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Old 19-06-2014, 03:39   #121
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Re: Heaving To

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Originally Posted by goboatingnow View Post
The problem is people try heaving to on relatively sane conditions. Then they extrapolate that to survival conditions. Doesn't work like that.
That is exactly the issue. How hard it blows is irrelevant, it doesn't make "heavy conditions", it is the sea that becomes the problem and those who claim that it works so well still need to see just a 15' vertical wall of water arriving at 15-20 knots and coming crashing down.

As a matter of fact, I won't even sail beam on in good conditions in some areas where the sea is very long and fast.
Some years ago I was sailing back from Antarctica and a Van der Stadt 38 steel cutter was following me a day behind. 25-30 knots westerly, sea high as often, but regular.
They were sailing wind on the beam on a single staysail, not very fast, a little spooked. Out of the blue, one wave broke on them, they tipped 135 degrees, the galley stove broke its gimbals and hit above the chart table on the other side. Mainsail destroyed, bent railing, most of the electronics dead, all movable gear on deck ripped off and gone, mayhem everywhere.
That's what you get for mucking around with the sea on the beam when you shouldn't and there was no heavy weather anywhere.

Generally speaking, slowing down a bit and pointing into it is a good defence when things start looking dicey and it goes quite a long way, but the worse it gets, the more speed becomes essential. So you sail the damn boat, no if, but, not, what and "mother nature", because if you don't, you are gone.
Alternatively, turn around and go along with it, but it also has its own challenges and it is not for every boat.

What you do is a matter of judgement each time, but there is one thing you don't and it is stop, try to heave-to, lie ahull etc. That is a no brainer once you understand how it goes wrong.
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Old 19-06-2014, 05:53   #122
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pirate Re: Heaving To

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Originally Posted by OceanSeaSpray View Post
Sailing happens at sea, it is not just a matter of debating opinions, and I was referring to monohulls, keelers to be more precise.
Claiming that "this is the way to do it and it is current knowledge", because something might supposedly work for a certain type of boat, i.e. multihull with large initial stability and near-zero draft, is as senseless as claiming that modern boats should just do what the old boats used to do when they wouldn't sail any more.

Try throwing out a sea anchor of some kind in the middle of the North Atlantic in winter, with 200-300m between wave crests and see what happens. When you get caught into a breaking crest, the energy is such that you will move backwards and stretch your warp until the boat is sideways in the sea and we probably won't ever hear from you afterwards - that is if you don't also rip everything off.
There is no substitute for having been there in the first place.

When I read this thread, I was amazed to see how many were still hanging on the old "heave to" mythology. Dave is the only one who really made a stand against it, and it is easy to tell that he has seen what does actually happen out there.
Heave-to in every way you want and have a good rest if conditions are fine, but stop a fin keeler in a breaking sea in any way you can imagine and you will become an accident statistics before long. They get rolled, dumped, people fall across the cabin, break their limbs and that is just at the moderate end of the weather spectrum, 40 knots and 5-6m seas with the odd good break.
Centerboarders with the board up can stand a bit more of it because they don't trip over their keel, but within limits. This is one of the reasons why the old Presto boats from the US Atlantic Coast were found so seaworthy in 1885 already.

Eric
Tell me about it.. I'm sick to death of dying so many times..
Makes me smile when folk say.. 'stopping the boat'... its impossible to stop a boat at sea.. but you can control its drift rate and direction..
Each to their own mate..
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Old 19-06-2014, 07:52   #123
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Re: Heaving To

I have only used the technique once for real, in the Southern Ocean about 1200 miles East of New Zealand in my Freya 39. The wind was somewhere above 50 kts, and seas something like 50-60 feet, but not dangerously steep. We hove to on a tiny storm jib sheeted to weather. It worked like a charm.

We were making some progress to weather before heaving to, but the conditions were worsening and the stresses on the boat and crew were beginning to concern me. As soon as we hove to, the motion settled down to the point that we were able to make a nice dinner and get some sleep. When the conditions moderated in 24 hours or so we were much the better for it.

Our drift to leeward while heaved to was in the range of half a knot, which was fine -- we had over a thousand miles of searoom.

