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Old 23-11-2022, 08:30   #1
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4th Reef Thoughts

After watching Ship Novak's series on Heavy Weather Sailing on YouTube (a must see for offshore sailors), I had some thoughts on a 4th reef, instead of a storm trysail, that I think would be good for short handed or single-handed sailors (me).

I can now take 3 reefs from the cockpit, but I wanted to be able to take a 4th reef if needed (hopefully never needed). So here is my idea.

I had a 4th reef put into my main, had the head of the sail reinforced and added and extra slide there. To take a 4th reef I would need to leave the cockpit having loosened the main halyard enough to drop the main to the 4th reef cringle which I would be able to attach at the goose neck. I would have loosened the 3rd reef line to the clew and then with a carabiner clip that line and clip it as well onto a small soft shackle at the 4th reef point on the leach of the main. Returning to the cockpit, I'd tighten the 3rd reefing line, which would now effectively be the 4th reefing line and then tighten the main halyard. Presto...a 4th reef.

Thoughts?
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Old 23-11-2022, 09:24   #2
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Re: 4th Reef Thoughts

Best practice would be to rig the 4th reef as soon as heavy weather that might require it is forecast, in place of the 3rd reef.


I think it would be difficult to reach the 3rd and 4th clew reef points to attach a carabiner between them, in heavy conditions. The way the lines are led, you would have too much tension along the (reefed) foot, and not enough along the leech.
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Old 23-11-2022, 09:30   #3
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Re: 4th Reef Thoughts

In heavy weather the leech will be loose and flogging a lot and attaching the carabiner may not be possible.
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Old 23-11-2022, 11:47   #4
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Re: 4th Reef Thoughts

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In heavy weather the leech will be loose and flogging a lot and attaching the carabiner may not be possible.

My thought was with a soft shackle about 6" long, I'd have something to grab and it would be easier to attach the carabiner. But the test will be when I go out and it is blowing 30-40 knots and I try it. In 30 knots I wouldn't normally have the 4th reef, but it will give me a good idea as to the difficulty. If it is too challenging, then I'll need to install a complete 4th reef system with a down haul for the tack and a 4th reefing line. Of course I would only have it rigged in place when going for on an off shore voyage.
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Old 23-11-2022, 11:52   #5
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Re: 4th Reef Thoughts

By the time you've come to the point where you might consider taking a 4th reef in your main, it might also be time to reassess the weather, how it is now, will it get worse, and how long it's predicted to stay that way, and also your boat position and heading.

Trying to make progress or even just staying put, in really strong winds and heavy seas is difficult in any direction, especially upwind, not to mention the strain on your boat, the rigging and the entire contents of the interior of your boat.

Were it me, I'd come to a point in time, where I would consider just stopping the boat for a period of time or changing course, as sailing from A to B often requires going to C and sometimes D first...'jes sayin'...
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Old 23-11-2022, 12:05   #6
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Re: 4th Reef Thoughts

Just practice it a couple times to see how it goes. For my 3rd reef, I run a line from the boom, through the 3rd reef cringle, then back to and through the 2nd reef cringle, and tied to the 3rd reef cringle.

I first ease the 2nd reef, but don't release it. Take the sail down to the 3rd reef, put in the line, then take in the 2nd reef again. On my boat, the 3rd reef is on the cabin top in a secure location, so it is easy to do in rough weather.

ymmv, the only way to answer it is to try it on your boat.
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Old 23-11-2022, 13:05   #7
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Re: 4th Reef Thoughts

I have 4 reefs and 6 lines to the cockpit, 3 x luff and 3 x leech.
I have Karver reef blocks, soft shackled to the leech and luff lines that can be tied onto spectacles through the reef points.
Offshore or deep ocean passages reefs 2, 3 and 4 are set, Coastal or day sailing reefs 1, 2 and 3 are set.
4th reef works perfectly as a storm sail but I have a cat so maybe different on a mono.
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Old 23-11-2022, 21:06   #8
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Re: 4th Reef Thoughts

