Lesson 4 - Hove To / Heaving to for emergency, sea sick etc

Hove to

This is a seriously bit of good sailing advice...

Long before I became an instructor I was sailing in my trailer yacht with an experienced friend, Jenny who has sailed from the UK. The conditions were quite choppy and I noticed the outboard motor had twisted on its bracket and looked like it wanted to visit the seabed for a while. I asked my Jenny to take the tiller while I sorted out the problem, expecting myself to lean over the transom while the yacht was jumping over the choppy swells was not something to look forward too but Jenny placed the yacht in a 'hove too' position....It was like someone has turned off the wind and waves...

The secrets out - So whats the big mystery?

Here's a section from Wikipedia. "In sailing, heaving to (to heave to and to be hove to) is a way of slowing a sail boat's forward progress, fixing the helm and sail positions so that the boat does not actively have to be steered, thereby allowing the crew to attend other tasks. It is commonly used for a "break"; this may be to wait for the tide before proceeding, to wait out a strong or contrary wind. For the solo or shorthanded sailor it can provide time to go below deck, to attend to issues elsewhere on the boat, to take a lunch break for example"

How to heave to on 'Good Point'

Prepare to tack, call the tack and point the bow in to the wind, do NOT let the jib sheet go. Slow the yacht down until you only have minimum speed for steerage (about 2 knots) and complete the tack. The Jib will backwind and the bow will quickly complete the tack, the boom will swing over, push the tiller TOWARDS THE BOOM. The yacht will stop.

  • A set angle of lean, about 10% will be maintained
  • The vessel will not pitch or yaw
  • The vessel should stay on a constant compass bearing or angle to the wind
  • Adjust the mainsail to suit and maintain a steady angle to the wind

When and why should I 'hove to'?

  • Keep away from the shoreline
  • Ideal to take a break especially if on a long close hauled route
  • To deal with emergencies
  • To attend to a slipping anchor
  • Helps sea sick crew
  • Update charts / radio skeds
  • Take positioning information
  • Perform emergency maintenance / mast climbing etc
  • Vessel may suddenly gybe or tack without warning
  • To start sailing again release the jib sheet and move tiller to centre
  • An alternative start is to gybe, this prevents ware on the jib
  • Wait for a tide if unable to anchor

Can I do this on any yacht?

  • Every vessel hoves too differently - practice
  • Long keel vessels hove too reliably
  • Try this in different wind speeds and sea states
  • Try this with different sail combinations