A Freya 39 is a fairly old design with a deep, straight keel. While you lose some speed in lighter air from the increase in wetted surface, I prefer the strength and yaw stability of a long keel for shorthanded bluewater cruising.
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Old 19-06-2014, 07:54   #124
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Re: Heaving To

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Originally Posted by boatman61 View Post
Tell me about it.. I'm sick to death of dying so many times..
Makes me smile when folk say.. 'stopping the boat'... its impossible to stop a boat at sea.. but you can control its drift rate and direction..
Each to their own mate..
+1. I agree that heaving to is likley not to work well for most fin keelers and that heaving to is not the right tactic for some conditions, but not all "modern" boats have fin keels. And, there are plenty of us here who have hove to on a variety of boats in heavy weather successfully so that blows the description of it as "mythology".
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Old 19-06-2014, 19:49   #125
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Re: Heaving To

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Originally Posted by Teremoana View Post
I have only used the technique once for real, in the Southern Ocean about 1200 miles East of New Zealand in my Freya 39. The wind was somewhere above 50 kts, and seas something like 50-60 feet, but not dangerously steep. We hove to on a tiny storm jib sheeted to weather. It worked like a charm.

We were making some progress to weather before heaving to, but the conditions were worsening and the stresses on the boat and crew were beginning to concern me. As soon as we hove to, the motion settled down to the point that we were able to make a nice dinner and get some sleep. When the conditions moderated in 24 hours or so we were much the better for it.
Yes, this is what happens and you are right that sailing into it is hard on the gear and crew. It pays to be able to reef a long way down and sometimes sail under main alone, which tends to be a lot slower and gentler than full sail or headsail only.
Doing this, you have traded comfort etc for a higher risk level because the sea was regular. Personally I wouldn't have done it, because it only takes one breaking one to turn the situation upside-down and these things happen.

I once sailed from the bottom of New Zealand to Hobart in Tasmania, and I thought chances of getting hammered from the west were pretty good, 45 deg south, 900NM to go... I got caught into 36 hours of southeasterly at 45 knots while half-way in the middle of nowhere and while the sea never managed to get huge, almost every wave turned into a heavy white roller, because it was blowing against the swell and the current. Time-to-Accident in there would have been around 10 seconds with the beam to the sea because they packed a real punch.

My point is that we face a certain level of risk determined by sea conditions. We can heighten that risk or minimise it. You won't lose every time, but if you do, consequences are usually serious. So what I am saying is: by default, take the low risk option. It is even more important for sailors that don't have a lot of experience with breaking seas, because they don't see it coming and suddenly it is too late.

Thanks for sharing this experience.
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Old 19-06-2014, 20:38   #126
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Re: Heaving To

The posts in this thread appear to my eye to fall into one of two categories:

"I used heaving-to successfully, and I use it all the time!"

or

"I don't know how to make this boat heave-to."
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Old 19-06-2014, 21:06   #127
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Re: Heaving To

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Originally Posted by OceanSeaSpray View Post
Yes, this is what happens and you are right that sailing into it is hard on the gear and crew. It pays to be able to reef a long way down and sometimes sail under main alone, which tends to be a lot slower and gentler than full sail or headsail only.
Doing this, you have traded comfort etc for a higher risk level because the sea was regular. Personally I wouldn't have done it, because it only takes one breaking one to turn the situation upside-down and these things happen.

I once sailed from the bottom of New Zealand to Hobart in Tasmania, and I thought chances of getting hammered from the west were pretty good, 45 deg south, 900NM to go... I got caught into 36 hours of southeasterly at 45 knots while half-way in the middle of nowhere and while the sea never managed to get huge, almost every wave turned into a heavy white roller, because it was blowing against the swell and the current. Time-to-Accident in there would have been around 10 seconds with the beam to the sea because they packed a real punch.

My point is that we face a certain level of risk determined by sea conditions. We can heighten that risk or minimise it. You won't lose every time, but if you do, consequences are usually serious. So what I am saying is: by default, take the low risk option. It is even more important for sailors that don't have a lot of experience with breaking seas, because they don't see it coming and suddenly it is too late.

Thanks for sharing this experience.

Reducing crew fatigue is much more than a matter of comfort. Many more people are drowned because of poor decisions made when tired and panicked than by the boat actually being overwhelmed in bad weather. There are many instances of crews abandoning yachts that survive the storm in question. Unfortunately, in many cases the crews don't survive.

I strongly disagree with your conclusion that heaving to was the higher risk alternative. If you heave to properly, the wind and swell aren't on your beam. We were taking the seas on the forward quarter, pretty much the same as before we hove to. While there is always the chance of a sufficiently high and steep rogue wave that will overwhelm a sailing yacht, and in some cases a large ship, regardless of attitude, I don't think that heaving to changed that risk much. The major difference was that the velocity of the boat wasn't getting added to the velocity of the waves.

