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Old 20-09-2018, 13:54   #1
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Is there a down side to single reefing lines?

My existing reefing works as follows. Lower the main, find the cord eyelet sewn on to the luff and hook it through the catch on the mast raise the halyard to the desired tension, tighten the respective clew reef line on a winch on the mast.

...........

I went on another boat and it had the reefing lines back to the helm. Each reef had it's own single line. The line ran from the helm through to a pulley in the boom up to the respective attachment point pulley on the luff, back to the boom, along the boom, 180 turn then to the clew.

To reef, lower the main, tighten the desired reefing line, raise the main.

I like the idea however when I had a look at my boat to see how hard it would be to rig, some of the hardware that is left makes me believe it was once rigged this way. Why would the previous owner have removed it unless there is a problem ?

Any thoughts on this, or other options.
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Old 20-09-2018, 15:31   #2
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Re: Is there a down side to single reefing lines?

The main drawbacks with single line reefing are friction and the additional distance you need to haul the line (4 times the reefing distance v 1 or 2 with your current system).
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Old 20-09-2018, 15:48   #3
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Re: Is there a down side to single reefing lines?

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Originally Posted by Dave_S View Post

Any thoughts on this, or other options.
I dislike the single line reefing systems. They look like a great idea... but...

It is impossible to balance the tension on different parts of the sail. Since the same line is used as your cunningham AND your outhaul, you do not have independent control over the luff tension and foot tension.

It is especially bad when the reefing lines are lead inside the boom. With the lead from the end of the boom to the clew it is almost impossible to get the clew of the sail down tight to the boom where it should be unless you go up on deck to tie an earring in, which defeats the whole "reef from the safety of the cockpit" thing...
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Old 20-09-2018, 18:32   #4
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Re: Is there a down side to single reefing lines?

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I dislike the single line reefing systems. They look like a great idea... but...

It is impossible to balance the tension on different parts of the sail. Since the same line is used as your cunningham AND your outhaul, you do not have independent control over the luff tension and foot tension.

It is especially bad when the reefing lines are lead inside the boom. With the lead from the end of the boom to the clew it is almost impossible to get the clew of the sail down tight to the boom where it should be unless you go up on deck to tie an earring in, which defeats the whole "reef from the safety of the cockpit" thing...
Maybe I'm just not a hardcore sailor, but when there's enough wind to require reefing it's not really that big of a deal if the clew isn't completely tight to the boom. I've converted my boat to single line reefing and while I agree the clew is about 3 -6 inches above the boom, it isn't loose enough to cause the leech to luff or anything and the small loss of efficiency is really meaningless since I'm by definition hauling along at a good clip at that point.
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Old 20-09-2018, 18:34   #5
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Re: Is there a down side to single reefing lines?

Works on smaller boats okay if you're careful and have your lines well marked. On larger boats it's not robust enough in my opinion.
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Old 20-09-2018, 19:01   #6
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Re: Is there a down side to single reefing lines?

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It is impossible to balance the tension on different parts of the sail. Since the same line is used as your cunningham AND your outhaul, you do not have independent control over the luff tension and foot tension.
.
The only recent experience i have of this was the single line system on a Lagoon 380. In that the foremost reefing eyelet was pulled down till it hit a block or eye on the mast just above the boom, which it hit before the clew was tight to the boom. So at that point the tack is effectively fixed, and from there you do do have independent control - for foot tension keep pulling the reefing line, for luff tension raise the halyard

I guess if you wanted to reef to a point somewhere between the given reefing points that wouldnt apply, but neither does it apply in the fixed eyelet system described in the OP

The downside is a lot of friction in the system, but found with a bit of practice you could put a reef in entirely from the cockpit . Shaking one out required a trip to the mast to free the lines, but if you're putting on sail a trip forward should be no problem.
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Old 20-09-2018, 19:02   #7
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Re: Is there a down side to single reefing lines?

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Works on smaller boats okay if you're careful and have your lines well marked. On larger boats it's not robust enough in my opinion.
Not sure what you mean by this? There are no more lines with single line reefing than with system it replaces which has a line through a cringle in the leech and a strap you have to manually attach through a cringle on the luff. So not sure why you would need any better marking than you had before?
Also not sure what you mean by "robust"? Again the line on the leech is exactly the same as what replaced it, so no more or less "robust" than before. The strap on the luff on my system was actually probably less "robust" than the line and pulley system I have installed now. Certainly from a breaking point perspective it is as robust as it would ever need to be. If I'm in conditions where the shackle up there breaks I sure as hell never could have threaded the strap through the cringle standing on the coach roof hanging onto the mast!
On the flip side, it is both a pain and sometimes somewhat dangerous to reef without single line reefing. So you naturally don't reef as soon as you would when it's simple and not dangerous. That's the biggest advantage for me. I still have the straps up there, so if I really felt the need I could replicate the old reefing system in addition to the single line, but why?
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Old 20-09-2018, 20:29   #8
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Re: Is there a down side to single reefing lines?

