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Old 23-03-2012, 12:24   #16
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Re: Mainsail - two reefs or three?

I like having all three reefs. There is a dramatic difference with each one. The sail is made with four. The first being a flattener or water reef. But I don't use that for cruising. Makes for many control lines.

Changing reefs is often a wet work, but I wouldn't say it is hard work.
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Old 23-03-2012, 12:26   #17
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Re: Mainsail - two reefs or three?

Many times, in all 3 of my cruising boats I had been charging along with the vane steering and loving it,but if the wind picked up a little or I was facing 12 hours of darkness I would go to put a reef in the main, and between the cockpit and the mast I would decide,To Hell With It, and go straight to the second reef. Lost a little speed, but gained a whole lot of comfort. A deeper first reef probably is a good idea. I like fast passages, but food and sleep are more important. Another 2 cents worth.____Grant.
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Old 23-03-2012, 12:46   #18
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Re: Mainsail - two reefs or three?

My old main had two reefs, about 2ft apart. The first reef had almost no effect, and the second wasn't much better. The sailmaker described them as typical for an east coast sail. The new main I had made has two reefs, nearly 4ft apart, which is what I would expect for SF Bay and coastal cruising.

So how far apart are you putting them?
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Old 23-03-2012, 12:47   #19
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Re: Mainsail - two reefs or three?

Yeah.... they should make something that reefs continuously...
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Old 23-03-2012, 12:59   #20
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Re: Mainsail - two reefs or three?

Our luff is 22 meters (72 ft) and the reefs are 6m (20ft) apart. We have no difference in speed when reefing, upwind we always make 8 knots and all other courses 9 to 9.5, it doesn't matter if there is one, two or three reefs. With 45 knots steady wind and gusts to 55, sailing upwind, we change to the trysail. Only at 60 knot steady, we will sail with storm jib on the inner forestay only.

You might consider making three reef points if you have a light weight boat that is easily stopped by the waves and need to power up to get back to speed, but for all others it does not really make sense to me. I advised all my clients who asked me the question about two or three reefs to go with two and far apart. All of them thanked me few years later after they made a few Atlantic crossings.
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Old 23-03-2012, 13:00   #21
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Re: Mainsail - two reefs or three?

They do! ....it's called a junk rig.
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Old 23-03-2012, 13:08   #22
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Re: Mainsail - two reefs or three?

Well Eric I guess I have to disagree with you. Our 40 footer weighs in at around 17 ton, not a light weight IMHO and certainly not a boat that's easily stopped by waves...

By taking the main down to the 3rd reef and using the staysail we create a well balanced and safe sail plan in some mighty nasty conditions. Still giving us sufficient power to move forward well in difficult conditions. I guess it's horses for courses.
It's certainly a personal perspective but the more options my sails give me the happier I am :-)
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Old 23-03-2012, 13:14   #23
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Re: Mainsail - two reefs or three?

Quote:
Originally Posted by annk View Post
They do! ....it's called a junk rig.
or in mast furling! too bad many types have issues....
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Old 23-03-2012, 13:16   #24
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Re: Mainsail - two reefs or three?

+ 100 on the junk Rig !! the only way to sail !!
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Old 23-03-2012, 13:49   #25
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Re: Mainsail - two reefs or three?

From our small ship, long voyage, perspective, Eric's take sounds valid too. Interestingly, their boat is way bigger than ours.

Maybe, despite the size differences, the boats are somewhat similar? Or maybe our sailing styles are similar?

We tend to drive our boat pretty hard now. We did not, earlier on, but then we found that she was much easier to handle, and much easier to live in, when she was kept going (slightly over-canvassed rather than slightly under-canvassed).

It's a most interesting thread. Thanks all ya for posting your views and experiences!

barnakiel
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Old 23-03-2012, 13:53   #26
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Re: Mainsail - two reefs or three?

No one's looking at it from the other end..

There's 3 reefs in mine, only time round the atlantic when it was breezy enough that the 3rd should have been used the line wasn't rove in so of course it didn't get used. (Canaries wind accel zones)

Where the 3rd reef did get used, all too often, was becalmed.

With the second reef it was still too much crash bang wallop as the boat rolled to be tolerable. With the 3rd reef in sheeted tight and the staysail also sheeted in things would quieten down enough to leave a bit of sail up while waiting a day or several for the wind to come back. Helped calm the rolling a bit and a load less bother.

This on it's own is reason enough for any replacement to have a 3rd reef. On my boat anyway.
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Old 23-03-2012, 16:46   #27
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Re: Mainsail - two reefs or three?

So (Eric!), if one goes with a deep second reef, how deep is deep? What percentage of sail area do you reduce for each reef or is it strictly a linear measurement of the hoist?

Currently having sails built and have opted for 2 reefs at 20% of area and 45% of area. (Main has a hoist of nearly 53'.) Sound right?

We plan to go offshore and high latitude sailing - we'll have a trysail with us too.

I want to keep the rigging as simple as possible and light as possible too...
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Old 23-03-2012, 17:25   #28
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Re: Mainsail - two reefs or three?

That's exactly where I put them. Maybe 20% and 40%. Maybe another at higher % would be good for passagemaking?
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Old 23-03-2012, 22:20   #29
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Re: Mainsail - two reefs or three?

Thanks to all for your excellent responses, it's great to get so many good opinions from such an experienced group.

My old sail has three reefs, so I'm going to try only two reefs on this one I'm buying, at 20% (226 sq ft) and at 45% (155 sq ft) of sail area. She is a stiff boat and easily holds up unreefed up to about 25kt. This will be my cruising main.



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Old 23-03-2012, 22:41   #30
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Re: Mainsail - two reefs or three?

I think the question is wrong. Maybe you should be asking how deep are everyone´s reefs, not how many reefs do they have?

Eg, we had 4 reefs. But I ditched the 1st reef, and withdrew the lines for it because it made so little difference. So now do we have 3 reefs (because we use 3) or 4 reefs (because there are sort of 4 available even though we only use 3)?

The number of reefs is pretty irrelevant, I reckon. What is more important is the depth of your reefs and the wind conditions in your cruising grounds.

YMMV. In fact, it will vary significantly!
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