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Go Back   SailNet Community > Skills and Seamanship > Learning to Sail
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Old 04-01-2009
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How Much Wind?

Noobie here. Taking my boat out for the first time this weekend. (21' MacGregor) My question is: How much is too much wind? I was thinking 15mph. I do not have any reefs in my sail. The weather has been predicting 10mph for Sat, but it has been creeping up to about 14 mph forcasted now. I reallllllllyyyyyy want to take my boat out this weekend, but I don't want to be asking for trouble.

Another question: How do you add reefs to your sail? Can this be done yourself or do I need to take it some where?

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Old 04-01-2009
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Welcome to SailNet!!

15 other people will give you 15 other opinions, most likely, but for me: I don't think I'd do first time in a new boat in 10Kts+. There is too much stuff to learn the first few times. Light air is a lot more forgiving.

We were all new at one time - I am far from experienced myself - but I think if you are new enough to be asking the question about reefing, you should probably take the job to a competent sailmaker.

Good luck with the new boat!! - r
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Old 04-01-2009
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If your 21' is like my 17'.....

Then it reefs by rolling the main around the boom. There might be a pin on the front of the boom that you can pull, which will allow it to slide back and rotate (not the pin that keeps it attached to the mast!) Then, somehow, you ease the main halyard whilst rotating the boom, all the while keeping the boom up out of the cockpit (hopefully you have a topping lift.)

I haven't had to do it yet, we were out last week in around 15-20, had to head up in a couple of puffs, but no worse than that. I did add a topping lift recently, I figure that next time we go out I'll experiment with the furling/reefing system.
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Old 04-01-2009
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It depends on the boat, the skill experience of the crew, and the amount of wind and sea state.

A 15 knot breeze is a lot of wind for a sunfish, a lot of fun on a soling, and barely enough to move a Westsail 32.

Adding reefs to your sail is best done by a sailmaker, and not that expensive to do. The reason I don't suggest you do it yourself, is you have to get the position of the reefing tack and clew right, so that the sail has the proper shape when it is reefed. You also have to properly reinforce the sail so the loads are distributed safely. You can't just add the cringles and hope for the best.

I'd point out that the mainsail roller furling systems that work by rolling the main up around the boom, which tortuga mentions, pretty much suck at giving the sail proper shape when reefed. You're much better off adding reefing points and using slab/jiffy reefing instead.
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Old 04-01-2009
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I agree with sailingdog. It depends mainly to the boat. In my opinion 15 knots wind is the limit of your boat. Although she can handle more wind, you should bre prepeared for it. It is agood idea to start sailing this weekend. Be careful and do not take too much risk.
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Old 04-01-2009
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As a newbie, I'd say that if you think there's too much wind to go out in you shouldn't go out. Likewise, if you're wondering whether or not to reef you should reef.
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Old 04-01-2009
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If you never go out in heavier winds, it is really hard to learn to deal with them. You do have to eventually go out in heavier conditions, if only to learn how to deal with them. Do it gradually, and work your way up to do it safely.
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Originally Posted by pthomasjr View Post
As a newbie, I'd say that if you think there's too much wind to go out in you shouldn't go out. Likewise, if you're wondering whether or not to reef you should reef.
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Old 04-01-2009
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I have a Venture (Mac) 21 m'self and after learning a bit, had her out in 25 kts for a white knuckle ride. 15 knots is about the limit for a newbie, especially solo. You'll have a tendency to round up in the puffs until you learn to sheet out and how far you can actually heel. As time went on, I got to where I refused to round up or sheet out and just planted the cabin ports in the water and kept on truckin'. The 21 is a good fun boat so enjoy it.
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Old 04-01-2009
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Nat - welcome to SN, dude. This is a great question. Personally, I liked the 10 mph range when I was just getting started a few months ago. Less than that and it was kind of a drag trying to milk something out of the sails. There's nothing worse than sitting still with dead sails. More than that (15-20), and I was really fighting weather helm.

Generally, I prefer stronger wind now. And I'm slowly learning to handle it a bit better. Practice sure is a lot of fun!
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Old 04-09-2009
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10 to 15 should be fine, you can always dump the main sheet if things get too sporty. If you're bringing the family out for a first sail I'd keep it at 10 or less, you never know how a first timer is going to react to the heeling.
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