Heaving To

I went out alone one day last fall and practiced heaving to.  I discovered several things about my boat:

1. With full 100 % headsail unrolled and full main sheeted to midships, the
boat lays about 70 -90 degrees off the wind.

2. Headsail rolled up 35%, and main eased, boat will lie off the wind about 35
degrees – actually, it will oscillate between 35 and 50 degrees off the wind as
the main drives it to windward, then the jib pushes the bow off. Boat
fore-reaches at .4 – .9 knots, and the motion is very calm.

3. If the rudder is hard over to leeward, it stalls ineffectively and lets the
boat drift sideways. So lashing to the most effective angle to leeward is

I experimented in winds of about 12-15 knots, and was very impressed
with the sea-keeping ability of the boat. Was never sure before if the boat
would behave calmly or predictably when hove to, but now I’m confident that we
could wait out bad weather at sea.

However, on another day last fall – when the wind was stronger – I couldn’t seem to get it right – at least I couldn’t seem to achieve the state of calm motion I was hoping for.  So I need more practice more frequently.

Working on that repertoire of skills we’ll need when the day comes to cast off

for the islands…


  1. Debra said:

    Excellent post! Heaving to is a skill we really want to try out and practice as well. However, we are on a very small reservoir with highly shifty winds. I’m not sure how effective our efforts would be, but we have a future plan for bigger waters as well. Happy to have a little more information in the arsenal. Thanks for sharing!

    • Thanks Debra. Lake sailing is challenging. The wind shifts drive you crazy. We sailed on the St Johns River in Jacksonville, FL for four years – much the same as lake sailing.

  2. Sailorman33 said:

    You did not mention the condition of the sea state on your second attempt. A quartering sea of 4+ feet could be throwing your boat around too much to let it settle into a grove.

    • A 3-4 foot chop (typical Chesapeake chop on a breezy day) was the situation. Just too bouncy – and . . . I hadn’t spent enough time thinking about how to manage it either.

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