My limited experience is that it depends entirely on the boat
. I chose a boat that had good seakindly charicteristics and with reefing at the mast
but with high toerails and guardrails, wide sidedecks and granny bars at the mast. I brought the jackstays towards the centreline and had tethers made ip that meant we couldn't fall outside the guardrails except right up in the bows. And then I had waist high grab bars fitted over the cabin
so that there isn't an inch where I don't have something strong to hold onto on my journey to the mast. Reefing at the mast is subsequently easy and safe.
I've sailed on a few other boats where going to the mast would be a much less comfortable and safe experience and have been glad of cockpit based reefing. Except two such boats where badly arranged single
line reefing means someone frequently has to go to the mast to sweat lines anyway. Usually in a hurry on boats that are not so safe for on deck work
. I enjoy those sails
but they make me appreciate my own boat all the more.