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Old 08-08-2010, 07:39   #31
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..... With a reefer main you can sail any direction. Under reefer headsail you are only going downwind. Those who think they are sailing to weather under headsail alone haven't yet noticed they are going sideways.
Sorry, Daddle, but this is not my experience at all.

NO WAY you're going to windward on a close reach with just a main. Not even with a full one, on most boats.

Going to weather with just a headsail alone....VERY EFFICIENT on most boats. I remember once in a Pearson 10-meter in the Virgin Islands...under genoa alone on a close reach....pulling abreast of, then passing a Gulfstar 50 under full sail with a professional crew. They were incredulous.

My present boat LOVES a close reach, and does so very well under genoa alone.

If you go to windward much, you'll find a genoa alone is often an easy, fast, and comfortable way to do it.

BTW, I'm not talking about beating. In heavy conditions, who wants to beat into it? Just watch your VMG....falling off on a close reach is often faster upwind than beating anyway!

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Old 08-08-2010, 07:51   #32
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On anything over 30 ft, it is extremely difficult if not impossible for one person to pull the main down to reef it when you are running downwind in a blow and the sail is full. What I gave you is an alternative to rounding up into the wind and waves.

My boat goes to weather and tacks under genoa only, but any boat will go better and safer downwind in a blow with the mainsail down. Not only is the center of effort futher forward, making it much less likely to broach, you don't have to deal with the boom and its lethal and destructive powers in an accidental gybe.
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Old 08-08-2010, 08:04   #33
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If the wind suddenly turned 35 I would get the genoa fully rolled first,by easing the sheet and adjusting AP up wind a bit.If it was a dead downwind run I would leave it unfurled to storm jib size,and then fully douse main by easing sheet till pressure comes off sail,lazy jacks capture full batten sail.I then quickly grab halyard above headboard and wrap it round winch and cleat it,so halyard can stay attached to headboard but not pull on it.Resume course check boatspeed and unfurl more sail ,given conditions.On the wind I would use reefed main,and maybe a tiny bit of unfurled genoa,better yet get that storm jib up to centralize the sail area.Above 35, out comes the(hanked) storm jib on the inner stay.I like sailing under main only though because its self tacking and boat is much more manueverable.Above 35 is no place for roller furling.
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Old 08-08-2010, 08:07   #34
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On the OP's question . . . it does depend a bit on the boat (size and rig and spreaders). The first boat we went RTW was a smallish ketch with inline spreaders. On a run you could go to the mast and drag the mainsail down in almost any wind speed . . . pulling on the reef lines and the sail cloth. On our current boat (larger, fractional sloop with swept back spreaders) the mainsail is much bigger and leans on the spreaders. I can pull the full mainsail down on a run up to about 30kts true (but I would not describe it as excellent seamanship - I am standing on mast steps 6' up the mast hanging on the reef lines and batten cars trying to pull the sail down inch by inch) after that its plastered too hard on the spreaders to be able to pull it down without turning up. Trying to oversheet it (to pull it off the spreaders) will make the boat almost impossible to steer and is likely to cause even worse problems.

If we have f&^ked up and are in the situation, we roll up the jib, and turn up enough to blow the mainsail off the spreaders, and probably drop it entirely (if we think the 30kts is going to continue) or put a double reef in (if we think the wind increase is temporary). You can do this either with or without the engine. Usually I will start the engine but not put it in gear unless/until we need it. Do get all your sheets out of the water

Once we already have a double reef in I can get the rest down in almost any wind speed while running.

One of the hardest lessons for a (prudent) cruising sailor is that you should really reef (mainsail) downwind at about the same true wind speed as as you do upwind. Upwind you feel and know when you need to reef, but downwind the signals are not obvious until it's suddenly too late.
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Old 08-08-2010, 09:37   #35
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Hi all: lots of good advice here,some may seem conflicting because diff boats will behave differently depending on size,hull form, and especilly rig; so you have got to know your boat. A huge consideration is the sea state ,a big chop is going to make leaving the cockpit dicey when heading up esp. in a small craft and of course much worse on the foredeck than the mast.Also to be considered is what lies ahead ,shallower water? open sea? do you just want to bail and save your marriage? is there an island or headland down wind that you can duck behind if you can just suffer with existing conditions while keeping some control until you can restore the faith of your crew? BTW sailing with jib alone into big seas without mast support from the main may bring the rig down!
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Old 08-08-2010, 09:57   #36
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mrohr--thanks for pointing out that the main helps support the mast--I have seen masts collapse when beating with jib alone, and always put on my running backstay in this situation.
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Old 08-08-2010, 11:11   #37
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mrohr--thanks for pointing out that the main helps support the mast--I have seen masts collapse when beating with jib alone, and always put on my running backstay in this situation.
There's that too. I will run under headsail alone if it's a small heavy jib. But that's a real sail change, usually, as it's in a bag below.
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Old 08-08-2010, 11:21   #38
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... I have seen masts collapse when beating with jib alone, and always put on my running backstay in this situation.
Main supports mast:
When beating, or (I'd think) when reaching/running?
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Old 08-08-2010, 11:56   #39
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When beating, and to some extent while reaching, the mast bows forward in the middle each time you slam into a headsea. If the main is sheeted in, the cloth limits the amount the mast can bend. Absent the main, you had better have something else (like a running back or sweptback spreaders) limiting the bend, or the mast will get too far out of column and collapse.

