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Old 16-08-2011, 12:04   #1
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Idiot Needs Mainsail Reefing Advice . . .

Let me set up a hypothetical scenario:
1. You are sailing single-handed on a typical 36' sailbaot (lets say a Pearson 36).
2. You have the standard slab reefing system on the main.
3. You are sailing with full sail up and get hit by a squall with strong winds (you didn't get the sails reefed ahead of time).
4. Your engine dies and you can not therefore motor into the wind to unload the main.

How do you reef the main in this scenario? If I can't hold the boat into the wind with the engine, I'm not sure how I unload the main so that the tracks don't jamb and prevent the sailing from coming down.

Will heaving-to unload the main sail tracks?

Thanks!
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Old 16-08-2011, 12:08   #2
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Yes, heave-to and let the main out. This is why it's good to have reefing at the mast (or ran back to the cockpit) insted of the on the end of the boom.
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Old 16-08-2011, 12:26   #3
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Re: Idiot needs main sail reefing advice...

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Originally Posted by sdeese View Post
How do you reef the main in this scenario? If I can't hold the boat into the wind with the engine,

in any scenario, I reef at 30 to 50 degrees off the wind. Then the genoa gives you drive, you don't donk you head with the boom and life is more pleasant

Mark
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Old 16-08-2011, 12:33   #4
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Re: Idiot needs main sail reefing advice...

How do you bring down the main at 45+ deg off the wind (that would be roughly closed-hauled)? The sail would be heavily loaded and would jamb in the sailtrack. Do you come to close hauled and release the sheet? Wouldn't the sail be flogging wildly since you would have the already high wind speed plus the boat speed since the genoa is driving you?
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Old 16-08-2011, 12:49   #5
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Re: Idiot needs main sail reefing advice...

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Originally Posted by sdeese View Post
How do you bring down the main at 45+ deg off the wind (that would be roughly closed-hauled)? The sail would be heavily loaded and would jamb in the sailtrack. Do you come to close hauled and release the sheet? Wouldn't the sail be flogging wildly since you would have the already high wind speed plus the boat speed since the genoa is driving you?
Reef you genoa first.
Drop the main halyard does the same as easing the mainsheet, but you will need to ease it a bit too; then winch down your reefing line; hoist the halyard back up till the luff is firm, sheet on or bare off.

You won't need to ease the mainsheet much, so try with just a bit first then maybe ease a little more when the reefing line is getting close to your point.

I have a black line marked on my halyard for the aprox tension I need for each reef. When I drop the halyard I put out about 1 meter more halyard.
I also have the aprox reefing mark on each reefing line too.

But the sail does not need to be flapping totally

Shaking out a reef is the same. And if the sail needs to flap to pull the reefinig lines through the sail and boom I run it up closer to the wind for a few seconds.

Do books tell say to reef head to wind?
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Old 16-08-2011, 12:53   #6
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Re: Idiot needs main sail reefing advice...

Do you have an autopilot?Round up till closereach,slacken mainsheet to spill most of the wind,full length battens help reduce flogging,slacken headsail sheet a bit and or roll up partway.Set autopilot to this heading.I let speed drop to about 3knots,move forward slacken halyard,pull reef lines,fasten.Retighten halyard.I spend about 2 minutes at mast.Return to cockpit readjust course,trim sails.Carry on.
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Old 16-08-2011, 13:06   #7
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Re: Idiot Needs Mainsail Reefing Advice . . .

Practice a bunch of times when you don't need to. Then when you do need to, you'll know the drill and it'll be easy. Do like Mark said above, sail at about 50 degrees or so, your staysail can take the load and you can ease off on the main. The looser the mainsheet, the easer it is to reef, so it's a trade off, speed in reefing verses sail flogging. It should never take more than two minutes and really should be much faster.
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Old 16-08-2011, 13:34   #8
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Re: Idiot Needs Mainsail Reefing Advice . . .

I do this singlehanded all the time. The old Alberg also requires taking the first few sail slides off to get the first reefing cringle down to the hook ( a major PITA), so my reefing lines are at the mast. There is no way to eliminate the sail and boom flapping about a bit. I do the same basic procedure as Mark has nicely described. The key to the whole thing as well as the easiest thing to screw up is: do it before it becomes a fire drill. I've reefed way too late more than once but am getting smarter. You always see weather/squall lines coming well in advance so there's really no excuse.

