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Old 04-10-2011, 03:01   #46
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Re: When Do You Reef ?

Im a skiff sailor, I like to have my boat doing jumps off waves. I like to fly so much sail the Cutter Sark would be embarrassed.

Then I took my wife sailing....















It was a pleasant trip the first time out at sea, we discussed things like "are you trying to kill us" and "this is our last trip as you cant be trusted".

We are still married and my wife loves sailing, reefing allowed the transformation!!!!!!!!!


I had not reefed until that point, as reefing is for girls and men sail fast.

or so I thought.....


It was blowing 20 gusting 22-25. I had full main and tried like a silly person to put the No. 1 up, now in hindsight that was stupid. I admit that now.

A conversation ensued, involving one party saying if this is what sailing is like we are selling the boat. With this I removed the jib. we wallowed around a bit with the main up until i said "honey i will reduce the sail to the smallest set we have and we can see if your happy with that, if not then we can sell the boat [read my BABY].

I promptly put two reefs in and the number three jib up. Within nano seconds the boat was standing up straight, a breeze to handle and best of all was actually hitting hull speed rather effortlessly. We were punching into 2.5m seas off the entrance to Sydney harbour and my wife started to enjoy herself, she even had a small go at steering, she did get concerned when we needed to turn 180 and head back in as this would involve going side on to these waves (some had a good bit of wash breaking on them) in our little 28 footer. But, when she saw the boat take them in her stride she was hooked! she was talking about it for weeks with all our boat friends!

Reefing help turn a STUPID STUPID RACER into a much safer cruiser, it has allowed my wife to have her dream of cruising on our yacht as I dropped my selfish ways (im not saying the original poster is selfish, im saying I was), reefing also showed me that my boat is actually faster from A to B when I don't over power it as it has less leeway and better wind lead in angles.

So after all this I would ask, what is the benefit of holding that much sail up until the last minute (there could be a very valid reason)?

I hope you love your sailing as much as me and Jess do, and if there are ways that help enhance that enjoyment, (yours, your partners, crew etc) then I hope you find them all. Reefing may be one of them (might not also).

Fair winds (10-15kts)
Damien
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Old 04-10-2011, 03:57   #47
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Re: When Do You Reef ?

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Originally Posted by Nostrodamus View Post
I am a lazy sailor.

I don't like all this running around and pulling of lines unless I have to.

One of the reasons we chose our boat (Oyster 45) is because she will take gusts and up to about 25 knts of wind (close hauled) before I really need to reef.

I have been on boats that when someone sneezes the skipper is thinking of putting reefs in.

I know we are all different but what boat do you have and what would be the wind speed before you would put a reef in?
It's not about what other people think, its about the sailplan and rig designed for your boat.

Many older Oysters are underspecified with saiplans, and IMHO could be rerigged to carry bigger sails and almost definately go a bit faster.

But that would then mean they'd have to be reefed earlier as that bigger rig would not be best upwind in heavy airs.

I suspect we all know Oyster have marketed to wealthier (meaning usually older) cruisers and built the rigs to meet those owners needs.

Many other builders wanted faster boats and therefore build bigger rigs with bigger sailplans compared with length.

But that old maxim of reefing when you've first thought about it is 100% correct.

We've often screamed past other skippers to windward on same sized boats with us having two reefs tucked in, and them over on their ears.

Cheers
JOHN

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Old 04-10-2011, 04:14   #48
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Re: When Do You Reef ?

John,
I have no doubt you are right but like all the best things, they are built for comfort rather than speed.
Having said that we were doing 10.5 knots over the ground, no sails, engine on tick over but it was the Golfe de Morbihan.
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Old 04-10-2011, 05:43   #49
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Re: When Do You Reef ?

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Originally Posted by S/V Alchemy View Post
I pay a fair bit of attention to sail controls like halyard tension, leech tension and particularly outhaul. I can carry my full main into the high 20s if I take the time to get these control right. Conversely, I can fiddle in the opposite direction and get the main to stop flogging in pretty low winds. It's all a matter of experience and experiment. Didn't stop me from chucking my second batten from the top like a javelin last month in a blow, mind you, but I haven't ripped anything this year!

You have a much larger, and likely less tender, boat than mine. You also probably have a LOT more experience than me with my "action-packed" four years. I think experience has to play into that. i just got a report from an acquaintance sailing down the west coast to Key West. He didn't automatically put a reef in before dark and that was a huge mistake.

I was out last Saturday night in Tampa Bay when the wind unexpectedly kicked up. i was not sailing as I'd had to let my crew off and was by myself, and I've made a decision not to single-hand this boat until my wheel pilot arrives AND I understand how it works, so I was motoring, but IF I had been sailing, I would have had to put at least one reef in, by myself. Well, that's one reason I bought a tether, but ...

as people hear these stories of skillful sailors on bigger boats who can wait ... the rest of us need to look at our boats, and our experience (or relative lack thereof). If I were on your boat with you, I would trust your judgment completely. But if you were on my boat, especially for the first time, that reef would be in sooner.

