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Well that was an awful lot of information in one place. LOL
My wife says there is no topic too trivial that I cannot over think it.

By the way is there another name for 'two line reefing?' I have looked it up on youtube trying to picture it, but can't find any examples, only normal reefing and single line reefing.
Thanks!
To answer your question, I have only seen it called Double-line Reefing or Slab Reefing. You can see it discussed in this article: Offshore Sailor: Mainsail reefing Slab reefing used to only mean double-line reefing, or reefing with a tack hook.

With the popularity of modern single-line reefing systems (with a shuttlecock or balancing block) , the term 'slab reefing' has become too generic for my taste. I know that there are folks who love their single line reefing systems, but I am not a fan mainly due to the higher line loads, more moving parts and chafe within the boom where they can't be inspected, and a whole lot more line to handle. But I also do not like that you cannot make independent halyard and outhaul sail shape adjustments with most single line systems.

I don't know if its still there but there was a Youtube of me reefing my mainsail in a Vlog from perhaps a decade ago. It was filmed by a person that I had helped find a boat. He was filming me so that he would remember how things were done and then chose to put some of those videos up on Youtube. I think he used my full name but may have used Jeff_H.

Jeff
 
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When we were shopping for our boat in mast furling was a deal breaker. It wasn't so much because of the potential for jamming, although a couple of rigger friends told me that was a common problem on many mast furling systems.

My objection to them was more around performance. Not only do you sacrifice sail area, you also give up tuneability. You have no ability to control luff tension and draft position because you can't use a cunningham. You can't flatten the sail with mast bend. As soon as you start reefing you sacrifice sail shape because the foil shape is cut into the sail, and as soon as you roll up the luff that shape is gone. (The same reason I detest roller reefing headsails).

With slab reefing, be it single line or 2 line, you can reduce sail area while still having all of your more advanced sail shaping tools at your disposal.

Many people are happy with the compromise of performance for the convenience, and that fine. To each their own.

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Late to the party here, but just throwing my positive vote behind our in mast furling main. It makes single handing easier, reefing easier, and sailing in general easier for us. As @capta pointed out, you just have to do your part and furl it correctly. I was a tiny bit worried about a loss of performance that I expected when we bought the boat, but I can't say I notice one, and the convenience advantages have been huge.
 

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Interest comment made by Jeff, who set a size range where mast furling may or may not makes sense. I think he said 40 ft. At first, I thought, below 40, sail handling really is done manually, very easily. The only advantage is not needing to go out on deck. Another made the comment that furling mains are hard to reef and maintain shape. While I think it's technically true, it really only matters upwind and I don't think it matters much for cruising at all. Then I realized, by the time a larger boat even needs to reef, you have so much wind, I think you could make it go well, if you were flying a garbage bag.
 

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As I got older... my sail became heavier :) and there seemed to be more friction. Boat is fractional and the main is 440 SF so in heavy cloth the sail is heavy. In a bag I can barely lift it! My solution to hoisting he main was to get a battery operated Milwaukee right angle drill with a winch bit. So now I can raise the main with "one finger" on the trigger. This system is fabulous. I do not use Millie for trim of the head sail which is on a roller furler.
The sail is raised easily and used to shake out a reef as well. Frankly using a manual winch is exhausting for me these days. I love Millie!
I knew the inventor of Dutchmen and he offered to install a prototype on Shiva's main. I "tested" it in the Marion Bermuda race and the system worked fine. He has since evolved the details of the design and I have purchased it and installed it on each main since that prototype. I have gone from a 2 line system to a 3 line system as the foot of the main is 14". You can't see it from a distance... as if it matters... and it does mean modifying the sail... but it really makes reefing and dropping the sail a breeze... pun intended. It has to be adjust properly to work properly... well duh. It's not hard to do or understand. I use full battens... and would not consider a furling main.
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Interest comment made by Jeff, who set a size range where mast furling may or may not makes sense. I think he said 40 ft. At first, I thought, below 40, sail handling really is done manually, very easily. The only advantage is not needing to go out on deck. Another made the comment that furling mains are hard to reef and maintain shape. While I think it's technically true, it really only matters upwind and I don't think it matters much for cruising at all. Then I realized, by the time a larger boat even needs to reef, you have so much wind, I think you could make it go well, if you were flying a garbage bag.
To perhaps clarify my comments, I am a firm believer in the idea that whether or not a specific technology or design feature makes sense is solely dependent on the size of the boat. In my mind, as a broad generality, these might include things like bow thrusters, electric winches, in-mast furlers, center cockpits, manual windlass or powered windlass and so on. 40 feet was an arbitrary number but I chose that length thinking that it equates to a mainsail that is too heavy for a person to haul most of the way up without a long grind on a manual winch.

