Setting up for easy single handed reefing - SailNet Community

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  #1  
Old 08-07-2008
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Setting up for easy single handed reefing

Hi!

I have a quick question. Currently my boat has little in the way of making my life as a mostly single handler easy. That said I'm looking into options to help me raise/lower/reef the main, but am unsure about which method is the best. Basically from what I see I have 2 options.

1) Install lazy jacks, and lead lines aft to the cockpit. Use two line reefing also led back to the cockpit.

Pro:
- Don't have to go on deck to raise / lower / reef main (good cause it keeps me close to the wheel, and I don't have an autopilot)
- Relatively simple setup. (by simple I mean there's no complicated mechanical "things" to get broken that can't easily be replaced.)

Con:
- Would have to be creative to fit all the hardware beside the companionway. I don't have a lot of space there.
- Haven't really looked into prices, but risks being a bit pricey (clutches, turning blocks, etc). Currently there's not really anything related to reefing installed on the boat, and no lines are led aft.

Also a quick question or two about this, to lower the main, do you need another line to "pull" it down? While my main doesn't catch on anything, I usually have to help it down a bit when lowering at the mast. Also for the reefing lines, my main has two reefing points. Do people normally rig both sets? or just the first one and then do something else for the second?

2) My other option is boom roller reefing. (I believe that's what it's called anyways) The wooden boom on my boat is capable of rotating, rolling up the sail around it's outside.

Pro:
- would allow for pretty fast (and variable) reefing.
- Everything I need is more or less already there (though I am missing the winch handle for it, I can more or less easily obtain one)

Con:
- It's a bit complicated. If something broke on it I wouldn't be able to fix it myself.
- Related to the previous point, it's really old. I seriously doubt I could find OEM replacement parts. Might get expensive having parts machined, if it can be done at all.
- No way to lead the control for the boom rotation to the cockpit, so need to go on deck.

I'm sure you guys can think of other pro's and cons. I'm just looking to see if anyone has experience with one or the other (or even better, both) and can swing me one way or the other. This is the next priority on my boat, as right now it's a big chore to raise/lower the main by myself.

Thanks all!

Thomas
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Old 08-07-2008
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Boom roller reefing gives a really lousy sail shape since there's nothing pulling the clew aft. Also, the aft end of the boom will hang lower than what you want. It's not a good solution.

The two line reefing I picture involves a tack line and clew line each run aft. I went with a single line that attaches aft on the port side of the boom, up thru the reef cringle at the clew, down to the boom to a turning block. From there it runs forward along the starboard side of the boom to another turning block near the gooseneck, up and thru the tack reef cringle, down the port side of the mast to a turning block at the deck for a run aft to the cockpit. I used a compound line that was thin for the runs thru the cringles. This keeps the friction low. It transitions to a thicker line back where I need to handle it.

I don't know if this is clear, but it does work.
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Old 08-07-2008
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My boat originally had roller reefing, but over time the system started to fail. I went to the system you describe with lazyjacks and two reefing lines. I also have the main hallyard led back to cockpit with all 3 clutches in one bank. The system works well and can be reefed without going forward. If it is blowing and I am not sure if a reef is needed, I will often start by raising the main to the reef points which is very easy short handed. You could not do this with roller reefing and the sail flaked on the boom. If I want to shake out the reef I simply throw the reef line clutches and raise the main the rest of the way. I do not take the lazy jacks forward when short handed. This is a bit sloppy and may increase sail wear, but those lines are not led aft. I would like my topping lift led aft since the reef can slightly alter the boom angle. I do not have the time, money, room for that. This system would be difficult to set up with 2 reef points as you would either have to re-rig the reef lines each time or leed multiple lines aft.
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Old 08-07-2008
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Hi MX:

I have a similiar system as jbondy mentions above, except my reefing lines don't run to the cockpit, but terminate at cleats mounted on the boom. I do have lazy jacks that run to the cockpit, but the starboard one always hangs up on the reefing cleats on the boom, so I have to go to the mast anyway to untangle the mess. The lazy jacks also are mast mounted at the top, which is another issue. During my recent rigging inspection, I mentioned these issues to my rigger, and he suggested I move the top pulley of the lazy jacks off the mast to make more of a "V" shape to capture the mainsail and funnel it down to the boom. He also suggested that all reefing, lazy jacks, and hallyards be left at the mast and not run back to the cockpit since all the turnbuckels and rope guides add friction which makes raising and lowering the sails harder. I guess the best advise is that if you run lines to the cockpit, run them all, or leave them all at the mast. I also have jam cleats for the lazy jacks in the cockpit which wear out over time and don't hold well. I wouldn't advise using them, but something that holds the line better. Nothing worse than having one side of your lazy jack system collapse as you are lowering the mainsail, and creating a mess. So I am also deciding whether to run the reefing lines to the cockpit as well. I also have other grommets in the mainsail at each reefing point that I suppose are used to add tiedowns to, or could be used to run the reefing line through to hold the excess mainsail material better on the boom. If you have to go to the mast to add additional tiedowns, anyway, then there is another reason to leave all the lines at the mast.
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Last edited by LittleWingCA; 08-07-2008 at 03:51 PM.
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Old 08-07-2008
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Here's a photo of a main boom roller reefing setup a friend of mine has on his boat. I've sailed with him for several thousand miles and we used this setup on a regular basis. In the photo you can see he has a roller at the front of the boom that is connected via cable led down to the deck and back to a cable winch to the right of the companionway. The main halyard is led down to the deck and then to a winch to the left of the companionway.

The lazyjacks come down around the boom and attach to a strong bungy cord running under the boom fore and aft and fastened to the mast under the boom and then to a metal tang on the back of the boom that allows the boom to rotate with out wrapping the lazyjacks around the boom. He has a topinglift.

We've not experienced the poor sail shape issue mentioned above with this implementation.

I've been aboard when we reefed down in 30+ knot winds, in the dark, in large seas and was sure glad the reefing worked so well!





On Whampoa, I have a roller furling boom with the old Merriman roller furling gear but I use a slab reefing setup instead as the Merriman gear is slow to reef.

In my case I have reefing lines for each reef point lead down from the leech on the main to a padeye on the stbd side of the boom and then through the sail and down to a cheek block on the port side of the boom then forward to cleats on the port side of the boom. The cheek blocks are positioned to draw the sail aft as the reef is put in.

I am in the process of sorting out what I need to run the halyards for the main and staysail and reefing lines back to the cockpit but for now I have to go forward to the mast to raise and reef the mainsail.





When I singlehand Whampoa the autopilot is my friend while raising and lowering the sails.

Good luck with your project.

Regards, John

Last edited by Whampoa; 08-08-2008 at 12:12 AM.
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Old 08-07-2008
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Older, external wrapped boom roller reefing systems usually suck with respect to the reefed sail shape. They also have issues with preventers, boom vangs and such, since they can't be attached to the boom—since it rotates.

The newer ones are a bit better, since the roller is inside the boom, and they can be used with vangs and preventers. However, they generally have issues with reefed sail shape still and many can't use full battens. They're also a problem if they jam.

IMHO, Slab or jiffy reefing is the way to go—simple, relatively easy, hard to screw up.
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Old 08-07-2008
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I would have to agree with SD's comment about the boom vang. With regard to a preventer on both our booms at least, we are able to attach a preventer to the end of the boom and then run it forward to a snatch block then aft to the cockpit when needed. I guess it depends on the hardware and configuration at the back end of your boom.

I agree the jiffy or slab setups are more preferable. I can't speak to the in boom systems or in mast systems as I have never owned or sailed that equipment.

Let us know what you decide.

Regards, John
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Old 08-08-2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jbondy View Post
I used a compound line that was thin for the runs thru the cringles. This keeps the friction low. It transitions to a thicker line back where I need to handle it.
Very interesting. How is that done?

Last edited by Trekka; 08-10-2008 at 03:04 AM.
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Old 03-06-2012
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Re: Setting up for easy single handed reefing

Also another thing to consider is if you have a deck stepped mast or keel stepped mast the placement of the blocks becomes varied. If you have a deck stepped mast this is not so much of an issue but if you have a keel stepped mast running any lines aft you have to consider the fact that any halyard or reefing line ran aft will pull up on the deck where the redirecting block is. That is unless you have a mast collar attached to mast. Another thing to consider is the reefing lines running through the clew should optimally be run inside the boom so that no angle is created by whichever point of sail you are on. If it is just ran to the mast then the line will either stretch and put strain on the block fitting on the mast or slack off and adjust the reef you just set. The biggest problem with doing this rigging scenario is that it is a particularly spendy option or requires a lot of work on your part. But such is the life of a boat owner.
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Old 03-06-2012
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Re: Setting up for easy single handed reefing

Quote:
Another thing to consider is the reefing lines running through the clew should optimally be run inside the boom so that no angle is created by whichever point of sail you are on.
Good point. This is an old thread, but, still good info. Not much of importance changes on sailboats very quickly.
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