[snip] 35 more minutes and we would have made it. [snip]
"The searchers all say she'd have made Whitefish Bay if she'd put fifteen more miles behind her."
-- Gordon Lightfoot, The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald
The rule of thumb is the first time you think about reefing is the time to put in a reef. The first time I did it on my boat (a Newport 28) I did it with sail ties at each reef point. It didn't look pretty, but Lordy, the difference it made in handling the boat. I already had the small jib up, so that kept the trim balanced and we had zero weather helm.
The question I always ask myself whenever I'm making a decision is "What if things don't work out as I planned?" When you decided you could beat the storm in did you ask yourself "What if I don't beat it in?" You made your plans based on a steady five knots -- did you ask yourself "What if I can't make a steady five knots?"
Contingency plans are vital. "Hoping for the best" is not always a viable plan. But you did good by surviving to sail another day.
S/V Free Spirit
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