This is not usually a problem when motoring into headseas, as there is not nearly as much compresssion load on the mast without a jib up.

When broad reaching or running, there is less compression load and you are not slamming into the wind chop, but its still good seamanship to keep the runner on in heavy air. If the main is let well out, its not going to keep the mast from collapsing forward.

I first saw a mast come down like this in the SC27 nationals in Lake Tahoe--it was gusting 35-40, and it was hard to keep the boats flat. Someone got the idea of sailing on jib alone and ended up breaking their mast. We consulted with Bill Lee (the designer), and he explained that the cause was lack of support from the main. With no running backs on the boats, the choice was to slog through with a double reefed main traveled down, or not sail. Fun times!
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Old 08-08-2010, 12:01   #40
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Thanx for the explanation (Don?)
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Old 08-08-2010, 12:33   #41
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You need to reef down big time so you decide to dowse your main completely and sail under reefed genny.
Carl says it best imho

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Third. I assume the genoa is on a furler. Roll it up. All the way. This isn't a race. Going slow is fine. The boat will steer fine . Carl
I'd roll the genny up altogether while still going down wind.
Check for lines in the water. Check for lines over the side. Check for lines not where they are meant to be.
Start Donk.
Turn upwind to 30 degrees apparent.
Slow boat
Release Halyard
Put Donk into SLOW ahead
Get mainsail down and secured.
Turn back onto course
Genny out
Donk off
Get panicked woman to cook a nice dinner and pass up the Skipper a cold beer.

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Old 08-08-2010, 13:20   #42
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I've never sailed aboard a boat that could be reefed going downwind. I think that's what was asked originally. Some here have said they could do it. I'd like that.

It is hard to turn upwind in a real blow and reef. A couple times on my last sail the helmsman tacked while my friend and I were reefing and I and my buddy got thrown across the cabin top. What saved me was I was hanging on to the reef point lines. We both had harnesses but I would have gone over the side anyway because my harness attachment was on stretchy webbing jacklines.

Just having the idea of maybe I should think about reefing is when I reef now.

Not all boats have roller furling jibs so when I think about reefing is when I should also be doing a headsail change which can't be done going downwind either.

All in all I have to turn into the weather to reef so I reef too early in some cases and I go slow.

kind regards,
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Old 08-08-2010, 16:28   #43
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Comments above about different boats responding somewhat differently agree with my experience. I have also found that any given boat will respond differently depending on the sail set.

With my (Chesapeake summer) 135 on the furler I reef the genoa to about 90, reef the main, second reef in the main, furl the genoa, third reef in the main, and finally (since I have been running away by now) anchor in some protected cove or creek.

With my 100 on the furler I reef the main, reef the main again, reef the main again, reef the jib to about 70 or 80, furl the jib and set the staysail, reef the staysail, and finally start wondering how I got into that mess.

Generally I'm trying to keep some semblance of a reasonable course with weather helm down to the point that the autopilot isn't killing itself trying to steer the boat.
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Old 08-08-2010, 17:47   #44
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Lot's of good ideas and advise here.

In situation like described I'm glad to have a cutter rig. While it can be bothersome in light air to get the genoa around the inner forestay (if the staysail is not set), in heavy weather I love my staysail combined with 2nd reef in the main. To be honest haven't tried staysail without main but seems to be a valid option to wait out the blow.

Having the staysail on a furler as well and all lines to the cockpit is something that make it safe AND comfortable.
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Old 08-08-2010, 20:35   #45
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Lot's of good ideas and advise here.

In situation like described I'm glad to have a cutter rig. While it can be bothersome in light air to get the genoa around the inner forestay (if the staysail is not set), in heavy weather I love my staysail combined with 2nd reef in the main. To be honest haven't tried staysail without main but seems to be a valid option to wait out the blow.

Having the staysail on a furler as well and all lines to the cockpit is something that make it safe AND comfortable.
Actually funny that you mention it but we do have a cutter as well and we are still trying to find out the proper sail configurations. One thing I both like and dislike is that our staysail is boomed. The auto tacking feature is nice but when the wind picks up I am left with the choice of dowsing it or risking someone on the foredeck in weather. Then I am stuck with a roller furled yankee jib/genny way out on a bowsprit which - the jury is out - I am not sure is much good for anything, and a deeply reefed main.
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