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If you are just beginning to master sailing an offshore boat, you've probably heard of a heave-to. This sailing technique allows you to carry a minimum of sail power so the boat can steer itself while you take a break from the rigors of sailing. While you are ocean sailing, you are likely to hit storms and a heave-to is one of the best ways to ride them out, especially if you have a relatively small crew. A heave-to also allows you to rest and take stock of a situation so you can better plan to handle it; it's also a great way to get a break from steering and line-handling, so if you notice that you or your crew need a break, you can execute a heave-to while sea sailing.
When you execute a heave-to, you adjust the sails and rudder in a way allows the boat to crawl sideways. First, trim in the mainsail tight and cleat it. Then, back the jib to the windward side and cleat it. That way you can maintain an equilibrium between the mainsail forcing the wind forward and the jib forcing the boat back. You can then tie the tiller or wheel in the best place to maintain this equilibrium. With the rudder pushed hard to starboard and the jib backed, the boat will actually be in a secure position but will make little headway in a 'scalloping' sail through the water.
Once you master a heave-to you will be surprised how much you use it to enjoy ocean sailing as you can sit back and enjoy the view, grab a bottle of water, or play a round of cards with your crew.