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Old 04-12-2021, 12:26   #1
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Is a 47ft boat with slab reefing too much for a couple compared to in mast furling?

Hi all,

We are looking at a bigger boat and have seen what looks like a really nice example of what we are after, but the main sail is normal slab reefing and not in mast furling and currently has no electric winches.

So, a few questions please:

1. Is this size of boat with slab reefing going to be too difficult for a couple to use? We are used to in mast furling on our current 41ft.
2. How difficult to enable this to be reefed from the cockpit to reduce the amount of times either of us would have to go to the mast in adverse weather?
3. The boat currently does not have electric winch(es) but would be willing to fit if needs be.

Thanks as we like the boat but just have this niggling that 47ft with slab reefing may be too difficult even with electric winches.

DTD
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Old 04-12-2021, 14:44   #2
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Re: Is a 47ft boat with slab reefing too much for a couple compared to in mast furlin

47' is a lot of boat for a couple, but if the systems are set up properly it should be doable. Think of single handing Vendredi 13. Be careful with electric winches. We have several different friends who have poked holes in their sails or who have had nasty overrides that could have endangered their crew because of electric winches.
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Old 04-12-2021, 15:28   #3
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Re: Is a 47ft boat with slab reefing too much for a couple compared to in mast furlin

Slab reefing is the best way to go,easyest to manage ,less chance of fowlups,best sail shape the most manageable ,endless line reefing with an electric two speed winch easy with a little practice ,practice is the answer ,especially for short handed .
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Old 04-12-2021, 15:46   #4
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Re: Is a 47ft boat with slab reefing too much for a couple compared to in mast furlin

I've had no problem as a singlehander doing slab reefing on a 45' IOR two tonner. I absolutely hate in-mast furling (if something goes wrong up there it's not accessible), with in-boom furling at least the problem is usually at deck level. Simple slab reefing is by far the best way to go.

For managing the reefing from the cockpit, you will want to lead the furling lines aft to the cockpit. I use two lines per reef, separate clew and tack reef lines. I have three reefs in the main, so that's six lines to bring aft. You'll want to carefully consider tack and clew line attachments to the mast and boom respectively, turning blocks at the boom gooseneck (clew lines), padeyes at the mast (tack line attachment points), turning blocks at the base of the mast to bring those lines aft along the deck, any deck organizer/blocks needed to turn lines around fittings on the deck, clutches in the cockpit, and leads into cockpit winch(es). You'll also want the mainsail halyard co-located with the reefing lines.

Winch size is dependent upon you - you might size the reefling winch(es) to be the same size as the mainsail halyard winch. If you'd prefer hydraulic/electric to manual, then so be it.

It's a reasonably simple mechanical system, you can sketch out the line leads with string and pencil marks on the cabin top and see what it would take to install such a setup on your boat. Maybe you'll like it, maybe you'll want to do something different.

- rob
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Old 04-12-2021, 16:41   #5
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Re: Is a 47ft boat with slab reefing too much for a couple compared to in mast furlin

Depends on the couple. Some people think it is essential. Others, like Rob, above, that it is a curse for the working class.

We have fallen in with the slab reefing for all our boats, and this one is 46 ft. lod. Simple mechanical systems on boats are easiest to keep working right.

In our case, we start the reef at the mast, then come to the cockpit to finish getting it in, then re-sheet in the main.

If you do this all the time you learn to cope with the motion while you're doing it. The opportunity to go all 'round the boat often is good for you to be able to notice when "stuff" is going awry, and also for your balance. Hiding out in the cockpit all the time limits your abilities for handling mishaps, and you will be unprepared to do so when they happen.

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Old 04-12-2021, 18:57   #6
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Re: Is a 47ft boat with slab reefing too much for a couple compared to in mast furlin

Slab reefing is simple and straight forward. We slab reef, our boat is 61' and the main is 1,000 sq ft., We don't use electric winches. I go to the mast and handle the halyard and the tack lines, the misses generally handles the clew

There are however some caveats.
Recirculating ball cars minimize friction.
Full length battens hold the sail steadier.
Lazy jacks keep cloth on the boom, we also use hayracks but you probably don't need those.
We also use keepers for the clew line too hold the cloth between the reef cringle and the boom.

Problems to watch out for are.
Sticky cars, salt we'll build up in them and they need to be fresh water rinsed every few thousand miles. Use lots of water and dish soap. Rinse them before a passage.
Broken battens. If you have full length battens and one should break out of the batten pocket on the car it can pierce the sail and move forward. This essentially stops you from lowering the main because the batten can't clear the spreader. C Tech battens are pretty nice and very hard to break but when it comes to sailboats never say never.

Good luck, don't let slab reefing scare you away from a boat.
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Old 05-12-2021, 03:41   #7
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Re: Is a 47ft boat with slab reefing too much for a couple compared to in mast furlin

Could you describe, or show a photo, of the "keepers" on the clew reefing lines? I think I know what you mean: webbing loop attached to the leach between the reef cringles. The standing part of the reefing line goes through the loop and keeps the bunt of the reef from hanging down too far. Correct? We had that setup on a boat I raced on.
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Old 05-12-2021, 04:21   #8
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Re: Is a 47ft boat with slab reefing too much for a couple compared to in mast furlin

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Originally Posted by nuku34 View Post
Could you describe, or show a photo, of the "keepers" on the clew reefing lines? I think I know what you mean: webbing loop attached to the leach between the reef cringles. The standing part of the reefing line goes through the loop and keeps the bunt of the reef from hanging down too far. Correct? We had that setup on a boat I raced on.
Same thing. Works well to keep the extra cloth on the boom and reefs tidy.
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Old 05-12-2021, 22:58   #9
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Re: Is a 47ft boat with slab reefing too much for a couple compared to in mast furlin

I suspect that you will not get a scientific answer here, as most will try to convince you of their personal preferences. So at the end you need to list the cons and pros and decide for yourself.

