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scurvy 11-22-2006 08:42 AM

Gathering Sail
Hi everyone!

Had a thread a week or so ago about the Pros and Cons of a loose footed sail versus the bolt-rope which somehow (thankfully) got on the topic of reefing.

The question I was left with was whether or not it is prudent to gather the foot and take a couple loose ties around the boom? Some say yes and others recommend that one never secures the foot of the sail to the boom due to undue stress on the sail itself or possible damage to the boom. I am confused? :confused:

Any help with this dillema would be appreciated!
Thanks Folks

Faster 11-22-2006 10:06 AM

We rarely bother to gather (tie up) the reefed portion of the sail. It ends up hanging off the boom, not getting in anyone's way. If we double reef, it's usually after a single so the 1st reef's lines are tight, and the reefed portion of the sail is bulkier but doesn't really hang down any further. The reef ties (other than clew and tack) should not be loaded.

It's partly laziness, as shaking out the reef is a much quicker operation if the whole thing isn't laced up. If your sail has a particularly deep reef, or if the hanging sailcloth interferes or might snag on something on deck then it may be necessary to gather it up. For an extremely long, very windy leg I'd be tempted to secure everything simply from a windage point of view.

Mostly, where we sail, reefs are in for relatively short legs, and sometimes go in and out several times on a trip. Not lacing things up makes these transitions easier and faster to do.

What you really don't want to do, if you tie the reef in at the dock beforehand, is tightly tie the reef ties around the boom. When you hoist the sail and it fills you will put too much strain on those points.

RayMetz100 11-22-2006 10:33 AM

I'm no expert, but I've only reefed three times and always with loose footed mainsails on a small jboat, the outhaul is attached to the clew reefing point. Because the sail is a triangle, the outhaul is now much longer than when the sail wasn't reefed. Maybe 10 inches reefed vs. 3 inches unreefed. The angle on that 10 inches is almost horizontal or running along the boom.

As you sail with it reefed and the heavy wind gets on the sail, there is a lot of pressure on the outhaul. This is compounded by the leverage it gets when going from the horizontal direction along the boom, to the vertical force it recieves from the wind, up and away from the boom.

It's somewhat like pulling the string on a bow and arrow. It would be too tight to stretch if you tried to pull one end of the string itself, but if you grab the string in the middle of a bow and pull away from both points, you have more leverage and something has to give, the bow frame or the string. So in this case, the boom is a bow frame that isn't going to give. The bow string is the outhaul and reefed foot of the sail. The archer is the wind, pulling the reefed mainsail at the point where the reefing clew meets that reefed foot.

In our case, this force was too much. In several occations and what gave was the outhaul cleat holding the outhaul in and the back of the main came up. If it had been tied down in the middle, it's possible there would be alot of pressure on that back tie point and it could have ripped the sail. I think this is why some people don't recommend using solid ties in the middle. Someone recommended bungie cords, that may work.

We also tried lashing the reefing clew to the boom and the outhaul at the same time. this seemed to help remove pressure on the outhaul, but I don't know if we were supposed to do that.

scurvy 11-22-2006 11:07 AM

Gathering Sail
Good suggestions,

I have always run loose chord and sometimes 3/4" nylon tubular webbing around the boom just to keep things neat and away from entanglement. The idea was so that if the clew needed adjustements, the foot would be able to move (such as tightening). I imagine that if it were really cranked down through the reefing cringles, that the pull would be from where the foot was attached through the cringles and this would be very bad...not only for improper sail shape, but I could see the sail possibly tearing at that point. Just curious...some feel real strong about never tying off around the boom...others have done it for years with no problems. Tomato...tomahto? :D


Faster 11-22-2006 12:20 PM

The angle of the reef clew line is critical to proper setting of the sail when reefed. This line has to provide the outhaul function, as well as keep the clew down on the boom for proper sail shape. If the clew lifts off the boom too much you might even run out of sheeting room on the mainsheet.

If the attached end of the clew reef line is slightly aft of the intended position of the "outhauled" reefed position, and the turning block on the other side of the boom is appropriately further aft of that point, you will get a downward pull and an aft pull to put the clew in the proper relationship to the boom and the rest of the sail. You lose some mechanical advantage, but pulling in the reef is still possible provided you don't try to do it with a load on the sail (also try to support the boom so you aren't lifting the boom at the same time)

sailingdog 11-22-2006 08:27 PM

I think whether you tie up the bunt of the sail is really dependent on what you're doing. If you're out for a daysail, and going to be going back to the dock at the end of the day, it probably isn't necessary. If you're on a two-week bluewater passage, it probably makes sense to neaten up the sail and tie it up to prevent it from chafing over a long period of time.

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