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Old 05-12-2011
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Heaving to.....what gives.

Ok, so technically I'm a newbie; but I've been reading threads on Sailnet for several years and have learned a great deal by reading what others have posted. However, I've consistently come across inconsistent info as it pertains to the proper heave to methods.

My ASA instructors all state that the main must be luffed in order to maintain the vessel in the heave to position. But I keep reading in different forums and websites like sailonline and ehow, that you must sheet in the mainsail and bring it tight to midship. So what gives? Which is it? Do we luff the main or sheet it in tight. Is there one preferred over the other in light air verses heavy weather?

Thanks in advance
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Old 05-12-2011
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When Heaving To, keep the jib tight on what ever tack you are on, then tack, don't touch the jib sheet, ease the main. Your instructors are right.
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Old 05-12-2011
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In my experience, each vessel will behave differently, depending upon the wind, current and the amount of sail you have up.

You have to experiment with this under all those varying conditions to strike the right balance

It's about balance: headsail, rudder, wind, current etc.

I will heave-to in order to reef the main. To do that, I need to take the pressure off the main. I also need to have the genoa furled properly for the conditions. If I have too much headsail out, she will not settle in.

If you have the right balance of headsail and rudder, you can luff the main..
( not flog).

There are times when you may need a little drive from the main.
I don't think you can apply a hard and fast rule.
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Old 05-12-2011
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You have to experiment til you get it 'right' for your boat and the wind conditions, but in general, I'll have the main tight enough that it fills when we come down to a close reach, then mostly luffs when we come up to close-hauled. tiller tied down about halfway to lee.

What's key is that the main and jib alternate as the predominant wind force so the boat gently and slightly rotates around the CLR "pivot point"--rotate up, main partially luffs and so the backed jib becomes the dominant lateral force--which rotates you back to leeward, when the main fills and becomes the dominant force--which turns you back to windward, where the jib's again dominant, then repeat, repeat, repeat, alternating weather helm effect with lee helm.

You can adjust mainsheet and tiller to minimize the "scalloping" course to nearly steady and minimize luffing (and wear) on the main, but the principle remains the same.

For light air, we assume you have full sail up. for heavy air, you have to have reduced sail area since minimizing heeling is a big factor. Again, keep adjusting main, jib, tiller, and even changing sail size if necessary, to get the good balance.

When I'm out with students. we'll heave to on purpose, or after a blown tack since we're already ''there". Then we'll practice knot-tying so they'll appreciate the "free hands" heaving-to gives you.

Last edited by nolatom; 05-12-2011 at 10:48 AM.
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Old 05-12-2011
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One of the amazing things about heaving to is the sudden quiet and calm (in reasonable conditions)... luffing the main could be noisy and cause extra wear and tear.

However it is about balance, as has been mentioned. In our experience the main is quieted but not necessarily centered but there are plenty of variables here.
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Old 05-12-2011
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As stated above, every boat reacts differently, therefore there are no rules etched in concrete. I just finished reading an incredible book "Storm Tactics Handbook" Modern Methods of heaving to for survival in extreme conditions. The book was written by Lin and Larry Pardey, who clearly define the techniques and benefits of learning how to heave to properly. I think the most amazing part of the book is where they're heaved to in winds with sustained speeds of 80 knots (force 12) for two days, during which time the boat's turbulence actually becalmed the encroaching seas. I think this is one of those books that should be onboard at all times, especially if you are intending to do any bluewater cruising.

Gary
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Old 05-12-2011
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Thank you very much for the input. I think "Tempest" and "Nolotom" made the point I was most concerned with. "luff the main (not flog)". I happened to be in Tampa Bay (for an ASA 101 course believe it or not) with constant 25 knts gusting to 30 knts. No kidding. We decided to heave to for lunch and I watched that poor main flapping around like an insane flag and the boom vang working double time. After lunch, I noticed a vertical tear towards the leach of the main. Needless to say, it left a bad taste in my mouth as it pertains to luffing the main during a heave to maneuver.

It makes sense, though. Luff it. but not having it flap around. Balance.

Thanks again.
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Old 05-12-2011
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correction: "leech" not "leach"
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Old 05-12-2011
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It is also important to understand that when heaving-to in heavy winds that the reefing of the main must be commensurates with the wind strength and in really heavy winds dousing the main may be required.

If you accidentally 'roll out' of the heave-to by gybing, too large a main is going to cause damage.

Phil
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Old 05-12-2011
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Yorksailor,
That's a good point to keep in mind.

Thank you.
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