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Old 09-06-2014, 03:49   #1
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When to Reef

Recently I got caught out in some heavy weather. Forecast was for 25 knts which I have experienced many times but I ended up with 40 hours of 30knts, climbing to 40 knts in squalls and I saw the needle flick 50 knts on a couple of occasions.
Being well offshore (30 nm) I was happy enough to sail through it and it got me to thinking, at what wind speed should I reef? and at what wind speed should I put away the furling Genoa?
On this particular occasion I was traveling due south with a north westerly gale, main with third reef in and no headsail.
The main is truly in its last season so I was trying to nurse that a bit but the genoa is good and strong.
Could I have had more sail up and made better progress?
A larger yacht appeared on the horizon from behind and within a few hours passed, flying a lot more canvas.
My boat is 30ft 3.5 tonner and was riding the big 4 to 5m swells for the most part seemingly with ease.
Was I being a bit to precious?, could she have handled more sail and perhaps travelled more comfortably?
Any feedback would be very welcome.
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Old 09-06-2014, 04:33   #2
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Re: When to reef

I'm reefed BEFORE the wind starts hitting 20 knots, including gusts.
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Old 09-06-2014, 05:00   #3
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Re: When to reef

I'm definitely learning, but I reef if I get more than 10 deg of heel as a comfort thing, or it looks like bad weather coming (summer afternoon thunderstorm).
So far I've kept a bit of head sail up as it's easy to furl, have I been wrong in doing so? Boat just steers better with some head sail, I had planned if things got bad to reef the Genoa, but leave the staysail, is this wrong?
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Old 09-06-2014, 05:17   #4
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Re: When to reef

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I'm definitely learning, but I reef if I get more than 10 deg of heel as a comfort thing

well I reef earlier, but 10 degrees heel?????????????

you got the wrong type of boat
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Old 09-06-2014, 05:28   #5
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Re: When to reef

She is 7+ kts at 10 deg, 15 is a tiny bit more than 8 which is hull speed. 20 is way uncomfortable, just don't see the need, gotta be bad for "things".
I figure at 10, I'm ready for the gust that will push her to 20, but I don't want to be at 20, waiting for the gust that knocks her down.
I'm in no hurry, I don't have anywhere to go
Standing rigging as far as anyone can tell is in good shape, but age is unknown, could possibly be original. I think it is actually, but who knows, so I err on being cautious until I get new rigging and new chainplates

Why do you say I have the wrong type of boat?
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Old 09-06-2014, 05:42   #6
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Re: When to reef

SB1 is right to reef early. I generally just take the main down cause she's a ketch. Being an Ingrid she get progressively stiffer at about 15 degrees of heel. She's not going to go faster if I force her rail down so I let her standup a bit. The sail combination depends on the point of sail.
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Old 09-06-2014, 05:49   #7
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Re: When to reef

I guess the variables relate to:
1. boat (beam/balast/rudder efficiency, auto pilot Vs hand steering)
2. rig (height/load rating)
3. sail (size/reefing percentages)
4. sea state (swell Vs sea angle/current Vs sea, height/period/steepness
5. crew skill
6. skipper experience

I've got to say that on my boat in 35kts on a deep reach, I'd be trying hard to slow her down keeping the speed under the 10kt mark from which its pretty easy to launch into surfing (bringing 18-20kts or more - being something I won't be in a hurry to repeat too often). Especially so as night starts to fall (you mentioned 30 hrs).

When the wind is above 25kts and I have a good crew, I'm more prepared to sail to the numbers (manufacturer/designer). If I'm short handed, or its night, I'm very cautious of down wind sailing and have a very conservative sail plan. I look for enough drive to avoid wallowing too much in the troughs, but not enough to risk surfing or running into the steep back of the wave in front. Down wind, I'm always thninking about reducing sail, watching the gusts carefully, and preparing for the squals. I also am particular about steering the best course for the boat in the given conditions, not the destination itself. On a cruising boat, I think its all about preparation for what might come next, and when the wind is up above 35kts, "next" generally comes soon.
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Old 09-06-2014, 06:18   #8
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Re: When to reef

As 2Wind says, it depends on many factors.

