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Old 06-28-2010
alanr77 alanr77 is offline
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Reefing and Heaving to.

Just got in from a really good day of sailing. I finally got around to setting up a simple reefing system on my Catalina 22 and while I was out there, I practiced heaving to. So, I figured I would post my observations along with a few questions.

First off, call me stubborn, hardheaded or a non-believer....I have to learn things the hard way. I would have never believed how well reefing works unless I witnessed it with my own two eyes. I know that sounds crazy but follow me on this one. Being that the Catalina 22 is such a light boat, I had resolved to myself that she was too light for anything higher than a calm day out on the ocean. Every time the wind picked up past 10-15mph she became a handful. Now me being as stubborn as I am, I had settled on the idea of "that's just the way it is...". Well, today we had a nice 15-25mph steady wind with higher gusts and I decided to do what EVERYONE told me to do...I simply took two 2' long piece's of line, ran them through the reefing eye's at the "new" foot and clew, lashed the sail down tight to the boom (after loosening the main halyard a bit), ran the bitter ends through the gooesneck and the other end of the boom and guess what.........the sail was reefed and the boat magically became docile and balanced. It was like the wind fell off to 5-10mph.....go figure.. I now have it set up so i can reef in about 3 minutes. I will never hesitate to reef again.

Next up was the act of heaving to. In the same conditions, while on a starboard tack, close hauled, I tacked, left the jib sheet alone and as soon as the bow came through the wind, the jib back-winded. She stalled, i pushed the tiller to leeward and guess what.....the 4-5' waves almost dissipated. There was a really neat looking turbulent slick coming off the beam to windward and she slowed to .5-1 knot...I sat down in amazement and had lunch. The boat became so calm I may have been able to stack marbles. Well not really but it was a huge difference. I can think of a million and one uses for this. I went from beating 5.8 knots into 4-5 foot waves with white caps, spray flying over the bow to drifting peacefully and mostly level in about 20 seconds. I have to take the girl out with me to show her this magic....

Anyways, enough about magic. To anyone learning to sail- This stuff really works and it would behoove you to learn it now. Don't wait until you need it but can't do it like me. I am a glutton for punishment. Practice reefing and heaving to when the conditions are manageable. You will thank yourself for it. Its better than the first time you saw color TV.

Now my questions;

While hove to, she kept slowly outrunning her slick. It was barely noticeable but the majority of the slick seemed to be amidships and aft. Forward motion was unnoticeable to the eye but not to the GPS. Is this normal? Is it the result of the shallow hull design of the C-22? I tried playing with the jib sheet and main sheet, easing tension here, tightening it there, but the result was the same.

When reefing, my boom seemed to lift higher than the goose-neck. Tightening the mainsheet had no effect. Sail shape remained pretty good. Is this normal? What effect did it have? I tightened the luff until it was as straight as it would go and the boat seemed to be fine. I have nothing to compare it to so that is why I am asking.
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