Re: Heaving to, was Singlehanded anchoring
Thu, 12 Aug 1999 14:44:35 EDT

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West Wight Potter Website at URL
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Dear Eric:
I learned how to "Heave To" from this wonderful web gang. Following is an
assemblage of various WWP responses about "Heaving to" that have been very
useful to me. Welcome to my collection, to-wit:

1.When sailing close-hauled upwind, go through a tack. Instead of
releasing your jib
sheet in a usual tack, leave it cleated to windward so it will
2.Once the jib is drawing a good amount of air, push both the boom
and the tiller to
leeward. In effect, the main "hides out" behind the jib and
becomes a fairly
negligible influence on the boat. If you don't have a tiller tamer
or something
similar, lash the tiller leeward with a cord or a bungee cord.
3.The boat will go through a "scalloping motion" where the jib will
blow the boat in
one direction and the tiller will counter to the other. You'll
drift slowly downwind, but
it is a pleasant ride, especially on a sunny day.
4.Use this maneuver whenever you want to reef the main, stretch your
legs, go to the
bathroom, eat lunch, read a book, etc.

RE: Copy of: Re: Heaving to

I don't know about 19's, but 15's heave-to like champs. The secret is to
tighten the main sheet so the main is midship, harden the jib so it has
shape, and put the rudder hard over so that it is steering into the side
the jib is on. Works in anything but a gale. Just quietly sits there
drifting slowly down wind indefinitely.

Dick, Wollochet Bay WA HEAVING TO
Simply put:
1.) Tack, but don't move the jib over to the new side. Let it
backwind (fill from the "wrong" side).
2.) Keep the tiller (not the rudder, but the tiller) pointed toward the
If the boom is on the starboard, point the tiller to starboard. Keep it
(lash it down if you have to move about).

That's it. The wind in the jib works counter to the position of the
and main, and it all sort of cancels out. You're not going to stop dead
the water, but you should be able to stay in more or less the same
position, barring sudden wind shifts and tidal currents.

Try's a good thing to practice. I find that it gives me time to
calm my nerves and collect my thoughts when the winds are blowing. When
it's calm, the technique (combined with a Tiller Tamer) lets me go below
for short periods when singlehanding without having to drop sail or

Should be in every Potterers bag of tricks.


Jason and Otter (the proud "Tweener Potter")


To heave to without tacking, bring the boat close-hauled, then haul the
clew of the jib across the deck to windward. Leave the mainsheet
Hold the tiller to leeward, as if trying to point the bow farther into
wind. Ease out the mainsheet until the sail just luffs, then trim in
the mainsail draws full.

Adjust the tiller so the boat will continue to "point" in balanced
into the wind. Don't allow the backwinded jib to swing the bow around.
the point of balance.

The force of the wind on the main will try to drive the boat forward,
into the wind; the force on the back-winded jib will try to drive the
back and the bow downwind. These sail forces will counter each other so
boat should quickly reach a point of equilibrium. She will make very
forward way and will stand gently while making a certain amount of

Some extreme fin-keel boats may not be so well-behaved. If the boat
stabilize, a British author advises this: "slow right down at first,
luffing, then haul the jib to weather until the clew is exactly on the
mast. Pay the mainsail out until it's about 45 degrees to the
and then, with helm held to leeward, she should lie quietly."

("Lying-to" is a variation: you let the boat lie broadside to the wind
both sails completely free and shaking, with the helm held to leeward.
is hard both on the sails and the nerves, but it can serve for a brief

The effect of heaving-to is startling: where one had been caught up in a
screaming, sail-slatting, pounding thrash to windward, or a pell-mell,
wildly-yawing downwind rush, suddenly the wind noise will drop to a
comfortable level, the boat will hold a gentle, steady heel, and
(and everyone) will calm down. You can rest, relax, and think about what
do next. You can duck into the cabin to consult your charts and lay a
course. You can stand off the entrance to an unfamiliar place and sort
things out before committing yourself to a risky situation.

I've read how to heave to, I've seen testimonials for people who have
able to successfully been able to heave to in a p-15, but I've not been
able to
do it as of yet. Here is my experience:

Charging along close hauled, say on a starboard tack. Decide to heave
to, throw the
to lee, but leave the jib alone. After the bow comes through the wind,
throw the helm to
the new
The jib instantly fills and whips the bow around, ignoring my feeble
attempt to counteract
the helm. The bow continues to swing unabated, while the sheeted in
main begins to
the boat over on its ear! Panic ensues, the jib is cut, and I nose the
boat back up to
hauled on a port tack.

Am I waiting too long to throw the helm over?

>From one beginner to another I think you are doing everything right except
as you come about (not releasing the jib), let you mainsheet completely
As you let out the main sheet out, "steer" the tiller so as to go BACK
through the wind again. That should leave you almost sideways to the
(approximately). If I need to go forward a little bit I may tighten up
the main sheet just a little to provide some drive.

-- Mike Calva (P19 "Panacea")

To heave to, you might try sailing along close-hauled, then push the
slightly to leeward so the boat will turn up into the wind enough to
you're sailing to close and the sails start luffing. As the boat slows
relese the jib sheet on the lee side and pull in and cleat the jib sheet
the windward side, which should put the jib on the "wrong" side of the
back-winding it. The wind on the backwinded jib will stop the boat and
to swing the bow away from the wind. But because the main sail is still
sheeted in fairly tight from sailing close-hauled, the wind will soon
fill it, and because it's bigger that the jib and located mostly behind
center board, the boat should now turn back into the wind and stop,
with the
tiller to leeward. Now the cycle will start over again and at this
point you
need to find the balance point between how much the jib is backwinded,
close the main is sheeted in to the center, and how far the tiller is
held to
leeward to get the minimum movement. It doesn't stop completely, there
always some movement/drift.

Steve Parsons P15 "MR.P"

heaving to:

1. Begin with the boat close hauled;

2. Gently bring the boat into a tack without releasing the jib sheet.
The jib
will become back winded;

3. Ease the mainsail and bring the tiller over to leeward as though you
are trying to steer back into the eye of the wind;

4. Lash the tiller to leeward.

Richard S. Karam
P-15 #2098 Oops
Oklahoma City

With my P-19 the boat stabilizes when we finish these four steps.