In this chapter we will cover in detail, complete with photos illustrating each step, how we reef on Morgan’s Cloud and more specifically, how we reef when sailing downwind, which is much easier and safer than rounding up head to wind to reef.
First off, the boat needs to have the right gear:
A really powerful two-speed (on all but the smallest boats) self-tailing winch capable of grinding the reefing pennant in while the sail is full.
A winch with the same capabilities as above for the main halyard.
A simple and quick way to secure the tack of the reef.
A really beefy vang that is capable of holding the boom down and up while reefing. Ours on Morgan’s Cloud is hydraulic, but there are mechanical ones that will do the job. In a pinch, you could even just rig a tackle from the boom center to the toe rail. (Be careful doing this since if you forget it and trim the main sheet it is a sure way to break the boom.) And a topping lift.
Good quality low friction sheaves for the main halyard and reefing pennants.
A full batten main, while not absolutely required, makes reefing easier.
Ball-bearing mainsail track cars. We used to reef off the wind without them, but it’s a lot easier with our current system.
You can click on the photos to enlarge them so you can really see the details of our gear.
John was born and brought up in Bermuda and started sailing as a child, racing locally and offshore before turning to cruising. He has sailed over 100,000 miles, most of it on his McCurdy & Rhodes 56, Morgan's Cloud, including eight ocean races to Bermuda, culminating in winning his class twice in the Newport Bermuda Race. He has skippered a series of voyages in the North Atlantic, the majority of which have been to the high latitudes. John has been helping others go voyaging by sharing his experience for twenty years, first in yachting magazines and, for the last 18 years, as co-editor/publisher of AAC.