Reefing the Mainsail

Hi I am having trouble getting an answer on how to reef my main sail. I have a Beneteau 350 Oceanis. It is “new to me” but the person I purchased it from could not reef the main. It is a North sail. I will try to describe what I have. First of all the Sail is set up for Dutchman flaking. (I don’t think this has any bearing on the problem) This is applicable to both the first and second reef points. The main sail has only 2 cringles.

I have a line that starts at the cockpit and goes to a pulley at the base of the mast. From this point it goes up to a pulley into the mast end of the Boom. It exits the boom at the clew and goes through the cringle in the sail and then the bitter end is made fast at and anchor point at the bottom of the boom.

As it is currently rigged I can reef the back of the sail. I cannot reef the luff or front. There must be some way of leading the line through he cringle at the luff of the sail. I can’t go from the base of the mast to the cringle because when I return to the boom it would be on the wrong side of the pulley. I am sure it would snag.

I do have 2 open stainless loops attached to each side of the mast but they do not seem to be at the right location to aid in the change of direction. I hope my description is adequate. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Hi Tony, Your boat is not set up for single line reefing. That means that your reef lines will only pull on the clew reef points. It sounds like you have the clew reef line lead correctly. The open loops at the front of the boom (usually called reef hooks or tack horns) are intended to be used to hook the tack reef ring directly to the boom. To make it easier to use the hooks, you can lash two stainless steel rings through the cringles at each tack reef location. Lash the rings so that one ring is on each side of the sail, with the lashing going through the cringle and about 2″ of slack in the lashing. You can use spectra, kevlar or prestretched polyester cord, or webbing and handstitching, to connect the rings.

Your procedure for reefing is as follows:
1) Drop the main halyard about 6″ beyond the reefed hoist location. Go forward and hook the stainless ring on the tack horn. Winch the halyard up very tight against the stainless ring.

2) Ease the mainsheet and boom vang slightly. Pull the slack out of the reef line and then winch the last few feet of the reef line very tight. When winching in the line, pay attention to the fabric that is under the clew reefing line. If it is getting pinched, push it to the side of the boom opposite the vertical leg of the reef line.

3) Sheet the mainsail back in.

You can alternatively rig a tack reefing line. To add a tack reefing line, you need to have a cheek block on the mast adjacent to the gooseneck (where the boom connects to the mast). The tack line will be tied to the sail at the reef tack location. Then lead the line through the cheek block, through a block on the deck at the mast base and then aft to a rope clutch and winch. With this arrangement reefing can be done from the cockpit. In step 1 above, you would drop the halyard and then winch in the tack line. Practice reefing in light wind conditions. When you get each reef tied in well, with both ends of the sail close to the boom and the reefed foot of the sail drawn tight along the top of the boom, get a marker out and color a thick mark on the halyard and reefing lines for reference when reefing in heavy air conditions. Regards, Dan Neri

Posted by admin  (November 30, 1999)

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