3rd Reef in Main? - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 27 Old 01-17-2011 Thread Starter
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3rd Reef in Main?

It seems to me that there is some disagreement out there regarding third reefs in the main. (I am on the verge of adding one to our main.)

Many offshore cruising boats have a third reef. I was reading a book by Hal Roth last night, and he believes in three reefs. As does Larry Pardey, Bill Seifert, and others. John Vigor mentions having two "deep reefs," so I am thinking that might be equivalent to three typical reefs.



Here is a photo of our boat. You can see both existing reefs. (The second one is just above the lowest batten.) I believe that the first reef takes away 15% of the sail, then the second takes another 20% of the total, so two reefs means a 35% reduction. Hal Roth talks of getting down to a 60% reduction through three reefs in the main, and my aim is get to a 50%-60% (reduction) range.

My sailmaker does not agree with the premise that at the point you would be using this, the sail would not be up to the task. But he does think that one would want to TIE in that reef directly to the boom through the new clew. He points out that running a reefing line down through a cheek block on the boom creates a weak point: the block. He thinks that that would be the first part to fail: the block would rip off of the boom. If, like my other cheek blocks (for the 1st and 2nd reefs), that block were screwed on, I think he is right. I am curious if anyone has cheek blocks on the boom which are thru-bolted. On the forward end, the third reef would be held by the reefing hook. (Actually a line running down TO the reefing hook, I never use the reefing hooks directly on the sail, and one would likely be unable to get that third tack down to there.)

I woud be interested in getting feedback on this, both pro and con. If you have three reefs, what is your experience regarding plusses and minuses?

At this point I think that I would just have a line secured to the boom, ready to tie down the third-reef clew. And forget the cheek block. I know that putting that tie in would be an adventure, but I still think that having the reef in the sail would be good insurance.

I think that if you want to have a storm trysail, that is great IF you have a separate track for it, and it's ready to go. I think that trying to remove all of the main's slugs, then hoist a trysail in the main's track is just too much work do do in lousy conditions. And I think that taking the main completely off would be virtually impossible, particularly if the main has full battens like mine.

I do not see this as a hurricane rig. I have been in 30-35 knots of wind with just the staysail up. I remember thinking that the boat would probably be happier with a deeply reefed main, and a reef in the staysail. More balance, no lee helm, lower center of effort.

I am looking to have something to go to in 30-40 knots. There is very little chance I would find myself in higher winds than that, with the type of sailing we do. We mostly sail the coast of Maine, but I am planning to sail to Nova Scotia in July. Directly, it is a 200 mile trip. I see my plan as just a (relatively) inexpensive insurance policy, something to have in my pocket.

Comments?

Dean
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post #2 of 27 Old 01-17-2011
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Talk with your sailmaker more. I believe that the 2 reefs you have aren't really that deep. A third wouldn't be a bad idea except I don't know what weight cloth your current main is. It might not be up to snuff, as your sailmaker claims.

That being said, I think you'll do just fine in 30-35 with what you have, or a #4/blade/ staysail. Yes, a deep reef main and a storm jib would be better, and I agree, I don't like screws holding in hardware on a boom. But how oftern are you forced to sail in 40+ knots? Do you currently plan to do a lot of offshore work? If so, I'd opt for storm sails, and keep what you have.

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post #3 of 27 Old 01-17-2011
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Well, it depends... I have a third reef in my mainsail. To give you an idea of the depth of the third reef, it basically leaves the sail numbers at the boom. Please note, this is not a photo of my boat and this boat does not have a third reef...



This is a pretty deep third reef, but the sail loft that did the work put in very large reinforcing patches for the third reef.

However, I think the main sail would be fine for even storm conditions with this third reef. One thing to realize is that the reduced sail area from a reefed sail will often have far lower forces on it than the unreefed sail does at lower wind speeds.

