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Re-visiting single-line reefing

Kenneth K

Sustaining Member
Blogs Author
I did an almost complete redo of my running rigging, deck organizers, and rope clutches since last season. When I re-built the boom last year (new sheaves, new internal lines), I considered pulling all the existing internal tackle that was installed for single line reefing. In the end, I decided to give SLR another chance for the first reef, and to convert the second reef to separate down-haul and out-haul lines--all of which are led aft to the cockpit.

The in-boom rigging for the SLR consists of a shuttle-block that equalizes the tension on the outhaul and downhaul lines. The outhaul line is a fixed length of rope that gets "shortened" 50:50 as the downhaul line is brought in. It looks something like this:

slrboom.gif 20181202_014644.jpg

I did a dry-run yesterday, and was pretty pleased with the lay of the lines, and how easy the system was to use: Lower the halyard, haul in the reef line, and it's done. I added sail ties, but with the Dutchman system, they're not really necessary to keep the reefed part of the sail bundled.

20200622_191745.jpg 20200622_191759.jpg

Haven't tried it in a real blow yet, but the first look seems promising.....
 
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Loren Beach

O34 - Portland, OR
Senior Moderator
Blogs Author
Hope it works OK for you. This scheme has gotten a bad rep over the decades for being difficult to use just when the wind pressure is high and you really need to reef. There are several 90 and 180 degree line turns built in, and while modern ball bearing blocks will certainly help, the total friction may still be a big factor.
 

frick

Member III
I still use the tried and true slab reef... A Trip to the mast to lower the main. The Reef Point goes on the cow horn.
Back to the cockpit to use the 4 to one reef line. I get a good looking mail sail shape too.
 

G Kiba

Member III
I have been messing with SLR too. Must be the time of year to do so. Finding that the length of line, especially the second reef, extremely long. The long lines have a tendency to get tangled and snagged in unexpected places when the wind picks up. A few times, they needed to be cleared by going forward anyways. Learned that if you route the first and second reef lines close together (side by side clutches), you can take out most of the extra slack on the second reef by pulling both lines at the same time when putting in the first reef. It also helps lower the sail. Still, I'm really considering following you Rick! Those horns could simplify things. The 911 has so much more main sail than my old E27.
 

Christian Williams

E381 - Los Angeles
Moderator
Blogs Author
If you want cockpit control of the whole procedure, just add luff downhauls to standard slab reefing. They lead back through a deck organizer to a clutch, just like reef lines.

I have nothing against climbing forward to use the reef horns (with dog bones), although it made more sense when reefing was done entirely at the mast. But to be able to reef from the cockpit is definitely a luxury when shorthanded.

My opinion is that single-line reefing is for small boats. But we all see advantage differently.
 

G Kiba

Member III
A thought that came to me while sailing in 12-15K winds gusting to to 25 conditions all weekend on the delta! The need for singleline reefing really depends are where you are sailing as well as crew. If you have no crew, then the "where" is the limiting factor. I sail on a river and there are not many places to heave-to to put a reef in and often not a lot of water giving you time to reef on a tack. In fact, I am sure that I do 20+ tacks and at least 2 jibes every time I go out. So the need is really what fits where you sail. BTW, these conditions usual occur in the Spring here (but less severe). Summer should be a steady 12-18. Each year for the past six has leaned toward more extreme gusty condition being the norm. Climate change as predicted.
 

Kenneth K

Sustaining Member
Blogs Author
Since I'm a causal sailor, I figured that 1) the first reef is rarely essential--I always have the option of sailing overpowered with full sail, or under-powered with 2 reefs, without any dire consequences, and 2) the easier it is to put in and take out the first reef, the more I'll use it. I usually sail single-handed, or with inexperienced crew, so I thought single-line reefing was worth a try.
 

Alan Gomes

Sustaining Member
One site (if I recall it was Pineapple Sails) had an article on single vs. two-line reefing. They clearly favored a two-line setup. One issue they pointed out with single line is that ideally you want to tension the luff independently--and first--before tensioning the clew. That's because if you are tensioning the clew without first getting adequate luff tension, you run the risk of causing damage by putting strain on the sail slugs through pulling them aft. Tensioning the tack first helps with this. This is something you achieve with independent tack and clew lines.

On my current boat and the previous one, I've had independent lines and found it works quite well. But then, before that I had a Newport 27 with single-line reefing and that seemed to give me a good sail shape without issues also. The single line is certainly nice because you cut down on the amount of spaghetti running around the cockpit, but the two line gives you more precise control and avoids the potential sail slug issue.
 

G Kiba

Member III
I agree with you Alan. Lots of lines with the 2 line reef along with four clutches in use. I gave it a try my first month of owning this boat before changing to a single line. Now I have two really long lines! Not sure which is better? However, it did free up two clutches back to use as spin halyards. I too read the same article on the Pineapple website. With past an current single line systems I have found that the tension on the tack always happens first and I can never get enough tension on the luff. The real trick to getting the lines to tension some what even is to easy the mainsheet and vang completely off. Found that the mechanical vang pushes the boom end to sky. Looks strange but sets up the reef nicely. Ken, I agree! Whatever makes it easier especially when things start to get dicey. Keep at it with the single line system. Less sail performed quickly but not-so-perfectly-trimmed won't break a return guest decision.
 

Keith Parcells

Sustaining Member
Grant,

when you say you can never get enough tension on the luff, are you hooking the crinkle (or the dogbone) first, then re-tensioning the halyard before you tension the reefing line? That’s the way it works best for me.
 

G Kiba

Member III
No. I'm on a single line. I don't use the reef hook at the tack (mast end?). The single line work well to fasten there. It is the outhaul (luff or end of the boom) end that is always stubborn.
 

