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You don’t read about going HOVE TO as a storm managements strategy much anymore.

I can’t remember the last time I heard a sailor say they went hove to in bad weather offshore.

Going hove to is becoming a lost art - an interesting relic of our sailing past.

During our circumnavigation, we hove to on only one occasion. We were sailing south of Sri Lanka after the global tsunami, and there were massive amounts of tsunami debris in the water. There we 100 foot trees with giant rootballs floating in the water, and it was unsafe to sail at night because you might damage your boat from running into tsunami debris. We needed to stop the boat, and so we triple reefed our mainsail, and oversheeted it to stall it. Then we put out a tiny bit of headsail, and sheeted it to the windward side of the boat which also stalled the headsail. That put us into a square sideways drift, and we were hove to.

Being hove to in tsunami debris worked well. We passed a quiet night and simply drifted with the tsunami debris that surrounded us in the ocean. It reminded me of the time in Star Wars where a giant star destroyer released their rubbish into deep space, and the Millenium Falcon drifted away from the star destroyer hidden in all the space trash.

Today Exit Only was hove to in La Paz harbor creating a slick on the windward side of the hull. Wind was blowing at twenty knots building up waves and sending them toward Exit Only, but because we were in a hove to configuration, the instant the choppy waves hit our windward slick, the waves magically disappeared. The windward slick did its job of destroying the waves headed for Exit Only.

When a wave travels across the ocean, the water in the wave is not translated horizontally. The water molecules moves up and down in a trochoidal pattern. If you follow the position of a single molecule of water in a wave, you find that the molecule moves up and down in a trochoidal pattern. At the start of the wave, the water molecule moves up, and in the trough of the wave, the molecule moves down returning to the place it started. The only thing moving in a non-breaking wave is the energy traveling through the water.

When you drift sideways and create a slick on the windward sided of your boat, the slick creates turbulence in the water making it impossible for water molecules to move in a trochoidal pattern. When a wave hits the windward slick, the wave instantly dies.

In the accompanying pictures, you can see the waves dissolve when they hit the turbulent water on the windward side of the boat. It’s a thing of beauty to watch the wind driven waves disappear in the slick to windward of your yacht.

That is what being hove to is all about, and the accompanying photos show it happening in real time.

Going hove to is easy.

On Exit Only we triple reef an oversheeted stalled mainsail. We balance the mainsail with a small amount of stalled headsail sheeted to the windward side of the boat. This creates a balanced sail pattern with two stalled sails, and Exit Only goes into a sideways drift creating a slick on the windward side of the boat, and that windward sick neutralizes the waves attacking the windward side of the boat in a storm.

Once we think we are hove to, we drop a Kleenex or something in the water, and it should drift away from Exit Only perpendicular to the hull. If the Kleenex moves forward or aft when it hits the water, that means we are not hove to, and we need to adjust the amount of headsail until we are clearly in a sideways drift.

The windward slick is your protector in a storm, and you want to maintain a square drift. You don’t want to sail out from behind your protective slick.

So there you have it. You can see with your own eyes the windward slick and how it neutralizes the waves coming on the beam of the boat.

Now you need to go out on your own boat, and make it go hove to. Then, when you need to put your boat to sleep in a storm offshore, you will know how to make it happen because you have done it before.

That’s all I have to say about that.

Life is especially good when you are hove to with a slick to windward in a storm.

Dr. Dave

Captain Dave - David J. Abbott M.D.





Exit Only

See what it's like for a family to sail around the world on a small catamaran

Captain Save Our Souls

Awesome music video that captures the essence of what it's like to sail offshore in a catamaran around the world when conditions are less than perfect. David Abbott from Too Many Drummers sings the vocals, and he also edited the footage from our Red Sea adventures. This is the theme song from the Red Sea Chronicles.

Red Sea Blues

Sailing up the Red Sea is not for the faint of heart. From the Bab al Mandeb to the Suez Canal, adventures and adversity are in abundance. If you take things too seriously, you just might get the Red Sea Blues.

Red Sea Chronicles Trailer

If you like drum beats, and you like adventure, then have a listen to the Red Sea Chronicles Trailer.

Red Sea Chronicles Episode 1 - When Flying Fish Attack

Flying fish assault Exit Only in the middle of the night as we sail through the Arabian Gulf from the Maldives to Oman. And so begins our Red Sea adventures.

Red Sea Chronicles Episode 2 - Pirate Alley

Sailing through Pirate Alley between Yemen and Somalia involves calculated risk. It may not be Russian Roulette, but it is a bit of a worry. Follow Team Maxing Out as they navigate through Pirate Alley.

Red Sea Chronicles Episode 3 - Aden, Yemen

Stopping in Yemen was just what the doctor ordered. We refueled, repaired our alternator, and we made friends with our gracious Yemeni hosts. We also went to Baskins Robbins as a reward for surviving Pirate Alley.

Red Sea Chronicles Episode 4- Gate of Sorrows and Sandstorms

After you survive Pirate Alley, you must sail through the Gate of Sorrows (Bab Al Mandab) at the southern entrance to the Red Sea. The Gate of Sorrows lived up to its name with fifty knots of wind and a sandstorm that pummeled Exit Only for two days. Life is good.

Patreon - Maxing Out

Captain Dave and his family spent eleven years sailing around the world on their Privilege 39 catamaran, Exit Only. During the trip, the crew shot 200 hours of video with professional cameras to show people what it's like to sail on a small boat around the world.

The Red Sea Chronicles is a one hour and twenty-two minute feature film showing their adventures as Exit Only sails through Pirate Alley in the Gulf of Aden and up the Red Sea. The professional footage documents their experiences in Oman, Yemen, Eritrea, Sudan, Egypt, and the Suez Canal. It chronicles the rigors of traveling in a remote section of the world rarely visited by cruisers. Exit Only dodges Yemeni pirates, fights a gale and sand storms in the Bab al Mandeb at the southern entrance to the Red Sea. The crew explores deserted islands on the western shores of the Red Sea, and learns to check the cruising guides for land mines before venturing ashore.

The Red Sea Chronicles also has outstanding Special Features including an Instructional Video on Storm Management that tells sailors how to deal with storms at sea.

And don't forget the two Music Videos: "The Red Sea Blues", and "Captain - Save Our Souls".

The Red Sea Chronicles is a first class adventure that stokes the sailing dreams of both experienced and wannabe sailors alike.


    Team Maxing Out Sails Around The World On Their 39 Foot Catamaran

    Join Team Maxingout as they sail through Pirate Alley and up the Red Sea


    Give your dream machine a shot in the arm

    See what it's like to cruise on a catamaran before you spend a bazillion dollars purchasing one


    View the storm management video to learn how Captain Dave dealt with storms at sea

    After watching the Red Sea Chronicles you will be able to see yourself sailing on the ocean of your dreams

Red Sea Chronicles

Save A Tree Bookstore

Although I like the feel of a paper book in my hand, I love trees even more. When people purchase an eBook, they actually save trees and save money as well. Ebooks are less expensive and have no negative impact on the environment. All of Dr. Dave's books are available at Save A Tree Bookstore. Visit the bookstore today and start putting good things into your mind. It's easy to fill your mind with positive things using eBooks. No matter where you are or what you are doing, you can pull out your smart phone or tablet and start reading. You can even use electronic highlighters and make annotations in your eBooks just like paper books.