Best line type for reefing lines? - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 11 Old 04-20-2013 Thread Starter
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Best line type for reefing lines?

I've got a new mainsail coming and I specified new spots for reef clews. That means moving the attachments at the boom, and probably (because they're much deeper reefs) that the current Sta-set lines will be too short.

What's the best line to use for reefing lines? I was thinking that spectra/amsteel would be good since they're flopping all over the sail all the time and since they're slick they would chafe less. How good is the U/V resistance for uncovered amsteel anyway?

Thin lines? Thick lines? Fancy or regular? Any thoughts?

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post #2 of 11 Old 04-20-2013
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Re: Best line type for reefing lines?

I use spectra, it's one size down from my halyards. Others might have better suggestions about the type.

But I do suggest color coding the reef lines. tack and clew for first reef is one color. tack and clew for second reef another color. ditto for third. I go to the mast to reef, so every little thing helps. but even if you reef from the cockpit I'd think color coding would be a benefit.

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post #3 of 11 Old 04-20-2013
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Re: Best line type for reefing lines?

I use Amsteel spliced to double braid. The Amsteel lays against the sail (where being slick is helpful) and is very low stretch. The double braid goes through the clutch and around the winch.

The splice is shown on L-36.com (the author calls it a halyard splice).

Previously I just used a low stretch line such as Samson XLS Extra. It doesn't slide as nicely along the sail, but it also doesn't require splicing.
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post #4 of 11 Old 04-21-2013
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Re: Best line type for reefing lines?

Shoot me down if you like, but I'd question why you'd need to use low-stretch line for reefing - I would have thought straight double-braid would be fine for the task.

Unlike the outhaul which needs to be adjustable under tension, the object of a reefing line is (usually) to hitch the clew hard down to the boom in a blow, so having a little stretch might take some of the stress off the clews both (a) whilst taking shock-loads in the process of reefing, (b) after it's been winched up too tight by a panicky crewperson and (c) when a wave breaks over and lands in the foot of the bunched main ..

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Last edited by Classic30; 04-21-2013 at 11:47 PM.
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post #5 of 11 Old 04-22-2013
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Re: Best line type for reefing lines?

The reefing line is acting as the outhaul when reefed. It draws the sail down and back. A stretchy one seems like it would allow for the sail to have a bigger belly, which is exactly what I don't want when I'm reefed.

I could be wrong. It's also generally not that long of a line, so stretch is less of a concern than on something like a halyard.

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post #6 of 11 Old 04-22-2013
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Re: Best line type for reefing lines?

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I could be wrong. It's also generally not that long of a line, so stretch is less of a concern than on something like a halyard.
...unless you have lines led to the cockpit. Single line reefing might have a pretty long line. It will not only allow the clew to rise and move in, but would also allow the tack to rise. Both would result in more shape to the sail, which is what you are trying to avoid. I would say limiting stretch in any running rigging on the main is proportionally as important as the line is long.

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post #7 of 11 Old 04-22-2013
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Re: Best line type for reefing lines?

Ideally all lines would be dyneema or vectran core, but those are not cheap.

Pricey would be to use single braid SK78 with dyneema chafe sleeve in the areas that you need it. Then add a technora cover to where it's cleated or clutched to help it grip. No cover anywhere else for weigh and windage savings.

An easier solution is to use something like VPC or MLX or XLS Extra, keep the cover and size it for the tailers or clutches.

You definitely want to error on the LARGER size for reef lines. Expecially if going offshore. A reefed sail's biggest enemy is chafe. And if you have a larger line, it's the easiest way to prevent broken lines due to chafe. They cover this in the Safety at Sea class US sailing offers. They also recommend carrying a second reef line and say that you should assume that your primary will chafe through.

Stetchy reef lines are not good. Just like stretchy halyards, they continuously stretch over sheaves, deck organizers, mast exists, clew cringles, etc. This minimal rubbing under great load will cause the line to fail. That's another big PLUS for low stretch lines.

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post #8 of 11 Old 04-22-2013
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Re: Best line type for reefing lines?

Definitely use something with low stretch as the outhaul issue already pointed out being the reason why. We use endurabraid, figuring on less abrasion might help the dyneema core last a little longer. The diameter is one mm down from our halyards and we reef at the mast, so they aren't terribly long.
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post #9 of 11 Old 04-22-2013
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Re: Best line type for reefing lines?

And to answer your question about UV stability and dyneema, it's extremely UV stable. More so than almost any other line available today. No worries there.

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post #10 of 11 Old 04-22-2013
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Re: Best line type for reefing lines?

The effective length of my reefing line is 19', even routed back to the cockpit. It is a lot longer when it isn't in use, but that length doesn't matter. The "in use" length is basically the length of the boom, the height of the boom on the mast, and then about 2/3rds of the length of the boom to get the line back to the cockpit.

I use bare dyneema (spliced to double braid) in a fairly small size (5/32") because it slides very nicely over the sail and around the cringles in the sail. If I had blocks on my sail instead of just cringles I would use a low stretch double braid. I do check it for chafe regularly.

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