Newbie reefing questions

Sire

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Hi

Now that the season is approaching (there is however still ice on the lake :( ) I thought I'd ask something that I haven't been able to find an answer to in any of my sailing books.

We have a 17' trailer sailer that we bought last year just before the lake froze over. In the past I used to sail a very simple dinghy (Skipper 14), but that's it as far as experience goes.

From what I have been able to find out about our boat on the net, it apparently likes to be reefed early and sailed upright. The question is, what's the best way to do this?! I asked the previous owner, and he said he didn't ever reef as such, just loosened the kicking strap to let the sail twist and spill some air that way. In fact, the mainsail that he used doesn't have reefing points.

I have another, new unused, mainsail that was original to this type of boat. It has one set of slab reefing eyelets let in.

Here's question 1 then: how do I go about slab reefing, without filling the cockpit with boom, flapping sail, etc etc? At present there is no topping lift, which I think would help, but as the previous owner has managed without for 25 years...

Also, I wondered if it was possible to instead roll the sail around the boom, but I can't see any way of disconnecting the boom end from the gooseneck. I remember that there is a square end on the end of the boom that fits into the part that fits into the mast track but I don't remember a way of getting it out (I can't check easily at present as there is still arse-deep snow where the boat is!).

This brings me on to question 2, assuming that there is a way of rolling the sail around the boom. what do I do about the kicking strap, as obviously the rolled sail will be in the way of the boom fitting.

Thanks in advance!

"Z"
 
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bbg

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I would have thought that rolling around the boom is a non-starter unless the boom / sail / system is specifically designed as a roller furler.

The sequence of events is to ease the sheet, lower the halyard, secure the tack, secure the clew (haul in the reefing line), re-hoist the halyard, re-sheet the main.

It is important that you secure the tack before you pull on the reefing line to secure the clew.

As to keeping the boom up, there are only three ways that I can think of: topping lift, lazyjacks (that are strong enough) or hard vang. On your size boat, probably only the topping lift is practical / necessary.

Or just reef quickly and live with the noise.
 

Sire

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..
The sequence of events is to ease the sheet, lower the halyard, secure the tack, secure the clew (haul in the reefing line), re-hoist the halyard, re-sheet the main.
...

Thanks! This is exactly the part that I don't really get. Once I've lowered the main halyard a couple of feet surely I have the boom angled down into the cockpit and a very loose mainsail flapping about everywhere. It all sounds very problematic! Or is it one of those things that's easier than it sounds?
 

kalindi

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reefing

I think that it is reasonably common practice on large dinghies to reef by rolling the sail around the boom.
It is a two man job, one letting the main sail down slowly whilst the other rotates the boom. To make a neat job you had to first pull about a foot or so of the leach onto the boom before starting to roll. In fact I had a mark on the leach to know exactly how much. To solve the kicking strap problem you use a large webbing strap stop that you hold against the boom as you start to roll so that on completing the reef the strop is securly wrapped in the reefed sail around the boom, you then attach the kicking strap to the strop. It takes a bit of practice to get a nicely set reefed sail but it did work for me and I used the method on several occassions.
Of course if you cannot rotate the boom its not possible.
 

whipper_snapper

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....... the previous owner, .... said he didn't ever reef as such, just loosened the kicking strap to let the sail twist and spill some air that way. In fact, the mainsail that he used doesn't have reefing points.

That is a very ugly solution which impairs performance, thrashes the sail and is not much use off the wind!!


The sequence of events is to ease the sheet, lower the halyard, secure the tack, secure the clew (haul in the reefing line), re-hoist the halyard, re-sheet the main.

I would add 2 events at the start:

1 heave to
2 tighten the topping lift (so I think you need one!)

Others will argue that heaving to is unnecessary. I suggest you try it, it makes the process very calm and stress free. Especially shorthanded on a small boat.

You can leave the slab (I believe it is technically called the bunt?) flapping around, it is a bit of a pain and fills with wind sometimes, but many people do that anyway because if the reef slips and you have tiedin the bunt, you will rip the sail to shreds.
 

bbg

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I would add 2 events at the start:

1 heave to
2 tighten the topping lift (so I think you need one!)

Others will argue that heaving to is unnecessary. I suggest you try it, it makes the process very calm and stress free. Especially shorthanded on a small boat.
I would agree with all of that. Heaving to will make the process easier and calmer. Once you've reefed and unreefed a few times, and are more comfortable with it, you will find it easier to do without heaving to. Or you'll continue to heave to if you want.
 

Sire

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Thanks! I'd kind of assumed I'd heave to before reefing, in fact I didn't realise that it was possible without :eek: .

Maybe I should fit a topping lift anyway? Can I just pop-rivet an eyelet to the side of the mast, and use this directly, or is a small block better?
 

TamarMike

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Considering the size of your boat I wouldn't be too concerned about a topping lift at this stage. The boom will be light enough to handle easily and you may well prefer to have the flapping sail in the cockpit than at head height. You should soon learn just how much you need to drop the halyard to suit your style of reefing.
 

Fantasie 19

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Considering the size of your boat I wouldn't be too concerned about a topping lift at this stage. The boom will be light enough to handle easily and you may well prefer to have the flapping sail in the cockpit than at head height. You should soon learn just how much you need to drop the halyard to suit your style of reefing.

...or just make yourself a lightweight boom crutch that you can use when reefing to rest the boom on...
 

reeac

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Thanks! I'd kind of assumed I'd heave to before reefing, in fact I didn't realise that it was possible without :eek: .

