Comparing Storm Tactics - SailNet Community

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Old 07-25-2001
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John Rousmaniere is on a distinguished road
Comparing Storm Tactics

After reading several articles on heavy-weather sailing, I keep seeing references to different storm tactics under bare poles.  Could you discuss heaving-to, lying-to, and running before it?

John Rousmaniere responds:
These three main categories can be confusing. However, bear in mind that they are not merely tactics to use at sea in a blow. All of them, especially heaving-to, may be used profitably in any condition to stop the boat or steady her.

To heave-to is to stop, or all but stop, a boat that has some sail set on a close-hauled or close-reaching heading. This boat is described as being hove-to.

To lie-to a sea anchor is to turn the bow into the wind and, under bare poles, stream a sea anchor (a large parachute) off the bow on a line. The boat lies generally with her bow into the waves. (There also is a technique of lying-to a sea anchor under shortened sail.)

To run before it is to turn the stern of a boat under bare poles to the wind and seas. A drogue (a small parachute) or warps (line) may be dragged astern to slow the boat.

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