Slab reefing is simpler syste-wise. Roller may get stuck.
Slab reefing is more complicated to operate, more lines to install, handle, take care of.
Roller, when operating smoothly is easy to reef and only two (shorter) lines to take care of (In & out-houler).
Slab reefing need more physical effort, which may be solved by electric winch/es.
Electric winch operation needs caution. Best solution is to install the power button on the floor - you can push it by your foot, and collect the line by hand over hand (not self tailing which is dangerous).
It is easy to lead the reefing lines for slab reefing to the cockpit, just need to lead them through blocks at mast step, and back to clutches at the "piano".
Slab reefing allow for better sail shape, so faster passages and easier to avoid bead weather.
You may solve the sail shape issue with roll up mainsail that has vertical battens. Sail will be more expensive.
Confused? I would go for roller reefing for long term blue water (think Amel), just learn how to open and roll the sail carefully to avoid problems and how to solve the issues of stuck sail. Saying, our boat, sailed by a couplr, has slab reefing as I wanted the more 'sportive' solution.
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Old 05-12-2021, 23:40   #10
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Re: Is a 47ft boat with slab reefing too much for a couple compared to in mast furlin

The thing about reefing is that when it matters most, getting everything "just so" may be hardest. There will be times, when, if you are circumnavigating, let alone high latitude voyaging, when you need everything just right. Trying to get the sheeting angle just so for the roller furling main may not really work out. Please be warned.

Ann
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Old 06-12-2021, 00:50   #11
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Re: Is a 47ft boat with slab reefing too much for a couple compared to in mast furlin

When the main sail has full battens and lazy jacks, it will work comfortably and imo better than in-mast furling.

We never had trouble with an electric winch with self tailer. Only when something like the stripper ring is broken, or the angle of the halyard to the winch is out of spec, will you get trouble.
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Old 06-12-2021, 05:28   #12
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Re: Is a 47ft boat with slab reefing too much for a couple compared to in mast furlin

I own a 46’ monohull with single line slab reefing and Dutchman sail control system. Both my wife and I are now 70 y.o. and have cruised the entire eastern seaboard and Bahamas, as well as the west coast of Florida, so have had many occasions where we’ve had to reef. With well marked reef lines and main halyard, it literally takes me little more than a minute to put a reef in. I think the major advantage of in-mast or in-boom furling, is you have infinite reefing capabilities. Whether this warrants the trade-off of potential complications and compromised sail design, I.e., decreased roach and vertical battens, is up to you.
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Old 06-12-2021, 05:41   #13
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Re: Is a 47ft boat with slab reefing too much for a couple compared to in mast furlin

Just my spouse and I in our late 60s on a 44ft cutter with slab reefing. Although we have massive electrical winches, we don't use them for reefing. Mark the spots on your halyard and reef lines and it's all done with ease from the cockpit by one person in the dark.
In boom furling may be the way of the future for this size boat.
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Old 06-12-2021, 05:54   #14
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Re: Is a 47ft boat with slab reefing too much for a couple compared to in mast furlin

I'll add my voice to the slab-reefing tribe.

I far prefer the sail shape, less wear on sail and the "faster passages which assist in avoiding bad weather", as meirriba says. I don't know that faster passages would be extrapolated from slab-reefing, but hey, I'll go with his assertion - certainly sounds good to me! Overall, we all know the advantage of proper amount of sail up for the weather that's being flung at us.

I also like Ann's point about regularly acclimatising oneself to moving about on deck (not solely hunkering down in the cockpit), so you'll be able to do so when the SHTF.

Hooks for the reef tack points (padeyes as beetle says or some sort of proper reefing cringle) I've also found more useful than lines incorporated into the reefing system, makes for a cleaner entry (luff-edge) once the halyard is tensioned up than a line-tack.

For me, I will always avoid a furling main of any sort. I've had too many experiences with them jamming (for my marina customers) at the most inopportune moments, generally just as the weather was building...

Fair winds!
Warmly,
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Old 06-12-2021, 06:32   #15
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Re: Is a 47ft boat with slab reefing too much for a couple compared to in mast furlin

Quote:
Originally Posted by davethedog View Post
Hi all,

We are looking at a bigger boat and have seen what looks like a really nice example of what we are after, but the main sail is normal slab reefing and not in mast furling and currently has no electric winches.

So, a few questions please:

1. Is this size of boat with slab reefing going to be too difficult for a couple to use? We are used to in mast furling on our current 41ft.
2. How difficult to enable this to be reefed from the cockpit to reduce the amount of times either of us would have to go to the mast in adverse weather?
3. The boat currently does not have electric winch(es) but would be willing to fit if needs be.

Thanks as we like the boat but just have this niggling that 47ft with slab reefing may be too difficult even with electric winches.

DTD
Slab sail is pretty fool proof. Two people should find it easy to manage. Sailing short distances we quite often just use the head sail. This is where the power is. Easy to reel in some headsail if you need to.
I have never had electric winches. Happy with the two speed winches. Take one for a trial to see how you manage. You always find a way. 👌
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