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Sails - Reefing and unreefing - Slab reefing    Skysail Home Page

If the boat heels excessively it is both uncomfortable for the crew, and poor sailing.  Too much pressure in the mainsail causes weather helm, and the boat tries to round up into the wind.  This needs rudder applied to keep the boat straight, and consequent high drag.

Since you will be using the main halyard for both operations, you must always support the boom with the topping lift.  The boat must be head to wind or nearly so to enable the main sail to run freely up the mast.

Taking in a reef

  1. Turn the boat head to wind. 
  2. Release the main sheet and kicking strap (vang)
  3. Raise the boom with the topping lift.
  4. Tighten mainsheet if necessary
  5. Ease off the halyard to allow the mainsail to drop the required distance for the reef. Marking the reef position on the halyard is useful. Keep 1 or 2 turns on the winch to maintain control.
  6. Pull in the reefing line(s), tack first, then the clew.  These may be under the boom or led back to the cockpit.  You may need to use the reefing hook on the boom gooseneck for the mainsail luff reefing eye.  The last few inches of the reef line may need winching, but do not overstrain the eye.
  7. Tighten the main halyard.
  8. Release the topping lift and reset the sheet and kicker
  9. Tidy up any other reef lines which will now have lots of slack.

Shaking out a reef

  1. Turn the boat head to wind.
  2. Release the main sheet and kicking strap.  Raise the boom with the topping lift. 
  3. Take in the main sheet if necessary.
  4. Release the required reefing lines, including all the lines above the reef you are releasing.  Pulling the lines through at the outboard end of the boom will reduce friction.
  5. Raise the main halyard.
  6. Release the topping lift and reset the main sheet and kicker.

posted 25th March 2011