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post #1 of 18 Old 05-22-2013 Thread Starter
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Reefing set-up for Contessa

I know there are other threads on the subject but I thought I'd post my situation.

So right now I've got a Contessa 26 with a completely stock set-up. No traveler, hank on headsail, winches and lines at the mast. This is all fine with me except the reefing just isn't set-up right.

Currently I have two in-boom outhauls, one running to the clew and the other running to the first reef point. Naturally tightening the reefing outhaul (if that's the right term) doesn't help hold the foot of the mainsail down to the boom (this isn't helped by the fact that the boom is 1-2' longer than the foot of the main to begin with).

Not knowing what else to do, the handful of times I've reefed I've usually found a short line and lashed the clew down to the boom.

So I'm looking for suggestions for system improvements or techniques. Simple and quick are best at the moment (wanting to launch soon), but I also want to consider long term upgrades.
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post #2 of 18 Old 05-23-2013
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Re: Reefing set-up for Contessa

Harken and Ronstan have various single and double line reefing system diagrams in their technical information. On my Vega, which sounds pretty much like your Contessa, I've actually found I like the simplicity of the system. My previous boat, although smaller, I had modified with all the sails controls coming back to the cockpit but really found it a waste of time on such a small boat, even when single handing.

The big problem with the Vega is it used a roller reefing boom, now hopelessly out of favour in the type of configuration used. Consequently it is no longer used which leaves no original reefing system. My simplified reefing consists of using an "S" hook at the front of the boom that attaches permanently to the gooseneck and hooks into the selected reefing cringle at the tack. At the rear of the boom, I use a piece of rope (the same piece of rope I use to tie the boom off to the backstay to stop it from swinging when moored) to pull the clew downwards and backwards and tie it off at the end of the boom. There is a way to wrap the line around the clew's reefing cringle so that it pulls down as well as out when tensioned. As for tensioning, I had no problems with simply hand tensioning the clew reefing line (without the sail filled, of course), but thought I could improve on it, even though the boat still points well when reefed which is really all the sail shape I care about. I installed a turnbuckle to allow me to mechanically tension the reefing line at the clew, but found that all it really did was put too much tension on the foot of the sail and caused the sail slugs to pop free from the lower part of the luff. My solution will be to rig up a cunningham for my sail which I think will solve the tensioning problems, and will be easy to implement and use.

From your description, the forward in-boom outhaul might actually be a cunningham control?
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post #3 of 18 Old 05-23-2013
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Re: Reefing set-up for Contessa

Does what you refer to as your 'reef outhaul' lead from a boom end sheave straight up to the reef clew and is it tied off there? On our boat the clew reef lines run from the boom end, up to the clew cringle, then down to the boom to a point just aft of the 'outhauled' position of the reefed clew. This gives more downward pull as well as 'outhaul' ability. However with the boom that much longer you may want another padeye on the boom so that your clew reef line runs along the boom first them up to the cringle and back down the other side. Both attachment point and padeye could be in a similar/same location on either side. This would fully address the 'down' pull you need. Just be sure the points are far enough aft on the boom to give the reefed sail adequate foot tension.

Ron

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Re: Reefing set-up for Contessa

Faster, yes that's what I meant. It's tied off at the reef clew and that's it.

What do you have on the boom to attach the clew reef line? I've seen cleats in some cases which seems like a reasonably simple solution.

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Originally Posted by ReefMagnet View Post
Harken and Ronstan have various single and double line reefing system diagrams in their technical information. On my Vega, which sounds pretty much like your Contessa, I've actually found I like the simplicity of the system. My previous boat, although smaller, I had modified with all the sails controls coming back to the cockpit but really found it a waste of time on such a small boat, even when single handing.

The big problem with the Vega is it used a roller reefing boom, now hopelessly out of favour in the type of configuration used. Consequently it is no longer used which leaves no original reefing system. My simplified reefing consists of using an "S" hook at the front of the boom that attaches permanently to the gooseneck and hooks into the selected reefing cringle at the tack. At the rear of the boom, I use a piece of rope (the same piece of rope I use to tie the boom off to the backstay to stop it from swinging when moored) to pull the clew downwards and backwards and tie it off at the end of the boom. There is a way to wrap the line around the clew's reefing cringle so that it pulls down as well as out when tensioned. As for tensioning, I had no problems with simply hand tensioning the clew reefing line (without the sail filled, of course), but thought I could improve on it, even though the boat still points well when reefed which is really all the sail shape I care about. I installed a turnbuckle to allow me to mechanically tension the reefing line at the clew, but found that all it really did was put too much tension on the foot of the sail and caused the sail slugs to pop free from the lower part of the luff. My solution will be to rig up a cunningham for my sail which I think will solve the tensioning problems, and will be easy to implement and use.