Maybe I should fit a topping lift anyway? Can I just pop-rivet an eyelet to the side of the mast, and use this directly, or is a small block better?
I sailed my 18' dayboat without a topping lift for a season and then started using one and it improved things greatly. When you want to lower the mainsail the boom stays out of the cockpit as does the lower part of the sail - gives you much more room to move around. Much quicker than fiddling around with the boom crutch.
 

VicS

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Methods of reefing

Dinghy style
The boom has a square socket at the goose neck end which fits on a square tang on the gooseneck.
Partly lower the sail. Pull the boom off the tang and roll the sail manually round it. Stick it back on the tang and tension the halyard.
You lose the kicker unless you improvise by rolling in a sail bag or a length of webbing.
Ideally you need the sheet (and topping lift if fitted) on a swivel at the boom end.
You cannot tension the new foot.
Sail shape may be very poor

Roller boom
The boom is designed so that it can be rotated to roll up the sail while still fixed to the goose neck. See first picture below. A cranked handle fits in the socket to wind the boom.
A kicker must be improvised or a claw ring used.
The main sheet and topping lift must be fitted so that the boom is free to turn.
As above you cannot tension the new foot and the sail shape may be poor.


Slab reefing
The boom in the first picture has been modified for slab reefing.
The winding gear is redundant ( but still in working order!) Improvised "rams horns" have been fitted for the tack.
The second picture shows the slab reefing kit fitted to the boom end ( Barton IIRC)
The normal kicker is retained. The swivel for the mainsheet and topping lift is redundant.
You can tension the new foot. Sail shape should be a lot better than in either of the above

I personally would fit a topping lift. My masthead crane has a sheave for one but a small block could be suspended from the crane if necessary or even a small cheek block fitted to the mast. I suppose a decent bullseye fairlead would be adequate.

.....
 

prv

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I personally would fit a topping lift. My masthead crane has a sheave for one but a small block could be suspended from the crane if necessary

If there's nothing at the masthead, how about having the topping lift fixed at the top, then run it through a block/fairlead/etc at the end of the boom and to a jammer part-way along. I'm guessing on a small boat like this it will be pretty easy to reach. This seems to be a not-uncommon way of rigging topping lifts on American boats.

Pete
 

VicS

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If there's nothing at the masthead, how about having the topping lift fixed at the top, then run it through a block/fairlead/etc at the end of the boom and to a jammer part-way along. I'm guessing on a small boat like this it will be pretty easy to reach. This seems to be a not-uncommon way of rigging topping lifts on American boats.

Pete
Yes can be done like that , but probably not if the reefing is a roller.
Personally Id prefer it to go through/over something at the mast-head and down to a cleat on the mast.
 

PetiteFleur

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I would have thought that rolling around the boom is a non-starter unless the boom / sail / system is specifically designed as a roller furler.

The sequence of events is to ease the sheet, lower the halyard, secure the tack, secure the clew (haul in the reefing line), re-hoist the halyard, re-sheet the main.

It is important that you secure the tack before you pull on the reefing line to secure the clew.

As to keeping the boom up, there are only three ways that I can think of: topping lift, lazyjacks (that are strong enough) or hard vang. On your size boat, probably only the topping lift is practical / necessary.

Or just reef quickly and live with the noise.
Good description - I always try and reef when on Starboard tack as you then have right of way(and it's slightly easier on my boat).
 

gunman

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as another newbie, can I ask what you do with the excess sail once you've reefed? On my mainsail I have 2 reefing points, the top has eylets and cord (sorry if they have a technical name I don't know yet), but the lower set has none. If using the first set of reefing points, what do you do with the excess sail at the boom?
 

VicS

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as another newbie, can I ask what you do with the excess sail once you've reefed? On my mainsail I have 2 reefing points, the top has eylets and cord (sorry if they have a technical name I don't know yet), but the lower set has none. If using the first set of reefing points, what do you do with the excess sail at the boom?
My sail has two rows of reefing points.

Each row has a large and strongly reinforced eye at the luff and another at the leech. These are what pull down the reef. The luff ones hook onto the ramshorns and the leech ones are pulled down with lines rigged through the reefing kit shown in the second picture in my earlier post

There are several smaller and only lightly reinforced eyelets between the end ones across the sail. Some light lines through these tidy up the loose sail. Its important not to put any strain on these as they are not reinforced sufficiently to take any. It can be done with a continuous line laced through them but I have opted for short lengths of cord to be permanently through each one. No faffing about threading a bit of string through them all, just loosely tie each one round the boom.
 

prv

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as another newbie, can I ask what you do with the excess sail once you've reefed? On my mainsail I have 2 reefing points, the top has eylets and cord (sorry if they have a technical name I don't know yet), but the lower set has none. If using the first set of reefing points, what do you do with the excess sail at the boom?

Traditionally, each reef would have its row of reef points to tidy up the bunt (the excess sail). However, some sails don't seem to need it - the amount of loose sail is small enough that it doesn't get in the way or flap about, so it's just left. Perhaps yours works like this for the first reef, but the second is big enough that it needs to be tied down?

Incidentally, the reef points should go round the sail only, not the boom as well, if that's possible. If your sail is threaded into a groove all along the boom then you have no choice, but if it's loose-footed or laced then you're less likely to strain a reef point if you don't tie round the boom.

Pete
 
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