An additional factor to consider is the time/daylight. If the wind is building and dusk is approaching, I may put in a (or another) reef proactively because I'd rather do it when I have most of the crew awake and daylight to work in -- instead of waiting until the middle of the night when most of the crew is asleep. I find a well-rested crew is more valuable than the extra 5-8nm we might cover overnight with more canvass up.

Offshore headed downwind in 35+ apprarent, under staysail alone my boat (58', 35tons) does 8+ knots. Maybe I'm just chicken, but I'd rather be comfortable and safe and give up a potential extra half knot.

As far as when to reef, I find the boat tells me. I can hear and *feel* when she is overpowered. What I do about it depends on many factors.
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Old 09-06-2014, 06:21   #9
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Re: When to reef

For me 10 to 15 degree heel is very comfortable with the occasional gust taking me to 25 deg. or so. To get that I can roll up my furling jib and have two reefs on the main. If you sail single handed cruising like I do, be happy with a safe, conservative setup. If you are racing, thats another set of rules.
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Old 09-06-2014, 06:28   #10
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Re: When to reef

So if your a Cutter and the wind is really up, which headsail do you leave up, the Genoa heavily reefed or the staysail?
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Old 09-06-2014, 06:49   #11
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Re: When to reef

a64pilot, I prefer the staysail. It is closer to the center of the boat and therefore makes it easier to balance -- and out of balance the helm doesn't have to work as hard.
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Old 09-06-2014, 07:00   #12
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Re: When to reef

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So if your a Cutter and the wind is really up, which headsail do you leave up, the Genoa heavily reefed or the staysail?
When the wind is up, in general, you are looking for a lower centre of effort, and a sail shape with optinal shape (highly reefed genoas have little shape and sit high on the forestay/foil). You could argue that when sailing deep down wind, these are less important than sail area as the sail is generally being pushed by the wind, rather than generating lift (which would be much more important sailing to windward). Most would be using a smaller sail, if available, rather than a heavily reefed genoa. It is always important to consider sail balance, as most helms will prefer some sail forward (perhpas less so with a third reef). Look to see your rudder angle and if you have more than 10-15 degrees of weather helm, consider rebalancing the sails.

I might have thought your IP38 might be wanting its first reef around 15-18kts. I thought heal is what you monohull guys love.
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Old 09-06-2014, 07:08   #13
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Re: When to reef

15 kts depending on wind direction is about where I begin to take in some of the main.
IP's have a rep of being dogs. Now it does take 5 kts of wind to make her move but she will do 5 kts with 9 kts wind and from jus sailing around with other boats she doesn't give up much and in higher winds it's faster than the lighter boats.
My completely inexperienced opinion is she is no racer of course but she is not the dog that is her reputation and put her in her element and she does pretty well.
But as I said I'm in no hurry. I gave that up with power boats


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Old 09-06-2014, 07:21   #14
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Re: When to reef

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well I reef earlier, but 10 degrees heel?????????????

you got the wrong type of boat
No, he is doing it right.

He has an Island Packet, which is built with a lot of beam carried aft and a broad, flat bottom. Boats of that design sail better at 10 degrees, at 15 or over you are loosing speed and performance.

The same goes for my Catalina 310. Almost 12 feet of beam on a 31 foot boat and almost all of that beam carried right to the stern. Even at 12 degrees of heel you start to see a fall off in performance. It's the whole initial stability vs. overall stability discussion and how boats are designed to sail. Modern hull designs are made to be sailed more flat footed.
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Old 09-06-2014, 07:34   #15
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Re: When to reef

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Why do you say I have the wrong type of boat?
I think he is joking that you should have a catamaran.

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