It seems to me that the conditions to warrant a 4th reef might be severe enough to flog the 1,2 and 3 reefs half to death. I think that after a 3rd reef, stow the mainsail put up a storm sail and heave to.
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Old 24-11-2022, 00:27   #9
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Re: 4th Reef Thoughts

I had a 4th reef put in a mainsail once - never ever used it - the two mainsails since then just have three - and I use the 3rd quite often.
If you do feel the need for a fourth reef I think Tupaia's post#7 ^^^^^ makes a lot of sense.
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Old 24-11-2022, 00:54   #10
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4th Reef Thoughts

I find as I go direct from full sail to a second reef , over the winter I’m re roving the first reef lines to the third reef cringles
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Old 24-11-2022, 05:33   #11
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Re: 4th Reef Thoughts

Adelie hit one of my points- if the sail is up, the leech will need to be controlled.

My thoughts-
  • Only rig reef 4 when heading offshore. Having too many lines hanging off the leech makes setting even reef #1 more difficult.

  • If you are hell-bent on NOT adding a reefing line, then reef #3 cannot be repurposed. When it is blowing 40, the moment you loosen reef #3, the sail will start to go out of control. It would be better to pull reef #2 up to reef #4.

  • When reef #4's tack is pulled down to the bullhorn, it will need to go past the bundle created by reefs #1-3. This will create a weir foot line. Consider do what they do on cats for their reef #3 and have a reefing strap. It will need to be permanently mounted on one side and go to a snap shackle on the other.

  • Do NOT add a windmill! They have reefing line magnets built into them.... Trust me on that one

Final thought-- Get an Iridium GO and a Predictwind account----- it will almost guarantee you can avoid 40kts. At the worst you will get it for a few hours.
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Old 24-11-2022, 05:53   #12
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Re: 4th Reef Thoughts

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  • When reef #4's tack is pulled down to the bullhorn, it will need to go past the bundle created by reefs #1-3. This will create a weir foot line. Consider do what they do on cats for their reef #3 and have a reefing strap. It will need to be permanently mounted on one side and go to a snap shackle on the other.
Instead of nuts, or horns on the end of the bolt through my goose-neck it is terminated on both ends with a lifting eye. The luff downhauls and cunningham pass through these, two on each side.



The scenario you describe is less of a problem on cats or boats with fully battened or club footed mains (raked masts) as there are fewer cars in the stack, only one for each batten.
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Old 24-11-2022, 06:38   #13
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Re: 4th Reef Thoughts

we don't have a 4th reef - but we have simply dismounted the 1st reef. We never use it. we are either at full sail or go directly to the 2nd reef. thereafter the 3rd. thereafter no main, maybe a small genua.
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Old 24-11-2022, 08:00   #14
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Re: 4th Reef Thoughts

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tupaia View Post
[/LIST]
The scenario you describe is less of a problem on cats or boats with fully battened or club footed mains (raked masts) as there are fewer cars in the stack, only one for each batten.


Ahhhh. I’ve delivered a fair number of Lagoon and FP cats. ALL of them required you to go foreword to secure the tack for the 3rd reef. Perhaps you intended to say “MORE of a problem”?

Really comes down to how the OP’s boat is rigged. Need to set the 4th reef and look at the foot.
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Old 24-11-2022, 08:34   #15
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Re: 4th Reef Thoughts

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Ahhhh. I’ve delivered a fair number of Lagoon and FP cats. ALL of them required you to go foreword to secure the tack for the 3rd reef. Perhaps you intended to say “MORE of a problem”?

Really comes down to how the OP’s boat is rigged. Need to set the 4th reef and look at the foot.

That is because typically 3rd reef does not have a downhaul, cheap, and many/most off the line production boats do not have full reefing control from the cockpit. But, the point I was trying to make is that if there are no intermediate cars, ie just batten cars then there will only be 4 or 5 in the stack below the 4th reef so not much distance between the cringle and the goose-neck
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