But I also chose that length because below that general size, proportionately so much more can be done with depowering through sail shaping vs reefing that the ability to control sail shape become far more crucial on a smaller boat than a larger boat, because the larger boat tends to be more tolerant of less than perfect sail shape. .

Some of this thinking is driven by my sailing preferences. I prefer to be able to do as much as possible without power assists and to be able to manhandle the boat. Before purchasing my current boat I spent a bunch of time short-handing different sized boats. I found that the largest boat that I found convenient to manhandle was around 11.000 lbs and then looked at what was on the market in that weight range.

As I got older... my sail became heavier :) and there seemed to be more friction. Boat is fractional and the main is 440 SF so in heavy cloth the sail is heavy. In a bag I can barely lift it! My solution to hoisting he main was to get a battery operated Milwaukee right angle drill with a winch bit. So now I can raise the main with "one finger" on the trigger. This system is fabulous. I do not use Millie for trim of the head sail which is on a roller furler.
The sail is raised easily and used to shake out a reef as well. Frankly using a manual winch is exhausting for me these days. I love Millie!
I knew the inventor of Dutchmen and he offered to install a prototype on Shiva's main. I "tested" it in the Marion Bermuda race and the system worked fine. He has since evolved the details of the design and I have purchased it and installed it on each main since that prototype. I have gone from a 2 line system to a 3 line system as the foot of the main is 14". You can't see it from a distance... as if it matters... and it does mean modifying the sail... but it really makes reefing and dropping the sail a breeze... pun intended. It has to be adjust properly to work properly... well duh. It's not hard to do or understand. I use full battens... and would not consider a furling main. View attachment 137125
I get it what you mean about the mainsail getting heavier over time, My main is slightly smaller than yours, but without the battens weights around 90 lbs. My delivery main is even heavier. I can pull it up to just below the forestay but have to put it on my winch and grind it up the last dozen feet. I used to be able to haul it up to several feet above the forestay without a winch. I think of raising the main as my upper body and cardio workout for the day.

Last weekend, I did a single-handed race that started from being anchored and with sails down. By the time I had the anchor on deck and stowed, and the mainsail up I was huffing and puffing pretty badly. I was expecting that the first leg would be a spinnaker leg and was relieved when the wind shifted to the nose so that that I did not have to do another hoist.

Speaking of huffing and puffing, I typically do weight bearing training and yoga during the winter to keep in good enough shape and maintain balance to continue racing single-handed. One of the life changes from Covid is that I was not able to go to the gym during the off-season. I have gotten back to doing yoga at least but I feel like my overall strength is down a little. Of course, not going to the gym is a minor inconvenience compared to those who have suffered far worse due to this devastating illness.

I hate to say this, but looking at the photo, while the shape of the sail is not bad, the draft on your mainsail is way too deep. It may be that you need more outhaul, mast bend and stiffer battens, but more likely, you probably will need to start budgeting for a new mainsail if that is your current mainsail. ;)

Jeff
 

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Interest comment made by Jeff, who set a size range where mast furling may or may not makes sense. I think he said 40 ft. At first, I thought, below 40, sail handling really is done manually, very easily. The only advantage is not needing to go out on deck. Another made the comment that furling mains are hard to reef and maintain shape. While I think it's technically true, it really only matters upwind and I don't think it matters much for cruising at all. Then I realized, by the time a larger boat even needs to reef, you have so much wind, I think you could make it go well, if you were flying a garbage bag.
Yes certainly bigger boats have heavier mains and that can make classic mains more difficult. Our 39ft boat came with a power halyard winch, and while I would not have thought to check that box if I was buying a new, I am really glad we have it. I can see how mast furling could be more appealing once you get into even bigger boats.

