I'm looking for a little advise about weathering out a storm in open water.  This weekend we were sailing in open water and a sudden large storm came up on us (50 mph winds, gusts to 70).  To weather it out we brought in all the sails and turn on our 14 hp diesel.  It was a pretty wild ride but we made it through.  When we got in, another sailor told me about using a sea anchor to weather storms.  What do you think?....sea anchor or engine?



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How about heaving to ? .... how'd that engine do in those seas and winds. Same thing happened to me a couple of weeks ago. On reflection, I wondered if I might have been better off heaving to but we were much too close to lee shore. Engine and boat performed great... 40 MPH for 3/4 of an hr. Hope it doesn't happen for a long time....if ever again.

Where were you ? and did you have access to info on how long it was going to last

suky-- why heave to--if the boat and you are good together and all is well, and with the  current and  wind, dont even need engine.  against tide/current and against weather, yes, do need engine..

in the sloop  the engine just barely kept up when we  sailed against weather---i find i dont like sailing into wind--is hard on boat and  people-- bashes hard and is  tiresome work.  my formosa is aweeome--i dont sail to weather, but weather to   beam and abaft us is awesome/ engine only when  speed is less than 2.0 kts,  and reefed  mizzen and reefed or not jib as  weather sees fit.  

until you are comfy sailing big weather,  heaving to is a good idea-- but the  lil winds last such lil time,  i find just sailing thru is easiest.  have to watch  sky and sea for any changes  to tell you when to reef....not allis predictable

john--in the gulf, we rolled in the jib until we werent  on the proverbial edge anymore-- sometimes we  furled it in to leave only 1/3 of it out, or even 1/4 only,  once we left out only a corner and still flew!!  --

with my formosa, in the pacific,  we  did first reeef points on mizzen and  3 full rolls of jib and  weathered well a 60+ kts  wind squall in pacific---hit us hard and lasted a few hours--was a great ride, as  boat speed was 8+kts in my brick....!!!!

we used NO engine in the weather--no need to do so--we werent going to weather...


if you can  sail the weather, why heave to...the sailing is actually awesome in many storms. extreme strorms ion gulf i like to  seek shelter from. i have sailed "severe" storms in the gulf , according to noaa......

A sea anchor is standard equipment for me. I agree with Bill the potential duration of the blow is an important factor. Other factors for me are the ability to control the boat’s direction and comfort. My boat is light and the bow can get blown down which could expose the boat and crew to dangerous waves. So I go to sea anchor more then I would on a heavier boat. Sea room is also an important factor. I have added a bigger float to the dump line and sometimes add fenders to the line, the first line I use is poly (floating) after that I attach a nylon rode. I set off a bow roller through a rudder hose (chaff guard), in addition I rig a snatch block from the sea anchor rode to a hard point aft that allows the bow to be trimmed to the waves.
I would also suggest practice practice practice setting and retrieving.
Sea anchor or drogue.  The point is, speed kills and you want to slow the boat down so the sea tends to move underneath the boat.

I have used all the methods so far described and they all worked. As some have already mentioned, it depends on the strength and duration of the strong winds and the sea room available. So try them all and get an understanding of how you and your boat handle different wind and sea conditions with the various methods. 

We hove to one night as the wind kept increasing, a few hours later the wind was way too strong for that method so deployed a parachute and put sails away. 3 days later recovered the parachute after weathering our first(and last!!!) Tropical Revolving Storm. After recovering the parachute we had difficulty keeping the boat below 14 knots under bare poles, so trailed many lines behind and they then kept our speed in the 8 knot range. Slower is much safer!!

i sail thru em. is  best way to be rid of em.

Personally, I prefer to heave too. This works up to 80 knots wind. From personal experence, this has alway,s worked. If you don,t know how to heave too, get Lin & larry Pardey's dvd on heavy weather sailing, he makes it simple to understand.




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