Oh that men would praise the Lord for his goodness,
and for his wonderful works to the children of men!
And let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving,
and declare his works with rejoicing.
They that go down to the sea in ships,
that do business in great waters;
These see the works of the Lord,
and his wonders in the deep.
For he commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind,
which lifteth up the waves thereof.
They mount up to the heaven, they go down again to the depths:
their soul is melted because of trouble.
They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man,
and are at their wits’ end.
Then they cry unto the Lord in their trouble,
and he bringeth them out of their distresses.
He maketh the storm a calm,
so that the waves thereof are still.
Then are they glad because they be quiet;
so he bringeth them unto their desired haven.
In the summer of 2012, shortly after I acquired my sail boat, I began reading about and researching sailing. As far back as I can remember, I have had a silent fascination with sailing vessels. In 2002 the tall ships came to Detroit and docked on the river. Tall ships enough that those most distant appeared microscopic. About twenty years ago, I told my wife that if I ever got a boat, it would be a sailboat. In sailing vessels, there is a unique romance which can not be experienced in other water borne modes of transport. For the enthusiast, there is great appeal even in the creaks and squeaks that are peculiar to sailing vessels; creaks and squeaks caused by the lilting movement of boats as they bob and sway in gentle waves.
There is also the fascination of learning and practicing the positions of sail as well as various other maneuvers and factors that are unique to sailing. There is launching with its many nuances, more varied than the 360 points on a compass multiplied by any number of weather conditions. There is the raising of the sails. There are the five points of sail and their countless conditions.
In the first days of my sailing experience, I was uneasy and concerned about the possibility of capsizing. Though concerned, my uneasiness was outweighed by my determination to learn to sail and experience the thrill of being moved by the wind; the thrill of controlling my vessel as she plowed the high seas (made ripples in small inland lakes). During one of these early excursions, I was beating with wind from port (moving toward starboard) in rather heavy winds. The vessel’s rigging was really tested as I had not previously seen. That day she was powered by two sails, the Genoa and the Main. The Genoa was attached to the forestay and overlapped the mast and the lower luff of the main. As I pulled the tiller to come about and tac to port, I was slow to release the Starboard Genoa Sheet from the fairlead and expected a lot of heeling and unsteadyness. To my surprise the choppiness of the water as well as the strength of the wind seemed to just settle down. The waves were still in fact there. The choppiness had not ceased. The winds were just as powerful as before I pulled the tiller. What was this sudden calming of the weather and seeming abatement of the stresses on the vessel’s rigging? I had unwittingly HOVE TO. HOVE TO is the past tense and past participial form of HEAVE TO.
When a sailboat captain performs the HEAVE TO maneuver, he sets his sails in opposition to each other, at perhaps a 90 degree angle so that the wind is split at the mast and spills around the sails in opposite directions at approximately 45 degrees. In this position, the sails cancel each other and produce opposing whirls on the leeward (downwind) side of the sails.
The Heave To maneuver is very useful when sailing in exceptionally adverse conditions because though the sailing captain has no ability to control the weather and wind, he may adjust the members of his craft so that the stresses on the rigging and on the passengers and crew are minimized. The winds and waves are just as powerful and boisterous during the Heave To as before this vessel calming maneuver was executed. What has changed is the attitude of the vessel and her members to the storm.
This maneuver can be a vessel and life saver when a vessel, captain, crew and passengers find themselves far from any harbor and in waters too deep and too rough to drop anchor. Continuing in stormy conditions is extremely taxing on the vessel, crew and passengers. It is vital for the vessel that her crew get sufficient rest and refreshment. If the captain, and crew are not properly rested, they may not make the best decisions or take proper actions for the journey. Improper decisions and actions could lead to the lost of the vessel and all those aboard.
During stormy conditions it is more difficult to get rest while under way. When a vessel is Hove To, the passengers and crew are able to rest and refresh themselves for a while even in the midst of a great storm. The storm still rages and the waves are just as violent as before, but when a vessel is Hove To, she rides the waves and winds in a much more tolerable manner for all those aboard. The Heave To maneuver is not one that makes progress in the way of distance traveled. Progress may actually be lost, but in the process of losing some progress, the crew, passengers and even the very vessel may be saved by the decision to Heave To.
Oh Lord God, Captain of our salvation and of the LORD’s host; we pray that you would speak to the storms in our lives. We trust that you have the power to speak and even the winds and waves will obey you. We ask that you would command the storms to be still. Never the less, if it is your will that we ride out the storms, we implore you to be with us. Be our Captain. We ask that you would cause our vessels to Heave To by your command and instruction. We ask for rest in your care until you have brought us to safe haven. In the name of JESUS CHRIST we pray, Amen.