Originally Posted by JonEisberg
My experience has been quite the opposite... I know such a system can be made to work reasonably well - and someday I hope to sail with Jeff H on his boat, as I know he's put such a setup to very good effect... but pretty much every time I get on a delivery of a larger boat with the main halyard led aft, I know I'm in for multiple trips to and from the mast to deal with the snags caberg alludes to, if I'm singlehanding...
The worst case senario, is when a high-modulus rope like T-900 is used for the main halyard, in conjunction with an electric winch and rope clutches for all the crap that's led aft... Such rope will quickly acquire a set that is virtually impossible to pull back through a clutch from forward without hockling and kinking... On more than one boat, I've found the easiest thing to do when lowering the main singlehanded, was to simply toss the whole mess of halyard tail over the stern, let it trail out and unwind that way...
As I said, I'm sure it can be done - but in my observation/experience, it sure isn't being done well very frequently...
In addition, on boats with dodgers overhead canvas, I hate having to hoist the main without being able to easily watch it all the way up, that can be a real invitation to trouble... People putting the halyard on a self-tailing electric winch, and pressing the button without having a clear view of the mast, that can be a recipe for disaster...
Finally, I really don't like the idea of compromising the watertight integrity of a dodger or doghouse, but cutting holes in the leading edge for the passage of lines aft... In heavy weather, it can be shocking how much water can be admitted into what otherwise might stay a relatively dry area...
So, have I mentioned I really don't like lines led aft to the cockpit on most boats? (grin)
Just an observation, the OP has the opportunity to do it correctly on his boat so he doesn't have the issues you mentioned. He isn't talking about getting on a variety of boats where it's messed up. He has the opportunity to make his better by learning from the mistakes of others and those you have mentioned. I am sure Jon has seen many nightmares as he experiences many different boats.
Chances are he isn't doing major ocean passages or has electric winches. Ease of cockpit reefing I believe encourages a person to do that under way as opposed to getting out of the cockpit exposed you may wait as you don't want to deal with the danger or hassle.
If you set your system up correctly and it's well thought out taking into account some of the pitfalls Jon has mentioned it can be an advantage. If you do it piecemeal or cobbled then Jon is right it won't be worth it and may cause more problems than its worth.
When singlehanding I don't look for opportunities to leave the cockpit. I would think most would agree you are safer and less likely to be thrown off the boat or struck if you are in the cockpit Vs. the deck. As the wind increases and the seas I would think that the gap of risk increases even further.
How easy is it for me to reef, move in front of the wheel, lower the main halyard below its reef point, pull in the reefing line. Tighten the clutch, tighten the halyard back up. A 1 minute maneuver. No going topside .
My system is no more complex than a mast one with the exception of a turning block, a deck organizer, and a rope clutch. It ain't rocket science here, thats why they make theese blocks.its not as complicated as its made out to be.
A sticky main sail track is a maintaince issue whether the line is led back through a couple of simple blocks or at the mast. Reefing lines same thing. This all should be checked before you leave the dock.