I think this is a really useful discussion and I don't mean to be criticizing how you make that choice in any way.
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Old 04-10-2011, 05:50   #50
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Re: When Do You Reef ?

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yeap I agree about reefing the first time you think about it , and remind myself that im cruising and not racing my imaginary freinds to a imaginary finish line..

But to pursue this a little further -- the first time two friends and I tried to sail to Key West (we had to turn back due to engine problems) ...

The other woman on the boat, a relatively new sailor but one who has taken her boat out a LOT and taken every course she could find ...

got my little Hunter 31' up to 7.3 knots. We were heeled to 25 degrees but the boat was solidly in the groove and well balanced. I thought "Should we reef?" because the wind was up some and we really were going fast. Then reason kicked in. She had directed me and the other crew member regarding sail trim -- we had agreed that except in an emergency, or off course for no need, or other MAJOR the helmsman made sail trim decisions ...

It was all her sailing and getting everything just right. It was a great ride, and obviously the boat was well balanced.

So even that thought "Should we reef?" has to asked based on recognition of a potential problem. We never did reef that day and had the ride of our lives. It was about a great sail.

If you need to reef and you don't, it won't be a "great sail" unless you like working way too hard and having a rough ride for no good reason, as well as sideslipping significantly more than necessary.
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Old 04-10-2011, 05:58   #51
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Re: When Do You Reef ?

This has been a good thread and I think it shows that every boat and every person is different.
There is only one right answer I suppose which is you reef when you believe it is time to reef.
There are so many variables and that is the challange of sailing. Every occasion is different, every boat is different and every person is..... always learning.
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Old 04-10-2011, 08:44   #52
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Re: When Do You Reef ?

One reason for not reefing until the last moment would be if you are racing. Then it's always about optimal sailing.
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Old 04-10-2011, 09:05   #53
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Re: When Do You Reef ?

The best time to reef is when you see the "look" in the wife's eyes.
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Old 04-10-2011, 09:15   #54
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Re: When Do You Reef ?

0300 in a storm off florida, sloop was speeding over wavetops, 10 kts on gps for boat speed...we shortened sail only because at 0300 and on the very edge is not when ye want top have a mishap---dropped main and sailed nicely at 8 kts under jib alone......gulf of mexico is a fun place to sail.....
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Old 04-10-2011, 09:20   #55
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Re: When Do You Reef ?

First reef goes in when the rail STAYS in the water. 2nd reef goes in after the rail stays in the water with one reef in. Guess when the 3rd reef goes in??

At what wind speed is entirely and utterly useless info... especially as I have no idea...
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Old 04-10-2011, 09:35   #56
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Re: When Do You Reef ?

As others have said, it is completely dependent on the boat, point-of-sail, the wind, the seas, the crew conditions, and many other considerations. There is no universal answer here. But one thing is clear; your reefing system must be easy and effective to use. Your reefing system must never be a barrier to reefing.

When you begin to ponder the question: "I wonder if it's time to reef?" Then it is time. Just do it. It's always easier to shake out a reef in light airs than put one in once it's too late.

And just FYI: in our previous boat (a Grampian 34 ketch) we would reef at around 12-15 knts. In our new boat (a Rafiki 37 cutter) we tend to reef around 20 knts. But this varies quite a bit...
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Old 04-10-2011, 09:50   #57
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Re: When Do You Reef ?

There is that range in which you are slightly overpowered and sail adjustments to flatten can be used instead of reefing. Harden the outhaul, bend the mast, harden the cunningham.
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Old 04-10-2011, 10:35   #58
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Re: When Do You Reef ?

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Originally Posted by zeehag View Post
0300 in a storm off florida, sloop was speeding over wavetops, 10 kts on gps for boat speed...we shortened sail only because at 0300 and on the very edge is not when ye want top have a mishap---dropped main and sailed nicely at 8 kts under jib alone......gulf of mexico is a fun place to sail.....

I know someone who chose to reef in a bad storm rather than anchor or take the sails all the way down and turn on the motor.

He sailed with the storm for 4 1/2 hours and when it finally collapsed and died, he was 100 miles from his original position.
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Old 04-10-2011, 10:39   #59
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Re: When Do You Reef ?

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There is that range in which you are slightly overpowered and sail adjustments to flatten can be used instead of reefing. Harden the outhaul, bend the mast, harden the cunningham.

I could be wrong (checking vocabulary here) but when I say "overpowered" i mean that sail trim and such won't fix it, that the boat is truly at its limit and you have no way to tweak things so the boat can handle the forces on it without reefing.
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Old 04-10-2011, 10:41   #60
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Re: When Do You Reef ?

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I know someone who chose to reef in a bad storm rather than anchor or take the sails all the way down and turn on the motor.

He sailed with the storm for 4 1/2 hours and when it finally collapsed and died, he was 100 miles from his original position.
Now that is a complete and intresting new thread. Personally, if you carry on I believe you should have a least a small bit of sail but others will differ.
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