Skipper’s Tip, 6/21/11 – Reefing Underway

Instead of writing a Skipper’s tip this week, we’ve copied a very informative thread from our members message board. It’s a great discussion and manages to cover a topic that we should all be proficient at sailing on the SF Bay! The names have been XXXXXXXX’ed out to protect the innocent!

Reefing Underway

by XXXXXXXXXX » May 27th, 2011, 8:48 am
Read the Skippers Tip – Reefing Underway

When you release the mainsheet close-hauled the boom will be out to the side and will put pressure on the sailslugs.
With pressure on the sailslugs the mainsail will not want to be raised or lowered, how do you get around this?

I have always turned on the motor and headed into the wind, reefed and then fell off again and continued sailing. I should mention I was taught this at a different ASA school and believe the ASA texts describe this as well? which is probably why students alway mention “head to wind” just as you would raise or lower the main.

I love the idea of reefing while still sailng underway because it has obvious advantages, but on larger (30’+) boats I have never been able to do it especially in summertime 25+knots!

XXXXXXXXXX
Posts: 26
Joined: June 23rd, 2009, 8:46 am
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Re: Reefing Underway

by XXXXXXXXX » May 27th, 2011, 9:50 am
This seems inadvisable to me because it takes longer and you lose your status as stand on vessel. Since the boat is less easy to maneuver while reefing, it is nice if you can retain right of way, which an incentive to reef while on starboard. I had no problem reefing my 39 footer in 40 knots, so if you can’t reef at 30 on a smaller boat something must be amiss with the rigging set-up or procedure. If you remain on a true close-hauled course, there should be little strain on the sail slides. Which boat is giving you trouble?

-XXXXXXXXX

XXXXXXXXXX
Posts: 38
Joined: June 22nd, 2009, 3:11 pm
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Re: Reefing Underway

by XXXXXXXXXX » May 27th, 2011, 10:07 am
Yes , I agree that reefing while sailing has numerous advantages…….

Its probable that the times I have tried it I was not fully close-hauled maybe more close reach? maybe my problem…..

No specific boat.

Thanks for your reply!

XXXXXXXXXX
Posts: 26
Joined: June 23rd, 2009, 8:46 am
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Re: Reefing Underway

by XXXXXXXXXX» May 27th, 2011, 10:15 am
One other issue is that when you start the engine and head up, you are also going to flog the jib. This will annoy the crew up by the mast who is pulling down on the luff (in those boats where this is part of the job) as he or she gets beaten about the head and ears by the sheets. It’ll also put some unnecessary wear on the jib.

Cheers,
XXXXXXXXXX

XXXXXXXXXX
Posts: 38
Joined: June 22nd, 2009, 3:11 pm
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Re: Reefing Underway

by XXXXXXXXXX » May 27th, 2011, 12:53 pm
How about heaving-to on starboard and then reefing? Especially if you shave a small or inexperienced crew and you need to be bugs bunny, running around playing all positions.

XXXXXXXXXX
Posts: 6
Joined: May 2nd, 2011, 4:38 pm
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Re: Reefing Underway

by XXXXXXXXXX » May 27th, 2011, 1:20 pm
I totally agree with Tony
My Cal 39 is set up with all reefing control lines as well as the main halyard winch on the starboard side at the mast.
I go forward to reef under sail in all wind and sea conditions, and do so on starboard tack whenever possible. In fact, that is why I set up the controls on the starboard side, giving me a good working platform on the windward side of the boat. In addition to the right of way issues, I find that the boat handles more easily and is more stable in a seaway under sail than when motoring up wind.
Another option to consider, especially if you are shorthanded, is to heave to on starboard tack, and reef while hove to.
Reefing under sail is like everything else, you need to practice until you become comforable doing it in all conditions

Fair winds,

XXXXXXXXXX

XXXXXXXXXX

Posts: 1
Joined: June 16th, 2009, 9:05 am
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Re: Reefing Underway

by XXXXXXXXXX » May 28th, 2011, 7:10 am
Just out of curosity would you then take down and raise the mainsail close-hauled as well?
Using the Jib only for proplulsion?

XXXXXXXXXX
Posts: 26
Joined: June 23rd, 2009, 8:46 am
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Re: Reefing Underway

by XXXXXXXXXX» May 28th, 2011, 7:30 am
Sailing on jib alone is not allowed by Tradewinds on our boats. Under what circumstances would you want to do that?

-XXXXXXXXXX
XXXXXXXXXX
Posts: 38
Joined: June 22nd, 2009, 3:11 pm
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Re: Reefing Underway

by XXXXXXXXXX » May 28th, 2011, 9:19 am
Heaving to in order to reef is good but this puts the boom as far out as it will go and will make raising and lowering the main even harder. It works well on some boats, not so good on others.

If you are sailing as close to the wind as you can get with your jib trimmed in nice and tight, you shouldn’t have to let the mainsail out nearly as far to put in that reef. Most likely if you are having problems you are either A) not sailing as close to a close-haul as you can on the jib alone or B) not letting the mainsheet out far enough to take all of the pressure out of the mainsail. Remember to let the boom vang loose as well because and tension on the boom can cause you problems when raising/lowering/adjusting the mainsail.

If any specific boat gives you problems next time you try these techniques, please don’t hesitate to let us know so that we can see if there is a maintenance issue that needs to be solved.

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