Heaving To

Heaving to is a great way of stoping your boat in its tracks. One of the channels that we watch mentioned that he used the method for reefing his sails, so we decided to use one of our training days to try it out.

It was a sunny day in Carrickfergus for a change so we decided that we would take the opportunity to go out and do some training. We train when ever we can, improving our skills so that we are ready to take the Yachtmaster exam when we are able to. Heaving to is required as just a small part of man overboard and storm weather tactics.

Setting the lines

Before we go out we set the lines to the way we want so that when we are out in Belfast Lough our job is easier. Some of the extra tasks that we do are:-

  • Making ready the furling line for the Genoa - This is a precaution so that if the engine fails for any reason then the Genoa can be furled out quite quickly
  • Pulling the reefing lines through - These we pull through and into the sail bag so that the sail is easier to hoist. We also make sure that they are below the sail, so that the sail does not interfere with the reefing lines
  • Make sure that the sail bag is open and the sail untied - We have always done this but we have never mentioned this before, so I thought I would include it here

Sorting the sails out initially

There are several tips that we have acquired with regard to hoisting the sails like

  • Put Teflon on the sail track and slugs regularly - this keeps friction down to a minimum
  • Make sure that the yacht is going into the wind - this keeps the pressure on the sail to a minimum
  • For a yacht with lazy jacks - Be careful at the start of the winch, making sure that the batons stay in the bag
  • If the sail struggles to rise, it is usually for a reason, be it that a reefing line is caught, so investigate before causing damage

Heaving to

Heaving to is a technique where you can stall your yacht. We have heaved to several times in dingies, but until recently we had not heaved to in Salty Lass. To heave to,

  • start a tack
  • but instead of tacking leave the foresail on the wrong side
  • move the main so that it is now in line with the wind
  • Oppose the turning point of foresail with the rudder.
  • Once you have the boat in balance, you can now lock off the wheel so that you deal with a situation
Heaving to, is a great way of getting a rest, dealing with a situation and is a great storm weather tactic

The problems that we have had reefing while sailing are

  • If there is any wind in the sail, it is difficult to reef.
  • we need to put the engine on before reefing so that we can steer to wind
  • we need to furl away the Genoa before reefing otherwise the sail starts to flog
  • the sea will move the boom around a lot which is dangerous

Patrick Laine Manoeuvrer

In one of the videos Patrick Laine mentioned that you can reef while heaving to so we decided to give it a go. We found that it worked well and removed a lot of the issues that we have with reefing while sailing. The issue that I was very happy to remove was the boom swinging around, because while the maim was stalled the boom just stopped still.

After reefing, we continued to practice heaving too, making sure we knew what we were doing. After a few more goes it was a return to the marina using another technique that we learnt from Patrick Laine which was to ram the pontoon.

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