Alex, our existing system just has ugly (and probably boom weakening) slots in it - I hadn't thought of using exit slots - that's a great idea! Thank you for the photos and drawings - they are greatly appreciated!
No need to run the reefing lines inside the boom, as long as you keep it fairly taut and use two or three fairleads along the boom to help prevent the line from sagging, as Sasha_V has suggested.
You don't really need two reefs on a 18' boat, but it really depends on how many reefs your mainsail has. If the mainsail only has one...you certainly don't need two reefing line sets..
SD, I can say from experience that you really do need two reefs on an 18' boat. We've got two sets of reefs in the main and I've found over the past few weeks that I have the following choices of sails to keep the boat balanced:
- Wind speed < 10 knots = No reefs + #1 headsail
- Wind speed 10-15 knots = 1 reef + #2 headsail
- Wind speed > 15 knots = 2 reefs + storm jib
Since the weather of late has rarely got below 10 knots whenever we've been on the water, with only a single reefing line we've had to heave-to to put in/shake out the 2nd reef - not a comfortable excersize on a 18' boat in 6' waves and something I want to avoid!
BTW, I would highly, recommend you use a tack hook and reefing line, or a two-line reefing line setup, rather than a single line to do both the tack cringle and the clew cringles. The reason is that the tack hook or two-line reefing setups allow you to control the sail shape a lot better than a single-line reefing system does IMHO.
I'm currently using a two-line reefing setup (tack hook) for all the reasons you mention and have no plans to change it right now.
Do you plan to run the lines aft or cleat them forward on the boom?
Ron, I plan to cleat them forward on the boom (no room on the cabin top to run them aft). Any ideas on what sort of cleats to use? V-jam, cam-cleats or just ordinary ones??
Thanks all for the advice - Sasha, expect an email shortly