The assumption that by the time a bigger boat becomes overpowered there is enough wind that sail shape doesn't matter is not correct. It entirely depends on the design of the boat and the SA/D of a particular boat. Generally larger boats are going to have proportionately larger sail plans.

The assertion that sail shape only matters upwind is also not entirely correct. While it is definitely more critical, I would argue that it is nearly as important while reaching. Besides, where I sail having to sail upwind is a daily reality. If you can't sail upwind well you will probably end up motoring. I guess is some places people can reach everywhere. That must be nice!


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I hate to say this, but looking at the photo, while the shape of the sail is not bad, the draft on your mainsail is way too deep. It may be that you need more outhaul, mast bend and stiffer battens, but more likely, you probably will need to start budgeting for a new mainsail if that is your current mainsail. ;)

Jeff
YES looks like too much draft... I could use a new main... and probably had not tensioned the outhaul. Here is a recemt pic and the draft looks more like what it should be.
137131



This sail is 15 years old! 7.5 oz Vektron
 

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I crewed a lot on a friend's 45' boat with roller furling jib and in-mast furling mainsail. You lose sail area with both sails. You lose sail area from the foot of the jib and from the roach of the mainsail. Nevertheless, we raced the boat and it was very competitive in moderate to stronger winds. The reduced sail area hurts progressively less as windspeed increases. In moderate winds it hurts a little, and in stronger winds, it doesn't hurt at all, because by that time, you're furling the sails to keep the boat on it's feet. There's also an advantage in being able to easily increase and reduce sail area as the windspeed varies up and down. When you're done sailing, you roll up both sails. There are no sails to fold, bag and put away, no sail covers to put on, and no sheets to store. Just add electric winches and a power windlass, and it would be a big boat that I could easily singlehand at age 78, despite my infirmities.

If the furling mainsail fouls, it's not pleasant, but I agree with Capta that it should be a rare occurrence if it's properly maintained, with a good sail, and if you keep a little pressure on it when you furl it.
 

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I crewed a lot on a friend's 45' boat with roller furling jib and in-mast furling mainsail. You lose sail area with both sails. You lose sail area from the foot of the jib and from the roach of the mainsail. Nevertheless, we raced the boat and it was very competitive in moderate to stronger winds. The reduced sail area hurts progressively less as windspeed increases. In moderate winds it hurts a little, and in stronger winds, it doesn't hurt at all, because by that time, you're furling the sails to keep the boat on it's feet. There's also an advantage in being able to easily increase and reduce sail area as the windspeed varies up and down. When you're done sailing, you roll up both sails. There are no sails to fold, bag and put away, no sail covers to put on, and no sheets to store. Just add electric winches and a power windlass, and it would be a big boat that I could easily singlehand at age 78, despite my infirmities.

If the furling mainsail fouls, it's not pleasant, but I agree with Capta that it should be a rare occurrence if it's properly maintained, with a good sail, and if you keep a little pressure on it when you furl it.
If a boat with in mast furling is competitive in racing I would suggest that it is not a very competitive fleet! Not that there is anything wrong with that...at least they are getting out and enjoying their boats, but it does not reflect the real performance hit.

It also makes a difference where you sail. If you are in a windy area where you are regularly having to reef then maybe furling makes more sense. In my area it doesn't typically get windy enough to need to reef often. I have only reefed our current boat once in 2 years. Our last boat was never reefed in 16 years! For us sail area is king!

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If a boat with in mast furling is competitive in racing I would suggest that it is not a very competitive fleet!
In fifty years, I've never raced in any racing class that wasn't competitive within its own grouping. People who race are usually keen on competing. If yacht racing was only about raw boat speed and sail area, it wouldn't be nearly as much fun. Boats are grouped in PHRF classes so they are racing against other boats of similar performance abilities. What's fun is beating boats that you shouldn't be able to beat. Raw speed matters more in short races. In longer races, playing the wind and currents, sail selection and trim and boat preparation, among other things, matter more.

Whether you're racing an ultralight racer or a cruiser, yacht racing within any given class is more about the skills of the skipper and crew than about raw speed.
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One other thing I've found to be interesting about our IMRF main is that we can vang the boom to the gene track, tighten the sheet against that and use the outhaul to reshape the sail. It's almost like having a jib on a really long traveler.
 
