Westsail Owners Alliance - Thread: "Heaving To"
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Thread: "Heaving To"

12,268 posts on 2,444 threads   •   From Mar 07, 2004 - Jan 08, 2012


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Heaving To

Don and Margaret Lacoste

Hello All,

I have been learning more about my W-32. I have tried to Heave To on the bay with winds blowing around 20. I tried just using headsails. With staysail alone, I kept the sail backstayed and lashed the tiller all the way to leeward. The boat could not come much into the wind holding at more than 90 degrees off the wind. I was drifting at about 1.8 knots to leeward according to my gps.

I then tried to add a bit of jib off the roller keeping the staysail backed. At first I backed the jib as well but fell off the wind at more angle than staysail alone. I moved the reefed jib to leeward and that improved the situation as the boat was now able to point into the wind. A couple times, the boat tacked which means I had the tiller too much to leeward.

Any suggestions on heaving to would be welcomed as this is a critical feature of storm management. I would assume that the W32 can do this efficiently.


Norm Rhines

Don and Margaret

I have found some sucess with a plan much as you have done.
with backing the stay sail tight, but also a double reef main hauled out to leeward as far as I can with a preventer and vanged down tight.

This will keep you from coming up through the wind. but I am not sure that is what you are noting.

Another option is to use the jib rolled up most of the way, backed and tight ( I dont like this option because. if the reefing lets out more sail it could be very bad.)

Lastly (I can reef my stay sail) which is an option for me when the wind comes up.

As for speed, It seams 1 to 2 knts was my drift. In light wind it is less .5 but when the wind kicks up I watch the gps a lot less.

Rod Lawson

I have also been experimenting with this technique. I recently bought the dvd "storm tactics" by the Pardeys. I thoroughly recommend the DVD as it runs through the technique in excellent detail. The full keel of the W32 is ideal as it helps generate the "slick" they refer to. Most people I have asked about this technique are not aware of the 'slick' or turbulence effect which is supposed to be generated when properly hove to. The Pardey DVD explains the importance of the turbulence created by the hull slipping sideways and its affect on breaking seas. I haven't yet perfected the technique but I'm hoping to get plenty of practice before I actually need it.

Aaron Norlund

Remember that the basic principle of heaving to is to have the bow about 60 or so degrees off the wind so she isn't really pitch polling, but not broached (which is uncomfortable and unsafe).

To get the bow that far up, especially on a W32, you'll probably need to put a bit of sail up aft (trysail or deep reefed main) and experiment with how much sail you need from the foresails to keep the bow knocked back. I would think a small amount aft and a reefed stays'l would be good for up to about force 7 or maybe 8. Past that though, the bow's windage will probably be enough and the trys'l would probably do it.

It's normal for the boat to go between a broach and closer reach, but it can be a real worry if she slips to a broad reach because an accidental gybe in horrendous winds is a nightmare at least. I've never heard of "tuning the rudder" when hove to. Hard over on your favorite point is the only way I've found to be successful at keeping speed down and the bow up far enough.

Good luck and may you never need to go hove to for weather!

Aaron N.

Rich Morpurgo

I agree with aaron. you need sail AFT on a westsail.

there is so much windage already forward, especially if you have a headsail furler.

The pardy's video is very good.


Christian Allaire

I would like to hear/ or view the arrangement some of you folks use to "lash the tiller" a lee. I'm having difficulty coming up some type of simple but effective arrangement. Thanks!

W32 Christa

Rod Lawson

Since my last post I have had a couple of opportunities to experiment with heaving to. The most recent was in about 25knots of wind when I put 2 reefs in the main and lashed the tiller over to the leeward side. This seemed to work perfectly and the slick (or turbulence) from the keel was clearly visible. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) the sea was pretty flat and I wasn't able to test the technique in breaking seas to see if the slick protects the boat from breaking seas as described in the pardey video. As for lashing the tiller I simply tied it off to a cleat near the base of the boomkin but I figure any method of tying the tiller to the leeward side will work. In stronger winds I imagine the storm tri sail will work very well.

