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Attitude change on reefing

Posted: Fri Jul 05, 2024 8:18 am
by LordElsinore
This week I've been lucky enough to get out on the water every day. It's been fantastic! My biggest takeaway from the week I think is that I now approach reefing differently.

Traditionally as I head out I raise my sail to the full height and then if things get sketchy I reef to the first reefing point, then later to the second one - usually I do both of those later than I should and it's done in a bit of a frenzy. That's bad enough when it's just me. When there are passengers, it doesn't exactly install confidence and adds stress.

I take a different approach now. Now I default to the second reef to start. After being on the water for a bit and getting a sense of how the wind is behaving, I and/or passengers can make the deliberate choice to raise the sail higher to the first reefing point, and again to full height if needed. A lot less stressful and a deliberate decision when it makes sense.

The past 3 days I've been getting 4.5 - 5 knots upwind at the second reefing point while better tolerating bursts and keep heel below 20 degrees. And no stressful reefing when the wind is getting too strong.

Re: Attitude change on reefing

Posted: Fri Jul 05, 2024 10:11 am
by Stickinthemud57
LordElsinore wrote: Fri Jul 05, 2024 8:18 am This week I've been lucky enough to get out on the water every day. It's been fantastic! My biggest takeaway from the week I think is that I now approach reefing differently.

Traditionally as I head out I raise my sail to the full height and then if things get sketchy I reef to the first reefing point, then later to the second one - usually I do both of those later than I should and it's done in a bit of a frenzy. That's bad enough when it's just me. When there are passengers, it doesn't exactly install confidence and adds stress.

I take a different approach now. Now I default to the second reef to start. After being on the water for a bit and getting a sense of how the wind is behaving, I and/or passengers can make the deliberate choice to raise the sail higher to the first reefing point, and again to full height if needed. A lot less stressful and a deliberate decision when it makes sense.

The past 3 days I've been getting 4.5 - 5 knots upwind at the second reefing point while better tolerating bursts and keep heel below 20 degrees. And no stressful reefing when the wind is getting too strong.
What you describe (reef early) is the sage advice that is commonly offered regarding reefing, though it sometimes takes one or two bad experiences to make it a habit. Once back when I had my Hunter 170 I had to reef after launching, anchoring in shallow water and wrestling with the sail as the wind built. Not much fun.

With my 26S there was once I had guests aboard and had to reef midway through the excursion. Fortunately it was in a cove where we stopped for lunch and swimming. I also switched out the regular jib for the storm jib. I'm very glad I did, as the trip back to the marina was a series of close reaches, and the mother was jittery to say the least. I can only imagine how she would have reacted under full sail!

Re: Attitude change on reefing

Posted: Fri Jul 05, 2024 8:24 pm
by Be Free
Congratulations! You learned that lesson a lot quicker than I did!

"It's easier to shake out a reef you don't need than it is to put one in that you do need".

"The time to reef is the first time you think about it."

Re: Attitude change on reefing

Posted: Sat Jul 06, 2024 5:21 am
by Jimmyt
There is an anemometer at one of the yacht clubs near two of our go-to ramps. I can check actual wind speed before getting out in it (parking lots where I rig are somewhat protected by trees).

Both the furling main and the big Genoa can be hard to manage if it’s really sporty out and you’re under full sail. I have to head into the wind to unload the Genoa to start the furl. I’ve got to raise the boom with the topping lift, to 80-85 degrees to get a good furl on the boom. Currently, the topping lift is a fixed length with two attachment points. So, I have to have the end of the boom where I can reach it to switch the topping lift from ‘sailing’ to ‘furling’ position.

All that to say, I agree with you guys. It’s better to reef before the weather forces you to do so.

And, yes. Leading the topping lift to the cockpit is on the to-do list.

Re: Attitude change on reefing

Posted: Sat Jul 06, 2024 6:06 pm
by LordElsinore
Be Free wrote: Fri Jul 05, 2024 8:24 pm Congratulations! You learned that lesson a lot quicker than I did!
Yeah, I've tried to practice "reef early" the last couple of years, but somehow I still end up doing it too late. My new thinking is "reef by default" and it's been a really good reminder

Re: Attitude change on reefing

Posted: Mon Jul 08, 2024 2:15 pm
by trswem
I sail with my family of four, and my daughter really does not like heeling past 15 degrees. I've gone the same route as you, leave the slip with a reef in and shake it out once we're in the open water and I have no reason to believe it's going to get any spicier. This has really served us well.

Re: Attitude change on reefing

Posted: Mon Jul 08, 2024 3:55 pm
by Be Free
LordElsinore wrote: Sat Jul 06, 2024 6:06 pm
Be Free wrote: Fri Jul 05, 2024 8:24 pm Congratulations! You learned that lesson a lot quicker than I did!
Yeah, I've tried to practice "reef early" the last couple of years, but somehow I still end up doing it too late. My new thinking is "reef by default" and it's been a really good reminder
I'm with you. Reefing at the dock is always a consideration. When I'm rigging the sails at the dock my thinking is, "Am I SURE that I'm not going to need to reef?" "Sure" usually equates to wind gusts forecast in single digit knots. If even the gusts are going to be more than that I'll start out with one or two reefs and shake them out after I've had a chance to experience the actual conditions..

