1. Topping lift on
2. Lower main halyard to first reef
3. Tighten luff and leach using either a single line or seperate ones. Luff might be hooked onto something instead of a line.
4. Raise main halyard tight
5. release topping lift
Some people, if they have cringle holes might tie up the baggy bit with reefing lines....
1. Let go mainsheet
2. Take some (but not all) slack out of topping lift, unless you have a solid kicker, when needn't bother
3. Ease halyard until the reefing cringle can be hooked over the reefing hook.
4. Tighten halyard to required tension - usually hard.
5. Harden reefing line to pull boom up to leech cringle (you may need to let some kicker go to achieve this, and make sure the mainsheet hasn't recleated itself.
6. Harden in on mainsheet to suit point of sail, reset kicker.
7 Tidy up halyard fall and reefing line slack
8. Reset topping lift, if necessary
9. Tidy up bunt of sail, if necessary
Takes longer to write than to perform, unless you're into big boats.
one point the others didn't raise was whether to point the boat head to wind or close hauled. I've been taught both. Would recommend that in calm or sheltered water either is OK, but that if you have to go to the mast to reef in choppy conditions you do it close hauled - the boat and boom are much steadier!
It is stating the obvious but you say that you are a relative newcomer. Its easier to shake out a reef than to put one in so if you feel that wind strength is nearing the top of your personal comfort / ability zone, reef before you go. Doing so on a mooring or motoring out to your sailing area will help you get the best sail shape and thus set with a nice tight luff and tidy foot. It also means that you are operating under your own terms and not as a reaction to finding out that its all getting a bit much. Reefing underway normally means someone going forward to the mast and if conditions are unpleasant then the risk factor of someone getting upset, hurt, falling, falling overboard has just increased. So, set sails for the prevailing conditions and if a stronger wind is forecast then set sails for what might come. As I said - if the forecast conditions don't materialise its a simple matter to shake out the reef.
I suppose I must have forgotten about reefing early and often and I've been caught napping. Now I'm trying to reef a fully battened main in a blow.
I'm single-handed, too!
No doubt I'll be a better person for it afterwards and I promise not to let it happen again, but, for now, what's the safest approach?
Reading though this thread, the benefits of in mast (or in boom) furling become
apparent. Yes yes I know about the loss of performance etc. etc. BUT if you are
primarily a cruiser/day sailor then surely an option? I crew a chums Oyster 45 with Hood in mast furling. To reef:
1. Head to wind (not even necessary in light airs)
2. Ease mainsheet, release the outhaul, furl away until happy.
3. Tighten up.
Easy, and all from the safety of the cockpit!
One way to prevent getting out of the cockpit is the use of a system designed by v.d.Stadt and used on all Dehlers. Thread the reefing line from the front end of the boom through the forward reefing hole, down and into or along the boom backward, up to the backward reefing hole, down to the boom and into or along the boom, down to the mastfoot and over deck to the cockpit. Works a treat and no need to leave the cockpit provided you also have the hailyard and uphaul in the cockpit.
Peter it's not so much that there is a correct method , but it all depends on what sort of reefing system you've got. You seem to have got a set of replies that cover most of the options. A couple of points:
1. If you've got to reef well in advance e.g a rising wind forecast , then look at you're reefing system carefully. You're system should be able to cope with putting in reefs and shaking them out as and when the wind drops/picks up. I take the person who calls himself Claymore's point re reefing early but if you're system is up to the job you shouldn't really have to.
2. In mast reefing is expensive to install if you're starting from scratch.
3. I've had the good fortune to sail on numerous boats this summer all with different reefing arrangements:
In mast reefing - I couldn't get on with it at all. It was probably me but it consistently jammed and I had to go on the coach roof to manually pull the sail out. With a good set up , it's probably quite good but as someone said already you lose out on good sail shape. There's a new mainsail out with vertical battens designed to overcome this.
2. Slab reefing: The system I had on my last boat until this summer. Fairly fool proof , but you must go forward to the mast to hook the cringle over a hook at the foot of the boom. Everything else is done from the cockpit. Without lazy jacks you might have to tie the loose sail area after reefing. The whole process takes about 30 sec. It never let me down and I've put reefs in day and night in most weather conditions.
3. Single line , fully battened main with lazy jacks. Along with in-mast reefing probably represents the latest thinking. I haven't used it much yet , but it's designed to work totally from the cockpit and again should be able to be done in 30 secs. I've put a 2nd reef in , in winds of 35 knots without any problem while stil sailing. The only problem I've had so far is that there seems to be a lot of friction in the system.