Navman

Member III
Raise the topping lift and that releases the pressure on the boom end so you can snug the clew up tight. When done lower the topping lift and away you go. I know it's another step and you will have to go up on deck to the boom, but it makes everything tight and tidy.
 

Kenneth K

Sustaining Member
Blogs Author
Raise the topping lift and that releases the pressure on the boom end so you can snug the clew up tight.

I ran the topping lift aft on the boom last year so I can adjust it from the helm. That was all a part of my decision to try the single-line reefing and reefing-lines-led-aft approaches.
 
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markalan

Member II
If you want cockpit control of the whole procedure, just add luff downhauls to standard slab reefing. They lead back through a deck organizer to a clutch, just like reef lines.

I have nothing against climbing forward to use the reef horns (with dog bones), although it made more sense when reefing was done entirely at the mast. But to be able to reef from the cockpit is definitely a luxury when shorthanded.

My opinion is that single-line reefing is for small boats. But we all see advantage differently.
I have to agree that single line works very well with a boat like a cal 20. Often we sail short handed and reef faster and with much less friction with two lines.
The olson 34 often reefs in about 60 seconds.
A )uncleat the main
1) drop main halyard to the mark
2 ) I use Cunningham with reef hook inserted into reef point) simply tighten the reef hook close to or against the boom.
3 ) use cabin top winch to out haul the main flat
That is it with out friction.
 

Kenneth K

Sustaining Member
Blogs Author
Got to test my first and second reef-lines-run-aft setup a couple weekends ago in roughly 20K of wind. Ok, a little light for a second reef maybe, but enough to test the mechanics of the new setup:

1st reef is set up as single-line reefing. Second reef is separate downhaul and clew/outhaul lines. So which was better? Double-line reefing, of course, because you can adjust the tack and clew independently, in the order you choose, with precise tension control of each.

So, why use single-line reefing at all? As mentioned before, it saves a sheave at both the mast collar and the deck organizer, and it saves a spot in the line clutch. Though I have extra sheaves open in my deck organizer, I would have to add at least a horn cleat to cleat off a separate 1st-reef downhaul. My experience from the other weekend is that it's not worth the small gain for me to do so--I had a perfectly acceptable sail shape from the SLR setup. From some freak of luck, when the tack is pulled downward by the single line (I use a block in both the tack and clew) the tack block comes to a stop on the ram's-horn, leaving the tack only about 3-4 inches higher than where it would be if hooked to the horn itself. Once the tack block is touching the horn, any additional tension on on the single reefing line can only pull the clew in tighter. Unless this eventually leads to damage of the tack block (something I'll have to keep an eye on), it seems to distribute the tension of tack and clew much as I would do if I had separate lines. So, for the immediate future, I'm keeping SLR for the 1st reef.

I didn't see any evidence of the usual complaint, that "SLR results in too much line friction." I can still hoist my main by hand to nearly full height, as long as I pay out enough slack in the reef lines. And, I didn't feel that the winch tension was significantly higher on the SLR than on the Reef-2 outhaul. YMMV....

20200712_171900 (4).jpg
 
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Rufus McCool

Junior Member
Ken,
When you ran your topping lift back to the cockpit, how did you route the line? Did you use the center sheave on the gooseneck, then through turning block at mast base, and then around deck block on to the cabin top? I'm contemplating that change, because currently I have to go up to the boom to release it after hoisting the main. Sometimes I forget until I wonder why the leach is so curved...maybe an hour later.
 

Kenneth K

Sustaining Member
Blogs Author
Ken,
When you ran your topping lift back to the cockpit, how did you route the line? Did you use the center sheave on the gooseneck, then through turning block at mast base, and then around deck block on to the cabin top?

Not quite. The original setup uses the center sheave on the aft boom fitting for a wire-to-rope connection and a 2:1 (I think) tackle inside the boom. The free end of this rope exited a slot forward on the boom where the rope could be adjusted and cleated off to a horn cleat. I just made the rope longer, and added a cheek block forward of where the rope exists the boom. The cheek block just loops this line (on the outside of the boom) back to the aft end of the boom where I added a new horn cleat.

Sorry, I don't have a picture of, it but it works like this: 20180319_162252.2.jpg
 

Christian Williams

E381 - Los Angeles
Moderator
Blogs Author
My boat uses the center sheave on the gooseneck for the outhaul, which cleats on the exterior boom.

The topping lift exits the boom through a slot in the port side, and cleats on the exterior there.

To lead the topping lift back to the cockpit, I'd have to swap the lines so the topping lift uses the center sheave. It would then go to a turning block on the mast collar, through a deck organizer, and back to a cockpit clutchc or cleat.

In fact, after reading this thread, I may make that change--since I rarely touch the outhaul, but frequently adjust the topping lift to add slack or remove it. I'm out of deck organizer space, but adding a single cheek block should handle that. And I do have one clutch space available..
 

Rufus McCool

Junior Member
My boat, as well, uses the center sheave (aft end of boom) for the outhaul and it exists the boom just forward of midway to a horn cleat. I feel there is purchase inside, but I don't know the ratio.

I also rarely adjust the outhaul, but mess with the topping lift whenever hoisting or lowering the main.

The topping lift is completely outside of the boom with 2:1 purchase (at aft end of boom) I added when I got the boat. It cleats on the boom at midway. Currently there are no more sheaves at the aft end of the boom to run it inside and onto the center sheave at the gooseneck and ultimately back to the cockpit. The reefing lines use the outer remaining sheaves.

Christian, If you swapped outhaul with topping lift, how would you handle the outhaul?

BTW, I've seen all of your YouTube videos. I always look forward to any new ones you post. Extremely well done.
 
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