It is, but it depends on the conditions, the wind direction, where the nearest land is, and what boat you're on. IF you're on an old full-keeler, like a Southern Cross 28, with plenty of room to leeward, then it is a great tactic to use. If you're in a very modern, ULD racing boat, with a very high aspect bulb keel, it might not work out so well.
If you have a lee shore fairly closeby, it might not be a wise tactic, as it might still allow your boat to blow down onto the lee shore—but it depends again on the boat, the wind, the position of the land, etc.
A boat that forereaches when hove-to, might make enough progress to windward that a lee shore isn't a big deal.
Originally Posted by kwaltersmi
So it sounds like most of you feel that heaving-to isn't a heavy weather/storm tactic.
I've practiced heaving-to many times in light to moderate air, but never in heavy weather. I know it's a good skill for taking a break from sailing or an onboard emergency that requires your attention away from the cockpit for a bit, but there's something in my memory that recalls reading about heaving-to as a method for riding out a storm.
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You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.
—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)
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