The old saying that ‘if a job is easy, you’ll do it’, is a good one that we have tried to bring to bear at all times when improving our Ovni 435 Pèlerin. If the job’s difficult, you’ll delay it until it’s beyond inevitable and then it can become a hardship. And nowhere is that more true than when reefing, especially if you’re alone on watch.
When our boat was delivered some of the deck gear was less than perfect in our view; a simple case in point being the line controls for the roller reefing gear. This had small solid pulley blocks, and was led to the winch via a jammer to secure it (the original lasted a week before the lever broke off!). The friction in the system was such that the line had to be led to a winch every time we needed to reef the yankee (jib topsail), which meant that we lost the ‘feel’ that gives warning of a jam or snarl up at the drum end when the line is handled manually. And once you start cranking away on a big winch it’s easy to make things worse—multiply this x 4 with electric or hydraulic winches. So we shifted the blocks around a bit, replaced the jammer with a more robust model and then went sailing, fully intending to sort it properly when the right idea appeared.