Gerald Astrella and Cathy Calisch

I used the technique of double reefed main alone and tiller lashed to leeward off of a ruff Columbia River bar. The wind strength was 15 to 20 with higher gusts and very lumpy/confused seas. Sometimes the bowsprit was under water, sometimes the boomkin. The boat moved very little off its position. If I remember right, about a mile and half in around four or five hours.

Jill Upchurch & Bruce Bird

Hi, We have had heaps of heaving to practice this season in the South Pacific (I'm writing a book called "Around the World Hove-To") and after a lot of experimentation we would definitely agree that you need sail aft. Depending on windstrength we would heave to under double-reefed main and staysail up to 35 knots, then double reefed main (only because we didn't get a third reef until late season in Vanuatu - big mistake not leaving with one)and storm jib up to 40 knots, and then trysail or third reef and no sail forward after that. We found that using the mainsail only made it easy as a) the staysail was self-tacking, so that involved double-tacking (and in those conditions trying to get her to come about under reduced sail & huge swells usually needed the motor) to secure the sail and b) we could winch the severely reduced main into the central position without tacking and then lash off the helm a-lee with some rope.
Our worst time was three days hove-to in a 45 knot plus (wind indicator gave up) gale off the north of New Zealand with 6 metre seas. That was before we had the third reef/lots of reefing experience, so we were under double-reefed main & storm jib, which was too much for the conditions, so we fore-reached a bit but we never felt unsafe at any time. I can really recommend heaving-to: it takes the stress out of the situation and gives you time to think properly. We also used it to sit off islands waiting for dawn when we had made landfall at night. Cheers, Jill

Don and Margaret Lacoste

Hi Jill,

Thanks for your details on heaving-to. I wanted to have a third reef point added to my main. The sail loft I deal with suggested I forget the third reef and use the trysail instead. He made what sounded like a good argument. His opinion was that exposing the triple reefed main in high winds was not a good idea as it exposed the most important sail to damage. He felt the trisail was stronger that the main and if it did fail, we would still have the main in tack when the winds subsided.

I choose not to have the main changed with his suggestion. Any thoughts out there?


Dave King

Ahoy Don,
Here is one thought. First, I agree completely with your sailmaker. The important thing is, Where is the uppermost reef? On most Mainsails that have only 2 reef rows, Saraband's included, the upper row is at the same height as the 3rd row would be on a triple reefed Main. The difference is in the spacing between the lower rows. This is not always the case but if the Main was originally built for cruising, as yours certainly was, then the top row is probably very nearly equal to a 3rd row on other mains.
On a previous W-32 I owned, after wearing out the first Mainsail, which had 3 reef rows, I had a new one built and specified that the two rows be exactly where I had the 2nd and 3rd rows on the previous sail. I simply eliminated the 1st row.
Good luck,

Jill Upchurch & Bruce Bird

Hi Don, Re: the 3rd reef thing. Our sailmaker also advised having 2 reefs then going to trysail, and this was how we set off. However after a couple of gales it became obvious that, for us, it was eaier to take in a third reef in 45 knot winds and huge seas then to get the main down, and rig the trysail. We also sit better with the main than trysail. Since getting the 3rd reef (way up high in the sail number!) we (touch wood) haven't had any more gales, so can't be totally sure on the merits of it sailing-wise.



I just got a W32, have yet to bend on the main but I know it has only 2 reef points. Wouldn't I be delighted to discover that the 2nd reef point is where the 3rd typically is. Where, specifically, would that spot be? - say, how many grommets down from the top?

Just to throw in my two pence on the heaving to methods. This is sort of a Pardey adaption. I just had my W32 out overnight in 25 knot winds and 3-5 ft. quite choppy headseas. One reef in the main and boomed just a couple of feet to leeward from the centerline, backed stays'l sheeted hard, no heads'l, tiller to leeward but not all the way, held in place by bungee chords. Bungee chords rock! VERY comfortable and easy. Highly recommend the bungee chords to everyone. I just had bunches of the little cheesy ones with the built in hooked ends. Worked perfectly.

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