Reefing is one of those areas where the devil really is in the details. Over the years we have answered dozens of questions about reefing. In this chapter we highlight a few of those and provide our answers.
Reefing Questions and Answers
by John HarriesReading Time: 3 minutes
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Previous: Reefing From The Cockpit 2.0—Thinking Things Through
- Six Reasons To Leave The Cockpit Often
- Don’t Forget About The Sails
- Your Mainsail Is Your Friend
- Hoisting the Mainsail Made Easy—Simplicity in Action
- Reefs: How Many and How Deep
- Reefing Made Easy
- Reefing From The Cockpit 2.0—Thinking Things Through
- Reefing Questions and Answers
- A Dangerous Myth about Reefing
- Mainsail Handling Made Easy with Lazyjacks
- Topping Lift Tips and a Hack
- 12 Reasons The Cutter Is A Great Offshore Voyaging Rig
- Cutter Rig—Should You Buy or Convert?
- Cutter Rig—Optimizing and/or Converting
- Cruising Rigs—Sloop, Cutter, or Solent?
- Sailboat Deck Layouts
- The Case For Roller-Furling Headsails
- UV Protection For Roller Furling Sails
- In-Mast, In-Boom, or Slab Reefing—Convenience and Reliability
- In-Mast, In-Boom, or Slab Reefing —Performance, Cost and Safety
- The Case For Hank On Headsails
- Making Life Easier—Roller Reefing/Furling
- Making Life Easier—Storm Jib
- Gennaker Furlers Come Of Age
- Swept-Back Spreaders—We Just Don’t Get It!
- Q&A: Staysail Stay: Roller Furling And Fixed Vs Hanks And Removable
- Rigid Vangs
- Rigging a Proper Preventer, Part 1
- Rigging a Proper Preventer—Part 2
- Amidships “Preventers”—A Bad Idea That Can Kill
- Keeping The Boom Under Control—Boom Brakes
- Downwind Sailing, Tips and Tricks
- Downwind Sailing—Poling Out The Jib
- Setting and Striking a Spinnaker Made Easy and Safe
- Ten Tips To Fix Weather Helm
- Running Rigging Recommendations—Part 1
- Running Rigging Recommendations—Part 2
- Two Dangerous Rigging Mistakes
- Rig Tuning, Part 1—Preparation
- Rig Tuning, Part 2—Understanding Rake and Bend
- Rig Tuning, Part 3—6 Steps to a Great Tune
- Rig Tuning, Part 4—Mast Blocking, Stay Tension, and Spreaders
- Rig Tuning, Part 5—Sailing Tune
- 12 Great Rigging Hacks
- 9 Tips To Make Unstepping a Sailboat Mast Easier
- Cruising Sailboat Spar Inspection
- Cruising Sailboat Standing Rigging Inspection
- Cruising Sailboat Running Rigging Inspection
- Cruising Sailboat Rig Wiring and Lighting Inspection
- Cruising Sailboat Roller Furler and Track Inspection
- Download Cruising Sailboat Rig Checklist
I have come across a clip by Skip Novak on Youtube . His mainsail reefing system is slightly different than yours and both are proven in tough conditions. If you have seen this I would welcome your observations on the differences.
I have seen that video, although not for some time. I have huge respect for Skip having sailed with him some 35 years ago, long before his charter business. So first off you should know that Skip is one of the toughest people I have ever met and that means that things that are good for him may not be good for a wimp like me.
In watching his heavy weather videos, not just reefing, the key difference between his approach and ours is that almost all of his techniques assume a strong relatively large tough crew, whereas ours were developed by and for an aging couple.
On details, a key difference between Skip’s system and ours is we have three reefs and a trysail and he four and no trysail. This again is influenced by the difference in crew. He has the resources to wrestle a damaged main and repair it, even in really bad conditions, we don’t. So we like to have a spare main (trysail) ready to go at all times.
One more point. Whether one has three or four reefs is a lot less significant that people think. The key issue is how deep the deepest reef is. More here:
Having read again your excellent articles about the importance of reliable mainsail reefing downwind. To avoid going the upwind route in heavy weather seems very appealing.
We have a HR46 with hydraulic inmast furling and I am trying to adapt and practice reefing going downwind. For the moment I have always gone upwind when above 10 knots.
I know your prevention regarding these furling systems vs slab reefing. Nevertheless a good number of reputable offshore cruising boats have these systems.
Would you or an other well weathered give a few tips for the offshore use in heavy weather to reef downwind with inmost furling system.
My questions are while going downwind:
I hope my questions are not a recipe list to disaster and probably interest many readers of AAC that have in mast furling.
Great questions. As it happens, I just finished the, research for, and first draft of, a massive (nearly 4000 words) buyer’s guide to mainsail handling systems, which covers most of those questions. Look for it in about 10 days.