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Old 01-03-2015, 18:02   #1
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Lowering Main in a Blow w/o Engine

Situation:
Wind picks up suddenly and you'd like to drop the main or lower it to reef, but the engine won't start (or there is no engine) How do you get the main down if you can't point into the wind? I'm assuming internal mast cars, which is what I have.
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Old 01-03-2015, 18:10   #2
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Re: Lowering Main in a Blow w/o Engine

fall off, pick up speed, then come up and drop

or, reach off, let boom way out and pull down sail
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Old 01-03-2015, 18:12   #3
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Re: Lowering Main in a Blow w/o Engine

If your boat will heave to under jib and tiller, do so and let boom out. I will usually do what Polaris suggests though and just close reach under jib alone while doing the same thing. Have done both though.


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Old 01-03-2015, 18:13   #4
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Re: Lowering Main in a Blow w/o Engine

We posted this tip on our website a few months ago and it will be really helpful in this situation. October 2014 Cruising Tip | Lin & Larry Pardey: Newsletters & Cruising Tips

Take a look as these luff handles really make it easier to pull the main down without heading directly into the wind. And, they don't cost next to nothing to install.

Other part of the equation - ease the mainsail out as far as you can before letting the halyard go, then use the handles. If you have a battonless mainsail it is realitively easy to take the sail down on any point of the wind. Lazyjacks help too.
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Old 01-03-2015, 18:17   #5
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Re: Lowering Main in a Blow w/o Engine

Quote:
How do you get the main down if you can't point into the wind?
Why can you not point into the wind? At least you should be able to sail a close reach (and a few degrees more) and get the sail down.

Depending on the boat and the main car system you could also 'heave to' (not sure of the wording) (leaving the foresail where it was b4 the tack) and fully open the main sheet with 'the rudder fixed to compensate for the jib on the wrong side' ...

Than lower lower the main sail ...

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Carsten
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Old 01-03-2015, 18:19   #6
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Re: Lowering Main in a Blow w/o Engine

Rather than fighting to hold a bouncing boat into the wind...just heave-to and take your time to reef or just wait it out comfortably.
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Old 01-03-2015, 18:34   #7
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Re: Lowering Main in a Blow w/o Engine

Perfect answers, thank you all.
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Old 01-03-2015, 19:22   #8
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Re: Lowering Main in a Blow w/o Engine

Interesting about the luff handles. I wonder though if it would be even easier to just thread some line through your reef grommets. Haul it down on either side when the time comes. I'd never do it, but on my size boat (28') taking the main down is not a worry!


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Old 01-03-2015, 19:45   #9
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Re: Lowering Main in a Blow w/o Engine

Cast tacks and sheets, clue up, haul bunts and leeches. Check lifts and braces, then lay aloft to furl. No turning into the wind necessary. In fact, it'll push you right off the footropes if you do! Oh, wait! You guys don't have square sails.
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Old 01-03-2015, 20:12   #10
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Re: Lowering Main in a Blow w/o Engine

Quote:
Originally Posted by ryon View Post
Cast tacks and sheets, clue up, haul bunts and leeches. Check lifts and braces, then lay aloft to furl. No turning into the wind necessary. In fact, it'll push you right off the footropes if you do! Oh, wait! You guys don't have square sails.
I might be square, but I enjoy your humor.
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Old 01-03-2015, 20:18   #11
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Re: Lowering Main in a Blow w/o Engine

Quote:
Originally Posted by brownoarsman View Post
Interesting about the luff handles. I wonder though if it would be even easier to just thread some line through your reef grommets. Haul it down on either side when the time comes. I'd never do it, but on my size boat (28') taking the main down is not a worry!


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On Taleisin, we have jiffy reefing with the reefing pennants permanently in place so we do not need these luff handles. We do just as you state, pulling down on the reefing pennant. Works fine.
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Old 01-03-2015, 20:32   #12
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Re: Lowering Main in a Blow w/o Engine

It depends on how wet you want to get.

Wet Method --partially furl jib, sheet fairly tight, let main out all the way, and turn up until the main luffs and reef as normal, then turn back down.

Dry Method--hold course, ease main halyard 2 ft, crank in clew reefing line until clew is tight, then repeat until you can secure the reefed tack, then hoist halyard tight. This is a lot of work, and its where the winch bit and cordless angle drill pays for itself.
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Old 01-03-2015, 20:42   #13
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Re: Lowering Main in a Blow w/o Engine

The day I got the new main I brought it to my boat in my slip. I wanted to take a nice picture of it and to see whether it fills well. I put raised it all the way up, went away from the boat enough to take a picture from the distance. Everything looked good, except for the really really black sky behind the boat.... All of a sudden the wind picks up - we were minutes from a severe thunderstorm. The wind is now about 15-18 coming from aft... so basically the boat is in the slip, nowhere to move, I can't point into the wind -- expensive boats all around, and I have the full sail with the boat wanting to run. I knew every second was very important. I sheeted the sail in about 45 degrees (halfway between amidships and spreaders). This meant that a lot of the sail was still rubbing on the spreaders, but somehow I had enough wiggle room to start pulling down on the luff with all I had. Took a while -probably only a minute, but it seemed an eternity, and obviously this was a stupid thing to do - I should have looked at the sky before being so excited to see the sail up, but... I learned, and nobody got hurt luckily. I made it just in time before the wind really picked up and the sky opened up.

[EDIT - I enclose the two pictures I took one of the sail that day, and one of the cloud behind as the wind started picking up]
So you really need to face the wind in order to drop sail... Once in a while we have to do it while motoring in a river. In those circumstances, we can't really point into the wind for too long because we would hit a bank etc. We then get everything ready for the reef, and then execute the turn into the wind quickly. Sometimes we have to not just point into the wind, but rather do a very very slow 360. In the time when the boat is facing the wind the mainsail raising or dropping can be effected. This is a thing worth practicing if you are in close quarters and need to do this often. Practice makes perfect, or close to, anyway.
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Old 01-03-2015, 21:35   #14
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Re: Lowering Main in a Blow w/o Engine

Makes sense Lin, thanks for sharing. I've always wanted to try jiffy reefing but have yet to get on a boat with it installed - one more advantage it sounds like!
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Old 02-03-2015, 09:37   #15
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Re: Lowering Main in a Blow w/o Engine

I simply bring the boat close hauled and then let the main out until it is backwinded. I have a fully battened main and lazy jacks so I need to depower the main but the genoa funnels the wind onto the back of the main making it pretty easy to get it down. I use the same technique for getting the main up without engine or for for reefing.
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