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Old 03-05-2024, 14:41   #16
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Re: Reefing? Just for Safety?

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Originally Posted by siamese View Post
Reef. Definitely.

First, make sure your boat is EASY to reef. One of my previous boats had single line reefing, and it worked poorly. The solution for that boat was to convert it to a two line reefing system. Then, it was so easy to reef, I almost looked for excused to reef.

Look for anything that's inconvenient about your current setup. Line placement. Excess friction, etc.. A boat reefed to accommodate the wind is a pleasure to sail.
mine is not easy. It's a 32' 1968 Alden Pilothouse. There are 2 reef points in the main, but I really need one person on the tiller and 2 on the sails to do anything. I "have" gone out with one other person, but it really is hard to get everything down and buttoned up before we get to the marina if there is any wind..... and there always is.

But, I guess I'll need to practice.
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Old 03-05-2024, 14:58   #17
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Re: Reefing? Just for Safety?

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The old adage “reef early and reef often” made no sense to me as a young man. Now it makes a lot of sense. It just took decades to sink in
Watching one race start in heavy winds could have taught you this in about as long as the first leg of a Thursday night buoy race took.

Usually in a buoy race, the first leg is upwind.

I was watching them one Thursday evening after work many years ago.

The boats that didn't reef were blown way off course whereas those that reefed sailed up very close to the mark then rounded easily ahead and headed back downwind.
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Old 03-05-2024, 15:00   #18
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Re: Reefing? Just for Safety?

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mine is not easy. It's a 32' 1968 Alden Pilothouse. There are 2 reef points in the main, but I really need one person on the tiller and 2 on the sails to do anything. I "have" gone out with one other person, but it really is hard to get everything down and buttoned up before we get to the marina if there is any wind..... and there always is.

But, I guess I'll need to practice.
Now imagine that for us that are single handers that reef at the mast......

Then dock alone.

Btw, tiller autopilots are very helpful when sailing short handed.
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Old 03-05-2024, 17:44   #19
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Re: Reefing? Just for Safety?

Or heave to with main loose & flapping.
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Old 03-05-2024, 18:52   #20
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Re: Reefing? Just for Safety?

When just cruising about recreationally, I reef whenever the boat becomes more than a half bubble off to keep things level for comfort of friends and spouse.

A sailed boat is not a speed boat. Drop a knot and drop the heeling.
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Old 03-05-2024, 22:55   #21
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Re: Reefing? Just for Safety?

I sailed for years without ever bothering to reef. My boat was nearly impossible to capsize if I was even half-way paying attention, so my (ignorant) reasoning was that since I and my boat could "handle" 25 kts without reefing, then why bother? The heeling didn't bother me.

I always used to reason that I knew that the boat was not sailing as efficiently as possible, but that didn't matter because there was so much wind, I had no problem maintaining hull speed (or as close as possible). I had power to spare.

What I didn't really think through all the way was the fact that the boat speed maxes out somewhere approaching hull speed. At that point, while you can have more sail than you need to achieve that speed, the force generated has to go somewhere.

All you are doing, at that point, is putting stress on your rigging and sails, even if the crew isn't stressed by it. All of the additional force has the effect of trying to push your boat faster than it is willing to go. And, that's a lot of force.

As an analogy, imagine pulling your boat up onto land in 15 kts with sails up and the hull firmly bolted to the ground. Imagine the strain on your rigging. Well, for every knot of wind above what is required to take your boat to hull speed - that force is straining your rigging as if the boat was bolted to the ground.

By reducing sail area, it takes more wind to get your boat to that speed, so there is less wind above that threshold that is being diverted to doing nothing but stressing your boat.

OK, any physics nerds will note that it is not that simple and the math is not linear, and this doesn't account for the difference between true wind and apparent wind. I know that, but it doesn't change the underlying truth that any extra sail area only has the effect of straining your systems.

(By the way, if you are a physics nerd, the underlying math is really pretty interesting because there is no simple calculation - it is a very layered problem.)

I should add that this changes completely if your boat will plane. OK, technically any boat could plane. A brick will plane under the right conditions. But let's ignore that theoretical possibility. If your boat is likely to plane then the reefing decision looks very different. (If you are uncertain if your boat planes, then it almost certainly does not.)
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Old 03-05-2024, 23:50   #22
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Re: Reefing? Just for Safety?