As well as the comments already made, in-mast reefing weight will raise the centre of gravity (check angle of vanishing stability), can jamb particularly if boom is not at correct angle for the system (sail does not furl evenly).
Lazy Jacks, can seem heaven sent when dropping a main with limited crew for tidying up sail along boom, but can be a nuisance when initially hoisting due to upper sail battens getting caught in the lazyjacks & if missed can damage sails. You may need to be more careful about pointing directly into wind when hoisting to eliminate this problem.
As always, you pay's your money &---etc
OK - I do the following with our fully battened main when sailing alone.
Slow the boat down by luffing up head to wind - if motorsailing then go into neutral.
1 Furl in the Headsail so that I dont have the clew clattering my starboard ear - it also allows my boat to sit head to wind a bit better and of course helps to bring the boat to an almost standstill
2 Tighten the Lazyjacks and take up the slack in the topping lift.
3 let off the main halliard and I have this marked for reef points one and two so I know how much to let off.
4 Pop the cringle shackle over the reefing hook at the gooseneck
5 Wind in the reefing line (Red/white line for reef1 and blue/white for reef2) and cleat. (This is led inside the mast and comes out via a block to a winch at the base of the mast)
6 Ease off the topping lift and lazyjacks - I have a stackpac bag which the extra sail falls into - I dont tie it in as it doesn't seem necessary.
7 Go back to the wheel and bear away then ease out the headsail - the furling line is also marked at 3 places so I can pretty much dial a sail. The boat is nicely balanced at 1 reef in the main and about 2/3rds of the Headsail out - for reaching and upwind at least. If broad reaching or running I sometimes let all the Genoa out and obviously sometimes get rid of the main altogether if broad reaching.
The critical issue is sea-room. If you have plenty then it doesn't really matter how long it takes to reef. Many Boats can sit and quietly forereach without becoming it turning into a bronco ride.
Hope this helps
<P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1>Edited by claymore on Thu Nov 15 13:17:00 2001 (server time).</FONT></P>
I've got two fully battened mainsails, the one I can hoist and reef on any point of sailing - the other (with an additional car and batten) is a pig to lift unless I'm head to wind and needs dragging down to reef unless it's actually luffing.
I only put this in to illustrate that not only does every boat vary but individual sails vary.
Up to about 32 knots windspeed, I keep the boat sailing under headsail alone, and preferably on port tack (more of the reason for that later).
I let the halyard down to the pre-marked point on the halyard (Magic marker and whipping twine, every season 100mm out from hard-up position) 1 mark for 1st, 2 for 2nd etc. (I've 4 reefs in the main).
Out with mainsheet by 600mm, out with kicker tensioner about 150mm.
Harness-hook onto MOB tape.
Up to the mast with the winch halyard - put the cringle over the horn, pull in all unreefed reef lines by hand until the new reef is no longer slack, tighten up round the self-tailing reefing winch on the mast and bring the reef hard home.
Fix, coil and stow reefing lines.
Back to cockpit, harden up main halyard on coachroof winch, get main driving again on mainsheet and then vang, in that order.
The port tack avoids loose reef lines winding up with the wind generator.
Pulling in on all reef lines prevents any of them winding under the boom.
All my reefing is done single-handed (it's easier than trying to talk a panicky crew through the actions) and the average time is about 95 secs.
Above 32 knots true (3rd & 4th reefs) I slacken out the genoa/solent/yankee sheet until she's about hove-to and then reef.
I've a Harken gas kicker, never use the topping lift except for lifting dinghy/heavy loads aboard.
having experienced a major snarl with in-mast reefing (on another's boat) I'd not entertain it for anything but light recreational coasthopping.
In boom reefing might be less risky and you can fit battens and get some sail area.
Single-line reefing won't work on my boat - too much sail area and frictional loss to get a good flat workmanlike shape.
I think everyone has their own method of reefing - the secret is to have everything set up (halyards marked etc) practice it until you can do it with a blindfold on and one hand tied behind your back (to simulate the dark and gale force conditions).
Ah well, coming late to this fascinating thread.. I notice one thing that the others forgot when they talk about slab reefing, and they even use phrases like 'the most important thing'..... the most important thing is to MARK your reefing lines and the main halyard.
If you're single handed and not racing, I recommend heaving to to reef. The backed jib will keep the boat steady and allow her to look after herself. No violent rolling, flapping canvas, whipping lines, etc. No need of the engine to keep head to the wind. No danger of falling off or tacking. You can take your time in a much more relaxed situation.