Posts Tagged ‘reefing the mainsail’

Rig your reefing lines

Monday, September 28th, 2009

When sailing offshore or, for that matter, any time when you know from the weather forecast that the wind may strengthen considerably, you must, I repeat MUST, run all your reefing lines.

If your mainsail has two reefs but you only have one reefing line, make sure you run a light line as a ‘mouse’ to the second reefing point in the leech. If/when you need to take in a second reef, you can then tie your reefing line securely to the mouse and gently pull it, drawing the reefing line up through the reefing point and back down to the boom.

Using a mouse is OK but it is preferable to have reefing lines available for all the reefs you can take in your mainsail.

If you don’t rig your boat so that you’re ready for the increased wind strength, when the time comes to take that second reef, conditions will be far too dangerous to allow one of your crew to try to lead the reefing line.

In Boat Handling I and II, I discuss how to reef a mainsail in detail.

Reefing the mainsail early

Monday, June 15th, 2009

The other day I talked about practicing reefing the mainsail in light conditions so that your crew know how to do it when the wind is stronger and you really need to reef.


The prudent skipper should not get caught out.


If you get a good marine weather forecast before you set sail and listen for updates while you’re underway, you should be able to reef the main before conditions threaten to overpower your boat.


Keeping an eye on the weather as you go along will mean you can judge for yourself the approach of any storm or change.


Reefing early will make you, your crew and boat comfortable and safe.

Reefing the mainsail

Friday, June 12th, 2009

During the week when I’m sitting at my desk and daydreaming about going sailing, I usually imagine myself skippering a well-found boat with an experienced crew, out at sea on a broad reach, before a stiff breeze. Perfect!


But the reality may be far different. Some people rarely, if ever, reef the mainsail on their boats. And, if conditions take them by surprise and they really need to reef, that’s when problems can happen.


Dropping the main halyard and easing the mainsheet to take in a reef makes the boom into a very dangerous weapon. The noise of the sail flapping madly in the wind makes communicating instructions difficult (unless you have a shout like mine!). How can this be avoided?


The wise skipper gets their crew to practice this manoeuvre in light conditions so that everyone knows their job. When conditions deteriorate and it’s time to take a reef, the crew will do the job confidently, day or night.

In Boat Handling 1 and 2, I show how to handle a boat in light, moderate and heavy weather conditions.