A Dangerous Myth about Reefing

I was recently reading a reputable boating magazine that I respect when I came across a “rule of seamanship” that simply took my breath away, it was so wrong:

Reefing line(s) and hardware should be used to set a reef, not to take the full load. An easy way to reduce load is to use an earring. This is a length of line passed through the new clew and around the boom. A 3/8-inch line passed three times and knotted with a square knot serves fine. Once the reef is set, but while the sheets are still eased, simply lash the earring to the reefed clew. Slightly easing the reef line will put the load on the earring rather than the reef line. Because the reef line doesn’t hold the load, your reef lines won’t chafe through during a long passage.

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Meet the Author

John Harries

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 12 years, as co-editor/publisher of AAC.

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