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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I bought my first boat about 4 months ago and have been sailing at least once a week all summer. Here in Oklahoma the winds get kind of calm through the hot summers as high pressure systems linger over the state, but during the fall and spring it can get a little crazy as we sit on the boundary between warm weather coming up from the gulf and cold weather coming down from the north.

Last night we went out under a reefed main only. It felt like we were a bit under powered so I decided to take the reef out. Then a little later the winds kicked up again. it got to be some pretty exciting sailing to the point that I almost spilled my beer a couple of times. I contemplated putting the reef back in but that is a huge pita to do while the wind is a blowing.

I got to thinking that I probably should have put up a jib rather than taking the reef out. My thought process is that it would have been a hell of a lot easier to take the jib down than to attempt to re reef while underway.

Any thoughts?
 

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.....pretty exciting sailing to the point that I almost spilled my beer a couple of times. ......it would have been a hell of a lot easier to take the jib down than to attempt to re reef while underway.

Any thoughts?
The answer to your question is within yourself. I've quoted the important points you've made. The question speaks to the core of the dilemma between cruising versus racing.

If you want to avoid work and not spill your beer then undercanvas. If you want to go fast and have excitement then keep it at the edge of being overcanvas.

Never overcanvas the boat because you lose on both of the primary objectives (ie: You spill your beer AND you go slower)

G. Jackson
 

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The boat would likely have been much better balanced with a jib and a reefed main. You'd also be making better progress, esp against the wind.

I contemplated putting the reef back in but that is a huge pita to do while the wind is a blowing.
THIS is something you need to address. One should never be reluctant to reef because it's 'a pain'.. Figure out why it's a pain and rig a better system, or come up with a technique that works under any conditions..
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I'm far more of a "float around and enjoy the sunset and having a drink" kind of sailor than a racing sailor so I'm typically under canvased. I would definitely have reefed if I felt like I needed to for safety reasons. But it was more of a "man... this is less relaxing than I had hoped." kind of thing.
 

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Sailing can be great: Some days you go drifting on quiet zephyers, sipping your beverage. Other days, you get the spray in your face, bashing through waves, heeling way over. The problem is, you can't always predict what kind of day you are going to have.
 

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Freedom isn't free
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Buy a better beer can holder... Sail/heel until the rail washes down... that is how you know when to change gears (reef or step down in headsail)... Get with the program. Spilling beer is NOT an option.


By the way, headsail up, close hauled... let the mainsheet go but not totally eased, reef underway, lock the tiller/wheel.
 

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that I almost spilled my beer a couple of times. I contemplated putting the reef back in but that is a huge pita to do while the wind is a blowing.
Oklahoma law is that the limit on blood alcohol while boating is 0.08%, the same as the limit for driving. Aside from that, drinking while boating is just plain dumb.

The rule on my boat is nothing while under way. That includes at anchor if we'll be setting off again soon. Sometimes we'll have a glass of wine or one beer back at the slip.
 

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Setting aside the humor for a moment I would re-emphasize two points:

1) Reef early, reef often! It is very rare to get in trouble under-canvased. It is very easy, particularly in squally weather to get in a lot of trouble over-canvased. It is always hard to reef once the wind is blowing hard no matter what boat and what kind of gear. (Yes, there are systems like a ball bearing track on the mast that can make it easier, as can a roller furling main. But the more wind you are fighting the more likely the furler will jam and then it has really hit the fan.)

2. Good sail trim is all about balance. See this thread - there is some disagreement, particularly about terminology, but the basics of sail trim are reviewed here:
http://www.sailnet.com/forums/learning-sail/159817-does-sailboat-need-travler.html
Also, several of the sail manufacturers have online sail trimming instructions. From upwind to a broad reach you most likely should have both a jib and a main, both reefed or furled as necessary to get appropriate balance. Yes, part of it is going fast but much more important is control - get the sails wrong and a wave or gust can throw you sideways and roll the boat. Most boats properly trimmed are OK in steady winds - you can handle 40 knots (after that, I admit it does get a little hairy.) 10 knots with gusts to 25 can be far more of a handful if your trim is screwed up.

