Originally Posted by Ninefingers
If they wanted him to drop sails I think they would have told him to do so.
I agree. I asked a Coast Guard friend of mine, who's done hundreds of boardings, and his reply was : if the Coasties want you to change anything about your speed and course, they will say so -- don't try to help them until you're given instructions. It's safer for everybody that way, and any quick maneuvers could be misinterpreted as evasion.
He also told me that they used to hail: "Come about and heave to." But they so frequently got quizzical stares from the modern crop of racers ("heave to? how do ya do that
?") that they gave up on those instructions.