Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Windy Wyoming
Thanked 38 Times in 37 Posts
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Nice pix, George -- man the Bay Area gets some stonking weird weather.
Heaving to means your sails (possibly a storm jib and trysail) are up but counterbalanced, and you are roughly on a close reach. The boat is slightly into the waves and usually you are making just a bit of headway. It's a 'live' boat, even if its progress is mostly leeway. Lying ahull usually means sails are down or flogging, the boat is broadside to the waves and just rolling as they come. Very dangerous position, esp in breaking waves -- the boat can be rolled. Much more passive than heaving to.
According to Beth Leonard, most boats will reach a point in storm conditions when they can no longer heave to or forereach -- the bow keeps getting pushed off the wind and there is the danger of foundering. At that point you can deploy a sea anchor off the bow, or turn downwind and run before it -- maybe with sails up, maybe on bare poles. Much depends on the size and steepness of the waves, and on your self-steering mechanisms. She advises using drogues or parachutes when the boat begins surfing, as that's often prelude to a broach. Running before the wind has the advantage of reducing the apparent wind and keeping the boat bouyant; an anchor off the bow may pin you down as the waves crash over you, possibly removing your rig. OTOH, if you are running before the wind, you may find yourself hand-steering for sixty hours -- and one mistake, you're rolled.
Albin Ballad 30, Fionn