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Originally Posted by Village Idiot View Post
The only recent experience i have of this was the single line system on a Lagoon 380. In that the foremost reefing eyelet was pulled down till it hit a block or eye on the mast just above the boom, which it hit before the clew was tight to the boom. So at that point the tack is effectively fixed, and from there you do do have independent control - for foot tension keep pulling the reefing line, for luff tension raise the halyard

I guess if you wanted to reef to a point somewhere between the given reefing points that wouldnt apply, but neither does it apply in the fixed eyelet system described in the OP

The downside is a lot of friction in the system, but found with a bit of practice you could put a reef in entirely from the cockpit . Shaking one out required a trip to the mast to free the lines, but if you're putting on sail a trip forward should be no problem.
That was my experience too. I just tried it this summer on my 29 footer, lines run outside the boom and back to cockpit. It actually worked fine. The tack and clew anchored well and I didn't mind the tack did not come all the way to the gooseneck because I like to have some room for the sail to roll to tie up the reef. Friction through the cringles is the fly in the ointment, but with the sail luffing and using the winch to tighten it up, it did what it was told to. Oh the other issue is the long extra line to deal with in the cockpit when raising and lowering the main! I will revisit it to see if I can improve it, but for now I'm still giving it a try.
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Old 20-09-2018, 20:37   #9
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Re: Is there a down side to single reefing lines?

On our 25' boat it worked well enough, but as others have mentioned there is a LOT of friction and you always have the chance of chafe against the sail if you're not careful, putting holes in your main even under fairly tame and not long excursions.

We bought a larger boat, 37', and I don't think I'll install the system again. I think I'll keep things extremely simple here and put kind of way for us to reef easily, but not single-line yet anyway.
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Old 20-09-2018, 20:44   #10
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Re: Is there a down side to single reefing lines?

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Originally Posted by 14murs14 View Post
Maybe I'm just not a hardcore sailor, but when there's enough wind to require reefing it's not really that big of a deal if the clew isn't completely tight to the boom. I've converted my boat to single line reefing and while I agree the clew is about 3 -6 inches above the boom, it isn't loose enough to cause the leech to luff or anything and the small loss of efficiency is really meaningless since I'm by definition hauling along at a good clip at that point.


and there is a lot to be said for not having to go forward and struggle with sails on a windy, pitching and rolling deck. I ease the halyard whilst winching on the single line reefing line with a self tailing winch, cleat it and re-tighten the halyard all from the secure comfort of the cockpit.
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Old 21-09-2018, 06:05   #11
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Re: Is there a down side to single reefing lines?

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On our 25' boat it worked well enough, but as others have mentioned there is a LOT of friction and you always have the chance of chafe against the sail if you're not careful, putting holes in your main even under fairly tame and not long excursions.

We bought a larger boat, 37', and I don't think I'll install the system again. I think I'll keep things extremely simple here and put kind of way for us to reef easily, but not single-line yet anyway.
I mounted a block on both the forward and aft cringle, no friction at all.
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Old 21-09-2018, 07:29   #12
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Re: Is there a down side to single reefing lines?

The only downside for me, is there is friction when trying to fully raise the main (the next day) after reefing. It's usually a 2 person job (one on the halyard, the other pulling and loosening the reefing lines from the back of the boom).

The other downside was what to do with the reefing lines when the sail is down. Our solution is to grab the extra lines hanging down and stuff them into a fold of the sail (and secure with one of the sail ties).

The upside of our single line system more than makes up for those minor downsides. For instance, under sail in medium to heavy air, I am able to set either of the reef points without stopping the boat or leaving the cockpit (and my crew are my 2 kids, aged 10 and 13).

Here is a great example of how it works on our Pearson 31-2 (same year and model in the video):


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Old 21-09-2018, 08:54   #13
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Re: Is there a down side to single reefing lines?

Double line reefing is better than single line reefing - most boats come factory supplied with double line reefing: a horn at he tack and a separate clew line; running them back to the cockpit is a good idea

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Old 21-09-2018, 09:19   #14
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Re: Is there a down side to single reefing lines?

I have single line reefing on my Alerion 28 and most of the charter boats have it for the first and second reef. I like it on my boat. I don't agree with the objection of not having independent controls for the luff and leach. The luff tension can be controlled by the halyard and the leach tension by the vang. No problem!
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Old 21-09-2018, 09:22   #15
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Re: Is there a down side to single reefing lines?

" Friction through the cringles is the fly in the ointment"

I have blocks on both the luff and leach cringles. Problem solved!
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