I disliked the reefing system on the Helia so much that we changed our whole mainsail
We had lots of problems with getting the mainsail
to come down, either dropping it completely or trying to reef. So we decided to add several intermediate track cars to the sail as well as upgrade (and downsize!) our main halyard
. The sail comes down much easier now, no more having to hang on to the mast
as the boat pounds into waves trying to pull the sail down.
Our boat came from the factory with the "auto first reef" option, which to me is just a fancy term for a single
line reef, but the second and third reefs
required going to the base of the mast
and pulling the webbing strap through the cringle in the sail. I'm assuming this is how your boat is still set up. I didn't find the process for this much different putting in the first reef. Drop the main a bit past the reef point, haul in the reef line, then go to the mast and try to manhandle the webbing strap through. It helped if the boat wasn't going too fast in order to reduce pressure on the main. Then haul the main up again.
However, I really, really dislike going to the mast to do anything underway, especially when needing to put in a 2nd or 3rd reef as the seas are usually quite big by that time! So I converted our 2nd reef to another single
line reef set up. This requires a much longer line, re-running the line through the boom so it comes out the underside of the sheave, then up to a low friction block lashed to the 2nd reef cringle, then down to the block at the base of the mast and then back to the helm
. Now we just drop the main past the reef point (marked on the halyard), pull in the reef line (also marked), pull the halyard
back up, turn off the wind
and go. Much simpler and, to me, much safer.
I'll also add that we elected to do away with our 3rd reef. Going to a single line reef for the 2nd reef added a fair amount of line and in all honesty, if it is blowing hard enough to require a 3rd reef, we sail using just a sliver of genoa
or are motoring.
Bit of a long winded answer, but hope there is something in there that helps!