From your description, the forward in-boom outhaul might actually be a cunningham control?
Forward it's just two hooks on the goosneck for attaching the forward reefing points.

So what's the method for running the line so it pulls both out and down? Someone had suggested tying a bowline around the boom but I'm not able to picture how exactly that works (it's not a loose footed main so the bowline can't get around the boom where the sail is). I could perhaps see the line running through the clew, around the boom, and back up to the clew. But I'm not sure I'd want to leave that hanging around all the time.
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post #5 of 18 Old 05-23-2013
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Re: Reefing set-up for Contessa

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Faster, yes that's what I meant. It's tied off at the reef clew and that's it.

What do you have on the boom to attach the clew reef line? I've seen cleats in some cases which seems like a reasonably simple solution.
Since you don't have a loose footed main (converting is a possibility, btw) you'll need some padeyes, or a cleat but a padeye is less obtrusive. You could also use a cheekblock for the one 'running' side for less friction.

Ron

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Re: Reefing set-up for Contessa

Ignore the complicated car setup in this diagram, but notice how the outhaul line is run:


The reefing line starts in the boom attached to a padeye and goes up to the sail, then back to the end of the boom and internal to the boom.

That uses one side of the reefing line to pull down, and the other to pull it back.

I have an Isomat boom and found internal reefing annoying, so I switched to a normal external reefing setup with a padeye on one side of the boom and a block on the other.

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Re: Reefing set-up for Contessa

Faster, I like the padeye idea. That's simple and the least intrusive.

Alex, just one padeye for the first reef? And one block? Do you have a second or 3rd reef and what do you do then?

I've got 3 reefs so it seems I could do 3 padeyes. The only problem here is that it's less ideal to have the reefing line going all the way to the end of the boom. But currently, with my two lines at the end of the boom I can leapfrog the lines to move up in reefs - one line is the normal outhaul and the second is the first reef, then when I use the first reef I can move the normal outhaul to the second reef, etc.

If I added a single block with a single line that would only get me to the first reef and I couldn't move that line easily to the next. Does that make sense?
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Re: Reefing set-up for Contessa

Since you've got such a long reach to the end of the boom a quick fix might be to go to a sailmaker and have a velcro clew strap made.. you could transfer it from clew to clew as needed to hold the clew down on the boom.. that might save you some hardware and result in a cleaner reef.

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Re: Reefing set-up for Contessa

I only have one reef on my Pearson 28-2. There are padeyes on the boom for two of them however, and I'd have to add a second block to use the second one (or run one of them inside the boom, it has blocks for 3 lines and I'm only using two of them, outhaul and topping lift.

The main on my Catalina 25 was held on with the type of velcro strap that Faster recommends. It works really nicely, but it is a pain to use and might be hard to transfer between sails.

If your boom has no protrusions you could tie (or splice) a bowline into the of your reefing lines and pass that over the boom. That would do the job of the padeye, require no hardware. The new owner of my Catalina 25 is experimenting with that on his reefing line and it seems to work for him.

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Re: Reefing set-up for Contessa

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I only have one reef on my Pearson 28-2. There are padeyes on the boom for two of them however, and I'd have to add a second block to use the second one (or run one of them inside the boom, it has blocks for 3 lines and I'm only using two of them, outhaul and topping lift.

The main on my Catalina 25 was held on with the type of velcro strap that Faster recommends. It works really nicely, but it is a pain to use and might be hard to transfer between sails.

If your boom has no protrusions you could tie (or splice) a bowline into the of your reefing lines and pass that over the boom. That would do the job of the padeye, require no hardware. The new owner of my Catalina 25 is experimenting with that on his reefing line and it seems to work for him.
I have a hard time seeing the bowline work with a non loose footed main. Is that what you meant? I could run the line through the clew then back to the boom with a bowline but the sail would have to feed through the bowline as I moved up in reefs? This seems cumbersome and the bowline would have to be fairly loose to allow this.

As for the velcro that's obviously simple. Why was it a pain to use? I didn't know velcro was considered proper equipment for something like this but I don't really have a problem with it. The only downside is that I thought it was attractive to head up to the mast, reef and be done. This simply adds one more step following that. Velcro is much better than trying to tie an extra line like I was doing however.

Faster, any reason I'd go to the sail loft for velcro instead of just any store?
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