Easy Reefing - Sail Magazine

Easy Reefing

Windage and drag are two of a racing sailboat’s worst enemies, especially around a sail’s leech. Many racers eschew in situ reefing lines until it’s absolutely necessary to reef. (Some cruisers also don’t use reefing lines, as they can chafe sailcloth.) The risk is that you can get caught out if you’re not careful. A smarter, faster way to reef without leaving reefing lines in
Author:
Updated:
Original:

Windage and drag are two of a racing sailboat’s worst enemies, especially around a sail’s leech. Many racers eschew in situ reefing lines until it’s absolutely necessary to reef. (Some cruisers also don’t use reefing lines, as they can chafe sailcloth.) The risk is that you can get caught out if you’re not careful.

A smarter, faster way to reef without leaving reefing lines in place is to use messenger lines instead until it’s time to reef (see illustration), as this avoids chafe, windage, and drag. For each reef cringle on the leech, a thin-diameter messenger line—strong parachute cord (“p-chord”), available at rigging shops, works great—is led through the clew eye, up through the reef cringle, and back to join the other end. Ideally, the messenger line should be spliced together, but a double fisherman’s knot also does the trick.

You’ll want a “cut” splice in the messenger, forming a small loop (see illustration). The messenger lines are fitted at the beginning of the year and stay in place through the season. I recommend using cut splices that are 1 inch long for every 13 feet of boat length, as bigger boats require larger-diameter reefing lines. The aim is to have the loops small enough that the reefing line cannot accidentally drop out, but big enough to feed the line through more than once.

When it’s time to reef, the crew passes the end of the reefing line through the cut splice, wraps it around the P-cord two or three times (a bit of rigging tape is useful), and then pulls on the messenger so that the reefing line goes up through the reef cringle and back down to the boom, where it’s secured. Next, simply ease the halyard and reef as you normally would do.

This system works best if you leave your reefing lines permanently led through your boom. Simply tie a figure-8 knot at the end of the line and cinch up the slack so that the knot lies against the boom-end sheave until it’s needed.

Some people prefer to rig their messengers with two or three cut splices. This way, the end of the reefing line is passed through each cut splice (sewing-needle style), which makes it less likely that the line will accidentally come free.

Ian Nicolson has written 24 books on sailing and has another two in the pipeline.

Related

PICTON CASTLE under sail with stunsls WV7 compressed

Picton Castle Seeks Crew

The Picton Castle is set to begin its eighth circumnavigation this spring under the command of Captain Daniel Moreland. A professional crew of 12 will guide up to 40 trainees at a time as they learn about all aspects of sailing the bark, from steering to lookout, ...read more

DSC_0013

Ask Sail: Keel Attachments

Q: I have an early ‘70s Catalina 27. The keel bolts look pretty good. My question is, why not glass over the keel to bond to the hull rather than changing the bolts if, or when the bolts are too far gone? I haven’t seen anything on this, so could you discuss? Full-keels are ...read more

04-GOPR0511

Book Review: Sailing Into Oblivion

Sailing Into Oblivion by Jerome Rand $15.99, available through Amazon As refreshing and inspiring as Jerome Rand’s 2017-18 solo-circumnavigation may have been, his account of the voyage in the book Sailing Into Oblivion: The Solo Non-Stop Voyage of the Mighty Sparrow may be even ...read more

01-1970-Dec

50 Years of SAIL

Back in early 1970, Bernie Goldhirsh and the recently founded “Institute for the Advancement of Sailing,” publisher of an annual sailboat and gear guide, launched something called SAIL. A half-century later, a look back at the magazine’s first few years provides a glimpse into a ...read more

Photo-by-Adobe-Stockpics721-2048x

Webinar: Navigating Post-Dorian Abaco

On Thursday, October 22 at 6 pm ET, Navigare Yachting presents a webinar on what to expect from Abaco post-Dorian. The event will feature the authors of The Cruising Guide to Abaco, Steve Dodge and his sons Jon and Jeff.Hurricane Dorian hit Abaco in early September of 2019 and ...read more

LunaRossaBoat2

Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli Christens “Boat 2”

Hot on the heels of the UK’s Britannia and the United States’ Patriot, Italy’s new AC75 Luna Rossa, formerly known as Boat 2, was christened in Auckland, New Zealand, this morning. As the moniker suggests, it was Team Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli’s second design. In his christening ...read more

m7803_DSCF6698-1

Challengers Christen Britannia and Patriot

October 16 proved an exciting day for America’s Cup fans with the christening of both the UK’s Britannia and America’s Patriot. Britannia will be helmed by four-time Olympic gold medalist and America’s Cup winner Sir Ben Ainslie. Olympic Gold medalist Giles Scott will serve as ...read more

HookPromo

Defender Product Spotlight: Lowrance Hook Reveal

Defender product expert Alex Lyons explains the benefits of HOOK Reveal’s new FishReveal technology: “DownScan sonar uses high frequencies to provide a picture-like image of the sea floor. The traditional sonar’s lower frequencies are best suited for locating fish in the water ...read more