Re: Heaving to, was Singlehanded anchoring

Perry W. Phillips (
Thu, 12 Aug 1999 09:13:20 -0500

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West Wight Potter Website at URL
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Heaving to requires different approaches based on the particular boat and sail
design. Larry and Lin Pardey give great details in their book Storm Tactics.
You can also find some information in Adlard Coles book Heavy Weather Sailing.
They both discuss the variations for different hull designs and sail plans. In
my old Cape Dory Typhoon I could heave to in two fashions. The Typhoon had a
full keel, which is vastly different from a centerboard or daggerboard design
boat. I could back the jib and drop the main and lay the tiller over, in other
words tack the boat while leaving the jib set for the previous tack, then after
the main is dropped lay the tiller over as to turn back to the previous tack.
This causes the boat to try to round up to the wind and then drop back off when
it can't build enough speed to follow through the tack. The boat then gently
enters a series of motions like a rocking chair riding the waves into the wind
and then dropping off to start again.

The second method is similar, but with a reefed main set to a normal tack
position and tied off. Under extremely strong wind conditions, cruisers have a
storm jib and storm trysail cut to perform the same task. These sails are much

The Chinese use a method quite different because they build their Junks with
rounded non-ballasted keels. There they put out a sea anchor on a bridled line.
The bridle is led from the bow cleat to the stearn cleat and the loop is tied in
about one third the distance from the bow. The sea anchor is then tied in to
this loop in such a fashion that will allow it to be controlled from the cockpit
to extend it or bring it in closer to the boat. Their intention is to allow the
anchor to be far enough away from the boat so as to be on the opposite side of
approaching breaker waves. This prevents the boat from being tossed end over
end backwards as it rises to the top of the wave. I think that this would
probably be a good alternative to non-keeled boat since the keel plays a very
important part in the first two methods I've described.

Perry W. Phillips
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