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  #1  
Old 11-05-2007
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First-time reefer!

No, this isn't a post about smoking anything, but a report on my first experience reefing sails for (relatively) high-wind sailing.

I have a 1975 Newport 28, which is the first boat I've owned. It's also the first boat I've sailed in winds over 15kt that actually has reef points, so when two of my sailing buddies from the Baltimore Downtown Sailing Center (DSC) and I took her out last Saturday onto the Patapsco River into winds of 17-20 gusting to 23 or so, I knew right away it would be my first experience with reefing the main.

The boat has no reefing lines, so we did it the old-fashioned way, with sail ties. We did it at the dock, feeling around inside the flaked main to find the reef points and all the other little grommets, and used the ties and a bit of small line to secure the sail in place as best we could.

Then we motored out of Rock Creek into the river, where we could see whitecaps and 1 1/2-2ft swells running. When we hoisted the main, it only took a little bit of adjustment to get the sail properly flat, and it looked real nice. I had a camera, but never got around to taking any pictures for some reason. Just having too much fun, sailing in stiff breezes and not worrying about being overpressed with sail for the first time.

We did have a bit of excitement when we hoisted the jib, as my two mates had run the sheets inside the lifelines rather than outside, resulting in a lovely tangle. But we still had the engine going, so I just pointed into the wind until they got everything straight.

More fun even was while we were close-hauled on a starboard tack heading for the Key Bridge, and I commented on how little weather helm there was and joked how we wouldn't have to worry about breaking the tiller. Diane asked, "Do you really think that could happen?", and I told her "Don't even think about that!", as I couldn't think of much worse than to be in winds like those with no tiller (well, except for sinking).

About five minutes after she took the tiller, she said something was pinching her hand, and when we looked down we saw the laminated tiller was coming apart at the seams. It's a beautiful tiller, laminated teak(?) and willow (?), and highly varnished and buffed, and the laminates were coming apart as we watched. As the laminations were horizontal (for side to side strength), and the bolts holding it into the frame were running with the laminations, we figured that it wouldn't take much more separation to come completely off.

I took one look and said, "Time to go home." We grabbed some nylon wire ties from the locker and wrapped them around the tiller to keep it together, and headed in. It held all the way in, and I took it off and home with me. I figure I can get some marine glue, sand it down and reglue it as good as new.

All that aside, I was really impressed with how well she handled with that sail plan in those winds. Double-reefed and the 100 jib, and I think she'd have handled 25-30kt winds with no problems.

We picnicked on the boat after we put everything away, so while we didn't get the full day on the water we wanted, it was some very nice late-season boat time.

Maybe one more before the real cold stuff...?
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  #2  
Old 11-05-2007
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BTW, you really need to install proper reefing lines. If you don't and you put any major stress on the reefing tie points, which aren't reinforced, you're probably going to tear out the mainsail pretty badly.

Congrats and now you know why reefing is a good thing. Helps keep the boat controllable and let's you sail it much flatter and often faster than not reefing the sails would.
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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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Old 11-05-2007
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Well done on both counts. You did "old school" reefing, and you sussed out a tiller delamination problem while you still had a tiller to splint. Not bad at all for a first time on both situations, especially if you were able to get any kind of tension on the foot of the main with just ties.

You still may want to consider converting to jiffy reefing. I've done old school, and the dreaded roller reefing, and jiffy, and the latter wins hands-down. It's hard to tie in those oldie reef points if you didn't do it at the dock and the boat's pitching and rolling, and don't get me started on roller reefing (for mainsails), a boneheaded idea from the word go.

But jiffy, or "slab" reefing, is simple and easy to do underway. You'll need to see your sailmaker, and add some boom hardware (not too much though) but it'll be worth it, you can make those reefing/unreefing decisions as the weather comes and goes rather than seldom as possible because of the effort.

Very good start with a boat that's new to you.
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Old 11-05-2007
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Dont bother trying to repair the tiller.. just splurge and get a new one. if you cant find one...pm me and i'll help.
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Old 11-05-2007
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Nolatom is talking about having some lazyjacks added to your boat. Not a bad idea, and not all that expensive to do.
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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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Old 11-05-2007
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Jasch, Glad you enjoyed it! I'm assuming you have a hank on Jib? Not sure, but some hank ons can be reefed too. I'm guessing you had too much jib for the conditions also. isn't it amazing how well a boat can sail on reduced sails? (shhhhh don't tell! I don't have my reefing lines installed either!)

Epoxy is the best and strongest glue you can use on the tiller handle, except sunlight destroys it. Most tillers are made of mahogany and ash. I'd suggest you repair the old one, keep it as a spare. and get a new one. Don't leave it out in the weather. or get a cover for it.
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Old 11-05-2007
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I'd second denise about fixing the tiller and keeping it as a spare. A cover is generally a good idea for a tiller, since the varnish used on them is generally sensitive to UV as well.
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Telstar 28
New England

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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  #8  
Old 11-05-2007
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The tiller has a cover, which was always on. And the tiller, she is a beauty:



Now, why would I want to relegate this work of art to backup status?

She came apart in my hands when I took the wire ties off. Lived just long enough to get us home safely. Now THAT's a boat!

Regarding the proper reefing lines: how is putting sail ties through the reef points any different than having lines through them? It's still pulling down and out on the grommet. I'm not sure what the smaller grommets between the reef points are called, but I know that line is used there just to keep the sail gathered up on the boom, and not as a stress point.
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Old 11-05-2007
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Actually that work of are is pretty common for tillers! easy to make too! cheaper to buy already made!
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Old 11-05-2007
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Jas-

The smaller grommets aren't designed to hold the sail down while reefed and the lines or ties that go through the grommets are only supposed to be loosely tied to keep the bunt of the reefed sail from flogging. The strain of the reef is supposed to be taken up by the two larger, heavily reinforced, tack and clew grommets, by the luff and leech.

A sail tie through the reefing cringle will generally pull the sail down, but won't necessarily pull the sail aft—in the case of the clew, or forward—in the case of the tack.
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New England

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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