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  #1  
Old 04-22-2010
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Its Too Big !!

Alright I have to admit the title was inspired by Denise's Long Shaft thread; er, I mean Long Johnson; no, er Johnson Long Shaft; anyway you get the drift.

What's too big (it seems) is the mainsail on our new to us boat. Shame on us, we have had it nearly 2 years and I only noticed today that when I crank up the full mainsail I cannot tighten it enough to get a crease along the luff. I also noticed that the mainsail has 3 reefing cringles (actually 4 as I will explain in a minute), the 3 that are actual reefing points have webbing and rings thru them that connect to the horn at the boom.


This is the horn, that is on both sides of the boom.


On the port side you can see the upper two reefing points.



On the Strbd side is the first reefing point and an extra cringle below it.



It looks like I need to hook that first cringle (without the web and ring) to the horn even when I intend to use the full sail, because as I mentioned I cannot tighten up enough on the halyard properly. I thought I might be able to just make that cringle the tack of the sail, but there is not enough room to bunch up the sail below that point into the attachment joint on the boom ( just below the horn). So I guess I just need to hook that to the horn when I raise the sail.

I also noticed that the 3rd (top) reef point cannot reach the horn. When the sail is down, the sail track is full of the guides and I cannot pull the sail down enough to engage that ring on the horn. There is also no reef line for this level of reefing on the leach of the sail (however, there is a grommet there). So I think this is a storm sail level reef and both the tack and the leach need to be tied down (somehow) to the boom.

I would appreciate (useful) comments whether my interpretation is correct or not. Non useful comments are accepted also just for the fun of it (as is the usual case on this forum).


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Old 04-22-2010
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That bottom hole is the Cunningham. You can put a line through it and pull down to flatten the luff. But you should still be able to tighten the luff without using it. Climb your mast and see if there is a bolt in the track to limit how much you can raise the sail. To meet racing handicap luff is limited. I found this on my last boat and once removed it went up fine. So I suspect you will find this. It was just a simple 1/4" bolt tapped into the center of the track to stop the sail slide.

The reef hook seems a little limiting. You could mount a hook on the mast up a few inches, even one on a leader to make it easier to hook the reef tacks. You still should have reefing lines for jiffy reefing to the reef clews. Those should run back to the front of the boom but better to run them back to the cockpit. You could also run single line reefing back to the cockpit.
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Old 04-22-2010
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Reef Points

Gene,
Thanks, I had not thought about racing issues, however the previous PO was not a racer (as far as I know) so I tend to doubt he would have limited raising the sail that way. I will check out the top of the mast as you suggest.

There are reef lines for the sail clew, but only for the first two reef points. It is not jiffy reefing (which I understand to reef both the tack and clew of the sail), I have to drop the sail and hook the ring to the horn, then tighten the halyard and then tighten the clew lines (which do come to the front of the boom and then back to the cockpit), when I reef. It is only the top most (third) reef point that only has a grommet at the sail clew. As I said this really limits the size of the mainsail to what might be considered a storm sail. So I think this is last reef point is meant to be dealt with differently, by directly tying the reef points down to the boom. Since it is so far up the clew it will attach at near mid boom, I think. I am only now getting enough time with the boat to learn some of these things. Previously, the boat and I where in different states.

I had the boat in the shop in February and we discussed bringing all the lines back to the cockpit, but I would need blocks and clutches and more winches at the cockpit to do it correctly and there really is not enough room on the cabintop. So I use jack lines and a harness and go forward to reef the main. The Jib has a furler.

thanks,

Last edited by CapnRon47; 04-22-2010 at 07:53 PM.
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Old 04-22-2010
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The reefing lines should be tied to the sail itself. The clew lines can be tied to the boom. It's possible the sailmaker was giving the P.O. every inch of sail he could. Making the last adjustment the bottom cringle?.......i2f
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Old 04-22-2010
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Often the third reef is not pre-rigged a) to avoid the weight and bother of the reefing lines and b) many booms are not set up for three sets of reeflines at the clews.

I guess the feeling is that should you need the third reef, and if you've been paying attention to the weather you'd have enough notice that you'd pull one of the other reef lines out and reeve it for the third reef ahead of time (usually using the first reef line when the sail's already down to a 2nd reef tied in.) This is, of course, easier to do with the main dropped.

You will get better results if there's at least enough boom hardware to get a good angle on the reefed clew while using the first reef line as a third; the 1st reef's normal attachment point would be too far aft to get adequate down-pull towards the boom. This will mean the boom has to be lower to get the correct leech tension.

To get the third reef tack to reach the horns, you can get your sailmaker to rig a bit of line or webbing between the slides and the sail to allow the sail itself to fall away from the slides and drop down past the flaked sail. I believe this is also called a 'jackline' - not easy to describe but it does work for that problem.

You may find the sail sets better if you do hook the cunningham cringle into a horn as a matter of course, it sounds to me like this sail is not intended for that boat, perhaps was from another design and gotten 'on the cheap'.
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Old 04-22-2010
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Once you set up the Cunningham on your boat you will love the sail shape you get by using it. You may need to add some purchase ratio to the Cunningham rigging for a big main sail like yours. On our 27 footer the Cunningham is rigged with a 1:1 or 2:1 ratio but our sails are not nearly as high.

That 3rd reef point is a bit of mystery. I think that storm tri-sails are also rigged a bit differently so you might just be correct. Do you have any documentation for your boat that might indicate how the 3rd reef point is supposed to be rigged? Call/email the PO?
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Old 04-22-2010
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I2F makes an interesting point. Could the 3rd reef point really have been intended as a Cunningham for the 2nd reef when set?
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Old 04-22-2010
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It might be that it is not intended to be reefed all the way to the boom on the third reef but a short pennet is keep around for it and is used at the tack to reach the horn due to the stacking of the slugs...then just reefed down tight at the clew raising the boom or leaving it adjusted as you see fit for sail shape or boom height....Just a thought.

FWIW I know one skipper who's main sail from the last reef cringles to the head board is also 3 times as heavy of cloth the the rest of his main sail...In essence it is his trisail/storm sail...I personally like that idea.
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Old 04-22-2010
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The reefs at the mast could also be set up as I do, I use the cunningham hook to hold that part down, and have reef lines for the clew coming to the back of the cabin. Altho SH/DH this can be a bit of a bother having to go forward to set the cunningham to reef, I found this system works better than a single line that does both.

As another mentioned, a cunningham is nice for getting better sail shape in some conditions.

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Old 04-22-2010
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It sounds like the sail needs to be recut to really fit the boat. I would recommend having a sail loft come out to the boat and look at the sail. If you can't tension the main sail's luff properly, it can cause handling problems.

A photo of your boom and mast as well as a photo of the sail itself laid out would be helpful. There may be something setup incorrectly that might be the cause for this problem.
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