Fair winds and following seas :)
 

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Does all your crew have this expression?
HAHA that was me the other day when I went sailing with my buddy DonJon , on his boat a beautiful Catalina 32. We were going past the Harbormaster office, the red flag was up , I said Don reef ? I could see in his face the answer was no , but I stared him down he said OK . We sailed for about 1hr. admittedly we weren't doing full speed , Don's face frowned , so I said Don, shake out the reef ? He lit up like a Christmas tree . 1/2 hr. later it got up to 20 knot +, we were fighting the wheel . We had two round ups . Very scary for me and thats when I turned into grumpy the cat.
 

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Last night we went out under a reefed main only. It felt like we were a bit under powered so I decided to take the reef out. Then a little later the winds kicked up again. it got to be some pretty exciting sailing to the point that I almost spilled my beer a couple of times. I contemplated putting the reef back in but that is a huge pita to do while the wind is a blowing.

I got to thinking that I probably should have put up a jib rather than taking the reef out. My thought process is that it would have been a hell of a lot easier to take the jib down than to attempt to re reef while underway.
Your boat is a fractional rig boat, so it should sail better on main only than a lot of masthead boats. However it is still going to be balanced the best with boat sails flying.

I would suggest the following sequence from light wind to heavy air:
* full main and jib
* reefed main and jib
* reefed main only

It also looks like your boat has a very shallow draft (it is odd that the rudder is deeper than the keel) and likely needs to be reefed earlier than many other boats.

Finally, reefing while sailing is a good skill to learn. On most boats you can reef while hove-to because there isn't a lot of load on the main.
 

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Finally, reefing while sailing is a good skill to learn. On most boats you can reef while hove-to because there isn't a lot of load on the main.
This is a mixed blessing. Lets presume you are on a reach, broad reach or run and you find yourself over-canvased. Several things happen as you turn into the wind:

1) All those nice waves sliding under you from stern to bow are suddenly crashing into you from bow to stern.

2) The wind speed increases by as much as twice the speed of your boat. The apparent wind on a run = true wind - boat speed. Upwind it = true wind + boat speed.

3) You have to go through beam reach to get upwind. Now you are already over-canvased and a beam reach is about the most efficient place for your sails (look at the polars for your boat.) You have just gone from over-canvased to very over-canvased! Not what you are trying to do.

Briefly - you get a boat bouncing around a lot more with lots more wind to deal with.

So I say again: reef early, reef often!

Fair winds and following seas :)
 

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ARRRRRRRRRRRG... I hate the "reef early reef often" or "reef before you know it..." learn to depower your sails without reefing!

Sail ALWAYS like you are racing... know how to "balance" your boat without CHOPPING off sail area to do it.... Chopping off sail area is a last resort...

The OP noted putting a reef in under pressure is tough (agreed)... but it CAN be done... what if it can't, does one completely douse their mainsail? UM NO!

LEARN to flatten, flatten flatten, then when that is no longer working learn to twist off... so genoa cars back, to spill top of the wind on the genoa... sheet mainsheet on hard, drop traveler, when that isn't enough, vang on hard, and ease mainsheet. STILL a problem? Outhaul until their aint anymore, and drop traveler as you need to... YOU'D be amazed how much MORE wind a sail can take before its time to reef, but you MUST MUST MUST learn to depower what you have to figure out what settings make the most sense for any type of wind conditions...

Finally YES practice reefing underway.... like I said, close haul to close reach, tiller pilot or locked wheel/tiller, and take the pressure off the main by easing it some.... you SHOULD be able to put the reef in while underway, the top portion of the main will still pull some and the genoa will keep you moving forward.

Sure if you have nowhere to sail to, no interest in ever getting the most out of your boat in speed, and wanna sail most of your life underpowered, then sure REEF EARLY REEF OFTEN.

Learn what is "appropriate" for heel angle for your boat... the H23 is a winged keel monster and it LIKELY wants a flatter heel angle, less than 20 degrees for sure. But up to 20 degrees and a slight bit over at times is OK unless you are racing. Certainly tolerable for a day sail. Understand that a "knockdown" is possible but hardly the end of the world. Know how to "read" the wind, to prevent such things because it'll make you a better sailor.... if you are sailing under reef for such "unpredictable" gusts (which are of course predictable), then you are sailing too slow MOST of the time.
 

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All good points, SHNOOL, but remember the OP is still at the point where they seem unsure/reluctant to set both sails. They'll need to climb the learning curve a bit more before they may be ready to take advantage of your (good) advice.

Failing all that, though, at this stage an early reef may prevent an early fright and get them there a bit sooner....
 
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