Originally Posted by dgbenner
That all makes sense. Thanks for the answers. I imagine buffetting around and spinning all night wouldn't be comfortable. Do I recall hearing about something called a sea anchor that is like a parachute underwater so-to-speak?
yeah but it's more of a heavy-weather thing when you're trying to avoid being beam-on to big seas. and being tethered to something (at least by the bow) implies that you're not under sail, which latter means you're rolling unrestrained by the dampening effects of having sails up and filled. this is why heaving-to would be preferable to drifting or lying to a sea anchor or drogue.
Still, if you're going to heave-to, you might as well just sail, and catch your sleep in the daytime when you're more visible to other traffic. Better still, have enough crew that you're actually keeping a continuous lookout. The Collision regs require this anyway, notwithstanding what the singlehanders do.
One time heaving-to at night might be useful though is if you're reluctant to enter a strange or tricky harbor entrance until daylight and need to kill off the night hours without going anywhere. But again, keep that lookout, since you're near a port approach.