I think the engine in reverse would be a bad idea for several reasons, but one of my top ones could be a potential additional force on the sails and rig
Today I finally had a chance to go and try this. I used my dinghy
so if I broke something I wouldn't pay 10,000 for a new mast and rigging
if I broke anything.
Here is what I did - I let the jib
right out and it was blowing almost directly in front of the boat, no power left there. The main was pinned to the spreader, and I GENTLY turned out away from the side the boom was pointing to. there was a not-so-comfy heel like a lurch where I thought "here we gooo overrrr!" and then as soon as the main passed the 90 degree point it started to luff because I could pull the main off of the spreaderswith more helm.
I was now on a near direct port tack on a beam reach or what those salty dogs call "sailing free", except I left the sheet out to stall that sail too.
Now the problem started again, as the wind snatched my hull and wanted to push me back downwind as I lost steerageway, so I set to a more heave-to position with the jib
alone and left the main to flap.
I noticed there is a huge lurch of heel which would make the oldest sailor need to change his spongebob squarepants boxers afterwards as soon as you start the maneuver. I was in 32kts of wind. It could be pretty bad in anything more that that, as I barely shifted weight fast enough to hang on.
Also - you can push the boat over, but it will take a second person to hold you on course and keep the jib
loosely sheeted in for a heave-to while the other worked on reefing the main.
As soon as the main was down, I imagine you could jump into the sewer and grab your storm jib and get that going in less than 5 minutes time.
There is a lot of potential chafe or tearing on the mainsail from all of the hammering around on the spreaders, so I would think it best to rotate out and away from the spreaders, in perhaps a 45 to 60 degree track into the wind.