Join Date: Feb 2000
Location: Annapolis, Md
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Moving the winches to mast would make your boat very difficult if not dangerous to singlehand in heavy air. You cannot afford to have a jib sheet snag a mast mounted winch during a tack in heavy air on a small boat when you are single-handed. You also cannot afford to leave the cockpit to reef in gusty-shifty conditions, and ideally you need to be able to reef reliably on the fly (i.e. without heading into the wind) which strongly speaks to having both a tack and clew reefline for each reef lead back to the cockpit.
I had a similar sail arrangement to your boat when I owned my Laser 28. I improvised a couple systems that made single-handing much easier. Initially, I added a horseshoe style luff pre-feeder for the mainsail similar to the luff pre-feeder that you would use on an old style jib foil. It was attached to the gooseneck on short strop. That allowed me to raise the sail from the cockpit.
The Laser 28 has a very generous sail plan and so, for single-handing, needed to be reefed at winds approach the high teens. I set up a two line reefing system for both reefs that was lead aft to the cockpit winches. The clew reef lines came with the boat, but the tack reef lines were something that I added. Basically, I tied the tack reef line to an eye near the deck (on my current boat the line is tied to an eye on the mast base organizer). It passed through a shackle at the tack fitting which kept the reef line near the gooseneck, and then up through the reef cringle, then down the sail to a block at the deck and then back to the winch. On that boat, I had an open cam cleat that I could use for either reef, but on my current boat, I have stoppers for both clew and tacklines for both reefs. In general I try to run the tack reefline to the winch on one side of the boat, and the clew reef line to the other so that they can be wrapped on the winch, handle in place when I begin to reef.
I also mark the main halyard so I knew precisely how much halyard to release when I began to reef. This saved a lot of time since I could precisely drop the halyard, pull in the tack reefline, and then pull in the clew reef line. The whole process could happen on almost any point of sail in a couple minutes. On the Laser 28, I could steer with the tilller between my legs and reef at the same time. On my current boat, I use the autopilot.
On the Laser 28, which has a bolt rope on its luff, I made a 'roller' out of a piece of PVC pipe that allowed me to roll the mainsail at the end of a day of sail single-handed. The way it worked was that I had a small loop of light line tied to the headboard of the mainsail. The pvc pile had to loops of shockchord roughly 18" apart. I had a dowel that would pass through one shockchord, then the small loop of line on the headboard, and then through the other shockchord. I hung the tube off the cunningham forward and stood at the leech and rolled the sail around the pipe. When the sail was rolled, I hung it from sail ties, pulled out the dowel, which disconnected the sail from the pvc pipe, and then removed and stowed the pipe. I later coverted the mainsail to slugs.
On the jib with a boltrope and foil on the luff, I had a sail that I set aside strictly for short-handing which I had the sail maker add half a dozen or so small cringles along the luff. I made up short ties that I could pass through those cringles and which tied around the luff and which kept the sail near the headstay when dropped. I made the ties out of small webbing that I stitched a small loop in one end and a loop with a small plastic snap hook in the other end. These did not have to be very strong since they were only there to keep the sail attached to the stay when the sail was dropped when single-handed. The webbing helped me flake the sail, but more often than not, I used the same sail roller than I had made for the mainsail. I actually did not use the ties all that often, mostly when cruising and bad weather was predicted. I also added light line nettingt to the forward lifelines to keep the sail on the deck when dropped. I raised the sail using the prefeeder which came with the 'TuffLuff" foils and which was very good as long as you kept it lubed with Sailcote.
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Curmudgeon at Large- and rhinestone in the rough, sailing my Farr 11.6 on the Chesapeake Bay