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Discussion Starter #53
My wife says there is no topic too trivial that I cannot over think it.



To answer your question, I have only seen it called Double-line Reefing or Slab Reefing. You can see it discussed in this article: Offshore Sailor: Mainsail reefing Slab reefing used to only mean double-line reefing, or reefing with a tack hook.

With the popularity of modern single-line reefing systems (with a shuttlecock or balancing block) , the term 'slab reefing' has become too generic for my taste. I know that there are folks who love their single line reefing systems, but I am not a fan mainly due to the higher line loads, more moving parts and chafe within the boom where they can't be inspected, and a whole lot more line to handle. But I also do not like that you cannot make independent halyard and outhaul sail shape adjustments with most single line systems.

I don't know if its still there but there was a Youtube of me reefing my mainsail in a Vlog from perhaps a decade ago. It was filmed by a person that I had helped find a boat. He was filming me so that he would remember how things were done and then chose to put some of those videos up on Youtube. I think he used my full name but may have used Jeff_H.

Jeff
That link was an interesting read, thanks.
It does appear that two line reefing is the best option overall, especially if you have lines led aft to the cockpit, and it seems a pretty easy and relatively quick operation.

My first introduction to reefing was watching this guy:

All I could think was OMG, he should have packed a lunch it took so long!
Good thing he has stable conditions or he'd be there all day.
And allegedly he's the rigging 'doctor'.
That's when I first started saying OK, there's got to be an easier way...
 

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In fifty years, I've never raced in any racing class that wasn't competitive within its own grouping. People who race are usually keen on competing. If yacht racing was only about raw boat speed and sail area, it wouldn't be nearly as much fun. Boats are grouped in PHRF classes so they are racing against other boats of similar performance abilities. What's fun is beating boats that you shouldn't be able to beat. Raw speed matters more in short races. In longer races, playing the wind and currents, sail selection and trim and boat preparation, among other things, matter more.

Whether you're racing an ultralight racer or a cruiser, yacht racing within any given class is more about the skills of the skipper and crew than about raw speed.
[/QUOTE]Certainly if you are racing a cruising boat against other cruising boats that is true. That assumes you are racing in a region where the fleets are big enough to be divided into divisions that are comprised of closely matched boats.

Where I sail divisions are divided up purely based on phrf handicaps. That means I would be racing against fully race prepped boats with racing sails even if I have dacron cruising sails. Having a furling main would be even worse, but neither configuration would be competitive in that fleet. Certainly skipper and crew skill can make a difference, but it is difficult to make up for the boatspeed and and pointing advantage that the race prepped boats are going to have.
I don't think I have ever seen a boat with IMF racing in any fleet I have raced in, aside from fun club races that target cruisers. No serious racer around here would even consider a boat with a furling mast.

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That link was an interesting read, thanks.
It does appear that two line reefing is the best option overall, especially if you have lines led aft to the cockpit, and it seems a pretty easy and relatively quick operation.

My first introduction to reefing was watching this guy:

All I could think was OMG, he should have packed a lunch it took so long!
Good thing he has stable conditions or he'd be there all day.
And allegedly he's the rigging 'doctor'.
That's when I first started saying OK, there's got to be an easier way...
That was painful to watch. You are right that he probably needed to bring breakfast, lunch and dinner and maybe a sleeping bag. That had to be one of the slowest reefing jobs that I have ever seen especially given the conditions.

Below is a picture of my mainsail.
Synergy- Double Line reefing by Jeff Halpern

I think that you can see the reefing lines. At the leech of the sail, you can see the tan and the green clew lines for the first and second reef and can tell how they are rigged. At the luff you can see the tack line for the first reef. (The second reef is not run in this picture). The tack line attaches at the gooseneck, passes through a dogbone at the reefpoint, runs through a shackle on the opposite side of the gooseneck, to a turning block at the base of the mast, and back to the aft end of the cabin top,
14 Cabin top stoppers and riser by Jeff Halpern,
(From outboard, second reef clew line, second reef tack line (empty), port jib halyard, main halyard, spinnaker halyard, outhaul, and vang)

To reef, I have the halyard marked for each position for the perfect setting for each reef. I pull out enough of the halyard so the mark is where it needs to be. Then I use the tack line to actually pull the sail down. The tack line is 2:1 so I am able to hand over hand the tack line most of the way and then take one quick turn on the winch to tension it. At that point, I slack the vang and mainsheet and hand over hand in the slack out of the clew line. I then grind in the last 6-7 feet ( if the wind is forward of abeam, the clew line is not under load since the sheet and vang are eased). Once the clew is down at the boom, I pull on the vang and mainsheet and I am done.

