Re: wind conditions and reefing
Last weekend we went out in 20 knts (gusts in the 25). As we had guests aboard (non sailing adult + 3 kids) we started humbly with the second reef taken (on a 3 reef sail). I was surprises to see our boat (C&C 30 mk2) reach very good speed (~6.5 kts) heading upwind and being very well balanced (helm kept centered most of the time). The boat would heel with the rail a few inches above water, it was a really fun ride that felt safe.
Three weeks before, similar conditions (but no guests) and we went with full sails. The boat was probably a bit slower but had significant weather helm (we could literally feel the drag from the rudder fighting the weather helm). In gusts, we would need to ease the main rapidly and pull the helm hard away from the wind. Although the ride was wilder, it wasn't more fun... it really just felt out of balance and awkward.
The lesson I took from that is that a balanced boat is more fun, goes faster and feel safe. I wouldn't hesitate to start with a reef.
Now I'm wondering what are the consequences of being under canvased? What are the signs you look for once on the water to decide you need to shake a reef?
1987 C&C 30 MK2 - Merlot X