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Old 07-13-2006
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How Do You Reef the Mainsail?

Okay, this is probably an obvious question but please humor me anyways. All I want to know is how do you reef the mainsail and what do you need to do it?

All the "learn to sail" books I've read talk about it, but none show you HOW to do it. I got the boat used, so if I have no idea if the running or standing rigging needed to do this is in the box of "supplies" that I found in the boat.

The main has a set of reef points, I just don't know what to do with them. If any one has pictures on the web of their mainsail reefed even better. I'm a visual learner. Thanks in advance for any assistance!

Mike
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Old 07-13-2006
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Use pieces of rope (reef ties) long enough to wrap around the boom and sail. Slip them through the reef points and tie a knot on each side so they stay where you put them. When you reef the sail you lower it to the point where you can tie the rope around the boom effectively decreasing the amount of sail you have. I've also seen it done with one continuous rope (reef line) that loops around the boom and through all reef points.

Just read the link that sufesq provided, its all the basics you would need. After that, try it.

Last edited by Sonofasonofasailor; 07-13-2006 at 05:41 PM.
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Old 07-13-2006
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Harken has a detailed picutre of two different set ups for reefing the main on their web site.

Good Luck, I know how you feel. I bought my first sail boat in Oct, with very little knowledge. Had to decommision it and put it back together the next year. This was before they left the masts up while on the hard.

I still mess with my reefing lines trying to find an easier way.
Good Luck

John
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Old 07-13-2006
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When you say you have "reef points" are there pieces of rope hanging from the main? Give us a description so we can help a bit more!
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Old 07-13-2006
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I Drop the sail to a pre determined point, marked on the halyard, then attach the reef point to a tack hook. I have a reefing line that runs from the boom up through the reef point on the leech back down to the boom around a sheave and forward (inside the boom) to an exit block and back to a boom mounted winch. This allows me to reef very quickly, I just lower the sail re-tension the halyard then winch down the back and off you go.
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Old 07-13-2006
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Because I am the only one who knows about Google....

Here you go Dude...No charge

(edited by tdw....the original link is to a hacked page....yeah I know this was posted three years ago by the late great and well remembered SurfEsq himself, but it was brought to my attention.)

Last edited by tdw; 06-13-2009 at 09:26 PM.
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Old 07-13-2006
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Mike,

It would be helpful to know the type and size of boat and a description of the boom.

The first thing to remember: the best time to reef is the first time you think about it. Don't analyze the situation (unless racing with crew), just reef the main. Shaking a reef in later is easier than shortening sail in heavy air conditions; there's little or nor risk sailing with shortened sails. This rule of thumb was taught to me when I was a young boy and it has saved me many times since then.

In general, for slab reefing, a line is typically tacked at the back-end of the boom, run up through the reef point in the leach of the sail, back down to the boom, through a turning block and then to a winch and a cleat.

The luff of the sail is typically tacked with eye loops.

To begin, head up, don't get back winded, and luff the sail. Ease off on the main halyard until the eye loop on the luff of the sail is hooked into one of the two hooks located on the boom. Before raising the sail, I typically tighten the reefline, the one described above, and make sure that the reefed clue of the sail is secured tightly to the boom.

Raise the mainsail - make sure the luff is taught in heavy air - and tie down the sail fabric to the boom. I use sail ties run through the Small grommets.

You're finished! Fall off and continue sailing.
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Old 07-13-2006
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Most mainsails, at least on larger boats will have a series of grommets or cringles going across the sail, almost parallel to the boom. The lowest of these is the first reef, the higher the second reef, and in some cases there is a third reef.

If you're using slab reefing or jiffy reefing, then there should be a line tied to the boom, running up to the leech side cringle and then back down to a sheave in the end of the boom. If there isn't then you need to set these lines up.

These lines act to hold the clew of the reef down and out. The luff end of the reef is usually attached to a hook on the gooseneck of the boom.

As Sialia said...if you're even thinking about, that's the time to do it. A good setup will allow two people to throw a reef in the main in under a minute.

To reef:

First come head up until the sail is luffing.

Tighten up on the topping lift a bit, lower the mainsail and get the luff reef cringle on the reefing hook.

Tighten up on the main halyard to keep the reef cringle on the hook and cleat it off.

Tighten the reefing line as tight as possible and cleat it off. Ease the topping lift.

Put sail ties through the reefing points if you're going to be keeping the reef in for some time, otherwise don't bother.

When shaking out a reef:

Remember to undo any sail ties before trying to shake out a reef, otherwise you risk tearing the sail at a grommet. Tighten the topping lift a bit. Then release the reefing line, which passes through the leech reef cringle. Then lower the main and remove the luff reef cringle from the hook and raise the main. Tighten the main halyard and cleat it off. Ease the topping lift.

A couple of other points:

Tightening the topping lift makes it easier to snug up the reefing line. Lazyjacks can help keep the sail fabric under control, even if you don't use sail ties to lash it to the boom.

I would highly recommend practicing this until you can do it in under a minute. It gets much harder to do when the wind is blowing like stink, the boat is being thrown about by large waves, and the rain is pouring in to your face and down your neck.
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Last edited by sailingdog; 07-13-2006 at 04:27 PM.
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Old 07-13-2006
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Reef Early

Reef early has been mentioned. Since you asked this question, you might not be cruising for all that long or all that far, nor have I for that matter. Early for me means reefing at the dock. It's a lot easier to take out than put in.

BTW, the forces on the sail is amazing. I was told to use a sail tie to secure the clew grommet. The wind wasn't all that strong, and the ribbon tie parted. I now use line.

Also, if your sail is loose footed, there is controvsy if the reef point ties should go around the boom or between the boom and the sail. I prefer between, but since I'm almost a tyro, how do I know?
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TejasSailer
Reef early has been mentioned. Since you asked this question, you might not be cruising for all that long or all that far, nor have I for that matter. Early for me means reefing at the dock. It's a lot easier to take out than put in.

BTW, the forces on the sail is amazing. I was told to use a sail tie to secure the clew grommet. The wind wasn't all that strong, and the ribbon tie parted. I now use line.

Also, if your sail is loose footed, there is controvsy if the reef point ties should go around the boom or between the boom and the sail. I prefer between, but since I'm almost a tyro, how do I know?
You really need to use a fairly heavy line to secure a clew reefing cringle. The line on my boat is 3/8" and the mainsail is only 242 sq. ft.

If it is really blowing, I will reef the sail as I am leaving the dock. I can't actually reef at the dock, as the wind is usually behind the boat, and the amas on my trimaran need to be folded to have it fit in the slip.

As for whether it should go around the boom or between. I think around the boom is better, as it keeps the sail fabric more securely confined. It also helps spread the strain across more of the sail reefing area, rather than leaving it concentrated at the reefing clew and reefing tack points.
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You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
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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