A few points:
Firstly, I repeat, I am NOT promoting this as a heavy weather manoeuvre, and am hoping to keep this thread a heavy weather discussion-free zone. The method is well suited for winds of any strength, but less well suited for big seas (although there are exceptions to any rule
: I give a big seas example at the end of the post).
When do you get strong winds without big seas? Often enough, and in enough places, that it seems a shame to have one's thinking running along the fixed lines that they're inevitably linked.
I'm not trying to promote this as a substitute for any single
"holy grail" manoeuvre. I'm raising this for those who like to have a whole quiver of options, so as to choose a manoeuvre which suits each specific situation.
One of the strengths of this method is that it's very robust and well behaved during radical windshifts. Particularly in comparison with 'main-only, boom amidships' hove-to.
Secondly, Most modern-underbody boats do not lie as close to the wind, hove to by any
method, as theory would suggest. So the difference in heading between the traditional methods and the one I'm seeking to discuss is surprisingly little, along with the difference in tendency to roll.
If rolling's a problem, there's an infinite spectrum between boom squared outboard
and boom amidships. As you bring the boom in, you trade
off a bit more roll against a bit more instability in heading. You can pick the optimum for the circumstances.
To whoever suggested pulling the sails
down would achieve the same result, I can only suggest you try the comparison. The roll-damping of a full main is considerable, even 'edge-on' to the windstream. More than abstract thinking would suggest.
With the method I'm suggesting, the sail is drawing gently most of the time. The forward thrust implied by this is largely annulled by the braking effect of the helm hard alee. (Which should hopefully clarify, for goboatingnow
, why the boat does not pay off onto a downwind heading)
And in some situations the whole point of what I'm proposing is that you don't have
to pull the sail down; it can be a way of leaving the sail up in situations where you would normally feel compelled to drop it, and subsequently have to raise it again -- something you might prefer not to do -- say it's a big sail and you're short- or feeble-handed.
Here's a couple of hypothetical situations where I might use the method.
A) I'm handling a sailboat on my own, and I'm anchored in a cove well sheltered from big seas running outside. The wind inside is variable in strength, and swinging through 100 degrees. I don't want to or can't use the engine
or the windlass
. I want the boat to look after itself while I get the anchor(s) aboard and stowed, and I don't on any
account want the boat to go onto the wrong, inshore, tack.
I hoist as much main as suits the windstrength outside, leave it flapping while I bring the cable up-and-down, then prevent the boom over to whichever side puts the boat automatically on the offshore
tack. This breaks out the anchor
, but I don't have to leave the bow; I heave everything onboard, clean, sort, stow, and lash, leaving the boat to its own devices as it gradually works towards open sea despite the shifting breeze.
B) I have to send someone's beloved offspring over the side to clear the prop in deep but sheltered - or flat - water
, with bullets of wind from random directions - as in Patagonia or Fiordland
C) I'm on a boat which doesn't behave well hove-to with main only, boom amidships. I want to swap the 110% roller genoa
for the yankee because I'm heading south into the forties. I don't have selfsteering or autopilot
currently functioning. I may be some time and I do NOT want the boat putting itself about, or poking the bow into the big sea running * while I'm fussing around on the foredeck.
*This is perhaps an exception to the 'not so suited for big seas' caveat at the top of this post. Sometimes pitching is more problematic than rolling.
Writing this, I'm realising that my enthusiasm for this method - under certain circumstances - is linked to my preference for methods which would work well when sailing short-handed. I personally prefer to use such methods even when I don't have to, so that they're well understood when I do. As a fringe benefit, someone using these techniques can avoid disturbing the off-watch unnecessarily.
I also prefer techniques which do not rely on complex technology, such as engines, thrusters, autopilots and such. The method I'm suggesting shades seamlessly, simply by moving the helm to weather, into a robust way of sailing on a beam reach without human or tech intervention.
This applies even on a yacht with dodgy course-keeping: simply prevent the main from swinging aft, thereby using the sail as a more rigorous air-rudder. The helm angle acts as primarily as a speed control, but naturally the heading is also affected.