Different boats also differ considerably as to when you need to reef. I need to put one reef in as soon as the wind gets much above 10 knots because of a relatively large mainsail and even sooner if the 160 genny is up. Actually, I am better off with the working jib if reaching, as it moves the draft forward allowing the boat to be better balanced. More modern designs, with most of the power supplied by the headsail and smaller mains, can be reefed later because they don't get overpowered by the main.
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Old 16-08-2011, 13:37   #9
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Re: Idiot Needs Mainsail Reefing Advice . . .

Mark,

I think your procedure is this:
1. Reef the genoa
2. While sailing 50 deg off the wind, Ease the mainsheet a little bit
3. Give the main halyard some slack
4. Winch down on the reefing line
5. Then tighten up the main halyard to flatten the mainsail
6. Tighten the mainsheet

My gut say that a slightly eased mainsheet at 50 deg off wind would stiff result in a pretty loaded-up mainsail track. Does the winching down on the reef line “pull” down on the sail and thus overcome that friction? Or is the sail track, contrary to my gut, just not loaded?
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Old 16-08-2011, 13:37   #10
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Re: Idiot Needs Mainsail Reefing Advice . . .

I can't remember having to change course to reef the main, even if it's a particularly big squall. I just ease the main sheet and vang, top the boom up high and drop the main halyard (I guess this assumes you have a running topping lift). The main gets plastered against the rigging, and it takes a little while to inch it down to the hook, but because it's so misshapen it doesn't have much power. If you happen to be on a broad reach instead of DDW all the better. Even more so if you're sailing upwind. But changing course from a run to a close reach, as suggested by others, has never seemed necessary.

On the other hand we always alter course to reef the jib when we're sailing on anything higher then a broad reach. There's just too much chance of damaging something trying to roll in a flogging jib. The drill is to take the boat off the windvain, turn down wind to a true broad reach, ease the sail, roll it in, adjust the car and turn back up to course while adjusting the sheet.

Maybe my lack of problems with squalls is because I tend to sail with a reef in the main a lot of the time. In fact it's rare to have full sail on NAKIA at sea. Oh, one other thing! I have a quart bottle of sailkote on the boat and one of the pre-passage jobs is to go up the mast and lube the sail track. I bet that has a lot to do with it too :-)
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Old 16-08-2011, 13:51   #11
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Re: Idiot Needs Mainsail Reefing Advice . . .

1. Reef the genoa
2. While sailing 50 deg off the wind,
3. Give the main halyard some slack
4. Winch down on the reefing line and Ease the mainsheet a little bit as needed.
5. Then tighten up the main halyard to flatten the mainsail
6. Tighten the mainsheet

I don't think I ease the mainsheet when I start to reef. I just dump the halyard to 1 m past the line marked on the halyard for that reef point.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sdeese View Post
My gut say that a slightly eased mainsheet at 50 deg off wind would stiff result in a pretty loaded-up mainsail track. Does the winching down on the reef line “pull” down on the sail and thus overcome that friction? Or is the sail track, contrary to my gut, just not loaded?

Fill that gut with beer and give it a go. It comes down fine because the wind in the sail is more in the belly than up the top, so it helps it come down. I don't have main luff cars with wheels, just thenormal slugs and its fine. Then winding it down is no problem. Theres not that much force on it to make it difficult.

Racing boats certainly don't let the sail flap, nor do they spill the air while reefing so why do we need to?

Mark
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Old 16-08-2011, 14:19   #12
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Re: Idiot Needs Mainsail Reefing Advice . . .

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I don't think I ease the mainsheet when I start to reef. I just dump the halyard to 1 m past the line marked on the halyard for that reef point.




Fill that gut with beer and give it a go. It comes down fine because the wind in the sail is more in the belly than up the top, so it helps it come down. I don't have main luff cars with wheels, just thenormal slugs and its fine. Then winding it down is no problem. Theres not that much force on it to make it difficult.

Racing boats certainly don't let the sail flap, nor do they spill the air while reefing so why do we need to?

Mark
Maybe more friction with external slides but I can't imagine my sail coming down fully loaded on a close reach without easing up on the main sheet as the halyard is eased. Gonna have to give it a shot though. Hate that darned flapping noise!
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