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Old 10-08-2010, 01:22   #46
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MarkJ – That’s gold mate, and exactly how I feel after a reef while heading into the wind during some heavy stuff.
OK, so I’m no guru sailor, but I can never quite seem to get the reefs properly set when reefing while going downwind? The reef pulley on the luff of the sail pulls down fine but the pulley on the leech refuses to move nicely into position (i.e. down near the boom). Although the load on the mainsheet is significantly reduced when headed downwind, it’s generally still enough to cause me grief as per above, so I ultimately end up having to turn into the wind in order to unload the mainsheet for long enough so that the reefed portion of the sail sits inside the lazy bag, and to finish winching in the reef. Because of this I normally use the same technique as MarkJ describes, unless the swells are very nasty indeed, then I will try to reef as much as possible while going downwind, and just turn into the wind long enough to tidy up the last of the reef, which wouldn’t play the game while headed downwind. Are there any techniques out there to get a good clean reef in while going downwind?
The other ‘gotcha’ I have been caught with, is that when I’m trying to reef while going downwind on a port tack, the end of my boom is fairly close to the wind generator (Catamaran), and it’s very easy for the slackening reefing lines (which aren’t being used), to find their way into the wind generator . In fact it’s seems quite possible that the wind generator has some sort of a ‘rope magnet’ inside. It’s fine to handle when there’s enough people there to keep all of the lines taught while the reef is in progress, but I just don’t bother trying to reef while going downwind on a port tack anymore, when I’m trying to do it on my own.
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Old 10-08-2010, 03:35   #47
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@ Burls, If trying to reef down wind in your case it may be worth letting as much vang off as possible during the process. As you need to de-power the foot somewhat to allow the block/s at the clew to work. Mainsheet should be eased also- of course But the idea is the stall the air around the foot of the sail allowing it to be tightened. Hope this helps.
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Old 10-08-2010, 04:34   #48
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I don't understand what the aversion to heaving-to is? Are we in a hurry to get somewhere?

You wouldn't heave-to with a full genoa out, you 1st roll it up until it's in front of the mast.
You can do this while still broad reaching or head a little more downwind and let the main shadow the genny while you furl it. Then head up to the wind and heave-to.
Perhaps start the engine and have it ready to engage if necessary.

There's no way that I am pulling my mainsail down inch by inch on a broad reach in 35 knots. I have a difficult time picturing any technique that would allow me to do that comfortably. I certainly wouldn't try it single handed.
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Old 10-08-2010, 07:44   #49
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I would heave to and lower the main. My boat sails very well on a run with genny alone in force 8. Surfin' USA.

And why is turning on the motor and heading straight into the wind not an option if you want to lower the main. Is that cheating? Perhaps so, but it works.
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Old 10-08-2010, 08:55   #50
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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,
That's the genius of the original question -- you're going downwind and the wind pipes up. What the h*ll do you do? The horror is broaching with too much canvas up downwind. It's a very plausible question because going downwind you are much less likely to notice the weather piping up.

Furling the headsail is easy downwind but you increase the risk of a broach. I would reef it deeply, but not put it away, for the sake of stability. Then I would get the main down at all costs. Broad reach and let the traveller all the way down then let the mainsheet out until the main starts luffing. Caveat: some boats will get a burst of power from a loose mainsheet, because of the fuller shape of the main. These boats might benefit from a hard vang. With the main depowered and luffing a little you can usually do something to reduce the area. If you have in-mast furling, it will work in that posture but you have to be d*mn careful to keep control of the outhaul.

I agree that heading up is not realistic if it's really blowing. If you try to turn upwind heavily overcanvassed you will find yourself in a heap of trouble as the apparent wind spikes up and heeling moment rises. On the contrary, in any overpowered situation I think one would rather head off.
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Old 10-08-2010, 09:17   #51
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Quote:
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The person on the helm must do super human steering during the operation to prevent bad stuff.
daddle nailed it. It can be done (boat dependent of course), but the steering needs to be perfect.
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Old 10-08-2010, 09:23   #52
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Originally Posted by Curmudgeon View Post
I would heave to and lower the main. My boat sails very well on a run with genny alone in force 8. Surfin' USA.

And why is turning on the motor and heading straight into the wind not an option if you want to lower the main. Is that cheating? Perhaps so, but it works.
Nothing is cheating, which gets you out of a frightening situation, in my book.

The problem is that as you head up the wind force and heeling moment become more violent, and this can be dangerous if you are way overcanvassed. You can ease the traveller and sheets and let the sails luff as you come up into the wind (and that's a move I might make in a desperate situation), but you will flog the heck out of the sails.
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Old 10-08-2010, 09:39   #53
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I think it depends on your boat. My boat is really stable off the wind. In that situation I would keep all of my genoa out for power. From there I would pull my main traveller all the way to windward and haul the sheet in till the main was not touching the shrouds. I would make sure that my lazy jacks were in place and then have someone pull in the reef point as I lowered the sail. I have one of those tracks on the main and it slides down real easy. If that didn't work I would head up in to the wind and drop it down. I have the reef points marked on the halyards so that I can just drop the halyard to a prescribed spot. This makes life a lot easier. After that I would adjust the the amount of foresail I had up till I was comfortable.

I think it makes a difference on who the driver is as well. I remember having to add sail when I took over watch from a crew because I wasn't feeling enough power at the bottom of the wave. The other crew felt out of control at the top of the waves so liked it reefed down.
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Old 10-08-2010, 10:17   #54
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Your like us with a largish main, you are 740 sq ft, we're 1000 sq ft. With inline spreaders we find that if the vang is on hard and we trim it off the spreaders a bit we can grind it down fairly easily. It will be a mess on the boom till you get a chance to clean up but what else can you do.

