sail early.  It is less stress on both you and the boat.
  • June 13, 2013 8:52 AM
    Reply # 1317355 on 1279568

           My W32 Patience has the club footed staysail. I keep a short pigtail of line tied to the end of the staysail boom that I tie wifh a rolling hitch to the lower forward shroud when heaving to. Tie it off; tack the boat, tie the tiller to leeward and she's set. I do this up to maybe 35 knots anything above that and I drop the staysail, hoist the storm staysail and sheet it in hard to the mast winch. Make sure you are using the running back stays at this time.

                                      Doing the Westsail boogie,       Lee

  • June 14, 2013 9:47 AM
    Reply # 1318210 on 1279568
    Deleted user
    Lee, would you mind elaborating on your present day thinking? Back in 2009 you said after heaving to, you would run downwind towing a series drogue with storm staysail. Would you still do this nowadays or, would you keep heaving to? Have you ever used your series drogue in earnest?
    Thanks so much for sharing.
  • June 14, 2013 1:56 PM
    Reply # 1318399 on 1279568


                   My procedures are still the same. The point where I stop heaving to and run downwind is when the seas get too big and start breaking onto the cabin top. When this happens there is a sideways push on the boat and she will trip on her keel while the pressure is on the topside. This is a very dangerous position to be in as she will certainly roll over. Lying ahull (taking down all sail and letting her drift) is equally as dangerous at this point. At one point when running from hurricane Guillermo (july 1997) I came close to putting out the series drogue but managed to run downwind with storm staysail without broaching down the face of the waves. I still carry it and like insurance, I hope to never need it.


  • June 14, 2013 7:31 PM
    Reply # 1318555 on 1279568
    Deleted user
    I suspect Lee is right that a drogue (or sea anchor) is not likely an optimal storm tactic on a W32.  Although Atkins designed her fine at the waterline to improved light wind performance, above the waterline she is still as bluff in the bow as the Archer designs. The harder she's driven, the more that bluff bow digs in to stem speed. One is more likely to be in need of a drogue (or sea anchor) on a boat with a fin keel and/or a fine entry. 

    A lesson learned from Bernard Mortessier's book "Cape Horn, the Logical Route", in which while sailing "Joshua",  his Archer style double-ender around Cape Horn in survival conditions, trailing warps and not having fun, he recalled from Vito Dumas' book (who sailed a boat similar to a W32 around the world in the roaring 40's), how well behaved and "fun" it was to drive his boat in the worst of conditions. Mortessier decided to cut his warps (impossible to retrieve them) and found his boat weathered the conditions much better.

    I've never used a drogue or sea anchor, but can picture all kinds of difficulties performing the whole procedure in  50+ kts of wind and survival seas, trying to set or retrieve, prevent chafe, tangled lines etc.
  • November 10, 2015 9:34 AM
    Reply # 3626657 on 1279568
    Deleted user

    I apologize if this has been covered elsewhere or if I am posting incorrectly. 

    With the Jordon series drogue, I understand the attachment points are located further forward on a double ender, nearer to the widest point. I wonder if anyone has any experience with, or ideas on, the safety of an out hung rudder and wind vane. It doesn't  seem like that much yaw would need to occur before chafe and or damage would occur. 

  • November 11, 2015 10:01 AM
    Reply # 3628957 on 1279568


        Your concerns about chafe and or damage to stern mounted equipment is a valid one. With a line from both sides of the boat to the series drogue certainly at some point the lines will tangle around the wind vane or rudder. My thoughts are to use a single line through a port or starboard stern hawsepipe and to sheet winch or samson post. Which side will be dictated by your course or cross sea conditions. A storm staysail set will keep the boat positioned with seas on the stern quarter.

       These are just my thoughts on the matter and we hope to never find the need to use them.     Lee

  • November 23, 2015 5:09 PM
    Reply # 3656958 on 1279568
    Deleted user
    In very big seas and a lot of wind, we doused everything except the staysail.  We tried running downwind and found it VERY UNCOMFORTABLE!  We then tried heaving to with just the staysail, and that's how we ended up waiting out the night.  We backwinded the staysail, and tied the tiller hard over.  We kept expecting to get soaked, but she handled beautifully.  There was no sleep to be had that night, but it made us a lot more confident about how to handle BIG weather.  

    Note: we have a loose footed staysail.
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