In its simplest form, you can think of heaving-to as parking a sailboat at sea. When successfully “hove-to” the boat will drift gently to leeward at a greatly reduced speed. It’s not only in a storm that heaving-to is useful, it’s good for when your crew need to rest, you need to reef, or when you need to effect repairs.

It’s an ideal technique for riding out a storm, however there is an art to it in heavy seas, as this article explains.

This video also gives a nice practical demonstration.

Drogues And Sea Anchors

Skip Novak has sailed in some pretty ferocious weather, but he’s no fan of drogues and sea anchors. Others wouldn’t leave the marina without them. This article takes up the debate. This isn’t really a topic I can comment on since (thankfully?) it’s not yet something I’ve experienced. Instinctively though, throwing things over the side doesn’t feel like a great idea. What do you think?

Rough Conditions In Port

It’s also good to consider how you would handle rough conditions in a port. This article describes how one guy managed a situation when conditions took a turn for the worse in the Aegean.
About a third of the way through the article he talks about being moored alongside a wall, and the advice some locals gave him about (rather counterintuitively) lengthening his lines. We had exactly the same situation when sailing in Tenerife (we were doing our Coastal Skipper with Canary Sail). We were moored up alongside a wall in a significant swell, and were trying our best to rig the lines in their usual configuration. A couple of fisherman appeared and with much gesturing and pointing, told us to get rid of the springs and give the lines a lot more length to get the yacht to sit off the wall. Looking at how their 30ft+ fishing boat was swinging backwards and forwards, we were not all that keen. That being said, our instincts told us we should probably trust their judgement and experience over our own (being first time visitors and all) so with a great deal of hesitation we complied. To our surprise, the yacht sat happily off the wall, and swayed back and forth in harmony with her neighbour.

After about half an hour we were happy with how she was sitting so we headed off for dinner. When we came back a German couple had moored up in front of us. The locals tried the same with them but they stuck to what they knew. Unfortunately they spent the night grinding up against the wall, chafing through two lines and popping three fenders.



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