We have the taller race rig on our boat, so have definately found that there are only positives to reefing early for safety, comfort, but have been surprised on how little sail area is needed to make good average speeds. If yours is a bit difficult to reef, start off reefed and then shake it out if wind drops out. Easier out than in!
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Old 05-05-2024, 08:17   #23
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Re: Reefing? Just for Safety?

Quote:
Originally Posted by thomm225 View Post
Watching one race start in heavy winds could have taught you this in about as long as the first leg of a Thursday night buoy race took.

The boats that didn't reef were blown way off course whereas those that reefed sailed up very close to the mark then rounded easily ahead and headed back downwind.
Maybe so. But in short buoy races with strong wind the most “competitive” boats usually will not reef for the weather mark. The fact that they all did not reef for the start suggests the conditions were not so overpowering. There are other ways to control heeling and to stay on course. There is a definite “penalty” in speed heading downwind, esp. DDW, under reefed mainsail. The ones getting blown off course likely are not applying those upwind techniques. If they were, they might end up in the lead over the reefed boats.

The most simple thing is to drop the traveler and lug the mainsail. Basically, power under the headsail. The headsail is the power driving upwind performance in the first place. If that gets too onorey flatten the boat by pinching slightly, sometimes called feathering up. This a good way to fetch the weather mark w/o much loss of speed b/c there is much wind to compensate the loss of optimal trim, and so forth. These boats want the mainsail at full hoist heading down.

We really cannot compare reefing debates for racing short buoy courses versus for overnight passage making in strong, or so expected, conditions. That’s the proverbial “apples and oranges.”
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Old 06-05-2024, 08:50   #24
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Re: Reefing? Just for Safety?

Just a quick misnomer about "hull speed". Boats can, and do, regularly exceed hull speed. However, the force required to do so increases enormously. I.e. the water speed versus wind pressure hockey sticks right near hull speed.
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Old 06-05-2024, 09:29   #25
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Re: Reefing? Just for Safety?

Reefing is especially important on a cruising catamaran. With not having heeling as a safety method it is more important to reef when the wind comes up. My catamaran has 2 reef points with 2 line reefing. Safety in enhanced by not having to go to the mast. Comfort is also enhanced with very little if any reduction in speed.
The Eastern Caribbean has lots of wind so you get plenty of practice reefing. If single handing, I also occasionally use the engines while reefing since it can take longer.
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Old 06-05-2024, 09:48   #26
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Re: Reefing? Just for Safety?

My boat is very tender, but if my point of sail has me consistentaly over 15 degrees of heel then I put a reef in. Not because I'm uncomfortable, but because we're actually faster at 10-15 degrees.
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Old 06-05-2024, 19:08   #27
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Re: Reefing? Just for Safety?

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Way faster reefed. Also, less likely to damage the sail ($$), or break things.

You said "half your sail down". If you have presently only got one reef point, install another, that takes it maybe 1/3 the way down. Or think about it anyway. On our 36 footer and on this boat we have 3 reefs possible. For your 27 footer, I would think two reefs, at roughly 1/3 and 2/3 would serve you better. Especially so in the Bay, where every afternoon in summer you'll have 25 -30, maybe more with global warming (long time since I sailed there). The boat will sail on her feet, so to speak, you'll make less leeway, and if you have to go to windward, she will make way better progress.

Ann [My Jim and I used to sail our Yankee 30 out of Emeryville]
If you are adding reef Points, don't forget to add make a decent reinforcement around the leech cringle. It is amazing how much tweaking that leech outhaul can make to performance when done 'just right'.
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Old 07-05-2024, 08:03   #28
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Re: Reefing? Just for Safety?

Practice reefing on a calm day maybe even at anchor. Calm...
Set up the system so it is easy when the wind pipes up. It takes some practice.

Long time sailing instructor here. How we teach new to cruisers. Always works.
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Old 28-05-2024, 11:46   #29
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Re: Reefing? Just for Safety?

Just adding to the defense for reefing often and early.
I have found on my boat and on my charters that reefing adds speed of 1-2 knots compared to heeling (not to mention the course stability and stress reduction (on the rigging and the passengers' nerves).
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Old 28-05-2024, 11:58   #30
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Re: Reefing? Just for Safety?

Faster, point higher, more comfortable, less strain on rigging and sails... what's not to love? BUT we are only talking of the main here, right? Partially furling a jib is another ball game... but still much better than leaving too much headsail out there!
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