We also find if the hull is easily driven it's not necessary to fly mountains of canvas. As small jib on an inner forestay is fine when it's blowing 45~50 knots.

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Originally Posted by estarzinger View Post
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 10-08-2010, 10:37   #55
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I try to not luff while reefing. It's annoying and as mentioned above can tangle the reefing lines around the boom end or worse. Just ease the vang and sheet to soften the main up. Easing the halyard will do the rest.

Most mains reef to a slightly higher boom position. So you'll need a little more sheet out to get that last bit of clew in. Flatten the foot all the way. Pull the slack out of the other reefing lines a few times during the operation so they're available later if needed and not caught inside a fold.

If you have an old metal T-track and metal slides, or small plastic slugs in a bolt-rope slot it will be very hard to pull the luff down.
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Old 10-08-2010, 17:08   #56
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My partner and I sail an IOR racing boat... hardly the ideal 2-up. Big sails. Relatively high friction main halyard (no batt cars). Big (to 150%) non-furling (twin foil) headsails. Runners and check stays. i.e. everything that isn't ideal for short handed sailing.

Rule 1: Be conservative with the sail choice. Our boat, despite its age, design shape and weight is damn quick. We don't need to over-canvas to go fast. Hell, we have plenty of boat speed when slightly under-canvassed. We alwasy err on the side of caution when selecting what sails to hoist / when to reef, etc

When wind does build unexpectedly, and fast, and assuming for the sake of argument, we had full main, large overlapping genoa and were running, our preferred course of action would be as follows (assuming sea-room to manouver)

1. Get rid of the genoa - drop it to the deck - Lisa steers and lets the halyard down (with a wrap or 2 around the winch), I look busy on the foredeck. Get the sail either strapped securely to the deck, or if it is really blowing, get it below deck. It is usually possible to complete this process while still running, by shadowing the genoa behind the main, otherwise, come to windward first (you have to make this decision before you start - you do not want to be coming onto the breeze with the genoa partially dropped)

2. Reef or drop the main as required. Once the headsail is secured, go bare-headed while sorting the main. If in doubt, get rid of it all (bare poles is fine, if necessary start the engine for manouverability). We have 3 deep reefs, so it has to be blowing pretty damn hard before we have to worry too much. We really do have to go head to wind for this. Between the runners'checkstays and the relatively high-friction luff groove, we can't do it any other way. 2-up, I go to the mast, Lisa steers and lowers the main halyard to get the chosen the reef cringle on the goose-neck horn. I then come back to the cockpit and (a) tighten the halyard, then (b) bring in the reef line to snug down the leech reef. Yes - this process can be soething of a sh1t-fight, but it gets the job done.

3. Once the main is sorted (reefed or down and tidy on the boom), choose an appropriate headsail - #3, #4 or storm jib. Get that on deck and hoisted. Again Lisa steers and pulls halyard while I try to look busy on the foredeck and at at the mast. When it is almost full hoist I come back to the cockpit and winch up to the requisite luff tension (if you are going to be bearing away back to a run, you shouldn't need too much anyway).

Frankly, running, I am more than happy to go downwind with just a headsail. In 30 knots of wind, we would run at 7-8 knots with just a #4 up and no main. If running deep, we might choose to pole-out. I feel safer running in a decent sea with a headsail "pulling" rather than a mainsail "pushing" - less likely to jibe. We have sailed downwind in 35 knots in a decent sea, with double reefed main and no headsail, but apart from hitting stupid fast speeds (up to 18 knots), it is bloody hard work, and scary as hell, and required some pretty fancy steering to (a) not jibe or chinese and (b) not get broadside to the sea.

In summary:
a) Go bare headed
b) Reef or fully douse main, as appropriate
c) Set a small headsail, sized as appropriate
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Old 10-08-2010, 17:50   #57
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Broad reach and let the traveller all the way down then let the mainsheet out until the main starts luffing. Caveat: some boats will get a burst of power from a loose mainsheet, because of the fuller shape of the main. These boats might benefit from a hard vang. With the main depowered and luffing a little you can usually do something to reduce the area. If you have in-mast furling, it will work in that posture but you have to be d*mn careful to keep control of the outhaul.

I agree that heading up is not realistic if it's really blowing. If you try to turn upwind heavily overcanvassed you will find yourself in a heap of trouble as the apparent wind spikes up and heeling moment rises. On the contrary, in any overpowered situation I think one would rather head off.
I have thought of doing it this way but then when you have the boom way out over the side of the boat and that makes it hard to get sail ties around the main. I would think that the first order of business would be to keep people from leaning out over the edge of the boat trying to slap sail ties on a flogging boom.
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Old 10-08-2010, 18:17   #58
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Nothing is cheating, which gets you out of a frightening situation, in my book.

The problem is that as you head up the wind force and heeling moment become more violent, and this can be dangerous if you are way overcanvassed. You can ease the traveller and sheets and let the sails luff as you come up into the wind (and that's a move I might make in a desperate situation), but you will flog the heck out of the sails.
I would have rolled in the genny before starting the motor. Yes, I would ease the main sheet and ease the traveller but as soon as I'm starting to point into the wind (30 degrees apparent or less) I would haul in the main sheet to get the boom in. Less flogging that way. The hard part is getting the main under control after bringing it down. My next boat will have a boom furler.

In 25 knots I would already have a reef in the main and a partially reefed genny. If I thought there was a potential for the wind to go over 30 knots I might have (1) put in a second reef or (2) hanked on my staysail. With two reefs and my little staysail I should be good until about 40 knots, although I've never tested that assertion. After 40, I would heave to.
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