Because I race my boat single-hand, I practice all maneuvers including reefing. I purposely time how long it takes and test how far I travel in that time. In around 20 knots of wind, it takes a little over 2 minutes to get the actual reef in with the apparent wind at, or forward of a beam reach. The boat covers roughly 300-400 feet in that time. If the wind is aft, the loads on the clew line are much greater so the reef takes roughly twice that time and distance.

Jeff
 

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I’m a charter skipper. Have been since 2005. So I yield the floor to the full-time skippers. However, I have a strong preference for furling mains. Especially if I’m sailing in light winds where I foolishly dropped the main and then had to haul it up again because I found that windy zone I’m always looking for. So, huge convenience both adding and reducing sail as long as you don’t get a jam.

The only time I’ve ever had one jam was when I was being silly as I furled the ail and didn’t keep tension on the leech. I’m pretty sure most of the horror stories you hear, if honestly told, resulted from taking a shortcut while furling leading to a jam while unfurling.

I’ve never had the mechanism itself jam. It’s always been the sail being too loosely wrapped inside the mast or boom causing the jam.

I’ve heard arguments about horizontal battens being more effective than vertical battens in holding sail shape. Or that reefing an in-mast furled sail depowers less predictably than reefing towards the boom. But I’m not trying to squeeze every 10th of a knot out of a boat. I’m a cruiser not a racer and I think the extra weight of a furling system would put off a racer even if there were no concerns about a jam.

So, assuming they’re working, furling mains are safer, easier and infinitely more adjustable than a traditional sail. In 15 years of chartering I’ve seen only one jam and I know it was my fault so I have a lot of confidence in the reliability of a properly installed furling system.

I think the time is coming when arguing for a traditional sail versus a furling sail will sound like arguing for manual transmission versus automatic transmission. You can appreciate the nostalgia but the new technology outperforms the old in every conceivable way.
 

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In my 46 years of sailing I only have used in-mast furling once. Tough to roll in, tough to roll out. Glad I tried it, and glad I won’t have to again. Aside from the inconvenience, a furling main by definition can’t use battens. In light to medium air, what most of us sail in all the time, that sure effects sail performance. The benefit jusn’t isn’t there. Get lazy jacks, or Dutchman, or stak-pak, or whatever instead.
 

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I’m a charter skipper. Have been since 2005. So I yield the floor to the full-time skippers. However, I have a strong preference for furling mains. Especially if I’m sailing in light winds where I foolishly dropped the main and then had to haul it up again because I found that windy zone I’m always looking for. So, huge convenience both adding and reducing sail as long as you don’t get a jam.
No need to take a main down in light winds. When I head out... mail is hoisted and stays hoisted until we anchor or moor.
 

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Especially if I’m sailing in light winds where I foolishly dropped the main and then had to haul it up again because I found that windy zone I’m always looking for.
This is a critical point, especially if one is short handed. It's not confined exclusively to furling mains either. The harder it is to raise, douse, trim, reef, etc, the less one will actually sail. I've seen it over and over. I am 1000% more likely to raise my sails and give lousy wind a try, than my buddy on his 49 that has to hand crank everything, for example.

The boat's crew has an uncanny ability to break just about anything. I've read no mention of a traditional flaked sail losing it's halyard up the mast. That's no fun and will never happen on in-mast furling. There are pros and cons to everything, but I think a modern in mast roller furling can be reasonably reliable tool to a cruiser. Like anything, one must learn to use it properly. We're looking at boats with in-boom furling and, while it's easy to think the traditional battens are far superior, the act of actually furling is far more complex and touchy. You get is down eventually.
 
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