Around here, when it comes to reefing later in the cruise, it's usually for one of two reasons.

The first is due to a predicted wind shift. For example, if I'm expecting the winds to pick up at 3pm (because I checked the forecast and planned for it) then no later than 3pm I'm going to put in my planned reef and be ready for the change. At the first indication that the switch may be coming earlier I do the same. Don't reef later than the predicted shift but do reef earlier if there is any kind of a hint that the change is happening sooner.

The second is from thunderstorms. We can have localized thunderstorms pop up offshore with very little warning. In this case the warning is a cool breeze. No matter what the clouds seem to predict, when I feel that cool air on a hot summer day it's time to not just reef but to drop both sails and prepare for some nasty weather. It may not last long and it may actually miss me, but there is definitely a thunderstorm forming close by. I don't want any canvas up when one is near.

Re: Attitude change on reefing

Posted: Mon Jul 08, 2024 4:42 pm
by trswem
I'm going to SLIGHTLY hijack this post about reefing. When I reef and I'm under way, I turn on the motor, head into the wind, reef, and then get back to sailing. Are you guys reefing while under sail, and if so, what's your procedure? I don't have single line reefing installed, I might get to that this year. So far I feel like I can reef pretty quickly so I don't hesitate, but it is a pain firing up the iron jib each time.

Re: Attitude change on reefing

Posted: Mon Jul 08, 2024 6:16 pm
by Russ
Ah...all good posts on reefing.

My admiral does not like the heeling. Plus, coming from a keel boat the Mac is very tender and she no likey the heel.

So....I don't reef. If there is a need to reef, I pull the cloth down and fire up the iron genny. I've since removed all the reef lines since I'm not going to use them. I did reef once when we first got the boat. But honestly, when the wind is howling, the waves kick up too much and we head for shelter.

Again, this is a great thread on how you SHOULD do it. The old line "If you think you need to reef, it's too late"

Re: Attitude change on reefing

Posted: Tue Jul 09, 2024 7:41 am
by LordElsinore
trswem wrote: Mon Jul 08, 2024 4:42 pm Are you guys reefing while under sail, and if so, what's your procedure?
Typically I motor upwind when RAISING the sail because otherwise the battens get caught in the sailpack jacklines if there is lateral wind, but I'm not sure I always remember that I can motor out of trouble when needing to reef. That certainly makes it easier. I do have two single line reefing kits on my boom - one for the first reef point and one for the second - and they have worked really well together. I offset them a bit from each other on the forward end and generally don't interfere with each other.

But otherwise as far as procedure goes, it's 1) tighten topping lift, 2) lower main halyard, 3) tighten reefing line 4) slightly tighten halyard, 5) put reef point ring on the mast gooseneck, 6) full tighten halyard, 7) loosen topping lift.

Re: Attitude change on reefing

Posted: Tue Jul 09, 2024 7:59 am
by Be Free
trswem wrote: Mon Jul 08, 2024 4:42 pm I'm going to SLIGHTLY hijack this post about reefing. When I reef and I'm under way, I turn on the motor, head into the wind, reef, and then get back to sailing. Are you guys reefing while under sail, and if so, what's your procedure? I don't have single line reefing installed, I might get to that this year. So far I feel like I can reef pretty quickly so I don't hesitate, but it is a pain firing up the iron jib each time.
Whether the sail is going up or down it's a lot easier to do when you are facing directly into the wind. You can also have it directly behind you but I only do that when there is no other choice.

The process under sail is not that different than using the engine. Turn into the wind, center the boom and lock the main sheet in place. After you have reefed turn back onto your desired heading. Since you've intentionally put the boat "into irons" for the reefing process you may need go in the "wrong" direction a bit to get up enough speed to where the rudders can begin to work. When using the engine you can always power your way back to the original heading.

If I've waited too long (it still happens occasionally) I may start the engine and let it idle in gear just to try to keep the boat going in the right direction a little better. Sometimes that means a couple of extra trips from the cockpit to the cabin top if the boat wants to wander too much and the main does not want to come down smoothly.

I have a downhaul on the jib so that's (almost) never an problem getting it down, but I've not rigged one for the main (yet) so sometimes I need to get up on the cabin top top help the main down. Always stay on the windward side of the boom and get past it as quickly as you can safely do so. It's safer to be facing the cockpit standing in front of the mast. There is no chance that the boom will get free and hit you from that position.

Once the main is down I can tie the reefing lines standing in the companionway with one foot on the edge and the other on the back of the settee. The boom can't get me and I can't fall overboard from there.