As for the reefing setup on my boat, I use a two-line reefing system for all three reefs. The tack reefing points are equipped with blocks that are shackled to a ring on the other side of the sail. This allows the line to pull the tack reefing point down without much friction. The first reef uses the same setup for the clew reefing point. For the second and third reefs, I added a Goiot-made reefing block to the cringle to simplify matters.



The reason I chose to use the Goiot Reefing Blocks for the second and third reefs is to prevent the reefing lines from hanging up on the backstay. When I originally setup the reefing blocks, using the conventional setup I am using for the tack and first reef clew reefing cringles, I found the blocks for the second and third reefing clew cringles would hang on the backstay due to the extended roach of the mainsail. Another advantage of the Goiot blocks is less weight aloft, and the reefing lines for the second and third reefing clews now goes around the sail and helps secure the bunt of the reefed sail to the boom. All six reefing lines are all lead back to a third cabintop winch and are secured using line clutches.

One major reason I opted for the deep third reef instead of a dedicated storm sail is the issue of having to change out the storm sail. Setting a third reef made more sense and can be done very quickly without the need to leave the cockpit in the heavier seas and winds that would necessitate the use of a storm trysail or third reef. The mainsail on a trimaran is generally heavier cloth than that of a similarly sized monohull sail, since a trimaran can't bleed off the excess wind forces by heeling the way a monohull does, and was another consideration for going with a deep third reef instead of a storm trysail.

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Last edited by sailingdog; 01-17-2011 at 11:09 AM.
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post #4 of 27 Old 01-17-2011
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+1 on three reefs. Sailmakers shy away from them but I know plenty of people in the Storm Trysail club that have never flown a trysail. Three reefs is inherently easier.
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post #5 of 27 Old 01-17-2011
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IMHP about the time you need a third reef a strorm trisail may be a better path as that kind of wind realy puts a beating on the sail

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post #6 of 27 Old 01-17-2011
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I have three reefs in my main and have been glad to have them all offshore.

No cheek blocks anywhere. I have rings and hooks at the luff and reefing lines at the leech. Careful rigging at the leech means the reefing lines pull the bunt down AND acts as an outhaul.

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post #7 of 27 Old 01-17-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SVAuspicious View Post
I have three reefs in my main and have been glad to have them all offshore.

No cheek blocks anywhere. I have rings and hooks at the luff and reefing lines at the leech. Careful rigging at the leech means the reefing lines pull the bunt down AND acts as an outhaul.
Do the reefing lines go to a block in the end of the boom instead of a cheek block?

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her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.

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post #8 of 27 Old 01-17-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sailingdog View Post
...
...
.. For the second and third reefs, I added a Goiot-made reefing block to the cringle to simplify matters.


....
One major reason I opted for the deep third reef instead of a dedicated storm sail is the issue of having to change out the storm sail. Setting a third reef made more sense and can be done very quickly without the need to leave the cockpit in the heavier seas and winds that would necessitate the use of a storm trysail or third reef. ....
That makes sense In my previous boat I used also the Goiot reefing blocks. With one of those that problem mentioned by the sailmaiker regarding the possibility of a failing block is not an issue because the Goiot block is inside the clew "ring".

Regards

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post #9 of 27 Old 01-17-2011
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That's another reason I used the Goiot blocks for the SECOND and THIRD reefs... The loads are probably low enough on the first reef that it isn't an issue, but on the second and third reefs, that may not be the case. However, the blocks I am using for the other reefing cringles have an SWL of 1760 lbs., so I feel fairly confident they'll manage anything I put them through.

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Originally Posted by PCP View Post
That makes sense In my previous boat I used also the Goiot reefing blocks. With one of those that problem mentioned by the sailmaiker regarding the possibility of a failing block is not an issue because the Goiot block is inside the clew "ring".

Regards

Paulo

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her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.

—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)

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post #10 of 27 Old 01-17-2011
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LOL Dog ...60% of the time I go to look something up there you are , You my friend are on the ball !

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