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Old 04-01-2012
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Re: 5 basic reefing tips, whats yours.

I sail mostly boats with symmetrical hulls ... double enders, scows, etc. ... and which you can sail them over almost onto their beam ends and have very little change in helm pressure.

Aggressive heeling, for me, because of these boats sailing characteristics usually isnt a problem as its what im used to ... and oft-times 'enjoy'.
Even if a boat is over at 30 degrees of heel the lateral resistance is only decreased by 13% (COS 30 = .866) and the deeper the hull leeward topside immerses is ... tends to be a gain in 'projected' total lateral immersed surface.
Hell, even if 45 deg. over you still have 71% of keel projected area working ... plus the lee topside is much deeper in the water.
If my VMG to a distant waypoint is still reasonable ... I dont worry too much about heeling; but then again, Im 'used to it' because of the hull forms I prefer to sail.

My personal 'rules' when to reef are (remembering that I sail on boats with characteristically very light or almost 'neutral helm'):
1. When 'windward' if I begin to feel the boat begin to 'skid off to leeward' - through increasing helm pressure - and/or I see that the wake is no longer coming 'straight off the stern', then I begin to reef --- My 'key' to reefing when going to wind is 'helm pressure' ... boat is now 'skidding', the rudder is now going sideways relative to the water and I can feel it.
2. Secondly if the lee deck is 'awash', ... ditto on reefing ... I really dont want to 'trip' (quasi-broach) over the flat sided coach roof!

FWIW ... when I do reef, I usually set up for 'full draft shape' - eased reefing outhaul for 'full draft shape' - to 'power/punch' through waves. No use in having a flat reduced draft reefed shape as it usually doesnt have much 'power' .... I'd rather 'deeper' reef and have 'power' (large draft) to punch-through than a "1st" reef and flat (speed shaped) sails that cant 'punch' and will not enable 'accelerating' back to speed if/when I get 'stopped' by a large wave, etc.

Downwind ... another different set of circumstances altogether.
My two most important criteria are
1. 'hull speed' .... if you go much above 'hull speed', you risk a broach. I reef down anytime I exceed 'hull speed'. I do not like broaching, especially at night.
2. Roll period amplitude ... my 'crab crusher' has a loooong roll period. Less SA area that is up - less dampening of the roll. More SA - up less roll. .... until I get close to 'hull speed' (this ignores changing course, etc. to change the amount of 'rolling'.)
3. What is it going to be like if I have to head up and turn through and into the wind/waves? ... Ill set for that expected 'condition' ... just a 'safety issue'

Rig stretch - when long distance sailing and in 'blammo' conditions, I'll sometimes 'tie' a Loos gage to the backstay and if I begin to see a LOT of gage readings exceeding 30%, Ill begin to 'reduce' SA ... so to keep the rigging 'under' the normal 'fatigue endurance limit' ~=30% of Ultimate Tensile Strength of the wire ---- for less development of load cycles over 30% which accelerates the potential of rig 'fatigue' failure.
But also too my crab crusher rigging has an approx. 4:1 safety factor built in ... I wouldnt routinely do this aggressive heeling, etc. on a 'coastal design' at ~2:1 safety factor.

Hope this helps ;-)

Last edited by RichH; 04-01-2012 at 10:04 PM.
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