Originally Posted by Liam Wald
That old saying about "If you even THINK that it's time to reef, it's time to reef", is one that I have found to be very very true. Far easier to shake out a reef that you didn't actually need than to set one once it it too late.
There are very rare occasions when reefing may take more time than the situation allows. So fortunately the amount of mainsail
deployed is rarely a big factor when hove-to.
Depending on the conditions, sail plan and running rigging
, rounding up is more or less safe. Where there are large waves capable of causing a broach, timing when your boat will be beam-on to the waves is everything. Get it wrong and the consequences ain't pretty. There is no room in this scenario for wraps, fouled halyards and or sheets
. In conditions where wind and not the size of waves is your primary concern, rounding up should not present a big problem. But there are caveats.
The objective is to quickly dispense with the forsail on the upside of a turn to windward, put the helm
and heave to. A hanked on headsail under tension can be dispensed with in seconds by simply letting the halyard
go. I've never been able to use a downhaul that did not present problems of its own, but could otherwise be advantageous. This is when lines led to the cockpit
through clutches are a big plus but proper flaking of the halyards is imperative to prevent knots. Even if the headsail 'hangs' at some point on the way down, flogging itself to smitherines, you have spilled the wind and are in control. Once down (or nearly down) the sail should be held captive amidship with both sheets
. Roller furling
systems are in some ways more problematic. Wraps, fouled sheets, and the time and effort required to roll in a headsail under load are all possible issues leading to a sail filled with wind and a loss of control.
When transiting the South Pacific
ITCZ in particular where squalls are the norm you can tell from experience which are "in commute" to work or already there. As a matter of course I douse the jib
and heave to ("fore reaching" to finicky folks) in advance of an approaching active squall. I once heard a sailor boast that he never stops for anything... Well, Mother Nature has a way of giving attitude adjustments to sailors like him. The question is at what cost?