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post #21 of 64 Old 11-02-2015 Thread Starter
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Re: Reefing Downwind

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What's wrong with rounding up, tucking in a reef, bearing off again and going on your way? Less wear and tear and likely just as quick.
The scenario described in the class was that you were battling conditions that would not allow you to head upwind.

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post #22 of 64 Old 11-03-2015
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Re: Reefing Downwind

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The scenario described in the class was that you were battling conditions that would not allow you to head upwind.
On my boat I would already be reefed before I was "battling conditions that would not allow [me] to head upwind". And IF I did find myself in such a predicament, I would be trying to take my main down, not reef it. Possible with a knife handy... YMMV

Interesting tabletop exercise though...
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post #23 of 64 Old 11-03-2015
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post #24 of 64 Old 11-03-2015
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Re: Reefing Downwind


RYA is suggesting "light to moderate" winds with ample crew. IMHO that makes some sense.
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post #25 of 64 Old 11-03-2015
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Re: Reefing Downwind

Hey,

I don't have lots and lots of experience reefing in conditions like that.

I have done it a few times when racing. In those conditions we have plenty of experienced sailors on board, and we can't afford to waste any time. So then we will reef going downwind. It's 'all hands on deck' and we get it done but it's not fun or pretty.

When I'm on my boat I'm almost always short handed. I have had to reef downwind just one time. Then I rolled up the headsail, started the engine, turned upwind, reefed, turned back down, turned the engine off, and rolled out a little headsail. I wasn't racing, so i had all the time I needed to put the reef in. We were actually trying to outrun a storm (fail) otherwise I probably would have just dropped the main altogether, which I have done a few time, and just sailed on the headsail.

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Barry Lenoble
Deep Blue C, 2002 C&C 110
Mt. Sinai, NY

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post #26 of 64 Old 11-03-2015 Thread Starter
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Re: Reefing Downwind

On a related subject I just heard about a rig failure from my rigger.

Apparently a guy caught some weather off Montauk NY.

I believe he was by himself. He reefed and then started motoring.

After a while, he was exhausted and dropped all sails and laid ahull and slept.

The rig fell down but he was able to save the boat eventually.

The rigger felt that with that boat, a hunter I believe, the constant whipping of the mast with light stays caused the mast to buckle.

He surmised that if was able to leave even a little sail up it would have stablized the rig a little more and saved the rig at the expece of the sail of course.

Shows the need for a storm trysail, when you need it you need it.

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post #27 of 64 Old 11-03-2015
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Re: Reefing Downwind

Just thinking about this. I can't see how I would reef downwind with my massive main in anything but light winds. What I have done is come up on a beam reach such that I can depower the main while running on foresail (yankee or staysail) alone. I'm in a near hove-to position then, although still fore-reaching. I then can reef normally and get back on track fairly quickly.

Why go fast, when you can go slow.
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post #28 of 64 Old 11-04-2015 Thread Starter
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Re: Reefing Downwind

The instructor was not talking about light wind but survival situations. Specifically when waves were high enough so the boat would be sheltered in the troughs.

The idea was according to the instructor that if you were fast enough you could reef while in a trough which was supposed to be a couple minutes or less.

It was also supposed to be a technique for couples sailing.

Frankly I don't see it. I am reluctant to say something is impossible however as all someone has to do is do the impossible to make it possible.

As BS said not having battons may make a big difference.

The lesson from the Icarus story is not about human failing.
It is a lesson about the limitations of wax as an adhesive.
If you have an engineering problem solve it.
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post #29 of 64 Old 11-04-2015
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Re: Reefing Downwind

Logically you have to ask, how can a sailor delay reefing his sails until the conditions have reached survival proportions, and until the waves are so high that they will create a lull in the troughs? It's a little far fetched to think that anyone would not take action until he had run out of options, and his only recourse was to tuck in a reef while sailing downwind.

A more realistic scenario would be that the mainsail is already single or double reefed, in survival conditions, and you want to tuck in another reef. The procedure suggested by the instructor would be a lot more workable in that scenario.

But, that having been said, if that's the scenario that the instructors posed, then that's the scenario that you have to consider.

You can't turn to windward because you'll likely be rolled by the following wave. Your only recourse is to tuck in a reef downwind.

If that's your only recourse, then that's what you have to do. You can't logically say it can't be done, because you don't know what you're capable of doing until you try it when you're scared and desperate, and doing nothing is not an acceptable alternative. You just have to figure out a way to do it.

The only suggestion I would add to what has already been said is that I would probably start the engine, and have it instantly available to use, in case I needed it to keep the boat properly oriented to the waves. The danger in that situation is that the boat will lose boatspeed at the bottom of the trough, and turn sideways to the seas, and be rolled over by the next wave. If the engine is running, you can use it to try to keep the stern to the waves in the trough.

The better recourse, of course, is to reef as the conditions deteriorate. Sail handling always becomes more difficult as the conditions worsen.
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post #30 of 64 Old 11-04-2015
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Re: Reefing Downwind

We don't need to discuss turning to windward to reef because that was not the question. Reefing downwind is the question. We can also ignore our omniscient friends here that can always reef before the big wind. That luxury is simply not available as the wind can change suddenly. Also as pointed out above the first and second reef may have been done at the appropriate time but now it is really blowing and a third is needed.

I can say from much experience that several things are very important. First the rig needs to be clean and smooth. The mainsail will be plastered hard against the spreaders, shrouds and anything else up there. The short battens will be problematic as they push past the mast and will hang up on the diagonals and spreaders...not to mention whatever other junk is up there such as mast steps. Spreader tips with screws or wires can tear the sail. Spreader tips with boots can cause much drag, etc, etc.

Then there are the luff slides. If your sail does not go up and down easily on a nice day you will not have any success now.

Probably helps to have a nice new sail and running rigging that is not going to fall apart while violently luffing.

The best advice I can give is to pull down on the luff as the halyard is eased. Do not allow any slack in the luff. No good comes from that. And don't put any outhaul tension on. Except that it will help if the slack is taken up because the severe whipping of the slack outhauls can make some tangles that will not easily untangle later.

I wouldn't turn up towards the weather at all as that just increases the apparent wind. A crew person could center the boom after the main is somewhat scandalized, but I would hesitate to center the boom while downwind in a blow because of the dramatic result in a roundup...or round down. If the vang allows a great amount of main twist one may be able to center the boom, however does this accomplish anything while reefing as the twist plasters the mainsail against the rig just as effectively as easing the boom out?

With plenty of experienced crew I would probably turn to weather with just enough headsail up to maintain steerage. The mainsail will flog violently but my expert crew would keep the boat on a good heading and have the third reef completed in under a minute...well before the sail is destroyed.
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Last edited by aloof; 11-04-2015 at 12:03 PM.
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