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View Full Version : Heaving to on a cat boat



Tim B
10-25-2011, 11:29 PM
Most of the sailboats I get out on are small <20 ft, sloop or cat rigged boats sailed on lakes. I've hove to on my sloop rigged scow before, mainly just to see if it can be done. It got me thinking, "Is it possible to heave to on a cat rigged boat?"

Would any of these methods work?

1. Set the rudder to slowly turn into the wind, at same time having the main sail sheeted in hard. As the sail begins to luff and the boat loses way, wind blowing against the bow may cause the boat to fall off. A life jacket spread out on the fore stay may help. Once the boat falls off, the sail fills, allowing the process to start again.

2. Set the adjustable traveler so the car is as far on the windward side as possible. Then sheet the mainsail all the way in (end of boom to windward of the mast), causing the sail to backwind. This will cause the boat to start sailing backwards. Now set the rudder so that the stern will turn to windward, causing the sail to luff. As the boat loses way it falls off, allowing the sail to backwind again and start the process over.

3. Sheet the main sail in hard, so that it is almost flat and the boat headed nearly into the wind. Pull the center board up, causing the CLR to move backwards, hopefully behind the CE of the sail. Now the boat wants to fall off. So set the rudder to turn it back to windward.


A few years ago I was a substitute crew on an E scow. We launched the boat and pulled up the main. The boat was in a narrow channel with a strong (20 mph+) wind coming almost straight down the channel. As we pulled up the jib, the halyard got jammed. The skipper kept that boat perfectly still in the middle of the channel for 2 - 3 minutes while we doused the jib and got the problem straightened out. The boat was pointing nearly into the wind but not going forward or drifting back. I was too busy to see what he was doing to keep the boat stationary. But I was impressed. As soon as we got the jib up we were high-tailing it out to the race course. He wanted to practice a spinnaker set on our way to the start. So I never got to ask how he had kept the boat so still.

Ian McColgin
10-26-2011, 09:49 AM
You're working too hard. Not all cats behave the same way but those evolved from fishing boats, most fameously the Cape Cod Cat that has a length but twice the beam, do few things better than coming to a stop. Just let go.

If you let everything off except maybe lash the helm down and she'll lie just shy of broadside. You can choose almost any angle to the wind up from that just by having the sheet in. As you get to 45 degrees off the wind or higher, the angle of the rudder becomes more critical to keep her from gathering so much way when forereaching that she does not tack through. With the right rudder angle, she'll neither forereach nor back down, but will just make a square drift across the wind. If you have a centerboard, raising it will add some extra insurance against a tack.

For reefing underweigh, I heave-to by setting the sail just a bit looser than for a tight beat and sail up to a stop very slowly so that when I stop the helm is at the angle that keeps her there, no higher but able to come up if any of the sail gets a little power going. Then I can pick up the boom a little on the lifts and proceed with the reefing. Easy and safe.

I more often heave-to underweigh when sailing alone to double check my navigation, make some coffee or hit the head or doing something else where Marmalade might sail herself but if she does not before I'm done, where I'd rather not be interrupted by a dash to the helm. Especially not if I've just settled in on the throne of ease . . .

Sloops are actually harder to heave-to since you must back the jib - size matters an a lot of modern boats have too much jib fo this unless you roll it part way up - and the whole rig is powered with countering forces. The cat, on the otherhand, is mostly unpowered when hove-to. Much more restful.

Cats rule. Sloops drool.

G'luck

Dryfeet
10-26-2011, 11:17 AM
Yah learn somethin every day! Back in my yout, I had a Herreshoff America catboat and distinctly remember trying to reef on one blowy day. I ended up anchoring to accomplish it. I hadn't yet been much aware of heaving too at that point and for sure was more interested in just getting the job done than experimenting. (I think the aderenaline was running hard as the wind freshened rather abruptly)

Jamie Orr
10-26-2011, 12:10 PM
You're working too hard. Not all cats behave the same way but those evolved from fishing boats, most fameously the Cape Cod Cat that has a length but twice the beam, do few things better than coming to a stop. Just let go.

If you let everything off except maybe lash the helm down and she'll lie just shy of broadside. You can choose almost any angle to the wind up from that just by having the sheet in. As you get to 45 degrees off the wind or higher, the angle of the rudder becomes more critical to keep her from gathering so much way when forereaching that she does not tack through. With the right rudder angle, she'll neither forereach nor back down, but will just make a square drift across the wind. If you have a centerboard, raising it will add some extra insurance against a tack.

