My plans to retrace Captain Cook's unfinished voyage have been postponed a year while I work on the next Marine Diesel Basics book and get my new boat SV Oceandrifter ready for sea.
Constant training and upgrading of skills is one of the ways to improve safety and enjoyment sailing. And there are plenty of places to learn about many aspects of sailing. Obviously, the best place is out on the water. But often that’s not possible right now, or you want to bone up on something in order to practice when you do leave the dock. An alternative is to watch free videos on YouTube. There are some good ones – accurate, short and clear – and I’ll be reviewing a selection of them. So if you’ve got 10 minutes or less, kick back and brush up your skills.
Heaving to – stopping and “parking” the boat while at sea – is an important manoevre that not many sailor use or practice these days. One of the consequences of the emphasis on racing in sailing is that people have become fixated on getting places non-stop. Yet when you need to stop sailing and secure the boat while at sea to sort out a problem, cook a meal or get some rest, the best way is to heave to. It’s also an important tactic for coping with storms out at sea.
One of the challenges for modern sailboats is that the boat can too easily pivot around the fin keel. This is ideal for racing and ease of manoerving in tight marinas but makes life tough when it comes to balancing the forces acting on a boat at sea – which is exactly what’s required to heave to successfully. Like almost everything in sailing, the best way is undoubtably to take the boat out into open waters and practice and practice and practice. Every boat behaves slightly differently. The time to learn a sailboat’s idiosyncracies is before you need to carry out a particular manoevre.
This video is short and teaches the theory. Watch this video from Captain John:
This video is on the water and more practical. Watch a video from PPconsultant:
Ppconsultant also runs a sailing discussion forum: Anything Sailing Forum