the art of "hoving to"

john martin <symoondog@...>

There has been alot of discussion about this recently, so I thought I'd offer some suggestions on how to do it on a SM.

While you are sailing hard on the wind (with both main and jib, but with no mizzen up), with the mainsail at almost midship, then turn the wheel hard over to tack, but don't release the sheet. When the bow crosses the wind, the jib will back because you didn't release the sheet. Now turn the wheel all the way in the other direction and secure it. You're done, so now go get a beer. It takes less than 10 seconds and only 1 person. The boat will lie quietly and will move between 1 and 2 knots. The jib sheet or the jib itself will lay against the forward shroud but will not rub excessively. If you feel you are sailing too far away from your intended course, or if you get too close to a lee shore, just get the boat sailing again on the "new tack" and then repeat the process and hove to in the other direction. You can tweak the sails a little if you want, but I never have seen the need. You don't have to reef down (any more than you may already be reefed) in order to hove to; I have hove to with a full main and full jib (even a 150).

On a long trip going to weather, it makes sense to hove to now and then so the crew can enjoy a meal in relatively gentle motion and also have a happy cook. We once hove to for 24 straight hours, when we had 30-35 knots dead on the nose, as it just didn't make sense to smash into it. It was better just to wait it out until the wind died a little. We also never make landfall in the dark, both for safety reasons and because it is always so beautiful to make landfall at dawn. So we either control boat speed for the last 24 hours before landfall, to ensure a daylight arrival, or we hove to and wait out the few hours before dawn.

Best regards,

John Martin


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