Cruising

Preventing Chafe

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A single-line reefing system can have an advantage over systems that handle a mainsail's luff and leech separately. Probably the most important reason is that the single-line reefing operation can be done entirely from the cockpit, making a trip to the mast unnecessary. But when you use a winch on the reefing line, you must constantly watch for friction and chafe on both the sail fabric and the reefing line because of the high load that is placed on it.

To help reduce the friction, have your sailmaker install a block at the luff and leech sail cringles. Running the reefing line though these blocks, rather than through the cringles, dramatically reduces friction and line chafe at these points. When it's time to reef the mainsail, keep the cringle above the boom so it doesn't get pulled down to the boom fitting. Watch the reefing line carefully when it is being loaded up on the winch, and make sure the line doesn't scrape against sharp edges of the boom end fitting. Once the leech has been properly reefed, move to the luff and lower it down to the boom. Then snug in the reefing line and re-tension the halyard. When it's time to shake out the reef, manually pulling the reefing line through the boom can help keep the line from unnecessary chafing. Ed Mapes

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