Reef Line size for 300 sq ft main

K2MSmith

Sustaining Member
Hello All,
I have been gradually replacing all the running rigging on my boat. It seems that some lines are now too oversized (diameter) and some maybe two thin. For example, “rigger” that I previously used put new 1/2” jib and main halyards on my boat. I questioned it because it was at least 1/16” thicker than the previous worn out ones, but he convinced me that everything was too undersized on my boat. (Or maybe he had the line in his garage :). OK, well live and learn. Since reading more about halyard replacement, I know now that I can replace my own without going to the top of the mast.

I am now switching out my back reef lines (no splices required). What is an appropriate size/type for a 300 sq ft main on an E33RH ? (smaller boat, the main size is similar to an E38) It looks like the previous line is 7/16” diameter (all white double braid). I have 3 sheaves at the end of the boom, two are for reef lines and the middle one is for the out haul. I had some new 7/16 sta-set laying around and I used that for reef #1 and it seems to work OK, although the color is the same as the jib halyard and I like to color code for different functions.
 

goldenstate

Sustaining Member
Blogs Author
Mine are 7/16ths and I would drop down a size at replacement.

As long as your clutches can grab the diameter adequately stay smaller would be my bet. Lighter weight, easier running when you haul up the sail etc..
 

Keith Parcells

Contributing Partner
5/16” would work fine. You could use 3/8” but it seems overkill. Today’s lines are way stronger & less stretchy than 1982-82 when our boats were new. Especially a high modulus line. I like Samson MLX3. Good compromise. Not expensive.

 

K2MSmith

Sustaining Member
5/16” would work fine. You could use 3/8” but it seems overkill. Today’s lines are way stronger & less stretchy than 1982-82 when our boats were new. Especially a high modulus line. I like Samson MLX3. Good compromise. Not expensive.

I have to test out the 5/16 and 3/8 by getting a few samples . I made a bit of an error by putting monster deck hardware on everything ( clutches, organizers and halyard winches ) . Having done it once now , I prob would have gone a size down, but on the plus side , the bigger hardware makes it a bit easier to sail in some ways ( and my wife can raise the main ) . Need to make sure the Antal clutches/organizer sheaves handle down to that size .
 

David Grimm

E38-200
Hey all I'm looking to replace my reef lines. They appear to be 3/8ths and have faded to the point where I can not determine color. One appears to have a green tracer while the other appears white or maybe red tracer. Is there a standard color that would indicate reef 1 or 2 to a knowledgeable sailor?
 

K2MSmith

Sustaining Member
Hey all I'm looking to replace my reef lines. They appear to be 3/8ths and have faded to the point where I can not determine color. One appears to have a green tracer while the other appears white or maybe red tracer. Is there a standard color that would indicate reef 1 or 2 to a knowledgeable sailor?
I replaced my reef lines with 3/8 Sta-set . I don’t know if it was best choice but it was on sale :) I’ve looked at color charts for line function online and got some recommendations from a rigger and they are all different, so I gave up and just picked colors that I like that are different. Aesthetically, I think the white lines with tracer colors look better if you have a white sail, but I used bright solid colors because they are easy to see .
 

bgary

Advanced Beginner
Blogs Author
I replaced mine with 5/16" "VPC" from New England Ropes. plenty strong, doesn't kink up, runs through the blocks without snarls....

For my 32-III, IIRC, the line for the 1st-reef clew (up and through the reef cringle, inside the boom, then down and aft to the cockpit) is around 45 feet long. For the 2nd reef it's about 60. I managed to find both lengths on a "remnants" rack.

Bruce
 

N.A.

Member I
Is there any issue using smaller diameter line in the boom sheaves? (@Keith Parcells , @bgary )

Reef lines would be under a lot of load, and I don't want to damage something... but lighter (smaller) lines do sound nice. FWIW, Ericson spec seems to have been 3/8".
 

Christian Williams

E381 - Los Angeles
Senior Moderator
Blogs Author
It's not the load, it's the chafe. But smaller sounds quite attractive--3/8 lines have a lot of drag. The chafe issue can be controlled by adjusting chafe points on the line.
 

bgary

Advanced Beginner
Blogs Author
Is there any issue using smaller diameter line in the boom sheaves?

From a strength perspective, no. the 3/8" nylon double-braid that was prevalent when our boats were built was rated at about 4500 lbs.

5/16" Sta-Set X (polyester cover and core) or Samson MLX (poly cover, dyneema core) are rated about the same.

A modern low-stretch 5/16" line - I use "VPC" (polyester cover and vectran core) - is rated at about 5500 lbs.

Even though only slightly smaller in diameter, 5/16" runs through the sheaves with noticeably less drag, less prone to kinking up, etc.
 

Keith Parcells

Contributing Partner
Not only will the 5/16" dyneema or vectran or spectra core be at least as strong as the original "Ericson spec" 3/8" dacron core line, but it will also have less stretch which translates to a flatter reefed sail. That is important when close hauled and reefed in a blow. More stretchy line lets the sail, "belly out" more. So this change would be a win-win for you, IMHO.
 
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