We had already gone down through three reefs and the storm trysail, Initially we tried heaving to under the spitfire jib and trysail, but found that she seemed best under the jib alone.
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Old 19-06-2014, 21:09   #128
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Re: Heaving To

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Originally Posted by Jammer Six View Post
The posts in this thread appear to my eye to fall into one of two categories:

"I used heaving-to successfully, and I use it all the time!"

or

"I don't know how to make this boat heave-to."

I agree. Although it does seem that some boats aren't so easy to heave to.
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Old 20-06-2014, 02:37   #129
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Re: Heaving To

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I strongly disagree with your conclusion that heaving to was the higher risk alternative. If you heave to properly, the wind and swell aren't on your beam. We were taking the seas on the forward quarter, pretty much the same as before we hove to. While there is always the chance of a sufficiently high and steep rogue wave that will overwhelm a sailing yacht, and in some cases a large ship, regardless of attitude, I don't think that heaving to changed that risk much. The major difference was that the velocity of the boat wasn't getting added to the velocity of the waves.

We had already gone down through three reefs and the storm trysail, Initially we tried heaving to under the spitfire jib and trysail, but found that she seemed best under the jib alone.
It is a fair comment and you were still lying at an angle in the sea, but your sea wasn't breaking as a rule and things were quite orderly.
The problem is that without speed boats don't have good directional stability, they yaw considerably and much more so when all hell breaks loose. Monohulls have capsized on sea anchors for the same reason: while the average angle in the sea is ok, the boat comes beam on at times.

This is what I meant by trading comfort for a higher risk level. I slow down to get a similar "easing", but if it starts breaking heavily, at some point you need momentum to make it across the crests and then there is no way around boat speed.
I left Iceland at the onset of winter one day, sailing down to the Azores. It turned apocalyptic and lasted for over a week, until I reached lower latitudes. Enormous crossed seas from the western quadrant, unbelievable wave speeds, they broke so heavily that they engulfed the hull completely and down-below everything went eerily silent until the water had run off the deck. The seascape outside was beyond imagination.
I thought I was going to smash the boat to pieces punching at full speed in there, but I was out of options. Slower and I would have been thrown back, rolled, dismasted, gone for sure. Running with it I would have ended up smashed on the west coast of Ireland or Scotland and keeping that boat running in that sea without accident would have been another story too.

If you use a forereaching tactic instead of heaving to, you achieve essentially the same, it becomes pretty quiet and comfortable on board, but you have better directional stability and more options if things get worse: just ease the main off a little and fall off a bit more, get more speed; if still not enough, get the storm jib back up and get going.

I hear what you are saying and I understand the justification at the time, what I oppose is the generalisation because there is a point where it doesn't work any more and if you don't achieve a good angle like you had somehow, then you get hammered really quickly.
Fin-keelers are also incredibly stable directionally upwind with a little bit of forward speed, and they lose it all if they stop and it is another good reason to keep them moving.
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Old 20-06-2014, 09:22   #130
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Re: Heaving To

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.

... Enormous crossed seas from the western quadrant, unbelievable wave speeds, they broke so heavily that they engulfed the hull completely and down-below everything went eerily silent until the water had run off the deck. The seascape outside was beyond imagination.
I thought I was going to smash the boat to pieces punching at full speed in there, but I was out of options. Slower and I would have been thrown back, rolled, dismasted, gone for sure. Running with it I would have ended up smashed on the west coast of Ireland or Scotland and keeping that boat running in that sea without accident would have been another story too.

....
Like any tactic, heaving to must be used in appropriate circumstances. Big confused seas is a scenario in which heaving to is not the right tactic. Sea anchor won't work for the same reasons. Here I agree, forereaching is the better alternative.
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Old 20-06-2014, 22:35   #131
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Re: Heaving To

I think we are dealing with sematics here. Forereaching is not that different than heaving too. Running the boat in such conditions is what I am against. But I will defer to people that get in these situations. Every heavy weather situation I have started to get into could be handled by heaving too. This boat went through a hurricane at sea with a sea anchor. I was not on it.
I wish each the best with whatever works for their boat. If I see you on the docks, we can debate then. (I plan on even getting to Britain Dave!)
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