For reefing underweigh, I heave-to by setting the sail just a bit looser than for a tight beat and sail up to a stop very slowly so that when I stop the helm is at the angle that keeps her there, no higher but able to come up if any of the sail gets a little power going. Then I can pick up the boom a little on the lifts and proceed with the reefing. Easy and safe.

I more often heave-to underweigh when sailing alone to double check my navigation, make some coffee or hit the head or doing something else where Marmalade might sail herself but if she does not before I'm done, where I'd rather not be interrupted by a dash to the helm. Especially not if I've just settled in on the throne of ease . . .

Sloops are actually harder to heave-to since you must back the jib - size matters an a lot of modern boats have too much jib fo this unless you roll it part way up - and the whole rig is powered with countering forces. The cat, on the otherhand, is mostly unpowered when hove-to. Much more restful.

Cats rule. Sloops drool.

G'luck
Ian, Does your catboat lie quietly or is the mainsail flogging while hove to?

Jamie

Bobcat
10-26-2011, 12:17 PM
I don't have the experience that others do, but my Bobcat heaves to nicely with the sheet free and the CB up

Ian McColgin
10-26-2011, 12:25 PM
Not flogging, but luffing a bit along the luff and holding the wind along the leach.

The same with marconi sails, by the way. When hove-to the sail is depowered, soft to luffing on the luff, quiet on the leach, and not flogging about like a flag.

G'luck

Edited to add: I've found really high aspect marconi sails, like 5:1 and steeper, are a bit harder to get hove-to comfortably. But cases like that are generally sloops were the heave-to has a backed jib and a fuller main anyway so it does not matter.

Jamie Orr
10-26-2011, 03:30 PM
Not flogging, but luffing a bit along the luff and holding the wind along the leach.

The same with marconi sails, by the way. When hove-to the sail is depowered, soft to luffing on the luff, quiet on the leach, and not flogging about like a flag.

G'luck

Edited to add: I've found really high aspect marconi sails, like 5:1 and steeper, are a bit harder to get hove-to comfortably. But cases like that are generally sloops were the heave-to has a backed jib and a fuller main anyway so it does not matter.
Thanks Ian - I've always "parked" my Chebacco by sheeting the mizzen in to the centreline and letting the main weathercock. She sits head to wind but makes a lot of sternway, next time out I'll try your way and see how it compares.

Jamie

Ian McColgin
10-26-2011, 04:32 PM
With Granuaile - three masted MarcoPolo with bowsprit for the jib and a forestaysail - I'd center the mizzen, drop the main, slack the fore a little, and drop the jib. Then with the helm lashed center, I could control her attitude by trimming or even backing the jib. I could go from forereaching a bit with the fore doing all the work to going straight into the wind. It made a great way to come into the mooring undersail, all control from the foredeck and, when I was really showing off, with a glass of the good in my off hand.

Boats with mizzens can have lots of fun.

Every boat heaves-to a bit differently, usually three or four ways differently depending on wind and desired drift, so it's well to spend some time letting your boat teach you how she likes it.

For example, a conventional schooner with a gaff fore can heave-to like a cat boat, just the one sail up. With Goblin, since she'd be made staysail, I found I could heave-to in moderate winds with the main and backed smaller jib or with the mainstaysail and forestaysail, neither backed but rather soft at the luff and full on the leach.

Some yawls and most ketches are not only pleasant "under jib and jigger" but will also heave-to that way.

G'luck

Jamie Orr
10-26-2011, 06:00 PM
With Granuaile - three masted MarcoPolo with bowsprit for the jib and a forestaysail - I'd center the mizzen, drop the main, slack the fore a little, and drop the jib. Then with the helm lashed center, I could control her attitude by trimming or even backing the jib. I could go from forereaching a bit with the fore doing all the work to going straight into the wind. It made a great way to come into the mooring undersail, all control from the foredeck and, when I was really showing off, with a glass of the good in my off hand.

Boats with mizzens can have lots of fun.

Every boat heaves-to a bit differently, usually three or four ways differently depending on wind and desired drift, so it's well to spend some time letting your boat teach you how she likes it.

For example, a conventional schooner with a gaff fore can heave-to like a cat boat, just the one sail up. With Goblin, since she'd be made staysail, I found I could heave-to in moderate winds with the main and backed smaller jib or with the mainstaysail and forestaysail, neither backed but rather soft at the luff and full on the leach.

Some yawls and most ketches are not only pleasant "under jib and jigger" but will also heave-to that way.

G'luck
Food for thought, and a winter's worth of dirty weather to play with....